Monday, May 28, 2007

Miriti palm

No, this isn't the riverboat that Francisco de Orellana used to come down the Amazon River in 1541-42! It's a toy riverboat that our friend Jeremy Campbell brought from Belém this past weekend. The wood is from the miriti (Mauritia flexuosa) palm, known as buriti in this region of Santarém. The miriti gets to be the largest of the palms in the Amazon and the wood is the favorite for making arts and crafts because it is very light, much like balsa wood. In recent years a number of small toy shops have opened up in the Belém area, providing employment for kids and adults alike. My favorite miriti artifact at the Bosque reception center is a wooden snake that Áurea brought back from Belém a year or so ago. It's done in such a way that the joints of the snake are held in place by the fibers of the wood. As such, it articulates much like a real snake!

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