Letters from a traveller | #5

Knowledge - Kwasaw√°
September 19, 2019

With this in mind and realizing that the straw braid of Urucureá’s community brings with it a veiled indigenous ancestry, perhaps forgotten, between land demarcations and prejudices, I decided to pay tribute, rescuing and strengthening the importance of this ancestry in the heart of each of the artisans and mine as well.


I traveled back in time to the period of Brazilian colonization, when Jesuits arrived here and in order to communicate with the various indigenous ethnic groups they encountered, they decided to create a language, the nheengatu. Nheengatu in Tupi means "good language". It was the most common language in Brazil during the first centuries of our existence and, believe me, it is very likely that our accent, with strong pronunciation of vowels and nasal sounds, so different from Portuguese in Portugal, comes from it.


I traveled also through research which led me to identify the most characteristic Borari handicraft work, pottery. The previously numerous borari, today are scattered throughout the region of Alter do Chão and their craft is virtually nonexistent, but with the help of friends like Lalah and Nei, I was able to find seven pieces. Some made by D. Agostinha, a delicate old lady who works ceramics in a very traditional way, two made by Vandria, with the strength of new generation, others of unknown authorship, all witnesses of a time that should not pass.


I traveled once more to Urucureá, this time by boat, carring the ceramics with me. But I kept my feet on the ground as I entered the community proposing to the artisans to re-read the ceramics through the straw. I want them to travel and, each in her own way, find their ancestors and their values, challenge themselves, make room for light to come in and illuminate important parts of their stories.


The result of these trips, theirs and mine, you will be able to see at the exhibition Two Chronicles, which will take place at A Casa - Brazilian Object Museum, in Sao Paulo. There I will present KWASAWA (Nheengatu word meaning knowledge).


Pottery and straw, Nheengatu and Portuguese, handicraft and art, they and I. We are all links in the same story, a story that falls apart and is reborn, that we shape and braid through time.

About the author

Yankatu - Design + Art with Brazilian soul

Maria Fernanda Paes de Barros Penteado

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