Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/776

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756
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ments in the Museu Nacional at Rio de Janeiro. Many of the examples in the collection are beautifully finished specimens of jade, beryl, serpentine, and quartz, while others are but rudely shaped ones of burned clay and wood.

However strange and in a certain sense fascinating such customs may be, these ornaments, when seen in the ghastly wounds of the dusky, stolid faces of savages, are inexpressibly hideous. They are rendered still more so by the fact that the South American Indians, so far at least as my observations go, lose their front teeth early, and especially the lower ones, and the pulling down of the lower lip almost invariably exposes the toothless gums or the broken, decaying, discolored, and filthy teeth. Hunger is the curse of savage life, and the savage is therefore always on the alert for something to eat. For this reason the discharge of saliva is much more marked with a savage than with a civilized man. The effect of this free discharge of saliva on the personal appearance PSM V43 D776 Botocudu woman.jpgFig. 4.—Botocudu Woman. The ear ornament has been lost and the distended lobe is looped above the ear. of a man or woman, whose lower lip is all the time drawn so low that it can not be retained, may be imagined more readily than described.

The stopper-shaped lip ornaments are now made of some light kind of wood. They are usually about three quarters of an inch thick and two inches in diameter, though sometimes they are much larger. Prince Maximilian measured one four inches across. Around the outside of the plug a little groove is cut, and when it is inserted the flesh band of the lip fits in this groove and thus holds the plug in place. With age the flesh bands relax considerably, and the plugs of old persons are for this reason generally larger than those of younger ones. When the ornament is removed the lip dangles in a most ungraceful manner. In the accidents of savage life these openings in the lips are often broken, but this does not prevent the wearing of the customary ornament, for the broken ends of the band are united by a string made of a bit of bark, and the plug thus held in place. One of the accompanying illus-