The Pirahã are said to be atheists, but this does not seem to be entirely true. While they do not revere a supreme being, they do believe in spirits in the forest roundabout. Moreover, they believe in people who dwell above the clouds. Whether these are conceived as gods of a sort it would be interesting to discover.
On one occasion anthropologist Daniel Everett (born 1951) and his daughter were told that Xigagai, one of these supernebular people, was on the beach. He and his daughter could see nothing, but Xigagai was perfectly perceptible to the tribesmen looking on. Because he was seen by a number of onlookers, the possibility of hallucination seems remote; but how could he be visible to the Pirahã and not to the Everetts? What circumstances would allow for selective visibility? What sort of creature or being was he? Did the Pirahã revere him as a god? These are questions the present writer cannot answer.
|Page from Pirahã dictionary|