Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sounds of the Forest

Walk through the Mata Atlantica and you will be aware of the wild life around you, the birds, monkeys and insects, by sound more than sight. Calls to warn of intruders, defend their territory, or find a mate. Mankind, being of an inventive and devious nature, has long used this to his own ends. The Puri indians, one of the tribes inhabiting the Brazilian state of Espirito santo when the Portuguese arrived, used wooden whistles to attract birds and monkeys to the pot, and were adept at imitating the calls, or even the sequence of calls as two birds get closer to each other.

At the start of the 1920s a local amateur hunter, Maurilio Coelho, encountered these Indians when working in his day job for the electricity company, and got to know them well. They taught him how to make various whistles, and as importntly, how to use them. The whistles he then made were so successful that in 1903 he openned a factory in the city of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim and people came from miles way, even distant Rio, to buy. Business plummeted when hunting was prohibited, but one of Maurilio's grandsons is continuing to make the whistles, one of which can be seen above, and is renovating the factory and reopenning it as a tourist attraction.

The best wood apparently comes from the Ipe tree, a catchall term for several members of the Tabebuia genus. These are large shrubs or trees noted for their durable and insect resistant wood, which makes good decking, and whistles. Finding them is not a problem as at this time of year they are bedecked with clusters of large yellow flowers and are visible from miles away even in dense forest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! I saw in the website that there are different types of them!