Of all the so-called musical instruments of the world, that known as the Juruparis, used by the Indians of the Rio Negro, seems to involve most misery to humanity in general. To women and girls the very sight of it means death in some form or other, usually by poison, and boys are strictly forbidden to see it until grown to manhood, and then only after a most severe preliminary course of fasting.
The Juruparis is kept concealed in the bed of some stream far away in the gloomy forest, and wherever that river may wander, or however brightly its waters may sparkle in the sunny glades, no mortal who values his life may cool his parching lips with its freshness, or bathe his aching limbs in its clear depths. Only for solemn festivals is the Juruparis brought out by night and blown outside the place of meeting, and it is restored to its forest home immediately afterwards.
The word Juruparis means 'demon,' and it is supposed that its mysteries date back to some pre-historic Indian tradition, as various tribes inhabiting the vast forests round the Amazon district practise weird ceremonies in honour of the demons.
The Juruparis in casing. The Juruparis in casing.
In form the Juruparis is a slender tube from four to five feet long, made from strips of palm wood. Close to the mouth is an oblong hole, and when the instrument is to be used a piece of curved Uaruma or Arrowroot wood is inserted into the opening, which is then nearly closed with wet clay.