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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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so I took advantage of the description that a Portuguese ethnographer made of them (1).

The nation of Jumanas (xomanas), living in Ica, between that river, the Pureus and the Guami are called "Tecunas" by the Spaniards of Mainas.

There also were some remaining in Maripí, and even these bring residents to Ega, as well as many descendants from the same tribe who are identified by a long oval tattooed around the mouth, which often also covers the lips, cheeks and continues in a horizontal line, covering all. Our subject had to be examined, to be portrayed in a portrait and also answer questions about his vocabulary. Above all, this last effort seemed very painful to him (2). The Jumana, whom I had at my disposal, had an expression of openness and a regularity of facial features, much less than others who we later found on the Japura, which convinced me that this tribe, not being the Passes and Juris, was the one of better physical form. In fact, they are of a thinner structure than those, however, better formed than most other tribes. The face is round, the nose sharper than in general, and the whole expression is one of sweet and ingenuous kindness. The women have a beautiful stature, and the settlers of the Rio Negro look for them particularly as slaves, as well as the women of the Marauas. The natural disposition of the Jumanas seems to be even more frank and loyal than that of the Passes, and for this reason they

(1) “The Passes admit the existence of a creator of all things, they believe that the souls of the good, as a reward, live with the creator, and the wicked, on the contrary, remain as punishment with the evil spirits. Their idea is that the sun is at a standstill and the earth is moving around the sun, and thus they are alined to the system taught by Pythagoras 300 years before Christ, and later by Filolaus, Aristarchus, and Cleanto of Samos, a system reestablished by the Cardinal of Cusa, and finally developed by Copernicus. They say that from the earth's movement determines the currents of rivers and streams, which they call arteries and veins of the earth, the earth seems to roll, so that all its parts are fertilized. The sun and moon give the same effect that is attributed to them in the Sacred Scripture. As the ancient astronomers divided the sphere into different heavens, the mind of the Passes divides into a superior and another inferior, as if separated by a transparent dome: the superior is all light, the abode of the creator, and illuminated by the sun’s rays; the lower, by the stars.

 

They bury their dead in large pots of clay, later transferring them into smaller pots, which they carry at certain feasts. In weddings, they adopt a custom identical to that of the old legends, whose conquering heroes have the choice of the girl. The Passes obtain the bride by the triumph in a battle, where the suitors fight among themselves. To what extent the ideas about the cosmos, here attributed to the Passes, subsist on their own, as their own dogma, I dare not decide. Surprising to have found in this tribe such a cosmic belief system so developed, but for this very reason it deserves greater consideration, because much of the physical conformation of this people seems to indicate to it a higher civilization.

(2) In Europe, the effort it took to train an Indian, so foreign to his spirit, to utter certain words, and interpret them, would seem incredible. The wonderful art of writing, when the indian contemplates it is intimidating. He soon loses all his charm, becoming distressed and annoyed, as a culprit in questioning. As we endeavored to gather the chief words from many tribes, we found that in order to question them we could only arouse them from indolence by means of two things: some rum or a question about certain parts of the body, whose designation, besides others, we lack in our vocabulary. Asked about numbers, the Indian responds, usually using his fingers, and when he wants to express more than three things, he uses his hand or fingers. The respondent presents the corresponding number of fingers, or also the toes, which extend upwards, as if he wished to affirm the corresponding answer. Monteiro signaled a strange custom of the Jumanas. It is said that they burn the bones of their dead and take the ashes in their drinks, believing that the soul resides in the bones, and that thus the dead live again in those who have ingested the ashes.

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