Letters from a traveller | #1

Acre + Huni Kuin
May 19, 2019

In my case I did not swerve from the dream route, but yes, I found that it is much more comprehensive than I imagined. Behind the new collection that Yankatu launches every year there are numerous researches, social impact projects, lectures, talks, curators, exhibitions in the gallery and even trips in which I become bridge, or rather, link, taking amazing people to meet the artisans, their techniques, their works, their surroundings.

 

And in your case, how did it go? What stories have you told so far? From them what do you think is coming?

 

I love reading and writing, as I think you can already notice, right? That's why I decided to communicate with you through :) A disused habit that I wanted to rescue because it passes me the feeling of closerness, of welcoming. I hope you like it!

 

Well, about my next stories? With everything I visualized inside the Yankatu I had to leave a little scene to be able to have a broader view of the set, and as for me nothing can be better than diving in the Amazon rainforest, I decided to practically disappear there. I went to a place where there is no cell phone or wi-fi signal, but there is latent life in the best sense of the word.

 

Aldeia Boa Vista, in Acre, stuck on the banks of the Jordan River, about 4/5 hours by motorized canoe of the nearest city, Jordão, where you practically only arrive by boat or plane. There the Huni Kuin culture remains preserved, in the traditions of the arts, crafts, plantings and gatherings, ceremonies, medicinal herbs, language, music, food, ways of living, listening, and seeing the other and its surroundings.

 

What was supposed to be a rest has practically become the motto for the 2020 collection!

 

The Huni  Kuin   ethnicity is known  for its mansight paintings that have led them to even exhibit at the  Cartier Foundation in 2013, through the MAHKU movement, the Huni  Kuin Artists Movement, but their talents also follow in other directions. From the pottery made in a very traditional way and burned in the embers of the fires of the previous night,  to the looms filled with graphics that represent the sacred symbols of the forest, such as the boa constrictor,  made with cotton that is planted, harvested and squealed in the village itself.

 

Spending ten days between them was an unforgettable experience. Of course staying in a traditional village is not simple, it is necessary to sleep in hammock, bathe in the river and other things else, but all this that at first can seem difficult goes unnoticed when in fact we are there. Things happen in such a gentle harmony that we don't even realize that for days we haven't cared about messages, emails, or even the mirror. Our perception changes, our gaze widens.

 

I followed the birth of ceramic pots and bowls, participated in the harvest of cassava, trancei straw to make my own carpet, was baptized with jenipapo to receive the protection of the forest, watched typical songs, rituals and games, observed the spinning of cotton and its transformation into dresses, vests and tapestries, learned a few words in Hatxakuî.

 

What about the kids? Wow, how much love! I spent days drawing and playing with them in an endless exchange of dreams. There was one of them in particular, Ibatsei, 7 years old, with which I had a stronger connection from day one.  Owner of a sweet smile that disappears whenever a camera points in your direction, is serious and combedin time to draw, enriching your drawings with the symbols your culture in an incredibly significant way.

 

On my last night in the village, she came up, hugged me, and smiled. We started communicating with smiles and a few words, as we always did, since she still doesn't speak Portuguese, and suddenly she gently hit my belly and said "Ibatsei". I smiled, i sat on my belly and answered "Maria", then touching hers saying "Ibatesei". This was repeated a few times until a passing person saw you and said: she's baptizing you, she's giving you her name, you're part of the family now!

 

The emotion took hold of me, I don't even know how to put it into words, i just know that I, who was homesick even before I left, I'm already thinking about how I will do to return and be able to tell this story more!

 

Anyway, I could spend hours here telling you everything I've lived and felt, but I don't want to make you tired of me like that!

 

By the way, what story do you have to tell me?

About the author

Yankatu - Design + Art with Brazilian soul

Maria Fernanda Paes de Barros Penteado

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