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Shawadawa Necklace


Necklace from the Shawadawa tribe.

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This Shawadawa necklace incorporates tribal “Kenê” (graphic designs). Various tribes use these symbols in their body painting, body art, and other spiritual art forms. Various tribes have a different name for their designs.

Kaxinawa woman getting kene applied on her arm


In various mythical Huni Kuin narratives tell that these drawings/symbols came from the skin of Yube, the Boa Constrictor. From there Kenê represents itself in various forest animals and important things of life. In short the values that reflect the spirituality of the Kaxinawa people.

Invoking the force of a particular animal through a painted Kené symbol will bring protection and healing. Symbols can be very particular from tribe to tribe and are also a form of identification between tribes. The Kaxinawa consider that women are the owners of the drawings. In the past, only women painted the Kenê but this changed. Now men are also not connected to this way of their culture. With these graphic designs, they decorate their ceramic objects, textiles, bead art, ornaments, weapons and the body itself using natural pigments.

Importance of Handicrafts

Handicrafts are of extreme importance to the communities. and the family for the preservation of ancestral traditions.  They combine history, memory, and art and have a sacred meaning. Kenê creates a connection with the forest and ancestral knowledge. It is a language of great importance for the artistic and cultural heritage of these tribes.


About the Tribe

The Kaxinawá people (Huni Kuin) are indigenous people of Brazil and Peru. The Kaxinawá people are also known as the Cashinauá, Caxinauá. This name comes from kashi or “bat” and nawa meaning “outsiders” or “foreigners”. Their autonym is Huni Kuin or “real men” or “true people”, from huni, “man”, and kuin meaning “real” or “true”. Their language belongs to the Pano linguistic family, which they call hatxa-Kuin (true language). The population is approximately 4,000 people. The Kaxinawa account for 42% of the indigenous population of Acre state in Western Brazil.  Do you want to learn a bit more about the tribe then have a read here.