Katukina Rapé – Nisural
Katukina Nisural was made with a mixture of local organic moi tobacco and the more potent corda tobacco. The medicine is prepared with Tsunu ashes, or Tsono as the Katukina say. Then Nisural is added – a minty, nicely scented herb. It is from the same family as Apuxury and Pixuri. Many of these local herbs go by a variety of names depending on the tribe that uses them. There are many subspecies that are very similar, but for the small physical features that distinguish them. Nisural is used for headaches and to clear negative energies.
In the words of the maker:
“Rapé from Tsunu is a medicine for healing. We put the Nisural to take away the bad thoughts. Sometimes we have some mental perturbation and we take this rapé to clear our thoughts. When we have bad thoughts we take this medicines to take away our bad thoughts.”
More About Rapé
Rapé is a shamanic snuff, usually made with tobacco, found throughout the Amazon. It is used in traditional Amazonian medicine and shamanism as a medicinal herb, and as a tool for shamanic journeying.
Although rapé usually contains tobacco, it can contain a number of different herbs and plants to alter the experience. In addition, the strength of the tobacco used can change depending on the blend!
Rapé is usually administered by a shaman, through a pipe called a tepi. Small quantities of rapé are blown up the nostrils, one after the other. The effect can be powerful and immediate!
You can also take rapé yourself, using a special pipe called a kuripe. You will lose out on the experience and knowledge of the shaman, who can impart energetic healing and guidance too.
Depending on the cultural group, rapé is used in different ways. It is often used recreationally as a stimulant, but is also used to enhance the power of other plant medicines, or on its own for its transformative power. It has a number of purported medicinal properties – its capacity to provoke purging means it has a reputation as a cleanser of toxins from the body, and a booster of natural immunity.
Use with respect and care; it is a tobacco product and can be habit forming!
About the Katukina
The Katukina are a tribal nation of several hundred people in the Acre state of Brazil. They use rapé for its shamanic and medicinal properties, and also use the tree frog medicine kambo in healing ceremonies.
Their culture is based on hunting and swidden agriculture, and is divided on the basis of sex. Men learn to hunt and clear the forest for growing food. The women maintain their homes, care for children, wash clothes, manage the farmland and prepare food. Family groups live in small villages, and there are also a number of different clans within the Katukina culture. They live spread out across a region including the Gregório and Campinas rivers.
The name ‘Katukina’ is a generic word that was given to the group by the government, or by early anthropologists. The Katukina themselves have adopted the word, but state that it holds no meaning in their own language. They do, however, have their own designations for the six main clans of the Katukina: the Varinawa (people of the Sun), Kamanawa (people of the Jaguar), Satanawa (people of the Otter), Waninawa (people of the Peachpalm), Nainawa (people of the Sky) and Numanawa (people of the Dove).
One group that is sometimes attributed the name Katukina lives on the shores of the Envira river – but these people call themselves Shanenawa, and are not the same ethnic group as the Katukina who live on the rivers Campinas and Gregório.
Around half of the Katukina also speak Portuguese, which they use to communicate with non-Indians. Katukina children are given a unique Portuguese name in addition to their Katukina name.
The Katukina were dramatically affected by the appearance of whites in their lands. During the rubber boom of the late 1800s, gangs of rubber tappers attempted to displace the Katukina from their lands, or murder the indigenous groups who stood in the way of the supply of rubber.
The Katukina fled, and as a result ended up spread across a large region, forced to abandon their swiddens and forage from the wild instead. Their population also suffered from disease and lost many numbers to the violence of the colonists.
In addition to rapé and kambo ceremonies, an important cultural practice for the Katukina is the ‘jests’ or vete that act as social and matchmaking events. Groups of men and women taunt each other, hurl abuse, and even attack with their fists, while trying to steal sugarcane or papaya from the opposing group. The game ends when the elder women of the group have possession of all the sugarcane and papaya – mirroring how the women of the society manage all the food. The vete is important in offering an opportunity for flirtation and matchmaking for unmarried men and women.