shuar kuit (apron)


Worn by men in rites and festivals to assert identification with the celestial birds. This apron would have been traded with other indigenous groups as a means of obtaining tools and services, and to reinforce obligations. They were also sold as tourist souvenirs.

A retired nuclear engineer, who was acting advisor to the Atomic Energy Commission of Ecuador in Quito, purchased this item in 1965 from a market in Otavalo. It was a gift for his son who was fascinated by bird feathers. The apron, known as a shuar kuit, is decorated with Job’s tears beads (made from the grains of the plant Coix lacryma-jobi), toucan and mealey parrot feathers.

This object is on display at RAMM in the Finders Keepers gallery.

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