RIO DE JANEIRO ( Associated Press) – Lucam Anambe wanted his newborn granddaughter to have a doll – something she would never have as a child working in slave-like conditions in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. But she wanted the dolls to share their indigenous characteristics, and there was nothing like it in stores. So she sewed herself from fabric and stuffing.
The dolls had brown skin, long, dark hair, and were similar in face and body paint to those used by the Anambe people. It pleases passersby; While indigenous dolls can be found elsewhere in Latin America, they remain mostly absent in Brazil, with approximately 900,000 people identifying as indigenous in the last census.
A business idea was born, and her modest home now doubles as a workshop where she and her daughter produce dolls for a growing clientele.
“Earlier, there were only white dolls, then black dolls came, but native dolls were not to be seen,” said 53-year-old Anambe, wearing a beaded necklace and a headdress of delicate orange feathers. “When native women see dolls, they sometimes cry.”
Since 2013, Enambe has sold over 5,000 dolls at local fairs and via social media, mailing them nationwide, and is fundraising to participate in a German fair aimed at exporting to Europe. Is. Her growing business in Rio de Janeiro is a world that has been removed from the Amazonian state of Para, where her life began with difficulty.
She was one of 15 children and Anambe’s parents sent her and two sisters to live and work in a plantation. At just 7 years old, she was charged with taking care of the plantation owner’s child. He remembers that he was scolded after asking the owner’s wife for the doll; He should work, not play, Anambe is being told that he remembers. And telling the woman that she had been sexually abused, he showed no mercy. He never received any pay, and complaints often ended with the young Anambe locked in a dark tobacco storeroom.
Anambe said she was 15 when the owner of the plantation forced her to marry her friend, who was two decades older than her, with whom she had a daughter. Anambe soon ran away from her violent husband, leaving her child with the family.
“We are going to fight, in a fight for survival,” she said, referring to indigenous peoples who regularly face peril from Amazon land grabbers, loggers, ranchers and miners. Before colonization, “Brazil had millions of indigenous peoples. Very few today. And every passing day, less and less. ,
Anambe worked for years as a cleaning lady in Belem, the capital of the state of Para. But she realized that there was much more to her in life and that she should look for opportunities in one of the biggest cities in Brazil. He hitched an eight-day ride to Rio with a long-distance trucker and thought of her as a godsend, especially because he hadn’t abused her.
Her indigenous features stood out in Rio, and she experienced prejudice. Eventually, she got a job at a bikini factory and was able to send her daughter, by the time she was in her twenties. Gradually, she saved enough money to move from her one-room shack to a tiny house, where she began creating clothes for some of the trendy Rio brands. With the skills she developed sitting behind her sewing machine, she made her first dolls.
“It’s like a mirror,” said her daughter, Atina Porro, who now works with her mother. “Through the doll, we see ourselves, and we have to break the taboos behind it, because we have always been discriminated against.”
Anambe and Pora have expanded their portfolio to include dolls with face and body paint from five other indigenous groups. Each is hand-sewn, dressed in traditional clothing and carefully painted with a sharp branch from a tree in its backyard, following indigenous custom.
While he was the first to reach a wider audience using social media, others followed in his footsteps.
Indigenous fashion designer We’e’ena Tikuna, also born in the Amazon rainforest and now based in Rio, began making indigenous dolls to dress them in her creations. “I admire her work like other indigenous women,” Tikuna said of Anambe. “We need that indigenous representation.”
Anambe named her first doll after Atiyana’s daughter Anati, which became the name of her company. And 20% of the proceeds go to her nonprofit, Maria Vicentina, which is named after her mother and grandmother. Based on Para, it will provide seamstress training to women under pressure, enhancing the anatie doll operation while helping to provide financial independence to women.
“When I left the kingdom of mercury, I didn’t go out just for myself. I went for other women too,” Ambe said. “Anti has come to give us this right, indigenous women.”