NAOS : Notes and Materials for the Linguistic Study of the Sacred. Vols. 9 to 12.

[named for Hellenic /naos/ "dwelling, temple or shrine" (Vol. 4, No. 1, p. 15)]

(N.B. : beginning with Vol. 5, Numbers of each Volume were neither separately published nor are separately paginated.)


Vol. 9 (Winter, Spring-Summer, Fall 1993)

pp. 17-21 Margot Bigot & He`ctor Va`zquez : "Representation of the Sacred among the Tobas".

[/y/ (/i^/) is transcribed /j/, as in German]

p. 17 Qom (Toba) cosmography [reckoned downward]

level #

layer #





pigem (heavens)

sun, moon, constellations



l’ol / l’at (atmosphaere)

clouds, winds



lawat na> alwa (surface of earth)

humans, beasts, birds



pa>agin~i na alwa (inside the earth)

snakes, toads, "power beings half human, half animal"



ne> etaxat (water)

caymans, "combinations of sea animals and animals of the upper level"

p. 19 Qom (Toba) supernatural beings

Abja`Gale`k : "This anthropomorphic figure ... bestows ... the power to see distant objects and foresee future events."

Alwa`lase`> : "These are two figures that ... appear in human form with half their body above ground. They can ... transmit messages between distant or dead relatives."

N’owe`t : "In the figure of a tiger, called salc^aro`, ... even if the hunter tears him to pieces these pieces unite together again." {a frequent theme in Ijo saga}

"By the name of wela`n lta> a` (father of the wela`n), he conducts the rite of passage of the shamans (wela`n), in which the elect dance in a semicircle."

Go`moGonalo` : "a great snake that ... appears in the sky as the rainbow. It punishes with ... tornadoes, and earthquakes, the transgressions against ... the prohibitions related to puerperal and menstrual periods."

p. 20 Qom (Toba) religious practitioners

nano`jkenGa`jk "A magician ... whose power depends on abja`Gale`k (lord of the forest) to transform objects and cause them to appear and disappear."

o`jkjaga`k : "a person with power emanating from n’owe`t (lord of the earth surface) ... to see things at a distance or the inside of them".

pjo`Gona`q : "shaman. He has power (napi`is^se`k) granted by ... the fathers and mothers of animals ..., who act as companion spirit (na`jGawa) and transmit to him the proper song (lala`k) to perform cures (npac^e`). Moveover, the shaman blows (ipete>gele`k) and sucks (napi`Gole`k) in order to extract the object (lajnaGanaga`t) that like aprojectile causes the illness. The object can be ... palo santo (del’iki`k)."

p. 20 Qom (Toba) animal-divinities [/late>e`/ ‘mother’; /lta>a`/ ‘father’]

WalikjaGa`j (‘carpincho’ or ‘capybara’) Late>e`

Man~i`k (‘ostrich’) Lta>a`

Nja>k (‘fish’) Late>e` "is a siren of sorts, having a woman’s upper body and fish tail."

p. 21 "the caraya` monkey (woyi`m) or the hare (lerma`) should not be disturbed. Pregnant women may not look hares in the eyes".

p. 21 Qom (Toba) sacred plants

"The carob tree (map>ic, Prosopia alba) ... was the only tree that survived the Great Fire that scorched the earth."

"The molle (toroki`k, Eschinus molle) is used ... by ... chewing green" leaves.

"The fig tree (dabiogo`>nole`, Drostenia brasiliensis) is utilized to make ... [of its leaves] a necklace in order to protect children not yet one year old from illnesses."


Vol. 10 (Winter, Spring-Summer, Fall 1994)

pp. 24-28 Buenaventura Tera`n (transl. by Juan Scha:ffer) : "A Genealogy of Deities in the Mythological Universe of the Toba". [Eastern Toba]

p. 24 the 3 layers of the Sky [the 3 Heavens] : "Pigen, the Sky (also "above") is subdivided into" :-

__ Sky

its denizens


"the moxan (roll-up armadillo) and kaygala (green snake) ... are in charge of herding the clouds. To this sky belong the constellations of the manik (rhea), the viscacha corral, and the chiflo`n (wading bird)".

2nd ("sky of dangers")

"kiyok (jaguar) of the sky, belonging to Nowet".


"Kharta (the Sky God, the Creator), whose gate is guarded by a great puma."

{is this sequence of 3 skies reckoned upwards, with the 3rd the highest?}

p. 24 the 3 layers of the Earth : "Alwa, the Earth, is subdivided into" :-

__ Earth

its denizens

1st "Napiaganate ("where we tread") ... extends ... to the entrance of a burrow made by a moxan."

"Alwa Lek, the Lord of the Earth."

2nd Pagn~i {/PAGAN/?}, deeper

"ruled by Napalta, the Lord of the Dead."

3rd Kaltapagn~i, deepest

"(the Devils)." {Zupay?}

p. 24 the 3 layers of "Neetat (Water)" : "The third part of the cosmos".

__ Water

its denizens

1st "Niagj (Fish)"



"Werayk (the Black One of the Water {cf. [Daoist] Black Warrior of water-world})

3rd deepest

"Oykiaragayk Lta (oykiaragayk denotes a special kind of shaman ...). ... The oykiaragayk has the character of a prophet ...; and he can communicate with the dead.."

pp. 25-28 deities and their traits





Oykiaragayk Lta

"a man who is to be initiated as piogonak ... is transported by a caiman to ... where this deity dwells; he is then brought home by the same caiman." This god "is the husband of L>>Aranak Late` (Queen of the Snakes), dwelling in the Water, and father of Earth L>>Aranak Late` (Queen of the Earth-Dwelling Snakes) and of Niagj Late` (Queen of the Fishes)."


L>>Aranak Late`

"(Queen of the Water-Dwelling Snakes) is the wife of [Oykiaragayk Lta] and the mother of Earth L>>Aranak La`te`. ... She is ... a gigantic snake dwelling in underwater caves. From there she creates whirlpools ... that catch animals and humans for her to devour. The wind issuing from her can be smelled and is ... poisonous. ... as places where ... people ... run the peril of being caught and devoured by the Queen of the Water-Dwelling Snakes ..., the shamans indicate numerous places on the Bermejo River (Tala` in the Toba language)".


Aranak Lta

"is ... a gigantic male snake, dwelling in ... nests ... made out of a grass called pogoyak (red grass), from which he issues whirlwinds."


Earth L>>Aranak Late`

"has legs : two legs in front, two behind, and her whole body is shaped like a snake, with the head and tail of a snake. ...



When she sees a man she opens her mouth and out comes a bolt of lightning. The bolt of lightning stuns the man". This goddess’s "first shaman, in the earliest days, was a snake from the waist up and a man from the waist down." "When Earth L>>Aranak Late` is to give power to a person to become a piogonak who cures snakebites and has contact with snakes, she makes the man lie down on the ground, naked. Then there come ... all sorts of snakes and they slither over him ... and sniff him, so as to get to know him. ... Another task incumbent on the piogonak ... is to reconcile a man with the snake he has killed."


divinities subordinate to Earth L>>Aranak Late`

"One of these appearances is that of a manik with the head of a snake. ... Still another appearance ... is as

a gigantic snake with three or four heads, or else as

a being with the body of a dog, the neck of a rhea and the head of a snake." (One observer stated that one of these "pursued him in a dream".)


other minor reptilian divinities

"the payakayk (n~acanina`) and the lekalo` (curiyu` boa), which, together with the koomonalo` (rainbow snake) ..., the koleksak (iguana), and the dailook (caiman) drown menstruating women who go to a pool for water."



"the Black Snake, who appears in ... a tabooed myth"



"the Rattlesnake, which dwells under the kalmayk (ombu`) and throws up thee pebbles, respectively colored blue, green, and white, which are sought for (in an initiation exploit)"


Niagj Late`

"is the queen and guardian of fishes; she is the daughter of" Oykiaragayk Lta.



She is "woman from the waist up and fish from the waist down."


Dailook Lta

"the lord and father of caimans. ... His habitat is under the mountains."{cf. Aztec caiman-god underlying the earth}


Dailook Late`

"guardian of the caimans and wife of Dailook Lta."


Kiyok Neetatlek

"the Underwater Puma" {cf. Cherokee Oi-kac^a (‘water panther’) (M&TSI, p. 22)}


Late`e na Potay

"Mothers or Queens of the Giant Anteaters"


Wa-Wa Late`

"(wa-wa means toad ...) is Queen of the Toads."


Toonanga` Late`

"(toonanga` means the cururu` toad, a large Chaco toad) is Queen of the Cururu` Toads ... . ... She is also regarded ... as the mother of the small yellow snake, weeping over the snake’s death."


Ololgo` Late`

(ololgo` also means toad {of a different species from wa-wa ?}) is also Queen of the Toads."

M&TSI = John R. Swanton: Myths and Tales of Southeastern Indians. 1929.


Vol. 11 (Winter, Spring-Summer, Fall 1995)

pp. 57-59 Review by the editor [Juan Adolfo Va`zquez] of :- "The Sun : Symbol of Power and Life".

p. 58 solar beliefs of South American tribes



Yupa of northwestern Venezuela

"the sun is a nefarious personage"

Maxko of Peruvian Amazonia

"originally there were two suns, with evil consequences owing to excessive heat."


Vol. 12 (Winter, Spring-Summer, Fall 1996)

pp. 20-29 Buenaventura Tera`n (transl. by Graciela N. V. Corvala`n) : "Figures from the Niachinamole or Toba-Pilaga` Pantheon". [by the Pilcomayo river in the western part of Formosa province, Argentina]

p. 20 the 3 types of Toba

" ‘Toba’ encompasses three ethnic groups from the Chaco region : the Eastern Tobas, the Toba-Pilagas and the Western Tobas. ...

The Toba-Pilagas ... call themselves ‘Niachinamoles’. The translation of this name is : Trunks of the River".

p. 20 the 3 skies


__ Pigen




"lunar kind of light."



"where people with good education, well prepared, enter."



"the higher or supreme heaven."

pp. 20-25 the main theophanies






sent a vision to one of the original shamans (‘pionak’) instructing him on the techniques to light a fire."



talks in secret with shamans, who receive power from this deity and remain in contact with him".



"Another name for Payak is ... Mihayk [‘Big Nose’]". {cf. [Aztec] Yaca-tecuhtli (‘Nose-Lord’)}



"the master of ... the night. He appears as shadows and, sometimes, as noise. He may take a human form, all black who, making noise, follows a person walking in the forest."


Viak Leta or Wiak Won~ime Leta

"(‘Viak’ : ... forest. ‘Leta’ : mater, lord, king, father.) ... To cut down a red quebracho (a South American hardwood tree), to hunt a guazuncho (a type of deer), an iguana or a lampalagua (a kind of anaconda), one has to ask permission from this hierophany."


King of the Forest Pigs

"is the guardian entity of the peccaries (... ‘kadagui’ in the Toba-Pilaga language)."


King of the Uakay

"This is the leader of the quimileros or ‘uakay’ (Parachoerus wagnieri), the biggest kind of peccari in the Chaco region".


Napam Pollo

"(‘Nampam’ : peludo, a kind of armadillo, and ‘pollo’ : very big ...) ... a very big ‘napam malok’ ..., or ‘tatu carreta’. ... "the king of all the great pinches (armadillos)." ... This



theophanic entity is ... a gigantic tatu-carreta ... . The ‘napam pollo’ exerts his dominion or control over the ... tatu-carreta and tatu-mulita (‘tapen~nik’ or ‘mololek’), the peludos (‘napam’), the quirquincho bola or tatu bolita (‘magayi’) and the pichiciegos (‘jin~et’)."


Lolgak Leta

"(‘Lolgak’ : tapir ...) ... They believe that the beneficial influence of ‘Lolgak Leta’ makes the tapir meat both healthy and medicinal."


Man~ik Leta

"(‘Man~ik’ : n~andu` or suri, Rhea americana ...) ... It is ... a big white n~andu`. ... Man~ik Leta tells the shaman where the n~andu`s can be found and how many caches he is allowed to hunt. ... After the hunt, a series of taboos and prescriptions established by Man~ik Leta should be kept : 1. to take care of the feathers; 2. to throw the bones to the fire".


Elkayk Leta

"(Elkayk : iguana, tupinambis ...). ... The shaman should meet Elkayk Leta at night to ask permission to hunt iguanas. If this permission is granted, a series of taboos, cares and behaviors must be kept".


Piok Lado

"the ‘mayuato’ or ‘aguara-pope’ (also ‘mapache’ or South American raccoon, Procyon carnivorous). ... Piok Lado has a big cave from where all the mayuatos (South American raccoons) ... come."


Niyiak Leta

"(Niyiak : sabalo ... fish ...) ... a big and black snake with ... bright eyes. ... The shamans that are in touch with Niyiak Leta are called ‘on~o-on~o’. ... The on~o-on~o talks all night withNiyiak Leta, asks permission to fish ... . If Niyiak Leta permits, the fisherman is able to dive into the Pilcomayo River without fear of being attacked by rays (katayk), the palometas (kote) and the piran~as."


Atela Name Nidiak

"is the guardian of the yacares ..., this guardian of the alligators is ... a gigantic cayman".


the Weday-s

"are water creatures that accompany the fishes."



"is a kind of land boa known as lampalagua or boa of the vizcachas. ... the Mother of Snakes. Walan~i lays eggs that give birth to ... all kinds of snakes."


Nanayk Pollo

"(Nanayk : serpent, snake; Pollo or Poleo : gigantic ...). ...



"The jaguars consider the Nanayk Pollo of the trees as their king.""



"is the rainbow. ... rainbow is a power serpent that produces eggs ... in the shape of small and pretty stones. These stones are green, blue, light blue and yellow ... . ... If a person wants to have power stones, he should get them and ..., then, will stick an arrow on the ground. On seeing it, Bosak will curl up around it and remain there."


Big Snake Lek

"become furious if a woman having her period ... goes for water."


Kojodot [Kohodot]

"is ... an old and short man. He ... initiates as shamans any person[s] he encounters. ... After talking to someone in the woods, he goes underground. ... Toba-Pilaga ... mention his small feet and the tiny shoes he wears."


Nejoe [Nehoe]

"is a woman who in mythic times broke a taboo. ... Nejoe’s nails grew ... . She started killing and eating people ... . Sometimes she would also eat baby parrots. ... All the power and strength of Nejoe was concentrated in her long fingers and long nails. ... Nejoe’s myth shows the origin of tobacco."



"is the black smallpox".

p. 25 "The coral snake is very good ... and we do not kill her. If you find a coral snake, you are going to be lucky."

p. 26 world-ages

"a chronology in which each time period is assigned to a particular culture hero or trickster ... . ... There is

Kakade’s time (carancho),

Wayaga’s time (fox),

Wayakalachi’s time (trickster),

Magayi’s time (quirquincho bola, a species of armadillo),

Tapan~ik or Molole’s time (mulita or tatu mulita, another species of armadillo),

Wole’s time (royal condor)".

pp. 25-27 culture-heroes & tricksters






" ‘kakade’ means carancho. ... Kakadelachigi pretended he wanted to win the heart of a beautiful eagle woman. ... When the eagle woman



became distracted, he stole the fire and brought it to the people."

"The original zoomorphic humanity did not have women. ... Women were stars who would steal food from men. Kakedelachigi was the one who cut the chain that enabled the women to come from the sky to the earth. He and Wayagakalachi [sic!] ... destroyed the teeth surrounding the women’s vaginas."



"is the giver of idayki, the talismans that help a man to win the heart of a girl ... . ... Wayakalachi ... may die, but he revives when it rains. {as such, he may be a plant, such as the "resurrection plant" (Selaginella pilifera).} ... In the myth of the origin of women Wayakalachi ... is victim of the woman’s toothed vagina, which eats his penis and testicles. Wayakalachigi replaced his kadola (testicles) using the fruits of the nakit ala (a kind of wild grapes) and the wood of the palo santo (tropical tree) to make himself a namo (penis) Kakadelachigi ... brought a big stone that was placed over the fire. They made all the primordial women it around the fire with their legs wide open. When the stone exploded {is this tale derived from Spanish use of explosives?}, the fragments destroyed all the teeth in the vagina of the women, except for a very small one which remained inside : the clitoris. {cf. Moroccan belief that the clitoris is a tooth} ... Later on, all the other figures in this original humanity, such as Kakadelachigi, Kotomayk (red headed jote), Wole (royal condor), Koymal (ferret), and Magayi ... had sexual intercourse with star women."



"is the fox. ... Wayaga appears as the leader of a group formed by skunks".



"is the quirquincho bola (species of armadillo) ... . ... Magayi ... in a hunting party ... met Nelonak (yarara, a snake). ... Magayi with his strong armor resisted the attack of Nelonak ... . ...

in the myth of the origin of women ... after Kakadelachigi cut the chain and the women fell and sank down into the earth, Magayi dug them out one by one. ... he decided to blind one of the women so nobody would take her."



"he is a powerful warrior that pretends to be a helpless old man. ... The cataclysmic ... "freezing of the world" also appears in this story." {cf. the ASINa Lta of the Eastern Toba (vol. 10, p. 27)}

pp. 27-28 astronomical deities








"a powerful male entity, the cause of women’s menstrual cycle. ... menstruation is equivaleent to sexual intercourse between Awoyki and a woman."


Ajeva [Aheva]



Nic^ije [Nic^ihe]

Morning Star / Venus




"Dapichi comes up with Yawolekede (a constellation ...) in the month of May, frosts and cold weather begin."



"cluster of stars" {Hyades?}

"are The Old Women or Old Ladies." "the Old Ladies ... say : ‘Look for some firewood ... .’ "


Man~ik Lakojot [Lakohot]


"Man~is is lying down by side of Nakayk (The Road ...). ... Suri look for a female and takes her, but the female goes away and leaves the male incubating the eggs."




"The Rabbit Stars ... . ... The rabbits ... over there ... clean each other, copulate; but they are stars".




[Pestle’s] Mortar {cf. BI`Obi`o River in Chile}




"Mortar’s pestle"




"Algarrobo, carob tree."

p. 28 notions about animals







tomalagae lakayk (‘red-headed’)

aguara guazu (maned wolf, Crysocyon brachiurus)

"If he screams or sings twice, it is because an important visitor will come. If he screams many times ... the next day news will arrive announcing a death. ... To hunt this animal is taboo."


black-headed jote (a bird of prey)

"If it appears on the ground and crosses the road with one wing extended, an accident could occur".


n~acurutu (small owl)

"with a sad singing announces that an ill person is going to die."


country owl

"with his singing announces that ... a spell is going to affect a person."


bell-tower owl (Tito alba)

"with its singing announces the plague, the flu, the whooping cough, or other illnesses."

ka kau

aquatic birds

"If they fly at night or before dawn over the native villages and scream, it is because a pionak is doing evil to somebody."


small tree lizards

"If they appear, ... a man is cursing another."

wac^idiyaga omagaray

red spider in Western Formosa province

"if this spider thinks and recognizes the person it has bitten, this remembrance is equivalent to a new bite."


preying mantis

"If it appears when a family is together, it is a sign that one of its members has lice on his or her hair. ... the praying mantis locates the lice and eats them. ... the praying mantis ... endowed with intent, ... the natives to not kill them."


earthen-colored beetle

"sacred ... . They do not kill him."