Colors of the Amazon:
Featherworks from the Nalin and Petersen Collections
July 20 - November 19, 2006
The Amazonian River basin is the world's richest and most diverse ecosystem, supporting countless species of fish, insects, and serpents. It is the birds of the rainforest, however, that infuse this region with an inimitable array of brilliant colors. Figuring prominently in the cosmology and myths of many Amerindian tribes, birds - particularly parrots, toucans, and macaws - provide the raw materials for feathered body ornaments and ceremonial objects, which play an integral part in many indigenous Amazonian cultures. At once dazzlingly beautiful and deeply symbolic, Amazonian featherworks not only impart information about the individuals who wear or use them, but also convey important historical facts and mythological legends, which otherwise might be lost in a society without a written language.
Colors of the Amazon features a remarkable selection of Amazonian featherworks, ranging from elaborate headdresses and full-body costumes to ornate baskets and musical instruments. Focusing on culture groups from the Brazilian region of the Amazon, including the Bororo, Kayapo, Kuikuru, and Waiwai, this exhibition explores the distinctive styles, techniques, and symbolism developed by Amerindian tribes, as well as the vital roles that featherworks play in ritual and social contexts. Colors of the Amazon includes objects recently donated to the Museum by David R. Nalin, M.D., a member of the Fleming Museum's Board of Advisors, and a collection belonging to the late University of Vermont anthropology professor, James B. Petersen, which was generously loaned by his wife, Jennifer Brennan.
Support for this exhibition has been provided by Heritage Flight and the Kalkin Family Exhibitions Endowment Fund.
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