The Shipibo people live near the Ucayali River in areas of eastern Peru in the Amazon Basin. These natives are extremely talented, making distinctive pottery that is traditional for their lifestyle. Shipibo vases and bowls are handmade and decorated using natural earth pigments. Their geometric designs are representations of their ayahuasca visions, making this type of pottery so unique and prized.
After the pottery pieces are created, decorated they are fired at low heat in open fires. After firing, the pieces are finished with a vegetable-based compound that makes them waterproof while creating a gorgeous sheen.
The sides of the pottery are thin, making each piece amazingly lightweight. After the pieces have dried in the warm sun for several days, the clay goes through the firing process. The white base color is created from a clay slip whereas the red and black geometric designs come from the process of boiling bark. Resin obtained from tree sap gives Shipibo pottery its unique glaze.
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Shipibo-Conibo, Amazon, Peru
Approximately 30 years ago, as many as 150 different ethno-linguistic groups could be identified living in the rainforest jungles of Peru. Today less than 30 ethnic groups remain. Among these survivors is one of the oldest ancestral groups, the Shipibo people, who now are at risk of becoming extinct. It is estimated that perhaps only 35,000 Shipibo remain living spread out in as many as 300 different family villages. For centuries, these people have survived primarily through their relationship with the jungle and through activities such as hunting, fishing and traditional agriculture.
Shipibo artisans are well known for their colorful designs on pottery and textiles. Inspired by Ayahuasca-induced visions, creation stories and mythic folklore, these refined geometrical designs are sophisticated interpretations of cosmic realities.
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