People of the Rainforest - The Bora Natives
By Mike Collis

The Bora live throughout Amazonia along the many tributaries of the Amazon River. The closest Bora village to Iquitos is San Andres on the Momon River which is about an hour from downtown Iquitos. They are very artistic and they produce many items of interest to tourists like rattles, masks, dolls, blowguns and decorated fabrics. Their fabrics are quite unique being made from fig tree bark which is then pounded into a paper cloth like material which they make into skirts which are then decorated with vegetable dye.

It is estimated that about 3,500 Boras live in Amazonia today. Back at the turn of the last century there were more than 15,000. The Boras suffered most at the hands of the ruthless Rubber Barons and in 1940 there were only about 500 Boras left.

The Boras have their own language Witotan, but most speak Spanish. The tribes live over a wide area in Peru, Colombia and Brazil. Most are of the Catholic faith but some are Animists and few are christians. In the Bora's view there is no difference between the spiritual and physical world and spirits live amongst them everywhere. The Boras have an extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna around them in the rainforest. Plants and especially trees hold an important place in Bora lives. The Boras closest ethnic relatives are the Witoto and Ocaina tribes.

The land of the Bora is very important to them and they have fought off countless invaders, both indigenous and colonial. However, their most used weapon was the bow and arrow which had little or no effect against the well armed Rubber Barons. The Rubber Barons had a devastating impact on the Bora Tribe. At the end of the rubber boom they were nearly extinct. The ancestral lands of the Boras are constantly under threat from illegal loggers and prospectors for oil, gold and other minerals. Legally, the Boras have no indigenous reserves to call their own.

The men and women of the Boras all wear short skirts made of decorated fig tree bark and apart from both sexes wearing necklaces they are usually topless, most wear brightly plumed headwear, usually made of macaw feathers.
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