01 August 2016

The legendary origins of yerba mate

Because of his time as a missionary in Argentina, Daniel was introduced to the practice and culture of yerba mate, a type of tea infused from a South American plant. It's now something that we all enjoy. Many legends exist to explain the ancient origins of this drink, known to indigenous peoples of the areas that are now Argentina, Paraguay, and southern Brazil. A list of some of them is found on the website for Guayakí, a brand of mate that is based in northern California. One comes from the Guaraní people:

...the ancestors of the Guarani at one time in the distant past crossed a great and spacious ocean from a far land to settle in the Americas. They found the land both wonderful yet full of dangers; through diligence and effort they subdued the land and inaugurated a new civilization. There were two brothers that vied for leadership of the people: Tupi and Guarani. Eventually they feuded and divided the people into two separate nations. Each nation, or tribe, adopted the name of the brother who was its leader.

The Tupi tribes adopted a more fierce, nomadic lifestyle, rejecting the agricultural traditions of their fathers. They engaged in the practice of drinking large quantities of a caffeine-containing drink prepared from the guarana tree.

The Guarani tribes became a stable, God-fearing people who worked the land and became excellent craftsmen. They looked forward to the coming of a tall, fair-skinned, blue eyed, bearded God (Pa'i Shume) who, according to legend, eventually did appear and was pleased with the Guarani. He imparted religious instruction... 

The similarities to major events in the Book of Mormon are remarkable: crossing an ocean, two competing brothers, nations named after them, nomadic vs. agricultural cultures, and looking forward to the arrival of a fair-skinned god. Admittedly, there is no information for the source of this legend and it is quite vague. But perhaps there is something at its foundation and the similarities can't all be coincidences. So how do we explain this? We very much doubt that that the writer of Guayakí's website chose to use the Book of Mormon as source material for this legend.

Click here to read more about this and other legends at Guayakí's site.
Click here for information on the Guaraní.