Huni Kuin arts and crafts

June 10, 2019
Huni Kuin arts and crafts

Weaving is something I love, so you can imagine how stunned I was to
witness the traditional Huni Kuin handloom in the very heart of the
Amazon Rainforest.
This art is made exclusively by women, who plant, harvest, spin and dye
the cotton, and then transform it into shawls, vests, skirts, dresses and
nets that decorated with "Kene", drawings that reproduce their sacred
symbols of nature in the cotton plots.
The "Kene" are also present in body paintings that cover faces, backs,
arms and legs, evoking protection and strength, depending on the design
It's lovely to watch the children attending, learning while they play,
enchanted by the results produced by the hands of their mothers,
grandparents and sisters. They often gather in the afternoon to paint
each other, and us too. After the painting they have fun taking pictures to
see how they look. Unforgettable moments that I will bring with me for the
rest of my life.
During all these processes there is always a rhythmic singing that seems
to enter our body and keep us there, really present. These songs that ask
for permission to harvest, plant, weave and paint, are incredible
demonstrations of respect and wisdom, it is the humility of the human
being before nature, so much bigger and stronger than him.
Music, by the way, is also extremely present in the day-to-day life of the
village. There was not a single day when I did not wake up listening to it
in the distance, or I went to sleep with a strong voice pulling the words,
followed by a soft chorus repeating the same sounds. In those hours I
wanted very much to be able to understand every word, every story that
was being told.
It was also surrounded by this sound that I witnessed the molding of the
clay, rolls that overlap themselves gradually taking shape of gourds, pots,
large and small plates. In pottery, as in everything else, you need to see
time as an ally, which allows the pieces to dry and be ready to burn,
which allows the seed to germinate and then become food and material
for craft as well.
Before being burned the dried ceramics are painted with a mixture of clay
and ash from the wood stove that cooks the food or the bonfire that lit the
ceremony the night before.
I had the honor of witnessing the making of pieces from the beginning to
the end, receiving them still warm, loaded with symbolism and energy.
These pieces are now in my kitchen that is open to the living room, being
accessible to my eyes even from the balcony. I get emotional whenever I
look at them, I can still feel its warmth.
For me to live is like this, an eternal collection of feelings that are present
in every little object that we bring with us to our life. We can think of our
history as a fabric made in manual loom, a little each day, creating unique
designs that represent who we are and the marks that we leave in the

About the author

Yankatu - Design + Art with Brazilian soul

Maria Fernanda Paes de Barros Penteado

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