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Songs from San Blas Islands

The Kuna oral literature in the San Blas Islands basically consists of songs. They are mainly magical, epic, lyrical and popular songs. It is said, according to the Kuna tradition , that their magic songs belong to the singers. They are the owners of the songs and only allow the teaching to the students under the condition of not revealing the secrets. During the learning process, the pupil must repeat long sentences, even if he may not know the meaning, but he has to learn them by heart. When the master considers that the pupil is ready to understand the sense of the magic song, they sit back to back and the master begins to explain the meaning of the song. They have to sit back to back without looking at their faces because the look could hurt the pupil. It could even cause death, according to the traditional Kuna beliefs. In this position the master reveals the meaning of the metaphors or circumlocutions that the pupil has been learning during the training.

san blas islands songs

These types of songs in the San Blas Islands are usually very long. They are songs that can last many hours, even days. In these cases the singer has to be replaced by the advanced students in order to rest. One of the main songs of the Kuna culture is the “Inna Uila”; It has 15 songs and more than 8,000 verses. Its duration is 3 to 5 days and belongs to the ceremony of puberty. The ninth song is the most relevant and happens when they cut the girl’s hair who has become a woman. After this ceremony, Kuna women in the San Blas Islands wear short hair the rest of their lives.

kuna woman in san blas islands

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