The Nukini People
Known by their own community as Povo da Onça (The Jagua People), the Nukini can be found across the Vale do Juruá (Juruá Valley) and Serra do Môa (Môa Mountain Range) region, in the state of Acre, and are divided into four main clans: the Inubakevu (the Spotted Jaguar People), the Panabakevu (the Açaí People), the Itsãbakevu (the Patois People), and the Shãnumbakevu (the Snake People).
Such as it is the case for other peoples, the Nukini have endured severe deprivation due to the careless exploitation of raw materials during the Amazon Rubber Cycle era, having lost numerous community members and substantial part of their heritage and culture, including their language. In spite of such losses, this group nowadays relies on a sptable socioeconomic structure that consists mainly of fishing and hunting, as well as farming of several local fruits and plants.
A part of the Pano-speaking peoples, they actively take the initiative of strengthening their traditions, reclaiming all the richness and significance of their customs and history that are then passed down to younger generations through the teaching of handmade, traditional techniques of craftsmanship and the cultivation and production of sacred medicine. Such projects and initiatives mean taking back aspects of their culture that have been lost and stolen in the past, and highlighting the appreciation for their spirituality.
To learn more about the history and culture of this rich and diverse community, click here.
Nukini Elixir Rapé and its benefits
The sort of tobacco used in the production of this remarkable snuff is called Tabaco Sabiá (Thrust Tobacco), a variation of Nicotiana rustica, whose leaves are harvested and left to dry and ferment before being molded into ropes that will be twisted and combined to form fresh cilinders that may weigh up to 10kg (around 22lbs). These cylinders will then ripen until they become suitable for the production of sacred, traditional medicines, especially those used in healing ceremonies and rituals. The shamanic snuff blends that carry this species of tobacco are particularly potent. Tsunu ashes are usually added to the formula, offering its spiritual and physical healing power, on top of helping with energetic cleansing.
But this rapé’s greatest appeal lies in an ingredient called Elixir de Vagem (Vagem Elixir – note that “vagem”, in this context, doesn’t translate to “string bean”). This plant, which is sacred to traditional Amazonian peoples, gets its name from the place where it flowers: at the deepest river banks, which are called “vagem.” And, for that same reason, its harvesting period is narrowed to dry seasons, since the plant is submerged in water during rainy seasons, This means that Vagem is quite rare as an ingredient, and commonly used in baths, to prevent afflictions, reduce fever and pain, and to bring physical and spiritual protection.
The story behind Nukini Rapé Elixir
Crafted by the power and skill of feminine hands, our Nukini Elixir Rapé is a creation belonging to rapé maker Rudilene, a healer who has been working with the production of shamanic snuffs for over a decade now. Her work is done carefully and with deep respect and zeal. In her own words, she describes that, to her, the meaning of rapé as “spiritual elevation, strength, healing. To me, Rapé means grounding, stability. (…) Rapé is my entire life. It is the beginning of my growth, of my elevation as a person, of my spiritual elevation.
In 2010, I met Erison Nukinin, my husband who also worked with Rapé. Then, together, we started making Rapé with the intent of selling it. And all that we have today, we owe it to our Rapé sales. We’ve established our own village, and everything that makes up our village we’ve built from resources that came from selling our Rapé.
My medicine is something I always try and work on while I’m deeply focused, with lots of care, with lots of attention, lots of respect for the people that are going to receive that medicine. I always say I don’t work with Rapé, I work with medicine, because that’s what I want to offer to people with my Rapé: healing, steadiness, strength, insight.”
Setting up the Nukini Elixir Rapé ritual
Firstly, find a suitable place to initiate your own Rapé ritual. Whichever place you choose doesn’t need to be religiously sacred, but somewhere filled with spirituality and energetic flow, a place that means something to you and can help you focus and expand your intentions. Once you’ve elected your location, take the time to ground yourself in the present and really bring forth the intentions you have for the ritual and for the Rapé; think of what you expect to achieve by making use of this sacred medicine, of what you need guidance for, of what needs healing.
As you measure the desired amount of snuff (a pea-sized amount should be enough for most cases), you may chant any prayers or hymns if you so desire. Scoop the blend into the nose-end of your kuripe applicator, then carefully tap the curved V peak on a hard surface to eliminate any air pockets or reminiscing bits of stuck rapé.
Using your Rapé
Place the mouth-end into your mouth and carefully position the other end into one nostril. As you lean forward, remember to have your eyes closed to avoid blowing Rapé into them and to have your intentions in mind.
Then, give the pipe a hard blow to send the shamanic snuff into your airways, and take a moment to experience the moment and feel the strength and power of sacred Rapé. It is important to try and “hold in” the rapé for a few instants before blowing it out again – which is a process that will most likely happen naturally, too.
When taking your Nukini Elixir Rapé…
Keep in mind that both sides/nostrils should receive this medicine to achieve balance between the things one desires to let go and what they wish to receive and welcome, or the whole process might slightly backfire – fear and rejection of part of the ritual might be considered as rejecting the spirit of the Rapé.
And remember that this ritual is one of cleansing; while it is recommended to wait a while for the effects of Rapé to take place, whenever fluids start to drip down the throat or nose, expel them from your body, as such processes may be considered the manifestation of ridding oneself from physical and spiritual ailments.