top of page

Leonia crassas   Family: Violaceae     Kichwa: Tamia Yura (Napo); Chawata Lulun (Pastaza); Wao Tededo: Gemetawe (BSZ)


Delicia Dagua, "Yaku Muyu song for rejecting a lover."

Tod Swanson, 2011.   Tamia Yura or Chawata Lulun is a cauliforous tree whose trunk becomes covered with round fruits.  These fruits are compared to boils or tumors covering human skin.  Because of this similarity it is believed that tumors can be passed from the tree’s body to the human body or visa versa through emotional intimacy.  On the one hand a person can be cured of tumors by causing the tree to feel an emotional bond toward them (llakichina) such that it takes the human tumor into itself.  Conversely the tree can pass its tumors to a human being it resents.  In general the tumors are passed from tree to human in a cross gender fashion.    If a male tree senses that an attractive human woman is repulsed by his tumor covered bark he may resent her.   The resentful attraction creates a negative bond through which the tree’s tumors can be transferred to the woman.  In order to prevent tumors from being transferred women treat the tree as a resentful man who wants to dance.   Each time they come across such a tree they untie their hair as though they were preparing for a dance.  Swishing their hair back and forth they say,


“Come and dance brother!

(Then) That is all I am going to dance brother.

(First) You say “Come and dance brother.”

After that (you say) That is as much as I am going to dance

Our bodies become covered with boils

If we dance like that the boils do not emerge

Therefore we ask that Chawata turtle egg tree to dance

So that the boils will not come out

We danced him every time we met him

Saying “come and dance brother.”

After that we go to the chagra or wherever.


If you do have a tumor you dance in order to not have it ever again.

That is what that medicine is good for.

It is the turtle egg fruit

Whenever/where ever  we meet him 

Saying come and dance brother

We ask him to dance

Then we don’t get tumors

If we don’t ask him to dance

Anything might grow on our skin

Lump after lump because of this tree

That is why we go to our chagras 

Laughing (teasing, flirting)

Dancing with an ashanga (basket on our backs)


Photo: Tod D. Swanson.   Collected 9/2019, Balée, Swanson, and Zurita #8.  Río Nushino, Gomataon.  Historical Ecology of Waorani Ridgetops project funded by National Geographic.   

bottom of page