Return to Main Index Page Previous Picture Next Picture  
Matses Woman

Matsés Indian Tribe

The Cat People - Page 1 of 5

Paradise, that is the word I use to describe the Matsés Native Community on the Javari, Yaquerana, Chobayacu and Galvez Rivers where the majority of the Matsés Indians live. The virgin rainforest, abundant wildlife, and friendly natives make for a wonderful experience. After traveling in the Amazon for years, I discovered a magical place that few outsiders ever see.

In particular, the  Galvez River ("Río Gálvez," in Spanish) is much different than the Amazon River ("Río Amazonas") and its water is referred to by the locals as "agua negra" (black water) because of its dark appearance as viewed from the surface. The dark color comes from tannins leached from tree bark; tannins tend to purify the water by killing bacteria and mosquito larvae. Indeed, I never saw a single mosquito during my visit to the area and locals told me that malaria is not usually a problem there.  Natives drink the water from the Galvez River without purifying it with no apparent adverse health effects. The mighty Amazon River in contrast contains a lot of sediment from the Andes Mountains, giving it a lighter color, and creates a much less healthy environment. Along the meandering Galvez River magnificent ceiba trees (Ceiba pentandra, one of the largest trees in the Amazon) provide shade and together with other tree species forms the characteristic three-level canopy of virgin rainforest. 

The Matsés Indians (who are also commonly called Mayorunas or Mayurunas in Brazil) are often affectionately referred to as the "cat people" due to the characteristic "whiskers" (made from the veins of palm leaves) that women place in their noses. Presently, there are about 3000 Matsés living in the Javari Valley of Peru and Brazil, with the majority residing in Peru.

Return to Main Index Page | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5

Photographic Gallery of the Huaorani Tribe
The use of this website constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy & Legal Disclaimer
© Copyright 2004-2014 Dan James Pantone, all rights reserved, Matses Indian Tribe - Page 1 of 5