A cotton headdress ornamented with several botanical and faunal elements (TM-5074-2) is kept in the depot of the Wereldmuseum in Amsterdam. There is little information about the provenance of the object or its context of use. Identified by the museum as a ‘shaman hood’, is said to have been obtained from an Asháninka indigenous community along the Ene River, Peruvian Amazon. The unusual composition of the hood, with 16 bundles of bird fragments, 39 bundles of mammal parts, and 3332 seeds, raises several questions. Is the object a traditional Asháninka ornament? Is the combination of so many distinct elements a result of later additions? Is it possible that the hood was manufactured for sale? In addition to literature research, this study aimed to identify the plant and animal species linked to the hood, to verify whether the object in its current composition (covered with plant and animal ornaments) could have been made in the same region inhabited by the Asháninka communities. Through the morphological comparison of the plant and animal parts attached to the hood with the botanical and zoological collections of Naturalis Biodiversity Center, we could identify the species and trace their geographical occurrence. Eight different plant species, eight bird taxa, and at least eight mammal taxa attached to the object were identified, most of them native to the Peruvian Amazon. Finally, with the identification of the species, we proposed possible interpretations for the selection of plants and animals added to the shaman hood based on the historical context and the Asháninka worldview.

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Universidade Estadual da Paraiba/Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco (Ethnobiology and Conservation)
Ethnobiology and Conservation

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Staff publications

Fernandes Caromano, C., Kaki, W. D., van Andel, T., & Kockelkorn, M. (2024). Object analysis and species identification of an Asháninka hood from the Rio Ene valley, Peru. Ethnobiology and Conservation, 13(14). doi:10.15451/ec2024-05-13.14-1-14