Songs to Oropendolas

“My Woman Comes Laughing Sadly: Song to Russet-backed Oropendola

Singer: Luisa Cadena

Recorded and translated by Tod Swanson

Oriole! Oriole Woman

Mountain oriole woman

Oriole, oriole

Juuu woman!

From the pool in the canyon


I come laughing

You think I am just an ordinary oriole!

Maybe she just wants to come laughing


I think she is thinking of me.

Is it my wife who laughs sadly like that?

Maybe she is coming laughing from the canyon

Is she in her manioc garden?

And I was here thinking

she is just an ordinary woman

Mountain oriole,

Oriole, oriole

It was my wife.

Original Pastaza Quichua (Canelos Kichwa) language text

Mangu mangu warmiga

Urcu mangu warmiga,


juu warmiga

Waicupugru mandami


Asishami shamuni

Canga yanga mangumi

jujujujuuuu asishallaya

Shamujunlla nisha chari

Yuyawaj anri iyari

Ñuca ricucpi yaga

Ñuca  warmichu

Kasnaya llaquinallaya asisha

Waicumanda shamujun casna asishachari

Paibi chagrabigaya tiapajun tiajun (?)

Yanga warmicha yuyashami tiagarani

Urcu manguta

Chulla mangu, manguta

Chulla chari arani iyari

Ñuca warmi tagaya .

Oropendolas are likened to a group of women who cook and raise their children together.

Human women living under these conditions often have difficulty getting along.   A key Amazonian strategy for living well together is humor.   As they work or tease men together Amazonian women break into peals of feminine laughter that can be heard from afar.  This distinctively feminine laughter is stylized as Jujujujuui!  It is the sound of women working in harmony.    Oropendolas are believed to epitomize this ideal of sisters laughing.   As they move around their nests the oropendolas call and answer each other.  Their loud multi-syllable call rising in a scale of ascending notes is reminiscent of the stylized laugher of Amazonian women Jujujujui!