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Watakame's Journey: The Story of the Great…
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Watakame's Journey: The Story of the Great Flood and the New World

by Hallie N. Love, Bonnie Larson

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This retelling of the Huichol myth of the great flood that washed away the first world, along with its animal people, and the creation of the new, is also an explanation of the origins of the Huichol themselves, descended from the hero Watákame - the sole survivor of the flood - and the first woman, Yokawima. A picture-book that is divided into brief chapters, it follows the story of Watákame, the only one of the animal people to work hard and honor the gods. Warned by Nakawé, the goddess of living things, that a great flood is coming, and instructed to build a boat, and take on board the corn, beans and squash he will need in the new world - as well as his little black dog, and the materials needed to keep fire alive - Watákame is aided in his quest by the fire god Tatewarí, and by his magical deer spirit guide, Kauyumári. After the terrible events of the flood, Watákame learns to be a shaman, marries Yokawima (created from his little black dog), and teaches his descendants the rituals and customs they will need to observe, in order to ensure that life continues...

I originally became aware of Hallie N. Love and Bonnie Larson's retelling of this story after reading The Tree That Rains: The Flood Myth of the Huichol Indians of Mexico, which is a far more abbreviated version of this fascinating myth. The illustrator's note mentioned that the artwork was inspired by the yarn paintings of the Huichol, and in searching for information about this art form, I happened upon this other retelling. I'm glad that I did, as it is far more detailed, and seems - as much as I am able to tell - to be a more "authentic" version. Both authors are personally involved with members of the Huichol tribe, and the artwork - vibrantly colorful yarn paintings, created by pressing the yarn into beeswax and pine pitch that have been applied to a wooden panel - was made by eleven or more Huichol artists.

I'm always fascinated by the fact that the story of a great flood is so widespread, amongst the peoples of the earth, and the Huichol myth is certainly a beautiful addition to this corpus of tales. I confess that, while reading, I felt very sorry for the original animal people, whatever their flaws, but I can see how that aspect of the story would have been central, in emphasizing the importance of tradition, to the listener. I understand that the Huichol are one of the few indigenous groups in Mexico that have never converted (even nominally) to Christianity, despite centuries of Catholic efforts, and current Protestant ones, and that these stories are still recited every year. Like the story of Noah (and unlike classical Greek mythology, for instance), this tale is therefore part of a living religion. I recommend it to anyone interested in comparative religion/mythology, or in the Huichol and their artwork. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 3, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hallie N. Loveprimary authorall editionscalculated
Larson, Bonniemain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 157416029X, Hardcover)

Ages 9 years and over. The flood and the creation myth of the Huichol Indian people of Mexico is told through the brilliantly coloured yarn paintings of shaman Gaudalupe Barajas de la Cruz and other Huichol artists. This remarkable art form, with its clear, colourful figures and traditional symbols and motifs, has strong visual appeal for both young people and adults. In this story a Huichol boy plays a role similar to Noah's -- though Watakame's odyssey is more complex and magical. He been selected by Nakawe, the creator of all growing things, to escape the coming flood and begin human life again in the new world. Nakawe tells him to build a small boat and to bring him fire, the seeds of squash, beans, and corn, and one companion -- a small dog When the flood waters recede, Watakame witnesses the recreation of the sun and all living things. Nakawe helps Watakame find a wife and instructs him in planting, harvesting, and making offerings to the gods. The Huichol are his descendants and he instructs them in the proper way of living and teaches them joyful songs, prayers, and dances to please the gods and celebrate the beautiful new world that is their home. The story, which has been carefully researched, offers a view into the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of an indigenous group that has only recently become known outside its traditional homelands.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:17 -0400)

A retelling of the Huichol Indian tale in which the Goddess of Living Things tells Watakame to build a sturdy boat to carry him through the terrible flood she says will soon cover the Earth.

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