Explorers Club Photo Gallery

 Ticuna Indian Girl Ticuna Indian Girl - Toucan  Ticuna Indian Girl - Pelazon  Pelazon
 Ticuna Pelazon Matis Indian Girls Matis Indian Girls - Baby  Matis Indian Girls - Woman
Matis Indian Woman Matis Indian Man - Binan Tucum Matis Indian Mother - Baby Matis Indigenous People
Matis Indigenous Natives Matis Indigenous Native Tribe Matis Amazon Native Tribe Amazon Native Tribe
Matis Indian - Amazon Native Tribe Matis Shaman - Amazon Native Tribe Matis Shaman - Amazon Indian Tribe Matis Indian - Amazon Native Tribe - Ceremony of Mariwin
Matis Indian - Amazon Native Tribe - Ceremony of Mariwin Amazon Native Tribe - Ceremony of Mariwin Explorers Club - Amazon Native Tribe - Ceremony of Mariwin Matis Indian - Amazon Native Tribe - Ritual of Capybara Amazon Native Tribe - Ritual of Capybara
Matis Indian -  Ritual of Capybara Matis Indian - Bows and Arrows Amazon Native Tribe - Blowgun Amazon Native Indian - Blowgun Amazon Native Tribes - Blowguns

An Explorers Club expedition in cooperation with Amazon-Indians.org visited various indigenous people of the Amazon in Peru, Brazil, and Colombia.  This was an official "flag expedition" that  documented various Amazon native tribes (Matis, Ticuna, Matsés-Mayoruna, Marubo, and Yagua) in the Tres Fronteras area (three frontiers of Brazil, Peru and Colombia).
The expedition leader was Dr. Dan James Pantone, the editor of Amazon-Indians.   Dr. Pantone documented the journey to these Amazon Indian tribes with both photography and videography.  Some of the Explorers Club expedition photographs are accessible using the thumbnails above.  Other can be obtained by contacting Dr. Pantone via email.  Although the Matis people normally live on the Brazilian side of the Yavarí Valley, these photos of the Matis Indians were actually taken in Peru.  Being hunter-gatherers, international borders have little meaning to this Amazon native tribe.  Photographs of the Ticuna tribe were taken in Colombia near a tributary of the Amazon River. 
The photographs of the Ticuna (sometimes spelled Tikuna) Indian girl demonstrate the Ceremony of Pelazon (Moça Nova in Portuguese), an important rite of passage that all Ticuna girls must fulfill.  The course of the pelazon is a long and difficult one.  For a period of up to a year before this Amazon native tribe ceremony, the girl is kept in isolation, with only her mother and her female "teachers" allowed to see her.  After this period of isolation and education about her responsibilities as an adult member of the Ticuna tribe, the actual Ceremony of Pelazon begins.  During a traditional Pelazon, all the girl's hair is pulled out by hand, strand by strand.  Next, her body is painted black with a black dye extracted from fruit of the huito tree, Genipa americana.  The girl illustrated in the above photos, is a member of a Ticuna "bird clan," hence the toucan hanging from her belt.  Intermarriage within a clan is not permitted, a common theme among indigenous people of the Amazon.   Note the downy feathers that cover her eyes at the beginning of the ceremony.  Covering eyes during native Amazonian ceremonies of girls  is quite common, a good example being the Ritual of the Flutes by Xingu Indians. 
In the above Explorers Club photo gallery, the Matis Indians demonstrate two different ceremonies - the Ceremony of Mariwin and the Ritual of Capybara.  In the Ceremony of Mariwin, the Matis cover their bodies with clay and decorate themselves with green foliage and ferns.  In addition, they wear red masks. The masked beings represent "ancestral spirits" which are non-human, unable to talk.  Instead they make eerie animal-like sounds.  Some anthropologists say that the Mariwin ceremony is  used to teach children to behave, and in fact, some children who have recently misbehaved are often whipped with sticks by these masked beings.  However, Mariwin is much more than teaching children to behave and the Matis believe that the masked beings actually transfer "spiritual energy" to the recipient.  During the Ritual of Capybara, the participants (exclusively males) cover their bodies with wet clay and imitate capybaras (Hydrochoeris hydrochaeris) which is the world’s largest rodent.  Matis ceremonies, like their religion and medicine, emphasize animals and animal spirits, a common theme among indigenous tribes of the Amazon. 

Documentary films and additional photos of this journey to the Matis, Mayoruna, Marubo, and Ticuna Indians are available on DVD and download.  If you would like to correspond with the author about Amazonian tribes and propose ideas on  preserving their cultures, please email editor@amazon-indians.org.

The photographer, Dr. Dan James Pantone, is the editor of Amazon-Indians.org.  Moreover, he is an ecologist and the founder of the Movement in the Amazon for Tribal Subsistence and Economic Sustainability (MATSES), a nonprofit association that is providing aid to Amazon native tribes  in order that they can conserve both their traditions and territory in a free and self-sufficient manner.

Dan James Pantone, Ph.D. organized and led this expedition.
For more details, please email  Dr. Pantone at djpantone@amazon-indians.org

Indian Tribes Photo Gallery

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