Publicado 05/05/2016 por Horacio Estigarribia en Guaraníes y Jesuítas

Guarani Astronomy

Written by Blas Servín
Graphics by: Arq. María Griselda Servín
Originally presented at Paraguay’s Scientific Society headquarters in November of 2000.

Dedicated to the scholars of Guarani cosmology, Professor Gonzalo Pereira of the Universidad Mayor de San Andres in La Paz, Bolivia and Professor Germano Alfonso of the Universidad Federal del Estado de Parana.

Like all American indigenous cultures, the Guarani project their environment in the heavens in order to explain the stars and celestial phenomena. They see the Earth as an island or continent in the midst of an infinite oceanic plane. As a tribe, they maintain many myths.

Stars and Astronomical Phenomena in Guarani:

ARANDU – he who understands the meaning of the stars.

ARASY – the Mother of the heavens, who dwells on the Moon.

KUARAJHY – the Sun, the source of light, the world’s origin, the god with his cult and many myths. Derived from CU: he, ARA: day, light, world, and JHY from SY: mother, origin, source of life. The dwelling of Tupá, the supreme god of the Guarani.

MBIYA COE – Refers to Venus, when visible in the morning.

ÑANDERUTENONDE; ÑANDERUVUSU – the creator of everything that exists, the invisible, pure spirit that manifests itself through natural phenomena: thunder, lightning, fire, etc.

TOME O TUME – A character from remote regions who introduced agriculture to the Guarani, how to organize socially, etc. He later went on his way promising to return. TOME or TUME parallels Quetzaltcoal of the Aztecs, Kulkulkan of the Mayans, and Wiracocha of the Andes.

TUPA – the closest divine form to mankind, for some sub-tribes TUPA is thunder, while he is the demigod of the sun or rain and hail for others.

YASY – the Moon, goddess of fertility, love and sex, of plant development, mother of the stars. She is the origin of or deity that created the Guarani race.

YASYTATA (the moon’s light) – Stars. The stars that illuminate the Moon.

YASYTATA GUASU – The planet Mars, where the bright spirit Tume or Tome went to live and before leaving promised to one day communicate with them.

YVA – The sky is made up of various transparent layers, the last of which is called PYTUMBA (dark) or ARAKAÑY (lost sky), a region in which the Sun’s light does not reach.

The Day:
ARA – day

KOE – dawn

KOE MBOTA – just before dawn

KOE YU – daybreak

KOE PYTA – pink sky at dawn

KOE TI – clean, clear sky at dawn

KOE SORO – when daylight breaks through the darkness

KOE MBAMA – complete daybreak

PYHAREVE – morning (from dawn to noon)


ASAYE – siesta (from 1-3 PM)

KAARU – afternoon (from 3 PM to twilight)

KAARU PYTU – evening twilight

PYTU – darkness


The Seasons:

The Guarani understood that after 12 full moons the same climate returns. While they did not have the concept of years; however, the appearance of EICHU (Pleiades) on the horizon just before the Sun in June marked the return of the agricultural cycle and the celebration of ARETE GUAZU.

KUARAJHY ARA – Time of Sun (Summer)
ROY ARA – Time of cold (Winter)
AMA ARA – Time of rain (Rainy season)

Lunar Phases:

YASY MOROTIHU – First Quarter Moon
YASY GUASU – Full Moon
YASY YEAROKA – Last Quarter Moon



Milky Way


For some Guarani, it is called MBOREVI RAPE (trail of the tapir), a nocturnal animal that always takes the same path between its den, watering hole, and feeding grounds. The dry leaves trampled day after day illuminate the Moon. These ancestors pictured this trail in the Milky Way.


For others it was TAPE KUE (the old trail) where the ancestors had come down from the heavens and by which one day everyone would return. To indicate the path, the ancestors left two fires (the Large Magellanic Cloud and Small Magellanic Cloud).




The mythical JAGUA JHOVY (the blue tiger) dwelled in the heavens and would swallow the Moon or the Sun from time to time. Upon witnessing these phenomena, the Guarani would shout JAGUA JHOU YASY (the tiger has eaten the Moon) or JAGUA JHOU KUARAJHY (the tiger has eaten the Sun) and launch arrows or rocks towards the sky in the hopes of forcing the tiger to spit out the Moon or the Sun to bring back the light.




For the Guarani of the Eastern region, this constellation is known as EICHU, a hive of wasps that existed in the pre-Columbus Americas. In the western region Guarani call it OÑEMBYATYVA (those that gather) because this group of stars appears in the East just before sunrise during the first days of June. This being a cold part of the year, the Guarani saw this star cluster as an indigenous family huddling and trembling of cold in the sky. The reappearance of EICHU or OÑEMBYATYVA marked the return of the agricultural cycle similar to the western concept of New Year. At this time, villages would burst into a loud celebration known as ARETE GUASU accompanied by mimby tarara (flutes) and angu apa (drums).






The stars that make up Orion’s belt, represent a widowed mother and her two widowed daughters after a conflict seen crying of loneliness in the sky.


The star cluster Hades (Taurus) upon baptism by Jesuit missionaries began to be seen as the Virgin Mary.




Because this pair of stars are always observed together they were named MENDARE JOACJHU (newlywed love).


The Southern Cross


ÑANDU PYSA, the footprint left by a nandu-the South American relative to the ostrich.




Rokai: a fence made of logs that surrounded the village to keep out others or around gardens to keep out animals.

SAGITTARIUS: MBOREVI TUPA ROKAI, the tapir god’s garden fence

SCORPIUS: AGUARA TUPA ROKAI, the fox god’s garden fence. Throughout all of indigenous America, this animal is associated with agriculture.




This celestial phenomenon was a bad omen that would precede the death of a chief or MBURUVICHA, a war, or disease. Because of its connotation, it was given the vivid name of YASY TATA REPOTI (the excrement of the stars).


Stamps issued by the Paraguayans Postal Service with the Guarani Sky.