The Shipibo and Conibo tribes live in the jungle in north-eastern Peru along the Ucayali River – a major tributary to the Amazon River – and consist of some 30,000 to 50,000 individuals. They live either in small villages of between 100 and 300 inhabitants or in the two larger towns Pucallpa and Yarina Cocha. These tribes are known for the unique and complex geometric patterns with which they decorate their ceramic pots and other tools and kitchen utensils.
The patterned pots have been known since ad 800 and form a distinctive cultural feature separating the two tribes from other Indian tribes in the lowlands of north-eastern Peru. Ceramic art is a significant element of tribal identity to the extent that its origin has been placed into a religious context in a legend where the god teaches the first human beings to make pottery.
The collection which, besides pottery, consists of textiles and tools is a donation from Ms Mette Kvist Jørgensen. With an MSc in anthropology and ethnography, she has travelled extensively among Indian tribes in the rainforests of Peru and Panama. The collection was donated to Holstebro Kunstmuseum in 1985.
The patterns have evolved over time and they spring from a dynamic tradition that is very much alive: each village has its own patterns and each individual woman her own style, which she passes on to her daughters. It is important though, that every pattern is unique.