University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

The papoose
Vol. I. No. 2. (January, 1903)

A Brazilian collection,   pp. 23-27


Page 26

tended to an almost inconceivable size. They also bore the
lobe of the ear for ornaments of a similar character.  On
festal occasions they adorn themselves with girdles and
helmets of the most brilliant feathers arranged with remark-
able taste as to color. These ornaments are made by fasten-
ing the feathers to wicker work and reeds by means of a
certain pitch or resin. The savages also fasten feathers
directly to the skin by means of this pitch, in fact, tarring
and feathering themselves.
Their peculiar weapons are enormous bows and arrows
from five to six feet long. The bow is frequently drawn
with the aid of the feet and is loosely strung instead of being
drawn taut as the shorter bow of the North American Indian.
The arrows are made from the flower stalk of the flinta
chonta (arrow  grass) and pointed and tipped with
sharpened bone or wood, probably the bone of a tiger.
These arrows are frequently poisoned, sometimes with the
juice known as the "crurare" or with the still more deadly
poison produced from carrion. The feather ornamentation
on these arrows is arranged spirally showing a knowledge of
the principle of rifling. They also wield war clubs made of
the palo de sangre and other hard, heavy woods. Perhaps
their most remarkable weapons are a sort of double edged
sword of sharpened wood and an execution club made of a
broad paddle-like blade of wood by means of which a power-
ful man can easily sever the head from a trunk. These ex-
ecution clubs are decorated about the handle with beautifully
braided straw or reed and are symbols of authority as well
as weapons. They are never allowed to pass out of the
possession of the tribe, at least by peaceful means. Some of
the tribes make stone battle axes, weave baskets, and make
tapers from the wax of wild bees and bark fibre. They are
sufficiently superstitious to be afraid of the dark because of
ghosts and believe that the soul of a chief may become a jaguar.
The Cayapos have no hammocks but sleep on mats.
They have no cooking utensils so roast their meat whole.
Their houses are small, low, long, and rectangular, the roof
being conical; they are built around a sort of public square.
The Cayapos are ignorant of fermented liquors. The Indian
customs of burial differ with the different tribes. Among
some, the corpse is placed seated in a cylindrical ditch
which is filled and closed with a lattice work. Among
others, the relatives of the deceased build upon the grave a
high cone of earth which they make as hard as possible by
patting with their hands. Naturally, this monument does
not long stand against the weather. Other tribes bury their
dead fellow tribesmen in a canoe or jar under his house,
throw away his property and abandon his house forever.


Go up to Top of Page