Storytellers Update 1

Over the last 8 months, we have made four visits into the Matsigenka community of Shipetiari to cultivate relationships with key individuals, artisans, and families in order to initiate our project "the Storytellers". We share with you this general update of our experiences thus far...
Melanie Dizon
October 29, 2021

The Matsigenka received our team members Davis Torres, Jack Wheeler, and Melanie Dizon to begin a long-standing project of art and storytelling; connecting the youth with the oral traditions of their elders and living culture through creatively driven workshops.

the Xapiri ground team: Melanie Dizon, Jack Wheeler, Davis Torres

We performed a series of three workshops that involved a few drawing and painting exercises, where the children would listen to the stories of two Matsigenka elders, Terri and Gregorio, and would choose personages to illustrate each in their own way. The results were impressive, inspiring, and fun. The children were not timid in their expression, especially given the fact that this was their first time with paint and brush.

Tara showing her drawings from workshop one

Matsigenka elder Terri, and his drawing from the story he shared in the workshop

Gregorio with youth for the painting workshop

A character depiction from elder Gregorio's story, painted by Adriano

In addition to the workshops, we experienced many intimate moments between couples, their families, and individual members of the community, learning about various aspects of their Matsigenka culture.

Roberto demonstrates how to play the traditional mouth harp known as Pegombirinchi, which he constructed out of special reeds and vine.

Nati (wife of Roberto) is skilled in reed basketmaking and cetico hand-knotting used to create 'jempo' bags.

Traditional architecture - the Matsigenka maloca, built by Roberto's hands.

We get to understand their culture and contemporary view on life, we follow them through the forests that they know and sense throughout their lives, and we get to hear their song and story that floats the imagination that grounds their reality.

A meeting at the house of Ana with our guide Javier (far right), sharing masato and stories.

Ana specializes in the jempo bags; hand-knotted from cetico fibre. As well as a very strong masato drink made of fermented yucca, common in every household.

Luciano and his wife Lola with daughter, she carries the tradition of palm-weaving and hand-knotting with chambira fibre and he is skilled in the making hunting arrows.

the flooded rainforest

We will be sharing more updates on the specific workshops and the key families and individuals to whom we've connected with during these visits.

We hope that you continue to follow our progress with this long-standing project of art and storytelling, focused on connecting the youth with the oral traditions of their elders and living culture through creative workshops and relationship building.

This project is made possible through our partnership with SePerú; a non-profit organization dedicated to equal benefits and co-management of Peruvian Indigenous communities and their natural ecosystem.

Support this project so that we can continue nourishing the ancestral knowledge of the Matsigenka people.