Bixa orellana (Bixaceae Family;  Kichwa: manduru; Shuar: Ipiak is a primary agent of beauty in the traditions of the Runa and Shuar communities of eastern Ecuador.   Its fruit produces a bright red dye that is used as a face paint.  So beautiful and mysterious is this dye that it is believed to be an agent of creation.  In Runa origin stories Manduru Warrmi (Bixa orellana) was once a sensuous human girl. After Manduru and her sister Huituc (Genipa americana) mature through a series of amorous misadventures they turn into the trees that impart beauty and mystery to other species: Bixa orellana, the source of red face paint and Genipa americana, the source of black face paint.  The two sisters then transform the various beginning time people into variuous species of plants and animals by painting them various shades of red, reddish brown, and black. 

Origin of Manduru and Wituk

Tod Swanson, Manduru Palu: The Coral Snake painted with Bixis orellana

Scott Petersen on Bixa Orellana as a remedy for inflamed prostate 

Pod and red seeds of Bixa orellana

Drawing of Manduru Warmi (Bixa orellana woman by Miriam Vargas Dagua. 2009

Shuar Toucan Feather earings, circa 1965,

According to tradition toucans owe the red color of their feathers to Bixa orellana.