“Cluster 1: Allegories of sa(l)vage1” by Ofri Lapid.

“For allegories of salvage are implied by the very practice of textualization that is generally assumed to be at the core of cultural description...” James Clifford, On Ethnographic Allegory, Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, University of California Press, 1986), 115.

“Our understanding... may be still fragmented and requires a deeper understanding of the connection those people achieved and cultivated throughout the generations with mother nature.”2


“Kené – The Visual Language of Nature,”

“There are many books... But still, so little we know about...”3


“As mentioned above, the intrusion of western values and modern technology has in part eroded their cultural system...”4


Echoes of the Rainforest: The Visual Arts of the Shipibo Indians / Las voces de la selva: El arte de los indios Shipibo, (The International School of Indiana & The Mathers Museum of World Cultures, 2019), 17.

“While... (it)...has practically frozen in time...”5


J. Claire Odland and Ronald L. Weber, “Shipibo-Conibo Material Culture: Textiles and Ceramic in the Field Museum Collections,” Fieldiana. Anthropology, new series, No. 45, The Shipibo-Conibo: Culture and Collections in Context, Field Museum of Natural History, 2seum of Natural History, 2016), 66.

“The knowledge... was disappearing because most production... was meant for the tourist market. Her statements have been placed in doubt...”6


J. Claire Odland and Ronald L. Weber, “Shipibo-Conibo Material Culture: Textiles and Ceramic in the Field Museum Collections,” Fieldiana. Anthropology, new series, No. 45, The Shipibo-Conibo: Culture and Collections in Context, Field Museum of Natural History, 2seum of Natural History, 2016), 66.

“In spite of contact with Western society over the past 300 years, they have maintained a high level of cultural identity and integrity.”7


Warren M. Hern, “Yushin Huemena: Visions of the Spirit World, Art, Design, Medicine and Protective Spirits in Shipibo Ritual,” (University of Colorado at Boulder, 2016), 1.

“Of that I am certain. I think this continues, although to a much lesser degree than it did 50 years ago.”8


Ibid, 12.

“and sometimes they say that these... are only a fraction of what their ancestors used to know.”9


Claire Odland, Nancy Feldman, “Shipibo Textile Practices 1952–2010,” (School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2010), 2.

“there are less than a handful left...”10


Sabine Rittner, “Sound – Trance – Healing - The sound and pattern medicine of the Shipibo in the Amazon lowlands of Peru,” (Music Therapy Today, Vol.VIII-2, 2007), 197.

“Many of the actions I discuss were rare or obsolete... in the 1980s, although others were common.”11


Peter Gow, “Piro Designs: Painting as Meaningful Action in an Amazonian Lived World,” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1999), 231.

“Seen from this perspective, the loss... means, not only an impoverishment of the environment, but also an impoverishment of the spirit.”12


Carolyn Heath, “Simbolismo de los Diseños Shipibo,” (Boletin de Lima. No. 111, Lima, 1998), 18. (free translation)

“The present generation has almost lost the meaning... she smiled and said that only the ancestors knew it.”13


Ibid, 17. (free translation)

“For the archaeologists, however... (they) are poorly fossilized, and only... in durable media will be left to study.”14


Warren R. DeBoer, “Interaction, imitation, and communication as expressed in style: the Ucayali experience,” (The Use of Style in Archaeology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,1992), 83.

“Even eight months of fieldwork was too short of a time...”15


Donald W. Lathrap, Angelika Gebhart-Sayer, Ann M. Mester, “The Roots of the Shipibo Art Style: Three Waves on Imiriacocha or There Were ‘Incas’ Before the Incas,” (Journal of Latin American Lore 11:1. UCLA Latin American center, Los Angeles, 1985), 33.

“Our present comprehension... is but the vanishing odds and ends of what our grandparents used to know...”16


Angelika Gebhart-Sayer, “The Geometric Designs of the Shipibo-Conibo in Ritual Context,” (Universität Tubingen, 1985), 145.

“vanishing as soon as he tries to have a closer look.”17



“the new development... represents a loss in wealth of forms. Nevertheless, the development of such “fashions” indicates that (it) is a living art...”18


Ibid, 148.

‘once materialized... (it) loses its spirit (“ya no tiene anima”) and thus its potency.’19


Ibid, 152. Person quoted unnamed.

“and with the general feeling that the present state of affairs is a mere shadow of previous conditions.”20


Ibid, 160.

“Naturally, as a consequence of the semantic loss... this... if it ever existed, became obsolete.”21


Ibid, 168.

“It is doubtful that this sort of study will be forthcoming, however, in view of the practically extinct...”22


Ibid, 171.

“Consequently... is progressively shrinking from the normal standards.”23


Donald W. Lathrap, “Shipibo Tourist Art;” Ethnic and Tourist Arts: Cultural Expressions from the Fourth World, (University of California Press. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1976), 202.

“in examples intended for the tourist market the number of... will be reduced to a half or a third of what is normal in the traditional style.”24


Ibid, 204.

“Researchers have established that (they) used to have a higher cultural level than today. The hostile forest gave them no chance to develop their culture or even to preserve it. It set them back.”25


Tomas Höpker, Rolf Winter, Yatun Papa, Vater der Indianer Dr. Theodor Binder, (Kosmos Gesellschaft der Naturfreunde Franckh’sche Verlagshandlung, W. Keller & Co., Stuttgart, 1963), 50. (free translation)

“In gathering together all we know about this... we endeavour to contribute to the study... particularly before they forget the essence of their authenticity due to the ever-increasing contact with colonization…”26


Simone Waisbard and Roger Waisbard, “Les Indiens Shamas de l' Ucayali et du Tamaya,” (L'Ethnographie: 19-74, 1959), 20.

“Today (they) do not know it any longer. Perhaps, they never knew...”26


Günter Tessmann, Menschen ohne Gott. Ein Besuch bei den Indianern des Ucayali, (Stuttgart, von Strecker und Schröder, 1928), 74. (free translation)

“the meaning of which has been forgotten in the course of time... And here... the good, noble, beautiful, was long frozen, irretrievably lost.”28


Ibid, 177–179. (free translation)

“must have had some symbolic significance in the beginning, but at present no one seems to know... They say they have always used these forms.”29


William Farabee, Indian tribes of eastern Peru, (Cambridge, Mass., The Museum, 1922), 87–88.

“Whatever meaning these... may have had originally has been lost...”30


Ibid, 100–101.

“concerning the origin of which... (they) maintained profound secrecy...”31


Paul Marcoy [pseud.], A journey across South America: from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, (Blackie, London, 1869), 20.

“these... contained hidden things, which no stranger ought to know.”32


Alexander von Humboldt, Researches concerning the Institutions and Monuments of the ancient inhabitants of America, Vol. I (Original: London, 1814) Translated into English by Helen Maria Williams (Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim, New York, 1972), 175.

“Every search made to regain so curious an object was fruitless, and the regret of not having copied these... came too late.”33


Ibid, 176.

“they are far removed from all knowledge of... Are they the scanty remnant of some civilized nation fallen into the savage state?”34


Ibid, 176–177.

The clusters are a byproduct of researching the vast popular and scientific literature dedicated to the Kené and Yonchi designs of the Amazonian Shipibo-Conibo and Yine communities. They are formed by means of citations, each textual unit aligns the composite argument of the target text while alluding to that of the source. The citations are assembled chronologically as an on-going deliberation across time.

Note from the Editors: This is the first of a series of clusters by Ofri Lapid that we will publish over the coming months. They will be published to coincide with her ongoing orchestrated reading sessions, On the Surface of Text. The latest performance took place on 23 January, 2020 at the Gallery in HFBK Academy, Hamburg.