Highlights From “Infinity of Nations”
A new exhibition explores thousands of years of artwork from the Native nations of North, Central and South America
- By Jess Righthand
- Smithsonian.com, January 04, 2011
(Walter Larrimore, National Museum of the American Indian)
In the 1960s, commercial fishermen depleted the rivers the Shipibo people of Peru had depended on for centuries. “They essentially destroyed their subsistence base,” says Ganteaume.
The Shipibo were forced to start making money to buy food, and tourism quickly became a prime source of income. This water container is an effigy of a woman designed in the 1960s for the tourist market. Although it was made smaller than most other vessels of its ilk (which stand up to four feet tall), it nonetheless retains the authentic tri-level design of the Shipibo, a complex, geometric pattern that derives from the visions of a shaman. The Shipibo—one of the only Amazonian tribes known for their pottery and for primarily female artisans—also use similar tri-level designs for facial tattoos, war club ornaments, paddles and clothing.