Saturday, August 18, 2007

Miriti boat

Daniel brought this neat little toy boat for me when he came to Santarém last week. It's made of wood from the miriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa), more commonly called buriti here in this region. I don't know how it compares to balsa wood but it's difficult to believe that it's heavier. It's very easy to cut, even with a knife, and I guess that's the reason it's a favorite with the many arts and crafts people making toys these days. In an earlier post I showed another toy boat that had been trim painted. It, as well as this simplified version, are examples of what can be done to satisfy the toy-phase of childhood here in the Amazon without spending a lot of money, if any at all. The pleasure in crafting a toy like this must be so much greater than buying some mass produced product in the toy department of the local shopping center. Whenever I see toys made from miriti wood, I always remember a documentary film produced by Jim Bogan, professor of art and film-making at the University of Missouri and Diogenes Leal, a noted cinematographer from Belém, called The Adventurers of the Amazon Queen. It's a tale woven into a fabric of poetry, fantasy and muddy river water - always returning to the construction of the featured riverboat by a young kid whose workshop tools consists of an old kitchen knife. I'm not sure, but I think Bogan and Leal won an international award for this documentary.

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