Matsigenka Basketry

Baskets or kantiri are made from tamshi, which is a common name for a set of climbing plants that produce roots. The use of tamshi is widespread among the Matsigenka women and basket making involves several steps.

First, the tamshi vine is collected from the forest. It is then carefully peeled with a knife to remove the outer bark and expose the inner fiber. Once the vine has been brushed and prepared, it is woven into the shape of the basket. The basket can have round or semi-oval shapes, depending on preference and purpose of use.

During the weaving process, sanipanga leaves are used to dye the fibers and accentuate them. These leaves produce a deep purple color that adds visual appeal to the basket. In addition to tamshi, other fibers are used in basket weaving. For example, the tender leaves of the hungurahui and huicungo palms are used to create flat baskets called tsiveta. The fiber of caña brava cane is also used to make square baskets known as tsivogo katsantsanakiri. These baskets are characterized by their square shape and are tied with thread to secure the fibers.

On the other hand, special fibers and techniques are used to create the round basket known as tsivogo kanuronakiri. These baskets are also made with cane fibers and are woven using a specific method to achieve the round shape. Like the square basket, the round basket is also tied with thread to secure the fibers and ensure the durability of the basket.

Both square and round baskets have a functional and practical purpose, as they are used to store personal items. In addition, their construction with natural fibers and the use of traditional techniques ensure that the basket is sturdy and able to protect its contents from rain and moisture.

The use of these natural fibers and traditional weaving techniques by the Matsigenka women not only allows them to create functional baskets for everyday use, but is also a form of artistic expression and a manifestation of their cultural heritage.