Sunday, August 24, 2008

Biha (Bija, Bixa) is a Taino Word

Did You Know - The Biha, Annatto or Achiote tree (Bixa orellana) has seeds that were ground and made into a bright red dye that the Tainos also called biha (bee-hah). According to ancient Taino tradition the color red was associated with virility and the ancestors, but this red paste also served as a mosquito repellent. Taino often covered their whole body in biha. Local tradition on various islands states that it is in the use of  red biha coloring where the derogatory term “Redskin” finds its origin. Today, biha is more often used as a natural food coloring that provides Caribbean rice with its reddish-orange color as well as the yellow color in processed American cheese. - UCTP Taino News © 2008