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- Equinoctial Regions of America V2 - 40/97 -

imagination, and the most mutable caprice, have created the fashions of painting, as well as those of garments.

Painting and tattooing are not restrained, in either the New or the Old World, to one race or one zone only. These ornaments are most common among the Malays and American races; but in the time of the Romans they were also employed by the white race in the north of Europe. As the most picturesque garments and modes of dress are found in the Grecian Archipelago and western Asia, so the type of beauty in painting and tattooing is displayed by the islanders of the Pacific. Some clothed nations still paint their hands, their nails, and their faces. It would seem that painting is then confined to those parts of the body that remain uncovered; and while rouge, which recalls to mind the savage state of man, is disappearing by degrees in Europe, in some towns of the province of Peru the ladies think they embellish their delicate skins by covering them with colouring vegetable matter, starch, white-of-egg, and flour. After having lived a long time among men painted with anato and chica, we are singularly struck with these remains of ancient barbarism retained amidst all the usages of civilization.

The encampment at Pararuma afforded us an opportunity of examining several animals in their natural state, which, till then, we had seen only in the collections of Europe. These little animals form a branch of commerce for the missionaries. They exchange tobacco, the resin called mani, the pigment of chica, gallitos (rock-manakins), orange monkeys, capuchin monkeys, and other species of monkeys in great request on the coast, for cloth, nails, hatchets, fishhooks, and pins. The productions of the Orinoco are bought at a low price from the Indians, who live in dependence on the monks; and these same Indians purchase fishing and gardening implements from the monks at a very high price, with the money they have gained at the egg-harvest. We ourselves bought several animals, which we kept with us throughout the rest of our passage on the river, and studied their manners.

The gallitos, or rock-manakins, are sold at Pararuma in pretty little cages made of the footstalks of palm-leaves. These birds are infinitely more rare on the banks of the Orinoco, and in the north and west of equinoctial America, than in French Guiana. They have hitherto been found only near the Mission of Encaramada, and in the Raudales or cataracts of Maypures. I say expressly IN the cataracts, because the gallitos choose for their habitual dwelling the hollows of the little granitic rocks that cross the Orinoco and form such numerous cascades. We sometimes saw them appear in the morning in the midst of the foam of the river, calling their females, and fighting in the manner of our cocks, folding the double moveable crest that decorates the crown of the head. As the Indians very rarely take the full-grown gallitos, and those males only are valued in Europe, which from the third year have beautiful saffron-coloured plumage, purchasers should be on their guard not to confound young females with young males. Both the male and female gallitos are of an olive-brown; but the pollo, or young male, is distinguishable at the earliest age, by its size and its yellow feet. After the third year the plumage of the males assumes a beautiful saffron tint; but the female remains always of a dull dusky brown colour, with yellow only on the wing-coverts and tips of the wings.* (* Especially the part which ornithologists call the carpus.) To preserve in our collections the fine tint of the plumage of a male and full-grown rock-manakin, it must not be exposed to the light. This tint grows pale more easy than in the other genera of the passerine order. The young males, as in most other birds, have the plumage or livery of their mother. I am surprised to see that so skilful a naturalist as Le Vaillant can doubt whether the females always remain of a dusky olive tint.* (* Oiseaux de Paradis volume 2 page 61.) The Indians of the Raudales all assured me that they had never seen a saffron-coloured female.

Among the monkeys, brought by the Indians to the fair of Pararuma, we distinguished several varieties of the sai,* (* Simia capucina the capuchin monkey.) belonging to the little groups of creeping monkeys called matchi in the Spanish colonies; marimondes* (* Simia belzebuth.), or ateles with a red belly; titis, and viuditas. The last two species particularly attracted our attention, and we purchased them to send to Europe.

The titi of the Orinoco (Simia sciurea), well-known in our collections, is called bititeni by the Maypure Indians. It is very common on the south of the cataracts. Its face is white; and a little spot of bluish-black covers the mouth and the point of the nose. The titis of the most elegant form, and the most beautiful colour (with hair of a golden yellow), come from the banks of the Cassiquiare. Those that are taken on the shores of the Guaviare are large and difficult to tame. No other monkey has so much the physiognomy of a child as the titi; there is the same expression of innocence, the same playful smile, the same rapidity in the transition from joy to sorrow. Its large eyes are instantly filled with tears, when it is seized with fear. It is extremely fond of insects, particularly of spiders. The sagacity of this little animal is so great, that one of those we brought in our boat to Angostura distinguished perfectly the different plates annexed to Cuvier's Tableau elementaire d'Histoire naturelle. The engravings of this work are not coloured; yet the titi advanced rapidly its little hand in the hope of catching a grasshopper or a wasp, every time that we showed it the eleventh plate, on which these insects are represented. It remained perfectly indifferent when it was shown engravings of skeletons or heads of mammiferous animals.* (* I may observe, that I have never heard of an instance in which a picture, representing, in the greatest perfection, hares or deer of their natural size, has made the least impression even on sporting dogs, the intelligence of which appears the most improved. Is there any authenticated instance of a dog having recognized a full length picture of his master? In all these cases, the sight is not assisted by the smell.) When several of these little monkeys, shut up in the same cage, are exposed to the rain, and the habitual temperature of the air sinks suddenly two or three degrees, they twist their tail (which, however, is not prehensile) round their neck, and intertwine their arms and legs to warm one another. The Indian hunters told us, that in the forests they often met groups of ten or twelve of these animals, whilst others sent forth lamentable cries, because they wished to enter amid the group to find warmth and shelter. By shooting arrows dipped in weak poison at one of these groups, a great number of young monkeys are taken alive at once. The titi in falling remains clinging to its mother, and if it be not wounded by the fall, it does not quit the shoulder or the neck of the dead animal. Most of those that are found alive in the huts of the Indians have been thus taken from the dead bodies of their mothers. Those that are full grown, when cured of a slight wound, commonly die before they can accustom themselves to a domestic state. The titis are in general delicate and timid little animals. It is very difficult to convey them from the Missions of the Orinoco to the coast of Caracas, or of Cumana. They become melancholy and dejected in proportion as they quit the region of the forests, and enter the Llanos. This change cannot be attributed to the slight elevation of the temperature; it seems rather to depend on a greater intensity of light, a less degree of humidity, and some chemical property of the air of the coast.

The saimiri, or titi of the Orinoco, the atele, the sajou, and other quadrumanous animals long known in Europe, form a striking contrast, both in their gait and habits, with the macavahu, called by the missionaries viudita, or widow in mourning. The hair of this little animal is soft, glossy, and of a fine black. Its face is covered with a mask of a square form and a whitish colour tinged with blue. This mask contains the eyes, nose, and mouth. The ears have a rim: they are small, very pretty, and almost bare. The neck of the widow presents in front a white band, an inch broad, and forming a semicircle. The feet, or rather the hinder hands, are black like the rest of the body; but the fore paws are white without, and of a glossy black within. In these marks, or white spots, the missionaries think they recognize the veil, the neckerchief, and the gloves of a widow in mourning. The character of this little monkey, which sits up on its hinder extremities only when eating, is but little indicated in its appearance. It has a wild and timid air; it often refuses the food offered to it, even when tormented by a ravenous appetite. It has little inclination for the society of other monkeys. The sight of the smallest saimiri puts it to flight. Its eye denotes great vivacity. We have seen it remain whole hours motionless without sleeping, and attentive to everything that was passing around. But this wildness and timidity are merely apparent. The viudita, when alone, and left to itself, becomes furious at the sight of a bird. It then climbs and runs with astonishing rapidity; darts upon its prey like a cat; and kills whatever it can seize. This rare and delicate monkey is found on the right bank of the Orinoco, in the granite mountains which rise behind the Mission of Santa Barbara. It inhabits also the banks of the Guaviare, near San Fernando de Atabapo.

The viudita accompanied us on our whole voyage on the Cassiquiare and the Rio Negro, passing the cataracts twice. In studying the manners of animals, it is a great advantage to observe them during several months in the open air, and not in houses, where they lose all their natural vivacity.

The new canoe intended for us was, like all Indian boats, a trunk of a tree hollowed out partly by the hatchet and partly by fire. It was forty feet long, and three broad. Three persons could not sit in it side by side. These canoes are so crank, and they require, from their instability, a cargo so equally distributed, that when you want to rise for an instant, you must warn the rowers to lean to the opposite side. Without this precaution the water would necessarily enter the side pressed down. It is difficult to form an idea of the inconveniences that are suffered in such wretched vessels.

The missionary from the cataracts made the preparations for our voyage with greater energy than we wished. Lest there might not be a sufficient number of the Maco and Guahibe Indians, who are acquainted with the labyrinth of small channels and cascades of which the Raudales or cataracts are composed, two Indians were, during the night, placed in the cepo--a sort of stocks in which they were made to lie with their legs between two pieces of wood, notched and fastened together by a chain with a padlock. Early in the morning we were awakened by the cries of a young man, mercilessly beaten with a whip of manatee skin. His name was Zerepe, a very intelligent young Indian, who proved highly useful to us in the sequel, but who now refused to accompany us. He was born in the Mission of Atures; but his father was a Maco, and his mother a native of the nation of the Maypures. He had returned to the woods (al monte), and having lived some years with the unsubdued Indians, he had thus acquired the knowledge of several languages, and the missionary employed him as an interpreter. We obtained with difficulty the pardon of this young man. "Without these acts of severity," we were told, "you would want for everything. The Indians of the Raudales and the Upper Orinoco are a stronger and more laborious race than the inhabitants of the Lower Orinoco. They know that they are much sought after at Angostura. If left to their own will, they would all go down the river to sell their productions, and live in full liberty among the whites. The Missions would be totally deserted."

These reasons, I confess, appeared to me more specious than sound. Man, in order to enjoy the advantages of a social state, must no doubt sacrifice a part of his natural rights, and his original independence; but, if the sacrifice imposed on him be not compensated by the benefits of civilization, the savage, wise in his simplicity, retains the wish of returning to the forests that gave him birth. It is

Equinoctial Regions of America V2 - 40/97

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