Bird Spirit in the Wellsprings of Daydream. Fredy Chikangana

 Samay pisccok pponccopi muschcoypa / Espíritu de pájaro en pozos de ensueño ©  Fredy Chikangana. Bogotá, Ministerio de Cultura, 2010.

Translation from Spanish © Lorrie Jayne

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The literary work of Fredy Chikangana (Wiñay Mallki, root that remains in time) is fundamental in the history of contemporary Indigenous literatures from Abiayala (the Americas). His verses and essays mirror his life experience between community work and “walking the word” within cross-cultural spaces. From Chikangana, we have learned that “returning to ourselves” is always possible, and that the ancestral territories continue to speak the languages of the land, in this case: Quechua. With his flutes, poems and koka leaves in his chuspa (bag), Chikangana has shared his message of memory and unity from Chile to California, and from South Korea to Italy. Aware of the migrations of his Yanakuna Mitmak ancestors, his verses speak of chaskis (messengers), chakas (bridges), and exchanges. (Juan G. Sánchez Martinez)


callarinasha cusicuymanta huaccayripi
causaypiy llaphllahuachai puka
tukuna rumipi yana
paypicay yupaychayniok cayiniyokmanta uku pacha 
huatanima nukanchi yawar
waskakunawan huaymapacha.
phurupay tukanta
ima huacaychina llimpikuna causaymanta 
yakucapay munainiyok ttukiri
k ́apakpay yachikpayri tucuimanta quihuakuna
ima pusapayayman ananpachaman ukupachaman 
callpawan mosccoykunamanta.

Chaiman pacha quilluyana
rinacay tullu
jaika shimikuna pachamanta chhonccasca tarinakuna
nuka tikramuna caimán llapllahua
millma caimán, yakuman ima llancana aichakuna
nukarina takiman kcaytacunapura huailla quihuachaymanta 
micjunapak mosccutucuy runakunamanta
nuka tukuna kirushata uturunkumanta
taqui tutakunamanta tinya uyhuamanta
kenataquimanta tutaypachajahuaman
ukupachapita urkujatunmanta.

The Earth

The Earth

the beginning of happiness and weeping

within her lives the red placenta

turned to black stone, 

within her exist the rituals of the subterranean beings

that tie our blood

to the creeping vines of time.

Within that earth exists

the feather of the toucan

that keeps the color of life,

the free and restless water exists there

the aroma and taste of all the herbs

that carry us to heaven and hell,

we are there, you and I

with the strength of dreams.

Once the mouth of time has sucked them dry

our bones will go back

to that black and yellow earth;

we will return then to that placenta

to that feather, to the water that touches our bodies,

we will go and sing among the green threads of herbs

and feed the dreams of men.

Once again we will be the tooth of the tiger,

night’s poem, mare’s hoofbeat.

flute song in the deepest hours of night

within the depths of the great mountain.

Caykuna waskamanta sumaimana

Chaipi huchuy llanta chincashcca 
runakuna tucunaq pishcupi
illapay llimpirichakwan ninamanta 
jahuapi catanakuna wassimantakuna. 
Cahuapay puñuipay causaymanta 
callpanchay ñanpay
sonccopaywan pancalla achcallaquimanta.
Ary huaquin utiykuna
ashana japina tusuykuna millmacaymanta 
takipay mucmikuc
ñaupakunamanta cachakuna
richhaycunari runpanakuna
ima llimpiana millmapaymanta
kaykunashapay waskamanta sumaimana 
huarcurimakuna ananpachamanta
kaima maipiman uraikuna huañukuna
jahuinata tucuy mosccoykuna causaykunamanta.

Beings of the Tremendous Liana

In that lost little village

men turn into birds

light up with their fiery colors

above the rooftops of houses.

They look over the sleep of the live ones

so at dawn they might 

revive the way

with hearts made light of so much sorrow.

If one were to ponder them

they would understand the dance of their feathers

in the darkness

the silent song

of ancient messages

and the circular forms

that flash like lightning from their feathers;

they are beings of the tremendous liana

that hangs from the sky

that the dead descend down upon

to paint the dreams of the living.

Takimanta pachakuna

Saramanta nukamantaki
yakumantari noqa samay.
Kunantaki sarunhina paikunataki
sinchina muyu ttillayaima huañuykuna. 
Ary suttuina ima micunakuna pacchakuna.

Saramanta nukamantaki
yakumantari noqa samay.
Causay kunan tarpuymittawan cainamanta 
mishquikunawan atina hark ́aima huañuykuna.

Verses from the Earth

My verses are of corn

and my essence of water

I sing today as they sang before

like a strong seed that dodges death

As does the drop that feeds the fountain

My verses are of corn

and my essence of water

I live with yesterday’s seeding

with the sweet insistence that detains death.

Pacha takipa

Saramanta takiy nuqapi yakuri samay
Taki punchau ñaupakhina taki
k’ullu sonccohima muyu ima nima huañushca 
suttuyhinamicjuchiy pucuycuna.
Saramanta: taki, yaku, samai...
Causay punchau tarpunahuancuna cayna-punchau 
trigo parhuayna poccoy ima sisay pachacunapi.

Chants from the Earth

My songs are of corn, of water my essence

I sing today as they sang before

like the stubborn seed that refuses death

like the drop that feeds the fountain

of corn: songs, water, essence…

I live today with yesterday’s seeding

like the ripe ear of corn that blooms on the earth.

Nukanchis kan causay pachacaypi

Paykan cutanapaykuna quilluzarapay rumijahuapi 
nukanchistaquinakay quenawanihuan tinyacunari tarukamanta 
nukasinaiku shinkayanaiku manapacha
nukachana intita rinaima urkupaypi;
Nukasinaiku nukatusuikuni quenacunawan maquicunapura 
nukawan haku cahuirinahuan pachaukupimanta
pupumaypi inlli cayanaima apanainukari
pachayta Maipú nukausana huañushkuni
nukachaskinakay cushiwan:
«¡Nukanupiana!» niy taita Manuel «causaimari sarapay». 
«¡Nukanupiana!» niy mama Rosario «causaimari pachapay ima
Shuyanan tusuykay jahuapi huachuncuna 
nukasinaiku takinakayri huañushkuwan 
quenaswan machanchinan llaquincuna 
antuchiwan mishkichinam tutacuna 
«¡nukanupiana llakimana! caparipay
«ima nukancharinan causay pachaikay».

We Have Life on This Earth Yet

While they grind the yellow corn on the mortar

we sing with flute and deerskin drums

we laugh, and drink without haste

bid goodnight to the sun who flees through the mountains.

We laugh and dance, flutes in hand

go down towards the depths of the earth

by that warm umbilical that drags us toward 


towards that space where our dead ones live,

they welcome us with happiness

“Let’s drink!” says Grandfather Manuel, “and long live the corn.”

“Let’s drink,” says Mama Rosario, “and long live the precious land that warms us!”

And while we dance upon the furrows

we laugh and sing with our dead,

with our flutes we banish our sorrows

with chicha we sweeten the nights.

“Let us drink without shame!”  they shout,

“We have life yet on this earth.”


Tutamanta kaimi urkuspiri
punkucuna cay k ́anchachii chucchunari
llinpipaywan ninamanta
k ́atcukuna cunapay cahuana tocco huachuchaicaimi
 ima chacay tutayakuna rhupaypak sonkonukan 
runakuna huarmiri yanakunas
ima cay runa ima cay yanapana pachapaipi tutapaimanta 
shimi, huaccay asiri yakushukpi cushnimanta sancju, 
ninapaypi sha callanapaipi
callanapaipiri yana
panccaykuna kokamanta muyuima runpanapi
muyuina pachapay
machupay hamk ́ay panccakuna nina-hasttik
chaimanta apanasha pancakimsa shimicunaman 
mambiari cahuarayai usphakunaman
ccocuy kimsa pancca yuyo ninfita
yallinapay hauanta acchapaymanta
«raquiycamay» niy,
«paykuna munanapas mambiar»
phutuy ninamanta kcaytashuk cushnimanta
imakuna muyuy jahuapi uaikuna
paykan upiana ñanpay ananpachaman;
tapuna sunkupay payapaimanta
«¿kayma niyman ninapay?»
Tiyana chhinshuk paquinima jatapaywan

On Fire

Night falls in the mountain

Doorways brighten and quiver

with the brilliance of the fire

the cracks and windows are the lines

that cross the darkness to warm our hearts

The Yanakuna men and women

solidary beings in times of darkness

speak, cry and laugh in a river of thick smoke

Within the fire sits the clay basin

Within the basin of black clay

the little coca leaf spins in circles

just as time spins.

The elder toasts the leaf and stokes the fire

then brings three leaves to his mouth and

chews the coca looking down upon the ashes

he offers three tender leaves to the fire

passing them above his head

“We must share,” he says

“They, too, want to chew.”

A thread of smoke rises from the fire, takes a turn ´round the kitchen

as it makes its way towards the heavens.

Grandmother’s heart asks:

“What could the fire have spoken?”

A silence abides broken 

by the crackle of dry kindling.

Yuyay yakuk

Cuyak llakta
yanacunas huañuk ñoccanchic shimi rimai purinam. 
Cuerpo yaku licha purina
waiku yuyai
huaira wiñay shuchuna.
Ima yaravi
ñampi ttica maythu quinquinam yaravi
waikus pas urkus cay
yanakuna quilla yachina
inti k›uichi waiku runa.

Memory of Water

Throughout these lands

wander the voices of our deceased yanakunas

The river is their body-they walk with

the memory of water

trembling like a tree in the wind.

This is why I sing

that the flowers and pathways may sing

mountains and lakes

that the moon may know that I am Yanakuna

man of water and rainbow.

Quechua sonccoycaimi

Purinaymi caranuqapi
takipay pisccomanta hullilla tamiakuna 
pponccopay yakumanta chakracunapi 
runari ima purichiy puyu huaylluy.

Quechua sonccoycaimi

imaraykucaina tutakuna nuqapi huakyay 
imaraykukunan chekchipay hanapacha nuqapitapuy 
imaraykupaccarin katin taki
jahuapi usphayaykuna.

Quechua wairacaimi ima cheqquechiy kcaytakuna chakatana 
tutacunapi misterioninari.

Quechua nimacaymi huarmimanta
chaycama yuyai illaypicuna cuyaymantan
manña tullpacunamanta... manña pachakunamanta 
manña ñankunamanta.

Quechua iphupaycaimi paccarincunamanta 
ssimiri ñukanchimanta huañushca.

Quechua sonccopaipi
ima shaikuna pincuylluri tinyapura 
caballupaypi pachamanta sacha 
k ́apayhuan kiñiwa kamchari
 maipi rimay: ñukanchi maiki, 
ñukanchi cara, ñukanchi rimay, 
ñukanchi taki, ñukanchi atipacuk.

Quechua pachamamacay
cunuyachinakuna llapllahuakuna
ñoqari huachana pachaman
shukpi minka atipanakuymanta killari wiñay.

Quechua is my heart

Within my body lives

the song of birds announcing the rain

the pool of water in the garden

and the man who passes by caressing the mist.

Quechua is my heart

for yesterday the night called me

for today the grey in the sky asks me

for tomorrow I will keep on singing

over the ashes.

Quechua is the wind that scatters the threads of the weave

in the mysterious night of candles and oil lamps.

Quechua is the silence of woman

while she dwells upon the absence of her beloved.

at the edge of the tullpa: the stones who keep the fire

…at the edge of the earth

at the edge of a path.

Quechua is the morning dew the voice 

of our dead ones.

Quechua is the heart 

that shakes between flutes and drums

in the neighing of the millenium

with the smell of kiñiwa

and roasted corn,

where we still say: our hands

our bodies, our voice

our music, our resistance.

Quechua is the earth mother

to whom we belong

who shelters the placenta

and delivers us to the world

in a minga* of struggle and permanent moons.


* minga: andean tradition for collaborative effort and community work.

For more about Fredy Chikangana / Wiñay Mallki

Samay pisccok pponccopi muschcoypa / Espíritu de pájaro en pozos de ensueño © Fredy Chikangana

Bird Spirit in the Wellsprings of Daydream © Lorrie Jayne ~ Siwar Mayu, November 2022

Myths, rites, and petroglyphs on the río Caquetá. Fernando Urbina Rangel

Photographs and Original Poems © Fernando Urbina Rangel

Selections and Introduction © Juan G. Sánchez Martínez

English Translation © Lorrie Lowenfield Jayne

If you prefer to read this as PDF, click here

Fernando Urbina Rangel is a philosopher, poet, photographer, and educator. For decades he has worked at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia where he has conducted classes, seminars  and research regarding  comparative mythology, orality, rock art,  Amazonian petroglyphs, and ceremonial  plants.  Urbina has authored ninety-five academic articles, eight books, twenty-five individual photography exhibits, two educational television series, and two radio series. Today, books such as Las hojas del poder (Leaves of Power)(1992), Dïïjoma, El hombre serpiente águila (The Serpent Eagle Man) (2004) have become classics in Amazonian literature.  Sown with mambe (coca powder mixed with yarumo ashes) and ambil (tobacco paste mixed with vegetal salt), and based  in the art of picto-poetry, rock painting, and rafue (powerful speech for the Murui-Muina) these works were visionary publications that wove image, poetry, essay, and ancient stories, destabilizing the urban word-centered hierarchies of Colombian universities. In Urbina’s work, the book is the coca tree,  the elders Don José García y Doña Filomena Tejada are the library,  and the university is the ritual dances and the mambeadero (the place where men sit to share mambe and words). Fernando Urbina speaks with La Gente de Centro, the People from the Center (Múrui, Okaina, Nonuya, Bora, Miraña, Muinane, Resígaro and Andoque), children of the tobacco, the coca, the sweet yuca, whose original territory is found in the interfluvial  Caquetá-Putumayo region (Colombia). These people have survived the Casa Arana genocide and continue to resist the siege of the petroleum industry, mining companies, narcotraffickers and Colombian Civil War. 

Fortunately, the vitality with which Fernando Urbina’s books retrieve the word, gesture, and rites of the Gente de Centro, and celebrate them in philosophy, poetry and art, has cleared pathways for the textualities and oralitures of Abiayala’s peoples. His interdisciplinary work recalls that for many generations on the Caqueta river, and still today, there are stone-books beneath the water, petroglyphs that emerge when the floodwaters recede to tell the original stories. His work also recognizes that “myth is the word revealed”, neither chimera nor anachronism, but instead, the present that sustains us and “in which one must suspend and linger”(Las hojas del poder).  

The photographs and texts that make up the video below are part of Urbina’s work, MÁS ALLÁ DE LAS MONTAÑAS DE UYUMBE (BEYOND the MOUNTAINS of UYUMBE)(“San Agustín”), sponsored and exhibited by ICANH in 2019 (Universidad Nacional) during the celebration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Konrad Theodor Preuss, the founder of scientific archaeology in Colombia. This exhibition was based upon the notions of Preuss, the German linguist, archeologist and ethnographer, who proposed a study of religion and mythology of the Murui-Muina in search of keys with which to interpret the culture of  San Agustín (Alto Magdalena). The exposition signals  the Andean-Amazonian confluences between the ancient cultures of the high and low regions. It is worth noting that the Caqueta River’s headquarters are less than 100 Km away from the Magdalena River Basin in the Almaguer Knot (Colombian Macizo), the spot where the Andes divides into three mountain ranges.

The following excerpts were selected from the exhibition, BEYOND the MOUNTAINS of UYUMBE)(“San Agustín”). Established in the paradoxical language of the ancient stories of the Gente de Centro, Urbina finds a technique to weave his own basket: the synthesis  (Serpiente-Águila, Vigilia-Ensueño, Anaconda-Espiral)(Serpent-Eagle, Vigil-Dream, Anaconda-Spiral) Because of this, the reader of these vignettes will note that nouns appear insufficient, and that the use of the hyphen or capital letter is a strategy to emphasize mutuality.   In this poetic imaginary, no word (i.e. emptiness, point, firmness) has only one meaning, because each word is what it is and also the opposite: the creator is the created and vice versa, and whoever owns silence also owns speech.

Aracuara Canyon from The-Balcony-of-the-Stone Witch 

Everything was there and seemed complete

but no… nothing had a name nor a history

it wasn’t even the stuff of nostalgia

When the primordial arrived

—climbing the rivers

from the shores of the immense sea

it marked the place and made it the world,

multiplied it into myth.

recreated it into ritual

 donned it with the one hundred faces of remembrance.

© Fernando Urbina Rangel


The earth 

was wide and alone

everything there was soft

The Sun

with his fingers of light

began designing

-in the mud banks of the immense rivers-

the beings that populated

in name only

the dream of the Primordial Fathers

 High Noon,

the work charred

Turned into stone

the archetypes lived on

fixed forever.

(Based on the traditions of elder Enókayï, Murui-Muina ‒Uitoto‒ nation)

© Fernando Urbina Rangel

Hammer and Chisel

With what tools did they 

who first arrived

mark the landscape

to make it human, make it habitable?

Pounding the rock with the sharper rock

leaving a kind of silence   in stone

a silence of those who speak and endure longer than the word.

© Fernando Urbina Rangel

Light and Shadow

Something with which to name the day of Man, ephemeral.

Something with which to name the shadow, the archaic

that which precedes all that exists.

Skin is the light  upon the dark rock; 

the deep night guards her entrails.

© Fernando Urbina Rangel

The Mistress-of-the-Animals

In the inquiry

the Makers realized

Let’s  manage the form of the rock.

This one has the terrifying feature we dreamt

to be Gerofaikoño,  Frog Woman,

She will defend the animals;

contender with man in the cosmic battle.

 Mankind will not take precedence

destroying the homes of everyone.

chopping down trees, poisoning rivers,

killing the seed of the beasts.


Grandmother, —the granddaughter asked–

Why do the butterflies 

land on the heads of 


And the Great Wise Woman

Grandmother Philomena 


–-In earlier times, before the leather vendors

had  finished off the


the butterflies rested on the bench./-of-the-telling-of stories

the one which Jarayauma gifted the original cayman

           for helping him to cross the river,

during his escape from his wife,

–the Jaguar-Woman.

who replaced the fearsome 

mother-in-law whom he had killed.

 This little bench remained 

on the cayman’s head.

There the butterflies recounted myths

—myths of color and flight–

just like those your Grandfather tells

seated on the mambeadero.

© Fernando Urbina Rangel

Leaping Quadruped

It is said that the word Jaguar means


He patrols and hunts a vast territory;

equal to the territory the people of the village manage

Because of this, the spirit of the tribal chief,

once he is dead,

-if he has been flawless in caring for his people–

will remain as an enchanted-jaguar

caring for the space marked by the tribe.

This is the reason to ask permission and make offerings

before entering to hunt in an unknown place.

© Fernando Urbina Rangel


–I am a line, but not just any line.

I am tubular like a blowgun.

My poisonous fang a dart;

What’s more, I ripple

and swirl into a spiral, think into being life and the galaxy.

I am the key to time because I shed my skin.

I dig the watery tunnels to reach to the depths

I creep over the earth

climb the tree

I rise, high and mighty, towards the heavens.

Devouring myself, I am a circle: I am everything and nothing.

“Food for thought,”the ethnographer would’ve said.

I am good at multiplying worlds.

I am the spring of symbols.

© Fernando Urbina Rangel

Origin of Humanity

Father died in January ‘78

He had counseled me thus

(after seeing my photos of the Inírida rock paintings):

—Dedicate yourself to the works that would trace 

upon the everlasting rocks the Arcaica people.

It was in February,

above the torrents of  Guaimaraya

that I came across the petroglyph

that well reveals

the way in which the line of a wavy line transforms into a person.

This mytheme as well as its grapheme

is told and represented,  in a variety of ways

throughout the length and breadth of Amazonia.

© Fernando Urbina Rangel

The Four Ancestors

I asked Elder, José Garcia

—Teacher, of the Féénemïnaa Muinane people–

what could the four snake-faces

forming a cross mean?

―¡Ajá! –he scolded.

—–You should know this.

That is an ancestral common dwelling.

Then, seeing that I was confused, he added, smiling:

—-Each of the four posts in the dwelling

is an ancestor-piece–of–snake…

It is a way to keep our origin firmly present.

© Fernando Urbina Rangel


In the air: the spell.

The word net…

And the gesture that interpolates

from each being an intimate secret.


upon the rock the signs were traced.

The dancing of the gesture


© Fernando Urbina Rangel          

Men Seated

The Father

seated within the Silence

ripened silences.

He had not yet invented the thunder,

nor the murmur of the wind between the leaves

 the roar of the jaguar

the eagle´s call

the thorn-like of the mosquito’s voice.

With whom can the God speak?

And then, he spied his shadow.

It was over there, seated as well

He invented the word and the echo answered

(echo is the shadow of sound)

— Now I have a companion!—Exclaimed the Father.

This is the way in which we were formed 

(We are the shadow and the echo of a God).

© Fernando Urbina Rangel

Two Seated Anthropomorphs Conversing


 Today as I add more years to the years you gathered

I can say, after nine five-year spans,

that I think I may have done it

whether well or no, I don’t know

but I tried to complete the charge you gave me.*

In some manner,

we will continue to share discoveries

within the circular current of dialogue.

My fleeting shadow

will soon become one with yours

and the two one with the immense

* See the poem “Origin of Humanity”.

 Bogotá- 2019

For more about Fernando Urbina’s work  and the Gente de Centro

About the translator

Lorrie Jayne, a collaborator in Siwar Mayu, teaches Spanish, Portuguese, and Personal Narrative in the Languages and Literatures Department at University of North Carolina Asheville (USA).  She lives with her husband and daughters in the Appalachian Mountains where she enjoys plants, people, and poetry.

BEYOND the MOUNTAINS of UYUMBE (“San Agustín”) © Fernando Urbina Rangel 

English Translation © Lorrie Lowenfield Jayne ~ Siwar Mayu, August 2022

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