Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Karihona subsistence economy involves shifting cultivation, hunting, fishing, and collecting. The staple is cazabe bread made from bitter manioc, supplemented by cooked or roasted meat or fish. Crops include sweet manioc, maize, yams, bananas, pineapples, sugarcane, peppers, tobacco, and various tree fruits. Hunting was done with blowguns or bows and arrows before the introduction of guns. Nowadays fishing is mostly done with hook and line; fish poison or dams with traps are still used occasionally. Since about 1900 the Karihona have been wage laborers.
Industrial Arts. Karihona men constructed houses and canoes and fabricated equipment such as furniture, musical instruments, and weapons both for hunting and war. During the 1800s the Karihona were famous for their curare (made by the men during a time of diet restrictions) and their hammocks (made by women). Men wore a painted bark cloth wrapped tightly around the trunk below the armpits like a corset; women went naked.
Trade. Apart from trading with non-Indians the Karihona exchanged industrial goods, dogs, salt, and slaves with neighboring Indians, with allies like the Ka'wiari (Arawak, who offered blowguns among other items) or Andoke, as well as with foes like the Witoto.