Genipa Americana is known by many different names throughout the many different regions of Central and South America. Some of the most popular names are jagua, huito, jenipapo Click Here for more local names for Genipa Americana.
Jagua fruits destined for body adornment are harvested when they are unripe and very firm. Traditionally the seeds from the fruit are ground up and the liquid is then used to paint directly onto the skin. The exact process varies from place to place, sometimes the juice is heated, so that some of the liquid evaporates making the remaining liquid thicker and so easier to paint with.
The fruiting trees grow abundantly throughout Central & South America. Like many trees in Amazonia, the Jagua tree bears fruit on a continuous cycle, so there is usually a fruiting tree nearby. However there are also main seasons where the fruits are abundant – this season varies from region to region, for example the main season in Peru finishes in April/May when the rains start, whereas in some parts of Brazil, the main season is in June.
Traditional Jagua Tattoos are applied for lots of different reasons: traditional patterns are applied for ceremonial and festive occasions, protection from sunburn and insects such as sandflies. Different indigenous peoples incorporate specific patterns into their designs to reflect significant aspects of their culture. Below is an extract from a report looking at some of the traditional aspects of life of the Kadiwéu people. The entire document is a very interesting read, to view it in its entirety please Click Here, the report is in Portuguese, so you may have to use a translation site to read the entire document.
The Kadiwéu tattooing
In the case of the Kadiwéu, inhabitants of a vast area in Murtinho Port, in the border with Paraguay, the main ability is the art of the corporal painting and the ceramics that enchanted some explorers and researchers, as Italian Guido Boggiani, in the end of the century XIX and the etnólogo Claude Lévi-Strauss in the decade of 30. Darcy Ribeiro, that lived enters the Kadiwéu in the decade of 40, classified the variety of styles of the abstract drawings and the painting standards of face and body of the Kadiwéu as “the most elaborated artistic manifestation of the American indians”.
The indian Kadiwéu Ramona Soares drawing with jenipapo,
in the city of Bodoquena-MS. Photo: Guto Pascoal.