February 23, 2015
The Ticuna (also known as Tukuna or Tikuna) live in the Amazon rain forest of Brazil, near the borders of Peru and Colombia. They were among the first major Amazonian tribes to come into contact with Europeans. However, despite the passing of more than 400 years, the Ticuna have preserved their traditional religion, rituals, language, and art forms. They are one of the last remaining large indigenous populations in Brazil. The Ticuna are known especially for their ritual masks and costumes. This body mask is made predominantly of bark cloth, a paper-like fabric made from the inner bark of certain trees, with raffia fringe. It features a pigmented beeswax face and emphasized male genitalia. Traditionally, this type of mask is worn by men during girls’ initiation ceremonies. Men also create the masks. Vegetable dyes were used to paint the cartoon wolf image on the front of the mask, making it a unique blend of traditional form and modern influence.