Cassava (manioc) grater
What is it and what is it used for? This is a grater, and was used to grind the hard cassava root for making bread, pancakes or chicha beer.
What is it made of? The grater is made of a board of wood cut from the buttress root of a rainforest tree. Tiny chips of stone hammered into the board make up the grating surface. The board would have been painted all over with a thick red pigment made of tree resin with decorations in black. These have faded almost completely in this grater through use and age.
Who made it? We are not sure who made this grater but the WaiWai and Macusi people who live northern Brazil have a tradition of making graters like this.
How was it made? The women of the villages were responsible for cooking and preparing cassava so one of them made the grater. The board was cut from the buttress root of a rainforest tree by one of the men. To make the board into a grater, the pattern was outlined with a red pigment from the achiote (Bixa orellana) plant. Next, the design was filled in with tiny stone ships gathered from the fields, hammered down to size with a chisel and driven into the board with a mallet. Finally the grater was painted all over with a red resin or latex collected from a forest tree.
How was it used? A person knelt on the flat end of the board and grated the cassava roots to a pulp that was then turned into flour or fermented to make chicha beer.