||Mrs. Nina Rosa started making toys of Buriti (or Miriti) palm tree leaf stalks when she was 12 years old. Today, at 70, she is one of the oldest in the art, and recalls how she started making dolls for herself. “Poverty makes us creative. Back then, we didn’t have television.” Soon afterwards, the first animals started to emerge. “I made snakes, armadillos, doves, ducks, and sold them at regional festivals. And they sold well.” There, in the tiny town of Abaetuba more than 70 craft artists work with this material. Most of the toys sold at the Círio de Nazaré procession and at the craft art shops are from Abaetuba.
Mrs. Nina says the most popular figurines are the cows, a local man in a canoe taking his things to the festival, weddings and a women at the mortar. Not to be forgotten is the straw basket in which ducks are taken to the market to be sold, as at these parties, the dish of the day is duck with cassava sauce.
Is it possible to make a living by making toys? Mrs. Nina explains that in order to make ends meet she sells porridge at the market, organizes parties in her backyard and always comes up with something when necessary. “I like my toys and I’m too old to think of something else to do. I enjoy the festivals, a lot. The only thing missing is children playing like we used to.”