Stars through the eyes of Guarani community

In a country that beholds each day less the sky, the Paraguayan astronomer Blas Servin reviews the dummy lines connecting the stars to recreate the drawings imagined by Guarani indigenous community

"The sky was the space where the Guarani cast their world. For example, the Milky Way called the Mborevi Monkfish, the path of tapir, which is an animal that always follows the same route to his lair, and leaves leaves on that path shine the moonlight, "said Servin.

In the Alpha and Beta Centauri stars, which always appeared together, the Guarani saw the expression of the love of a newly married couple, while the constellation of the Southern Cross identified with the footprint of a rhea, similar to an ostrich bird .

Some signs of heaven, as eclipses, caused great fear of the Guarani, whose greatest fear was losing the light of the moon or the sun, and left in the dark forever.

"When there was an eclipse, thought a great puma was devouring the moon. Then, armed themselves with sticks and drums, and they began to shout and make noise to scare the cougar and spit the moon," said Servin.

Another celestial sign was not seen with good eyes were meteor showers, the Guarani known as "excrement of the stars," and they believed they were the announcement of an illness, the death of a cacique, or war.

Despite these interpretations, Servin said that the observation of the stars had for the Guarani more practical than mystical purposes, and the natives were guided them to agriculture and food production.

Thus, they learned to recognize the stages of Yasy, the moon, and although they lacked calendar, knew that after having seen traveling across the sky twelve full moons, beginning the cycle again crop, and had to re-prepare the soil for planting.

Servin said the Guarani detected this time by appearing in the sky a set of stars that Westerners known as Pleiades, and the Guarani denominated EICHU because identified with a honeycomb.

It was the signal to initiate the celebrations of Arete Guasú, the beginning of the agricultural year, a similar ceremony Andean towns celebrate these days with the name of Inti Raymi, which coincides with the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere in the third week of June.

The observation of the lunar phases current continues today in rural communities in Paraguay, as for farmers to know what stage is the moon is very important to determine when they should plant or harvest, he told Servin.

"Knowledge about the sky that had the Guarani is a part of our history and our identity we must not lose, even though the Paraguayan city increasingly look less to their heaven," he said.

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