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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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The two tribes, weakened, will soon be completely exterminated. In the attack, the Mundurucus are distributed in extensive lines; they are waiting for the enemy's arrows, which are taken by the women, with great dexterity. Then the women, who are beside them, or who themselves seek to avoid the arrows, by giving quick jumps, and then the men instantly flash the arrows collected by the women, when the enemy, trapped, no longer has much ammunition. They make their incursions exclusively by day, and, therefore, in retaliation are attacked at night by the warlike Araras.

In their permanent homes, they are, in turn, defended by complete military equipment. All the men, fit for war, sleep during the campaign in a large common ranch, far from the women, and are watched by patrols, who give all their signals through the ture, a trumpet of reeds with a shrill sound. With this instrument, the chief also during the combat, communicates his orders, blown by his helper.

Chief of Bravos with "ture"

Center, the ture, a trumpet of reeds

In triumph, the Mundurucu does not spare any enemy of the strong sex (1). As soon as he prostrates the enemy on the ground, with the arrow or the dart which is never poisoned, he takes him by his hair, and with a short bamboo knife he carves the enemy’s neck muscles and vertebrae with such skill, that the head is separated in an instant. According to Casal, because of this barbaric custom the Mundurucus are called "pai-quices" by the other forest tribes that is, "head-hunters" (2). The head, thus obtained, is then the object of the utmost care on the part of the victor. As soon as he is joined to his companions, they light fires, and the skull, after removing the brains, muscles, eyes and tongue, is singed on a stake; in the following days the skull is washed with water, then soaked in urucu

oil, and finally put in the sun to dry. After full hardening, they then fill it with a colored cotton, put resin eyes in it, put teeth on it, and at last adorn it with a feathered cap.

Thus prepared, the hideous trophy becomes inseparable from the victor's adornment, which he carries for hunting and war, stuck on a javelin, and when he sleeps at night in the common ranch,

or is by day in the sun, or when he smokes, he places it near his hammock as a lookout (3).

292

(1) An Indian of the tribe of Araras, taken prisoner in childhood, was to be found in Canoma, who had forgotten the language of his people. For a price I was able to sketch his portrait, for he feared to offend his masters by inserting in the cartilage of his nose the distinguishing mark of the Araras tribe: a piece of cane decorated with feathers. He had kept it jealously hidden.


(2) Pai-quice means "paje-knife" and only in a broad sense can it mean, as the author says, "head dissapointment," (Note from Rev. Inst. Hist. And Geogr. Bras.).
(3) This execrable custom is also known among the Xeberos, who used to take with them the severed heads of the Carios. (Southey, "History of Brazil," vol page 162).