Bakru Winti and Bakru
Bakru (or Bakroe) is a dwarf or gnome spirit in the Winti religion of Suriname. It is called a dwarf spirit as it is approximately half the size of a human child, but with an oversized head. The Bakru is deemed a busi Winti (forest or fire god) of the lowest order. As a Winti the Bakru is used by the Winti of higher orders in the pantheons, to run errands.
The Bakru are usually seen in pairs, or with a family at a short distance. Even though the Bakru is a busi Winti, it is said to be located at bridges, passes, and locks, were it supposedly lives with its family. (Bakru are also said to be found living near very old trees or old houses.)
Evil doers and ill wishers
The Bakru Winti is not the only Bakru that people refer to. There is also a bakru that is created by wisi man (evil spell workers). It is said to be made of half flesh and half wood. Some state that this bakru has red eyes, but that is not always reported by its victims.
A wisi man can create kartiki bakru. There are two versions of this creation story. One story is built on the claim that (paralyzed) humans are used as slaves to carry out difficult or even humanly impossible tasks or wisi (evil tasks). Thus there is no Winti spirit, but possession of the spirit of the person. He is robbed of his own mind or will, and used as if a kartiki bakru. Another story is that a bakru is made out of wood and brought alive. This would mean that the wood gets infused with the spirit of someone or something else. In any case, these two story-lines may converge to the claim that the bakru is half flesh and half wood. The wooden one to direct the flesh one.
The wisi man may be able to create a whole family of kartiki bakru. Either by bonding together the spirits of paralyzed humans, or by multiplying the wooden bakru, through secret formulas.
The name Bakru strikes terror in people, as the Bakru and bakru are usually linked to abuse. Either the Bakru is sent out to wreak havoc upon selected persons by the higher Winti, or the bakru is used to carry out evil tasks for the wisi man. Either way they will get specific instructions to tie or harm the person(s). As such the Bakru has no will of its own. It is to obey the demand of the Winti that puts it to task, near the same as the bakru is to obey the command of the evil-doer who made it, or controls it.
The bakru goes about its tasks fearlessly. It uses the wooden part of its body to protect itself from hard and sharp objects. Thus it cannot feel pain. It does not have a mind of its own, as its mind is set to perform its task. Even if the bakru would have a mind of its own, it would never be afraid, as the bakru is seldom by itself.
Using a bakru is not without risks. If the bakru cannot perform its task because the person has already died, or is alive but protected, then the bakru will have no choice but to bring harm to the wisi man, or his client, who gave the assignment. The bakru does not have the free will to decide otherwise. Thus if the assignment is to kill – which might only work with people who are weak of mind and spirit already – then the evil-doer will know his fate if the bakru is unsuccessful. He will have to call upon higher Winti to save him. That will come with a hefty pai (price) too.
In the Winti culture people also mention a wroko bakru (a mindless work spirit). The wroko Bakru is comparable to the European Rumpelstiltchken (‘Repelsteeltje’ in Dutch). The dwarf will do all the work in exchange for pai (pay), but if the debt is not paid, then the only way to get rid of this gnome, is to call it by its real name: Akanti hudu. Thus, it seems like the wroko bakru is the kartiki bakru. If the kartiki bakru is implanted in the mind of a powerless human being, then a wroko bakru has been created.
One can hope that this name will work on any bakru, or not ‘play’ with bakru at all. Not even to ‘just’ lure customers for a business. It might be wisest to use the money for the wisi man, for advertising the business.
No matter the description of half flesh and half human, the bakru usually inflicts harm by possessing the body and mind of the victim. Thus, one could speak of a transferal of a poisonous (evil) thought. The bakru transports the evil wish from the mind of the person wishing harm, to the person to be harmed. Those who are strong of mind, and practice to keep it so even if only by protection of higher Winti, cannot be harmed by the bakru. Their minds cannot be influenced towards what would look like self-harm for the onlookers. The bakru might keep looking for a way to enter the mind of the victim for quite a while, but there is always a deadline.
If a bakru does manage to take hold of the mind of the selected victim to do harm, then it needs to get expelled. Higher winti through a more powerful bonu man have to be called upon to expel the bakru, and send it on its way. Whether the bakru screams while fleeing, will be irrelevant to the victim. The body and mind will feel lighter, and it is the evil-doer who can now expect its evil wishes to return to him or her.
This is a Dutch Guyana text based on:
– Culturu.com: http://www.culturu.com/index.php/action,printpage/topic,96.0.html
– Mistiek.nl: http://mistiek.punt.nl/category/view/winti (Radio Stanvaste, Kultuurwaaier)
– Wiki: http://nl.wikipedia .org/wiki/Bakroe