A Traditional Bora Dance and Craft Display

November 25, 2023

A Traditional Bora Dance and Craft Display

This year Amazon Ecology has welcomed a new partnership with Conservation International to support a large part of our work to help artisans in the Ampiyacu region to improve their craft making, organization, and chambira management activities.  In October, CI sent leaders from their Iquitos and Lima offices along with a photo/video team to get a first hand look at our work and other projects they were funding in the region.  During their visit to Puca Urquillo, they requested that a group from the Bora community share a bit about their culture and crafts in their maloca (traditional meeting house).

Bora artisan explaining importance of craft making in their culture

Both men and women wore garb made with bleached llanchama tree bark painted with graphic figures from Bora clans.  Several wore headdresses made with the feathers from macaws and parrots.  They discussed the importance of nature and craft-making in their culture and then launched into a lively dance where the men chanted and pounded sticks into the ground to the rhythm of moving around in a circle.  Visitors joined the undulating lines to share the vibrant energy.

Traditional Bora dance at Puca Urquillo

After the dance, the visitors toured tables set up by artisans to display samples of their crafts that included chambira woven bags and animal ornaments.  The artist Percy displayed many of his paintings featuring jaguars, other jungle animals and creatures from Bora legends done on llanchama tree bark canvas.  Some artisans were disgruntled that one group was highlighted in the presentation to a much greater extent than theirs.

Puca Urquillo artisans displaying chambira bird ornaments made in cooperation with Amazon Ecology

Bora artist Percy Diaz displaying his llanchama tree bark paintings

After the presentation, I enjoyed watching the curaca Victor Churay play the two giant manguare drums (each one made from a hollowed-out trunk) to demonstrate how people used to communicate important messages to people in the village who might be several miles away.  I have known and appreciated Victor as an artisan for many years and regularly bought maracas he made with calabash tree pods and decorated with traditional Bora designs.

Puca Urquillo Bora curaca and artisan Victor Churay


Campbell Plowden with Puca Urquillo Bora curaca and artisan Victor Churay

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in News

Puca Urquillo artisans cooperate to build a bird's nest to withstand an impending flood
Strengthening artisan organizations in Puca Urquillo

November 26, 2023

"While concepts like punctuality, mutual respect, no put downs of self or others, and listening when someone else is speaking may seem like obvious guidelines to form a positive community, a commitment to actually practice and hold each other accountable to observe these agreements is profound in a culture where showing up late, malicious gossip, and interrupting a speaker are painfully common."

Continue Reading

Artisan group with green darner dragonflies made at artisan facilitator training
Artisan Facilitator Training with Bluebirds and Dragonflies

November 26, 2023

"Artisan facilitators should of course share what they know, but beginning and experienced artisans all benefit by remaining humble, enthusiastic about learning, and committed to encourage and affirm their fellow artisans.  So many artisans said that the thing they most wanted to bring back to their communities was this spirit of working in a mutually supportive environment."

Continue Reading

Bora artisan Maria with woven chambira monarch butterfly at Brillo Nuevo
Butterflies and Birds at Brillo Nuevo

November 24, 2023

"Artisans in this special group would be expected to make a significant number of chambira bird ornaments since these are our best-selling products, but they could also meet their target with our orders for woven butterflies, belts, guitar straps, hot pads and other crafts.  While the opportunity to earn a steady income, learn to make new crafts (like woven dragonflies) and gain other benefits through this program was interesting to many artisans, meeting the craft-making goal still seemed very high to many."

Continue Reading