Remember the Rainforest 1
But while the women of the Miranhas were constantly busy with this delicate
part of their home-making, and also with the manufacture of baskets, they never remembered to make costumes for themselves. They seem to be dressed in innocence, but always carefully painted, and this is their clothing. It impressed me here very much, this nudity, all the more because I felt a lot of empathy for this sex. While men indulge in the most careless idleness, women are tireless in the incessant labor of the household, and even showed benevolence in their efforts, in the preparation of better stews for us, and an interest in our illnesses. One should almost believe that the weaker sex develops with less violence the natural disposition and temperament of the early American forest dweller, and that, therefore, it will be easier to bring these women into higher civilization. They regard those who give them mirrors, colored lips, and beads as men of a more perfect kind, and such a sense, mixed with awe of them, has flattered them with the vanity of a higher knowledge, arousing in them the will to change their current condition. Thus, we can say that only in the women of these Miranhas do we see vestiges of industry. Aside from their services in planting cassava, and preparing flour and bread, they also cultivate cotton on a small scale, whose threads stretch through the spinneret and process the dye from the juice of several plants.
The cotton bush (in Tupi, manym or amanym-grape) was undoubtedly known to primitive Indians.
The Miranhas also prepare the floury seeds, which they crush and cook with water, making a thick mash, which, seasoned with chilli pepper, constitutes one of their foods. The other plants, that I saw cultivated here, were the aipim,
the banana and the urucu.
From the ayu-uva almond (Laurus-chloroxylon, Sw.), which reaches a massive
size, they prepare, as many tribes of Surinam do, a fine paste by pulverizing the seed and harvesting the precipitate from the aqueous infusion. They attribute to this starch many medicinal virtues, especially against stomach ache. Also a preparation of saline, which replaces the table salt of cooking, was observed by me among these industrious women. They take it out of the new wood of the salt tree, jukyra-iiv(Lecythias),
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Just like the Tecunas' process; but the nets of this tribe have, however, the fabric of cotton. Other nations make the hammocks (in tupi, kyfaba) with crossed warp. I did not find them in Japura painted and trimmed with bird feathers, but the Indians know how to soak the threads in fade-resistant vegetable paints.