next arrow

Remember the Rainforest 1



Expedition Index






People / Scenes


Green Girl's Eco Club

Eco SuperHeroes RTR2

Free Posters

Authors / Artists

Contact us


















There we saw for ourselves the art of the Solimoes, most often painted by Indians, made with these river muds, displayed at the doors of the huts, on the canoes, on the oars and on the instruments.

The figures are extremely coarse, executed without brush, with the finger or with a piece of wood. All kinds of spirals and scrolls, rough figures of men and animals, are the object of these primitive artists. What was most surprising among them was a continual repetition of a figure, which was constant, among the diversity of things within the reach of the fantasy of these beings of nature. It was a spiral of more or less curves inside a square, and attached to one side of it. Over time I observed this same figure traced on the stone walls at the edge of the Japura. The meaning of a figure so widely scattered can not be explained to me by any of the Indians, and it seems to me that they continue to employ the spiral by attachment to the distinctive habits of their race; Perhaps the figure wants to remember the whirlpools made by the water along the river, produced by the paddles; even more, I find the greatest resemblance to it in the gaze of these amphibious people, that noticing the wonderful still bubbling of the waters, admires it and seeks to reproduce it.
The Indians whom we have now found in the forest-crested colonies, or scattered along the riverbank, manifested, not only by such attempts at painting household objects and church walls, but also by other abilities, a degree of civilization and industry that had greatly distinguished the tribes of southern Brazil. Their utensils and weapons, finely polished or painted and decorated with felted feathers of birds, objects made of wicker and clay - all indicated a perfection, which is acquired only by experience, comfortably accomplished. It also seemed that they appreciated their objects, not merely for the sake of their usefulness, but with a kind of esteem.

It was often difficult for us to persuade them to exchange these weapons and instruments for European articles. This was especially true when it came to poison arrows and blowpipes, with which they blow the poisoned little arrows. These are weapons we first saw in Coari, but from then on we found everywhere in Solimoes and its tributaries.

Carving a blowpipe

These objects are not entirely of their own making, for they receive the poison from some people of the Japura and the high Solimoes. They are experts in their preparation, particularly the Juris, Passes, Miranhas, and Tecunas; the Zarabatanas are also partly negotiated with the neighbors to the west, so that they have only to prepare arrows and the carcasses for the counter. The skill with which these hunters