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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Three women were busy dyeing black their dresses and short bodices, which barely covered them. For this, they employ a very fine black sludge containing iron, which frequently appears in the coves of the river, and in the fruits of the macucu (Ilex macucu, Auhl.).

Ilex

Ilex macacu

These fruits, the size of an Indian chestnut, seem to contain a considerable amount of tannin and gallic acid, because as soon as it is grated with water and mixed with the sludge, it produces a very durable paint. The usual method for obtaining the chemical process is as follows: the cloths to be dyed are covered a few days with the sludge and, after being sprinkled with water a few times, they are put into a tub where the powder of the macucu fruit is dissolved in water ; or, turned inside out, soaked in the water, where the fruits were crushed, and then mixed with the mud. If the ink does not get very well for the first time, repeat the process.

The Indians are more appreciative of coarse cotton, dyed rather than white, perhaps because it is not necessary to wash freckles so often. Their short black dress suits them well, because it fits better with the color of their skin and hair than the fine white shirts that are part of the black and mulatto costumes in the southern provinces.

Lagoa Saraca

On an island, between the second and third mouths of Lake Saraca, we disembarked on October 11, to visit a farm, whose owner has the merit of being a master in the preparation of tobacco. It is said that this island and its neighbors, as well as the region around Silves, produce the best smoke of the whole state.

Tobacco plantation

Without a doubt, the excellence of the product depends more on the favorable climate than on the care in cultivation and preparation. The seeds of tobacco are scattered on loose, sunken ground; the little plants that sprout, are pruned, or pruned, to relieve them; and grow, then, to the height of a man, in a few months. The leaves are cut, dried, rolled into cylinders three to six feet long

Tobacco rolls

and one inch thick; and then are strongly pressed with a strip of cork from the Para chestnut (Bertholletia excelsa, Humb.).

Bertholletia excelsa

At the end of a few days, the first cigars will be given to them, the next one more rounded, the process will continue until the tobacco is united in homogeneous mass, perfumed. Finally this roll is wrapped with the resistant

(1) This is not the only black color these Indians know how to prepare. Another paint is made with the herb

Eclipta erecta

Eclipta erecta (L.), macerated in water, and other centaureas; a third is prepared with the fruits of the genipaper (Genipa americana, L);

Genipa americana

of blue they dye cloths with the berries of the climber anil (Cissus);

Cissus incisa

of red with the pau-brasil or with the urucu (Rocou, Orlean)

Urucu

of yellow, with the leaves of several pineapples. A similar way of dying that is practiced in Chile with the roasted clay, which the Indians prepare by baking it with the leaves of Coriaria myrtifolia, L., or with the root of Gunnera scabra, R.P.

Coriaria myrtifolia

Gunnera scabra

 

 

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