Socratea exorrhiza   (Mart) H. Wendl. Stilt palm  -Arecaceae

The stilt palm, Socratea exorrhiza, has great magical and religious significance for the people of the northwest Amazon.  The trunks are used to make sacred trumpets that are used in a ritual for adolescent boys on the Vaupes River.

Alfred Russell, explorer and botanist who traveled the Vaupes in the 1850's, reported that women were not to be seen when these instruments sounded.  As late as the 1930's it was believed that it was dangerous for women to see one, even inadvertently.  When not in use the trumpets were buried in the mud to keep them from female eyes.9

 

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