Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Legend of the Taotaomonas, Guam ancestors

The taotaomonas (people before recorded time) are the apparitions of the ancient people of Guam. The Spanish-Chamoroo War, April 2, 1672 - July 1695 resulted in the deaths of over 150,000 native inhabitants which included the manmakahnas (ancient medicine healers later dubbed suruhanos and suruhanas by the Spanish). Many of the ancient Latte Stone sites were once villages burned and destroyed by the Spanish soldiers. Roaming the jungles are ancestral spirits with unresolved but determined purpose.

Historian Benigno Palomo writes, "While it is often said that the ancient Chamorro had no organized priesthood, no temples and no defined religious creed, therefore, no rituals, according to Padre San Vitores 1669, the Chamorros worshiped the spirits of their ancestors, called aniti.

The aniti were sacred and powerful spirits who could help them. When angered, however, they could do harm. As a result, the spirits and relics of the dead, especially of one's ancestors, were feared and venerated. The chamorros had their rituals.

The taotaomona may take the form of a person who appears physically large and strong. The forms taken may be white lady aparitions accompanied by scents of flowers or lemon, large men or 'small children called duendes'. Some of the taotaomonas are described as headless and having deformed bodies. If a person gathers plants in a jungle, they must ask permission "gue'la yan gue'lo, kao sina yu' manule' tinanoum-mu ya yanggen matto hao gi tano'-hu fanule' ha sin mamaisen" in Chamorro.

There is one special taotaomona called Anufat. He is described as very ugly with teeth six inches long. He also has a hole on each side of his head, with ferns stuffed in each hole.

There is a story by the Manhamkos (elderly men and women), that if a person walks through an ancient burial site, they must always whistle so as not to disturb Anufat. If they don’t whistle, Anufat may become startled and cause great harm.

The taotaomonas of Guam roam the jungles and are present around the ancient latte ruins, large basalt and coral boulders and caves, as well as among the thick dense hanging roots of the Banyan Trees.

If you enter the jungles and disturb the taotaomonas, they may pinch you, leaving red marks or swellings on your body, or they may cause illnesses which are difficult to diagnose by conventional doctors.. The only treatment for this sickness is to visit a suruhana (Chamorro female traditional healer) or a suruhano (Chamorro male traditional healer). You may be given herbs or a massage as treatment but almost always you will be instructed to revisit the site where the illness began and ask forgiveness from the "guelotas and guelatas" or ancient grandparents for disturbing a burial site.

The mindset of the Chamorro culture is rooted on respect which is extended to those who have passed beyond the world of the living. Those who enter the jungle, cave or an unexpected clearing under a large rooted tree without exhibiting proper respect will fall ill. Visitors beware!

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In this world of when,why,what,where and how it is so easy to lose repect of the think you are asking about thinking you have figured it all out.I like this approach to earth though asking why is always good never forget to respect that which you are asking. Wouldn't it deserve respect just becuase you are asking why to it?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im from guam so i do believe in all of this i been through this and seen and heard it all. although it may sound scary but its not happening all over the world just in some places i think. guam is full of jungle nd surrounded by many its small island but you are never bored. though the taotaomona however is true , all you gotta do is ask for permission and thank them and not aggitate them my dads friend did die from stepping on a baby taotaomona and he dint believe in them therefore they made him sick and killed him cause he didnt go back to apologize.they are my ancestors and all they really ask is respect or permission for entering or using there territory it maybe scary but guam will always be home to me

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