Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/419

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

tate the various cries of birds. The flesh is bored for this at about four years of age with a sharpened bamboo stick; then, to prevent cicatrization, the orifice is kept open by drawing through it occasionally a leaf of dry grass. The higher caciques, we are told, alone have the right to wear in it, as a mark of their dignity, a plug of hardened yellow and transparent resin in the shape of a T.

The women are small in stature; their forms are slighter than those of the men. Their hands are very fine, and their hair is seldom combed. Their dress consists of a sort of small skirt folded around the form and descending to above the knees. Like the men, they go out barefooted, with the chest covered with several strings of beads, to which they sometimes attach a few bones for amulets. They also wear bracelets of hair, and eardrops composed of a string of red and white pearls, ending in a small triangle of nacre from one of the shells of the country. When young, they are quite attractive, although disfigured by the painting with which they mark their faces, consisting of a series of horizontal and vertical lines traced with charcoal dust, or a layer of beeswax which they put upon their skin. To be fresh, it has to be renewed every day. The young men also employ it to make themselves pleasing to their sweethearts, but married men put on no colors.

The children wear a miniature breeches or small petticoat; only the babies are naked. The feeling of modesty is so well developed among these Indians that it was a hard task to get one of these children's costumes, and still harder for the young fellow to exchange his breeches for the handkerchief we gave him.

The life of the Cainguá is divided between hunting and fishing. His arms, which he is never without, consist of a bow and a bundle of four arrows. The bow is about six feet long, and the arrows are nearly five feet. They are of guaiacum wood and the strings are of caraguáto (a vegetable fiber). In exchange for working in the yerbales, the Cainguá obtains from the whites machetes, knives, cooking utensils, and farming implements.

His fishing canoe is hollowed very patiently in a cedar log. The hooks come from abroad, and the line is made of fibers of the caraguáto, or some other textile plant. They shoot their arrows aiming them directly at the object or firing them first into the air; for this purpose they throw the bust back, an exercise which develops the muscular system in a remarkable way. They never lay themselves on the back to shoot, as most of the Brazilian Indians do. Their skill is very great, but their game bags are often very scantily filled. The game is generally composed of various species of birds, which they stun by means of an arrow ending in a wooden knob. Two other arrows, ending in points barbed in various ways, and of