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Friday 24 April, 4.30 pm

The Masks of the Wauja and the Timbira Indians: towards a theory of aesthetic performances in indigenous Amazonia.

Fabiola Luvaro, Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania & the Americas, University of East Anglia

This event is free, but booking is advised.  To book please go to: http://fabiolaluvaro.eventbrite.co.uk

Abstract: My current Ph.D. research concentrates on the comparisons of the Museum Collections of the masks created by the Wauja and Timbira Indians of Central Brazil that are currently housed in different Institutions across the world. As part of my Ph.D., I will conduct a comparative study of the materials used to make these masks and their stylistic similarities and differences as a means of exploring the social and religious relationships that exist between and among the communities that make and dance them. My research focuses on the performance of material culture in indigenous Amazonia. When understood as the study of various relationships between persons and things, material culture studies can include an examination of human-non-human relationships involved in Masks performances practices. In the specific case of the Amazonian people, the fabrication of certain ritual objects (such as masks) is frequently viewed as a means of materializing supernatural subjectivities. The Mask Festivals are understood as a ritual-performative complex that allows humans to interact with spirits which are considered to be both dangerous and creative forces governing the fertility of nature. The study of the Mask Rituals involves important issues of native cosmology, shamanism and iconography. My research demonstrates how traditionally repeated dramatic festival roles during the Timbira and Wauja Mask festivals (dancing singing and wearing the body sized masks) are designed to bring the performers into contact with the ‘spirits world’ to give musical and visual expression to the powerful spirits and in this way to engage them in ritual operations in favor of the collectivity.