Pecon Quena | the one who calls the colors

Pecon Quena paints hundreds of stories about the anthropomorphic spirits that protect the animals, plants and even the rocks of the Shipibo-Konibo world.
Melanie Dizon
April 16, 2021

Cover Photo: Tui Anandi (Xapiri Ground)

Lastenia Canayo, also known as Pecon Quena in the language of the Shipibo-Konibo, was born in 1962 and raised in the native community of Roroboya on the banks of the lower Ucayali River. Her name in the Shipibo language, 'the one who calls the colors', refers to her artistic abilities for the ceramic and textile crafts she produces.

Photo: Tui Anandi (Xapiri Ground)

Her unique paintings and embroidery represent animals and plants together with their spirits; yoshín (a bad spirit) or íbo (a good spirit) where the spirit occupies the main portion of the painting. Her paintings have also drawn international recognition and were selected amongst a range of works by other Amazonian artists and artisans for a UNESCO sponsored contest. This new artistic creation, very rich and original, can be seen as that of an artist who has inherited an ancient artistic tradition, an ancient animist culture, and an uncommon talent and imagination.

We have worked with Pecon Quena since 2017; the year Xapiri opened its first flagship in Cusco. And since then, we have nurtured our relationship through the purchase and support of her incredible and one-of-a-kind visionary art, which includes intricate ceramic or wood effigies, and paintings of hundreds of dueño characters; each representing a specific plant or spirit of the rainforest.

She learned about the dueños from her grandparents who first told her that in order for one to heal oneself or to make something, one must ask permission from the plant spirits and in turn they offer you their water. In between 2004-2007 she made a dieta with two mother plants; paico and ayahuma, after which she began to paint more and more. In 2014 she began to work with clay to create the dueño characters in three dimensional form.

Photo: Tui Anandi (Xapiri Ground)

Photo: Tui Anandi (Xapiri Ground)

Photo: Tui Anandi (Xapiri Ground)

See our selection of Pecon Quena paintings at our online shop.

PECON QUENA MURAL | Pucallpa, Peru | November 2020

Last November, our colleague and artist Davis Torres directed a mural project in honor of the celebrated artist Pecon Quena, painted on the facade of the Alianza Arkana heaquarters, in her hometown of Pucallpa. In partnership with NGO Alianza Arkana, Xapiri Ground, and all those who participated in the project, our hope is that this work creates a greater impact both locally and globally on behalf of the Shipibo-Konibo nation.

Original sketch of Mural / photograph: Gabriela Maldonado

photograph: Gabriela Maldonado

In creating the mural, I felt very happy because it showed there are people who appreciate my art and not put me aside, I feel that I am representing all my people with my art.

MURAL PROJECT by Davis Torres

"In a meeting with all the members of Alianza Arkana and us, we talked about a possible mural (since I was anxious to do a mural in Pucallpa) without knowing what to paint. Brian, one of the members of Alianza Arkana, proposed to make a mural of Pecon Quena that measures 2.80m-16m on the outside of the house with all the spirits/owners of the plants, whom are also called the 'Ibo' of the plants in respect to the pictorial style of Pecon Quena." 

photograph: Gabriela Maldonado

artist Davis Torres / photograph: Gabriela Maldonado

"There were many difficulties around the mural, however the reason why we made the mural is to pay homage to Lastenia Canayo, also known by her artistic name Pecon Quena (the one who calls the colors). Lastenia Canayo is a Shipibo artist recognized nationally and internationally. She gives incentive for the Shipibo population; being an artist of the jungle that conveys their culture, customs, origins and their ancestral world through painting or any type of art, that can be shown to the world."

photograph: Gabriela Maldonado

Shipibo artist Pecon Quena / photograph: Gabriela Maldonado

"For my part it was a tremendous honor to be part of this project with Lastenia Canayo (Pecon Quena), with my colleague Nekane; whom without her contribution and insistence this tribute would not have been made possible, to Alianza Arkana and Xapiri; who were the collaborative aids to Pecon Quena, the trident collective and the help of all the local people."

"We hope that, through this Pecon Quena mural, more of her work will be seen and thus generate more income for her and her family; to have a better quality of life, since she lives in a reality quite different from ours."