We recently invited our friend and Indigenous artist Emily Urquía Sebastián to come share her Yine culture, art, and tradition with us. Emily is one of the most prominent artists in her community and continues to create through the medium of natural pigment, weaving, and ancestral iconography. 
Melanie Dizon
May 4, 2021

During her recent visit to Cusco, she brought along her two daughters Yonwa and Mapowa who assisted in the painting of her mural, along with members of our staff. The finished mural now lives at the entrance of our physical location in San Blas.

Top L-R: Jorge, Fran, Jack, Claire, Mapowa, Melanie, Emily, Yonwa, Davis

Over the course of three days, Emily shared many stories about her family, her culture, her art. One of which relates to her childhood when she learned of the Yine iconography through her mother and grandmother, that in her memory remain only 31 designs. She told of a time when she had visited Rio Yaco on the Brazilian border, encountering the Manchinari; a Portugese speaking native community of Yine. Not before long she realized that the library of designs she had in her repertoire were quite different than theirs and vice versa. She remarks, "their designs were so beautiful and different from what I have been making. And so we agreed to make an exchange to learn each other's designs."

The designs represent animal spirits whom some they deem to be the guardians of the forest, such as the jaguar and the serpent, and who therefore have particular uses. For example, the serpent design are mostly used by the healers of the community to aid in their work. Whereas the fish designs are used mainly by the women to adorn their outfits.


Emily's last day led into our first workshop "Colores Yine" at Xapiri Ground; a brief introduction into her Yine art and use of natural pigments.

A small group of curious minds gathered to learn and apply the meaning of her cultural iconography through the process of drawing and painting on their own cloth. With the assistance of her two daughters Mapowa and Yonwa, they all shared stories and the challenges that face Indigenous culture today. Both her daughters were raised learning the techniques of Yine art and weaving as Emily was taught by her mother and grandmother. Yet with the coming of each generation brings newer interpretations of their cultural art and therefore tradition. For this, culture is in a constant state of creation.

YINE KAMRURE showing until June 31

Featured in our Sala 2 gallery is Emily's exhibition Yine Kamrure; kamrure means designs in their idiom. On display are three large cotton tapestries conveying the design of 'Soluntamshi'; a rainforest eagle that inhabits the rocks and whose tail feathers span similarly to that of the Yine design. We asked Emily if she could make her mark in the room by painting an introduction on the wall as you enter.

For inquires on her exhibition art please email us at: info@xapiriground.org