Remember the Rainforest 1
is taken various times. For the afternoon, we requested a dance from these Juris.
Little by little some 40 men gathered, most men from 20 to 60 years, who, full of gravity, prepared themselves in our presence. It consisted of ornamentation by dyeing each other with the paint of the urucu, mixed with oil of manatee or turtle. They dressed with bead necklaces and animal teeth around the neck and the belly and loin clothes; They tied their knees with rattles made with the beans of the “Chapeu-de-Napoleao” (Cerbera Thevetia),
and they applied tufts of feathers to their heads, arranged sometimes as crown around the temples,
sometimes letting them hang in the back as a long tail. The Master of the Dances wore on his head a high cylinder of embauba, garnished with tufts of feathers, and in the left hand an identical painted cylinder. This was three to four feet of the same light stick, with which he beat on the ground to mark the points on a compass.
When it darkened, and many campfires and lamps lit up the big ranch, the dancers were introduced. After a few steps of dance, with which they greeted us, we corresponded with offerings of bananas, they returned to the platform, where they performed several dances with great noise and cries of joy (1). I was tired from this bacchanal of these Amalucada people, when, unrehearsed, they called me to meet some of the masked ones, who ran from one side to another, between the lines of the dancers.
They were naked Indians, who had monstrous, hideous heads. These masks were made of baskets, on which a piece of Turiri (tree bark, similar to a cloth) was applied.
Storm Spirit mask
(1) I dare not decide whether the description of the dances of the Juris, by comparison with those of other savages, would provide a general interest to the ethnographers.
However, as I made notes in my journal, dances will always be important. The dancers advance in two rows, of four each, well approximated, rattling the beads, while stomping the feet, and some, alternating, make sounds with crude bamboo bagpipes. Each dancer brings a bunch of bananas over the left shoulder. So loaded, they danced a few times in the circle before us and put the fruits in large mounds. This ceremony, the first through which the Indians solemnly offered me a gift, ended with bows, which they did to all sides. Back at the ranch, they executed their own characteristic dance, which they preformed, as they told us, with the national dance of their neighbors and allies, the Passes. You could consider it a polka. Only the men danced in line; When half of them put their right hand over their neighbor's shoulder, the other half to the left of the man who was in the middle, would get rid of everyone.
One had in his hands two bamboo pipes, and marked with them the beat, with two notes. The others responded, then, with strident whistles, and the stage was set. The queues occupying the whole ranch moved in a wheel with two long steps, and a third, short. The dancers at the extreme points of the queue needed to run a lot, and not rarely tripped, provoking great laughter from the participants. From time to time, they were divided into two queues; Turning their heads from one line to the other, they greeted each other warmly, then the dancing men in the middle joined hands, forming of the queues a cross. Finally, they stretched themselves again in a row so, they were advancing their knees from time to time, leaning in deep bows, and, finally tired, they concluded the dance, releasing an enthusiastic shout.
When it was completely dark, the women also joined the dancers, who then executed the national dance of the Juris. The men were in two rows, one fours from the other; The ones in the back placed their hands on the shoulders of the front; In the third row, close to the men, the women formed. The line exploded with rapid patterns, sometimes in circles, sometimes in various directions. Instead of the rattle, we now heard the singing of the dancers, in unison, that the strange voice of the women made a terrible shiver. Better music, not that of their flutes and rattles, did not seem to make the least impression on them, an observation that I had among all the tribes I visited.