La Oferta

December 10, 2023

Color and magic of Shawi women on display at Lima photo exposition

Fotografía del 22 de mayo de 2018, de una nativa Shawi delante de una de las fotografías en exposición en el Museo de la Nación, en Lima (Perú). El color y la magia de las mujeres Shawi, un pueblo aún poco conocido de la Amazonía de Perú, se lucen en Lima en una exposición fotográfica que las muestra en la cotidianeidad, con sus coronas de plumas, largos collares y maquillaje de símbolos que expresa mensajes tan diversos como “mujer valiente”. EFE

Lima, May 30 (EFE).- The color and magic of the women of the Shawi tribe, a little-known indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon, are on display in Lima in a photo exposition.

The “Shawi Sanapi” (Shawi woman, in their language) exhibit includes portraits of the indigenous women of the village of Balsapuerto taken by Finnish photographer Meeri Koutaniemi in 2016.

The exposition, which can be viewed until July 15 at the Culture Ministry in the capital, focuses on the daily life of the Shawi, showing their beauty, strength and pride in the symbolic wealth of their people, as demonstrated in the body painting that can be seen in each of the portraits.

Although, as Koutaniemi said in an interview with Efe, “it’s not an anthropological work,” the exhibition is “an approximation of the daily life of the Shawi women, their role in their community and their role in preserving their traditions.”

Devoted to the task of raising their children, as well as making pottery and textiles, the Shawi women are also growers of cassava and tasked with transforming it into “masato,” a traditional beverage, which is made by combining various ingredients and letting the mixture ferment for more than a week.

With the images of their sisters, mothers and daughters on display in the exposition, Shawi women have been bringing something of their daily lives to Lima as well as taking advantage of the situation to obtain more attention for some of their long-delayed demands.

“Often in my community, we work as artisans … but there’s nowhere to sell (our products),” said Sonia Paquita Yumi, who asked for “more help” from the state for Balsapuerto.

In addition to economic problems, the Shawi have other concerns, including the fact that 90 percent of them have no potable water source or sewer drainage and that there are only 14 high schools to serve a population of about 20,000.