|Photo by Mariana Chama|
The Iphan (Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage), through its advisory board for cultural heritage approved the request made in 2010 for acknowledgement of the production process of these utensils as Brazilian heritage. Upon deciding the institute atested to the production of gourds as part of the complex dynamics of colonization and occupation of the Amazon region, and it is directly related to the exploitation of the natural resources available in the Lower Amazon. In the region their use is involved in various activities such as fetching water from the river, bathing, eating and decorating.
TECHNIQUE The gourds are usually produced only by women in the region of Santarem and Monte Alegre (PA) where residents are known as PINTA CUIAS (gourd painters) following a technique which is over two centuries old. The fruits of the cuieira, a low and green tree which blooms all year round, are broken in half and dipped in water to soften.
Before being dyed with COUMATE, a typical natural pigment of the region the halves undergo a scraping (with large scales of pirarucu fish and leaves of embauba) and are left to dry in the sun. After being dyed, the bowls will stay six hours muffled by a cloth on a platform consisting of straw, sand, ash and human urine (whereby ammonia is extracted), thus imparting the pigment. Next they are washed in perfumed herbs and are ornamented in a technique which has only become known in the 20th century.