George Rawls (left) and a Bororo boy named Tari (right) during the Penn Museum’s Matto Grosso Expedition in Brasil, 1941
My former archivist colleagues were charged with the task of scrubbing the Archives Image Database. Out of their own genuine love for the collection (and not due to a lack of work, mind you) they created a tag category called “cute.” This has made my job of finding Fun Friday Images pretty easy (and fun). I came across this adorable photo that had a scant caption indicating “George Rawls” and “Tari, the Bororo Boy,” but not much else. A google search came up with a listing for George in IMDB in a 1941 documentary about the 1931 expedition to Mato Grosso, Brazil. The plot was condensed into this cursory statement: “An expedition heads out for the Mato Grosso jungles in Brazil to find and study the primitive tribesmen who live there.”
The “primitive tribesman” refers to the Bororo people. I then searched our archival film collection on archive.org which sure enough turned up the full documentary that confirmed the air of colonial exoticism that I sensed about this still photo.
In the 18-minute film, the voice-of-god narrator describes a scene that makes you wonder if he’s watching a different movie altogether.
Skip to minute 14:00 to see the other faces Tari makes as he is told to pose on George’s lap for this publicity shot: