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Matis Tribe Eye Examination

Explorers Club Amazon Expedition

Page 3 of 5

Some of the indigenous tribes paid complements to the expedition members by demonstrating various indigenous Amazonian remedies and various ceremonies. This was particularly true of the Matis Indians who demonstrated a plant extract ("bcchte") that they use to improve their vision, which is critical for a hunter-gather tribe.  Moreover, they demonstrated three ceremonies - the Ceremony of Mariwin, the Ritual of Capybara, and the Dance of Queixada.

Mariwin is very colorful as the participants paint their bodies black, wearing only green ferns and red masks. They carry sticks which they use to strike children, thereby transferring "energy." While less colorful than Mariwin, the Ritual of Capybara is more musical. During this ceremony, the participants are also naked, but do not paint their bodies. Instead they apply wet clay to their bodies and make sounds like capybaras (Hydrochoeris hydrochaeris), the world's largest rodent, creating an atmosphere that is not only visually stimulating but auditory as well. During the Dance of Queixada, the participants paint themselves red with "urucum" (annatto) and dance in a line while imitating sounds of the queixada (Tayassu pecari, a wild pig that is native to the Amazon).

 

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