TUPI-GUARANI APOCALYPTIC VISIONS
OF TIME AND THE BODY 1
On an April morning in 1999, as I stood talking to Mariano Tupã Mirim, an 18-year-
old Guarani Mbyá who works as a health agent on the Terra Indígena Guarani de
Itaóca, in Southern Brazil, I watched 3-year-old Joacir, 5-year-old Angelina, and
8-year-old Edson play “ambulance.” The children's grandfather, karaí (shaman)
Henrique Firmino, watched them from the family's kitchen, a large thatch-roofed
construction with no walls, packed dirt floors, and a row of cotton hammocks slung
across the wooden beams.
Figure 3.1. Guarani children working at the Itaóca Village. By Mariano Tupã Mirim, 2000.
Alzira Fernandes, the karaí's wife, prepared “noodle soup” - spaghetti collected
at the nearby dumpsite cooked in salty water - while pushing her new grandson,
Claudinei, in a hammock by the fire. The woman tried, unsuccessfully, to scare away
the flies that insisted on cruising over the baby's body. Because they are located on
the northernmost section of the reservation, Mbyá houses are only 800 meters (half