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Ticuna Indian Pelazon

Explorers Club Amazon Expedition

Page 4 of 5

The Ticuna  Indians (sometimes called the Tikunas) after being examined and fitted for eyeglasses graciously demonstrated the Ceremony of Pelazon, a rite of passage for Ticuna girls. One feature that characterizes the ceremony is the use of the black dye obtained from fruit of the "huito" tree (Genipa americana). The entire body of the girl was painted black with "huito" and the symbol of her clan, the "guacamayo" (macaw), was painted on her face, and interestingly girls are not permitted to intermarry within their own clan. All her hair was removed. Formerly, they would actually pull out the hair out by hand, but currently the process is often less painful and scissors are commonly used. During the ceremony, the Ticuna girl was dressed with feathers and wore a crown. In addition, downy feathers were initially used to cover her eyes preventing her from seeing. Snail shells (which represent fertility) were hung from her belt as this ceremony is not only a rite of puberty but a ceremony of fertility. Purification by fire is also part of the ceremony. The purification consisted of having the girl continuously jump over a fire. Some participants wear huge masks which represent mythological beings and danger. The girl dances with the masked beings which symbolizes her metamorphosis into adulthood and her ability to successfully deal with the dangers of being an adult.


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