Header Art: A Shipibo-Conibo Textile

Perhaps you were wondering what the image in the BioResilience.com header was all about…

Well, it has a special story.

The image is a digitally remixed crop from an original Shipibo-Conibo textile. A picture of the original textile can be seen below:

Shipibo-Conibo Textile by Herlinda Fernandez Augustine and her family

Shipibo-Conibo Textile by Herlinda Fernandez Augustine and her family

The Shipibo-Conibo are a tribe indigenous to the Amazon rainforest of eastern Peru. Previously two distinct tribes, the Shipibo and the Conibo, this indigenous group is estimated to comprise approximately 20,000 to 35,000 people mainly residing in small villages along the Ucayali River.

Textiles, such as this one, embody their cosmology, music and shamanic heritage. In Shipibo-Conibo cosmology, their creator god, an anaconda serpent (Ronin), sang all of the universe and life into existence. The textiles represent not only the skin of Ronin, but also the song.

The Shipibo-Conibo are a shamanic tribe. The shamans (which is actually a misnomer, better terms include: onanya, vegetalista, or curandero) heal the physical, mental, spiritual, and social context, not just the physical ailments and conditions of individual patients. They heal through ritual, plant medicines, and song.

Curanderos learn of healing songs, or icaros, through their own training and mystical experiences, which are considered gifts from other realms.

Each pattern on a traditional Shipibo-Conibo textile represents an icaro, or healing song. Whereas we use the written patterns of musical notation to capture our music, the Shipibo-Conibo represent song through intricate patterns sewn into fabric. For them, “the songs, patterns and healing are one.”

This is a culture, like all ancient cultures, under threat by modernity. The rainforest itself has been subject to rampant destruction and deforestation for unsustainable agricultural practices, urban expansion, and resource extraction.

A real Avatar-themed story, the Shipibo-Conibo are united with the biodiversity of their home, the Amazon rainforest, in both a practical and mystical sense.

Dispel your notions of romance–life in the jungle is not always easy nor peaceful. But it roots one to Earth. There is much we can learn from this indigenous group and others like it as we strive to create and steward BioResilience in our modern world.

Several great resources and references (and a few fascinating products) are linked to below.

Resources and References
The Shipibo-Conibo Amazon Forest People at the Dawn of the 21st Century, at Ecoversity.org

Shipibo Lifestyles and Traditions, Resources at Native-Languages.org

The Shipibo Indians: Masters of Ayahuasca, at Amazon-Indians.org

Woven Songs Of The Amazon, MP3 Download at Amazon.com

People of the Ucayali: The Shipibo and Conibo of Peru (International Museum of Cultures Publication, No 12) at Amazon.com

Green Spider Films present Woven Songs of the Amazon, a Film

El Canto del Tiempo/Ayahuasca Icaros at Amazon.com

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