AP PHOTOS: Amazon's Tembe paint bodies for rituals and war

AP PHOTOS: In the Amazon, the Tembe indigenous community paints bodies for rituals and war

They use the black dye extracted from the Jenipapo tree to mark the moment when the young reach adulthood and daub themselves in the red dye from the urucum seeds to prepare for battle. They have been contemplating the skies since ancestral times, and the designs on their skins include stars, half-moons and suns. Sometimes, they are geometrical or take the shape of butterflies or the paws of jaguars that roam the jungle.

"Women teach children knowledge about their culture, the way the tribe is organized, customs and coexistence in the village," Sandra said. "Women are also "an important part of the fight for their territory."

Tembe warriors wear colorful headdresses of macaw and other feathers, and wield bows and arrows for hunting and to protect their Alto Rio Guama reserve, which is constantly under threat in the globally vital Amazon region.

Recent clashes prompted some members of the Tembe to burn the trucks and equipment of illegal loggers on their territory, which is located in a Brazilian state plagued by thousands of fires burning on cleared jungle lands.

"The Amazon is ending and that's why we're here — so that it doesn't end," said Lorival Tembe, the eldest chieftain and founder of the Tekohaw village, where about 600 members of the tribe live.


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