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Traditions and Legends
From all the seven beautiful and charming dancers that the cacique had for his own he lost six during the wreck of the canoe. His last dancer had escaped from death, maybe because she was involuntary delayed when she was making herself up or maube because she was previously warned by the behique who felt a special preference for her. Her name was Aycayia and she was the most beautiful of the seven dancers, she was the dancing and sang with the most sweet and melodious voice.
It is hardly surprising that she could not keep herself away from perturbating the peace of the village, moving the men away from work, from the fulfillment of their duties as warriors and breaking the unity of homes. Once again meet the cacique, the elder and the behiques, and for the second time they came to consult the all mighty Cemí, who spoke to them like this:
- Aycayia is a symbol of sin, the sin of beauty, art and love. She gives pleasure to the men; but she makes them her slaves. She takes their will away and her evil strenght lies in the fact that she satisfies all but she does not let them possess her. She is a virgin and she will die like a virgin. If you want to life with no worries at all you must put her away from you.
And so the advice of the Cemí was taken. Aycayia was condemned to live in isolation accompanied by an old woman called Guanayoa. She was taken to a place that we know as Punta Majagua today.
Unfortunately, these measures did not make the situation any better. The influence she had over men was so huge the siboneyes came every day to Majagua. They abandoned their works and homes with the only purpose of seeing Aycayia. She danced showing her skills and agility. Listening, while she would sing with her sweet and charming voice.
It was natural that al men would compete for her giving fruits, feathers, shells and other adorns for her to fulfill her vanity. She would smile to all of them and would accept all the gifts and no men could say he was her chosen one. The women felt themselves abandoned, left by their husbands, boyfriends. Then men had only eyes for Aycayia.
They all came to see the cacique, and so he informed the main behique about the complain. And so he tried to make men to act properly. He obtained no results. The beautiful exiled dancer was stronger that all threats and complains. So, the main behique asked again for advice to the Cemí of the Jagua godness. It gave him some small black seeds, giving him the following instructions:
- These seeds are amulets against forgiveness and infidelity. Give this to the women for them to plant them in their yards. When the flowers appear they will see their sorrow and problems fly away and they will receive again the love and passion of their husbands and boyfriends.
All the seeds carefully treated by the women gave origin to the tree we know as Majagua or Demajagua, which means mother Jagua. The flowers, leaves and wood are considered to be from that time on an amulet to prevent infidelity. The trees grew and with the first flower a hurricane devasted the area, destroying the hut of Aycayia and the Elder woman that accompanied her. The waves dragged both to the sea, turning her into a mermaid and turning the old lady into a turtle. So, it was the end of the empire she ruled over the men of Jagua.
The legend of Aycayia does not speak of her life in the sea. There are some who thinks she turned into a lonely mermaid, swimming purposeless in the bay or in open sea, blowing a huge Shell in the Caribbean Sea, which sound sounds like that made by Caorao, the God of storms. Some other believed she was accompanied riding on Guanayoa, turned into a huge and disgusting turtle, but also blowing the shell, eternally condemned to wander over the stormy seas, cleaning her sin of being a beautiful, seductive virgin.
(Taken fom the book: "Traditions and Legends of Cienfuegos", by Adrián del Valle, 1919.)
Translated by: Osmany Ortiz González (Azurina)