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What is Ayvu Rapyta?

December 1, 2011

This website is project of mine that I do for my own interest.  I have some strange hobbies and I sometimes like to spend my free time in the Hayden Library of Arizona State University peering over obscure texts about the Native American Indians.  I am fascinated by native languages and love to read about the beliefs of native people in their native tongue.

I learned Guaraní as a Mormon missionary in Paraguay.  In Paraguay I was able to get to know many of the native people and found their ways very foreign but very interesting.  The name of this website, Ayvu Rapyta, is Guaraní and means roughly “the foundation of the word” and is also the name of a book.  More specifically it is Mbyá Guaraní, a particular group of the Guaraní that inhabit the southern part of Paraguay in Guairá and Misiones in Argentina.  I did not know any Mbyá while I lived in Paraguay and the dialect is a little different.  But the book is fantastic and gives the most complete record of Guaraní beliefs and customs I have ever seen.

Ayvu Rapyta was the most difficult book for me to come by.  It is extremely rare and I believe it is out of print.  After I returned to the United States I tried to find a copy to purchase all over the internet but could not find a copy anywhere.  I visited Paraguay again one year later and during the week I was there on vacation I was searching in every bookstore I came across.  I finally found an old copy in a bookstore in Asunción.  Since then I have been sporadically transcribing the book and have made PDF documents available here on this website.  I don’t have the whole thing done but I have several of the most important chapters complete.  I hope others interested in the Guaraní culture and language will enjoy it.  And they won’t have to spend several hundred dollars to go to Paraguay looking for a copy like I did!

I always keep my eye open for interesting American Indian documents.  Some I have found online and collected.  I have also found some others in bookstores and in the ASU library.  I like studying these and transcribing them is a good way for me to dive into them.  It is also a way to share my interests with anyone else as quirky about such things as I am.

Recently, I recently found another treasure in a little hole-in-the-wall bookstore in Colorado.  Since I live in Arizona, I am very interested in the local tribes in the state.  In this bookstore I found a collection of Tohono O’Odham (Papago) and Pima legends in the native language, along with English translation.  Very cool!  It’s called O’othham Hoho’ok A’agitha, compiled by Dean and Lucille Saxton.  I have started diving into it and I’m hooked.  But my Tohono O’odham isn’t very good.  I’ll work on that.  So I’ll try to make some of those passages available online too.

If you happen to have any documents in an American Indian language I would love to have a copy to post here.  Even scanned copies are great.  I hope you enjoy the site.

Todd Decker

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8 Comments
  1. julie permalink

    hi! nice to meet! your work is incredible.

  2. BLANDIN Arnaud permalink

    Hello,
    I’m very interested by sacred texts and my girl friend is brazilian and her grandmother spoke with her in tupi guarani when she was young. We have found your website and your work on Ayvu Rapita which is very interesting. I began to translate it in french ( because I’m french ) and I would ask to you if you had the chapters you haven’t translated in english or if they were not present in the book you have found ?
    If you have it, could it possible to send me the part in guarani ?

    Thank you again for your work and your interest for sacred word and sacred world

    Arnaud

    • I do have the other chapters and am in the processing of getting them all up on the site, Spanish and Guaraní. Should all be up in the next few weeks.

    • Arnaud it took less time than I thought. The entire text is on the website now in one form or another. Some of it is scanned some is transcribed. I’ll still be doing some clean-up work to make it all look nice though. I also recently found this link from Pueblos Originarios where you can get the whole text: http://pueblosoriginarios.com/textos/ayvu/ayvu.html

      Good luck with the French translation. I need to work on an English translation. I just have the Spanish and Guaraní right now. But the most important thing to me was to make the original Guaraní available.

      If you are interested in more material on Guaraní culture this is another good resource: http://www.bvp.org.py/biblio_htm/cadogan/cad_1.htm

  3. Gabi permalink

    I am paraguayan and currently living in the States. I am an illustrator and am working on a book about the Guarani legends. This helped me a lot. Thank you for your work!

  4. Gabriel permalink

    Good, EXCELENT WORK!

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