Thursday, 16 July 2009

Tapajo Culture

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Hooks like these were used to catch fish, an important part of the Amazonian food supply.

The rivers flowing through the forest into the great Amazon river still provide fish for local people today. Fishing is a community activity and large groups of men and boys will go together to catch fish. They have many methods, including basketry traps, spears, knives, arrows, poisoned darts and poisoning the water, but most commonly they use hook and line.

Most Amazonians can now buy steel fish-hooks, but in the past they made their own from plant spines, wood or bone. These hooks date from the eighteenth century and are made from the bones of a manatee or 'sea cow', a large freshwater mammal which lives in the sea and can grow up to twelve feet. There may have been magical reasons for making fish-hooks from the bones of such a creature.

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