This project will investigate and document different aspects of the production of material culture and practices associated with the ‘Festa da Moça Nova’ (Young Woman’s Festival), with a focus on the use of tree bark known as ‘tururi’. This three-day Tikuna rite of passage aims to protect young women from evil spirits during puberty, which also brings harmony to the community. Preparations start with the first menstrual cycle, when the young woman goes into isolation and the community starts the arrangements by carefully choosing the guests, who will produce musical instruments and dance masks made out of tururi and other natural materials. The term ‘tururi’ is attributed to different artefacts and plants used in their production – but no rigorous botanical identification exists.

Besides performing botanical identification, we will document continuity and change in the procurement, choice and extraction of tururi, manufacturing technologies and socio-cultural practices associated with the festival, current uses and significance, as well as choices and uses of natural pigments. This knowledge is under threat because of unregulated and often criminal groups seeking to exploit natural resources in the lands surrounding the Tikuna. Fundamentalist evangelical cults that come to these areas are often equally damaging, as they lure the local population to their temples and then forbid them from continuing indigenous traditions. The result is that few Tikuna are able to find, identify and process the different kinds of tururi. As they are usually from older generations, this knowledge is in great risk of disappearing.

Primary Applicant:
Renata Peters

Edson Tosta Matarezio Filho
Antonio Reis

Location of Research:
Upper Solimoes River near the towns of Benjamin Constant and Sao Paulo de Olivença (estate of Amazonas, Brazil), Manaus (estate of Sao Paulo), Sao Paulo (estate of Sao Paulo, Brazil) and London (United Kingdom).

Host Institution:
University College London

Top Banner Image: Washing tururi in São Paulo de Olivença (Photo: Edson Matarezio Filho)