tayukunchi (back ornament)


Once belonging to the Shuar culture, the tayu ukunch´in the shuar chicham language means "tayu bone", referring to its main raw material. The "tayu" is a nocturnal bird that lives in large caves, where colonies made up of thousands of these birds coexist. Their habits are very similar to those of bats. The lower edge of the bones is often decorated with elytra, shells, seeds, teeth, tufts of human hair, or feathers.

It is an exclusively masculine adornment, and in the Shuar and Achuar societies of Peru/Ecuador, the feminine adornments are simpler in appearance than the masculine ones, in addition the men wear more adornments than the women. The "tayu ukunch´" was worn only on special occasions, especially in ceremonies. The cloth band of the upper part was placed in the forehead and the rest of the piece hung in the back. When the person who wore it danced, something very common in ceremonies, the sound of the hanging elements of the back made it serve as a rattle.

In the middle of the 20th century, this adornment stopped being made, but at present the Shuar and Achuar men use another with the same name, although it is not a backrest, it is a kind of belt that is placed on the chest.

Collected in Venezuela in 1877 by Walter Davis for the firm of Veitch & Sons, nurserymen. Donated to RAMM in 1880.

This object is not on display.

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