The golden glow of Tocantins.
By Renata Solano
Located in the heart of Brazil, the state of Tocantins is the newest Brazilian state created by the Federal Constitution in 1988. The region was separated from the state of Goiás and has a rich and varied archaeological potential, made up of ancient rocks, fractured, faulted and folded that suffered metamorphoses. It is characterized by being a region where the indigenous and pre-colonial populations settled down and executed activities for their survival and maintenance.
The intense search for survival and the enormous interaction with the environment in hunting and in the gathering resources made it so that the indigenous communities developed a very valuable handicraft. The rocky material that makes up the geological structure of the region provides the people with the raw material to develop these crafts.
Besides this, the plant composition of this area, characterized by the cerrado – the most important plant formation in the Central Plateau – is another rich source of raw materials for artisans in the region.
The main tourist attraction in Tocantins is Jalapão, a popular ecotourism destination in Brazil. The Jalapão State Park was created in 2001 and is a part of the APA – Area of Environmental Protection – and to reach this sanctuary criss-crossed by rivers, streams and creeks of clear and transparent waters, you must go through the gateway city Ponte Alta do Tocantins, located almost 200 km from the capital, Palmas.
The region of Jalapão has a unique species of grass, the Capim Dourado (Golden Grass), which is greatly used by artisans in making jewellery, accessories, vases, décor items etc… The main characteristic of this material is its colour and brightness which resembles the colour of the precious metal, gold.
This raw material is extremely peculiar, because the Capim Dourado can only be collected between September 20th and November 20th so that they do not become extinct. In addition, there are certain regulations in the state prohibiting the taking away of material “in natura” in the region, aiming for environmental, social and economical sustainability of the place. The artwork produced by capim dourado and produced in Jalapão has won over the world and orders leave the region and go to very different destinations, making eco-business the main source of income for the local artisans.
- The name Tocantins in Tupi language means “toucan’s beak” due to the shape of the confluence of the Araguaia River with the Tocantins River.
- The main economical activity in Tocantins is agro-business, mainly rice, soy, sugar cane, fruits and livestock.
- The capital of Palmas has around 185,000 people (2006).
- Jalapão is the main tourist destination of this new Brazilian state.
- Find out more about the region at: capimdouradojalapao.com and tocantinsbrazil.to.gov.br