Today, the Amazon is one of the world’s most diversified regions, encompassing the rainforests of northeastern South America and the vibrant cultures of approximately 200 Indian tribes. Invisible to modern society, some of these are the last people of the new world who retain their pre-conquest culture. As they become more well-known, their recognition as great artisans of feather ornaments grows. Spirits & Headhunters: Vanishing Worlds of the Amazon celebrated ceremonies and rituals of passage unique to these indigenous people.
Inspired by ancient cosmology, mythology, and ecological knowledge, the ceremonies represented in this exhibit included initiation and funerary rites, shamanic practices and social visiting. The ceremonial regalia and objects in this exhibition illustrated the unique artistic expressions of each tribe, utilizing materials available from their immediate environments: wood, cloth, fiber, and feathers.
Spirits & Headhunters was organized and curated by Associate Curator Adam Mekler. Guardians of the Forest images were provided by Cristina Mittermeier.