Ear Ornament

About this object


The donor was a Canadian diplomat in Brazil, in the 1980s. During this time he visited the Amazonian area of Brazil where the Yanomami live.

Cultural context

The Yanomami are a hunter-agriculturist people who live in a northern Amazon area located on both sides of the border between Brazil and Venezuela, in the Orinoco-Amazon interfluvial region. The Yanomami had little contact with people other than neighbouring indigenous groups until the 20th century. Since the 1970s they have faced significant changes. On the Brazilian side of their territory, the Terra Indígena Yanomami was established in 1992 in the face of near-genocide. To this day, almost 60 percent of Yanomami territory is covered by mineral applications and title deeds registered in the National Department of Mineral Production in Brazil by public and private mining companies, both national and multinational. Colonization projects, implemented in the 1970s and ’80s in the east and southeast of Yanomami lands, also created a wave of land occupations that are still expanding. In addition, three military bases have been installed in Yanomami territory since 1985, leading to serious social problems among the local populations. Recently, the Yanomami created the Hutukara Yanomami Association to advocate for their rights in managing their territory and responding to the various threats to their land, in partnership with several other organizations and the states of Venezuela and Brazil.

Physical description

Pair of ear ornaments (a-b). Each ornament is composed of a long, skinny stick, adorned with a small bundle of small dark brown feathers, with a single bright teal feather at centre. The bundle is bound to the stick by fibre.