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The Invisible World

Rituals

Funerary mask Zoomify

Rituals are part of human behavior in every region of the world. Ceremonial performances vary in as many ways as there are types of societies, but the reasons they are performed are relatively few and consistent among societies. Rituals are driven by a desire to attain a material or spiritual goal, to commemorate a person or an event, or to gain protection.

About the Object

Object name: Funerary mask
Place made: Brazil
People: Tukano or Kubeo
Date made: 1940 - 1980
Dimensions: L 136 cm x 133 cm in circumference
Materials & Techniques: Tururi bark, pounded and painted with plant dyes, sewn
Credit line: Textile Museum of Canada
ID: T2006X0263

This cone-shaped mask is made of bark cloth and covers the wearer’s body. It was made by the Kubeo people of the Columbian Amazon for an óyne, or “weeping ceremony.” The mask is stiffened with cane hoops and palm fringes are tied to the bottom hoop to conceal the man inside.

Alternative Views

Oblique

Oblique

Side

Side

Back

Back

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Second Look

Macro

Macro

Microscopic View

Microscopic View


Description: A microscopic view at 3x magnification
Credit: Macrography Courtesy of Sandra Webster-Cook of the AGO

Microscopic View

Microscopic View


Description: A microscopic view at 12.5x magnification
Credit: Macrography Courtesy of Sandra Webster-Cook of the AGO

Microscopic View

Microscopic View


Description: A microscopic view at 20x magnification
Credit: Macrography Courtesy of Sandra Webster-Cook of the AGO

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Touchpoint View

Animation

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Audio Clip

How It Is Made: Bark Cloth

Listen to TMC curator Patricia Bentley talk about how bark cloth is made

Credit: Audio Produced by TMC

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Transcript

In the tropics where the climate is too hot or too wet to produce wool, silk or cotton, people make cloth not by weaving it, but rather by pounding it from the bark of trees. Bark-cloth can be made in various ways depending on local tradition, but the procedure boils down to this: Bark is removed from a tree trunk and the soft inner layer is stripped from the rough outer layer. The soft, damp strips are stretched and pounded with a heavy wooden beater on a wooden anvil. Sometimes the strips are folded and refolded onto themselves in a technique reminiscent of making puff pastry. Eventually, the dried cloth can be painted with local dyes or pigments. Bark-cloth may have begun in the Pearl River delta region of southeastern China around 4000 BCE. From there the technology moved into Indonesia and on to the South Pacific. It is also used, as in this mask, in equatorial South America. The tree used most often to make bark-cloth is the paper mulberry tree. Other trees can be used as well, such as the banyan tree with its tangle of supplementary roots hanging from its branches, and the breadfruit tree. It is said that Hina, one of the culture-bringers of ancient Polynesia, made her bark-cloth from the breadfruit tree. During a stay on the moon, Hina made clothing for the gods from the branches of breadfruit trees. One day she used her foot to break one of the branches with such force that the branch flew out into space and landed on earth where it took root.

Image

Yagé

The Kubeo are practitioners of shamanism, a belief concerned with making contact with the spirit world. They use plant hallucinogens like yagé to reach the spirits during ceremonies such as óyne. Yagé, known in other parts of South America as ayahuasca, is a brew made from the Banisteriopsis vine and leaves from the Psychotria bush. Ayahuasca contains a naturally occurring antidepressant agent, and has hallucinogenic and purgative properties that induce side effects such as intense vomiting.

Kubeo Shaman

Yagé

Image title: Kubeo Shaman
Description: Cubeo shaman under the influence of the vision vine
Credit: Image Courtesy of Neil P. Schultes

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Artifact Narrative

The Ritual of Óyne

Óyne (Weeping) is a two-part mourning ceremony: the first part takes three days, followed by a one-day “eviction” where the spirit of the deceased is finally expelled. Óyne involves the consumption of narcotics and the creation of a funerary mask such as this one. Men wear body masks to represent the ghostly figures of the spirit world as they dance, sing and mime animal or spirit behaviour. At the end of the ceremony, mourners burn the bark-cloth masks to drive away the soul of the deceased, though they may be salvaged for use as a sack or a toy for children.

Funerary mask

Funerary mask (ya-ko-ko-su-ti-ro)

Place made: Brazil
People: Tukano
Date made: 1940 - 1980
Dimensions: L 73 cm x 150 cm circumference
Materials & Techniques: Bark; pieced
Credits: Gift of Dr. Peter Herschman
ID: T90.0124

Collection Connections

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Funerary mask (ya-ko-ko-su-ti-ro)

Funerary mask (ya-ko-ko-su-ti-ro)

ID*: T91.0273

Ceremonial mask

Ceremonial mask

ID*: T85.0098

Ceremonial mask

Ceremonial mask

ID*: T88.0621