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Charm Necklace

Arts of the Americas

On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
Among the Tucano of the northwestern Amazon basin, stories abound of people turning into animals to learn about their habits and of animals teaching people how to use certain resources in the natural world. Shamanic knowledge contains detailed descriptions of these encounters, and many shamans claim that animals have revealed to them an unexpected food source or the cure for an illness. This necklace of finely carved animal and human forms may have been worn by a shaman to acknowledge such a relationship.
CULTURE Tukano
MEDIUM Palm nut, seeds, plant fiber
  • Place Made: Amazon, Brazil
  • DATES mid-20th century
    DIMENSIONS 6 1/4 × 3/4 × 8 1/4 in. (15.9 × 1.9 × 21 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 61.89
    CREDIT LINE Gift of E.R. Squibb and Sons
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Tukano. Charm Necklace, mid-20th century. Palm nut, seeds, plant fiber, 6 1/4 × 3/4 × 8 1/4 in. (15.9 × 1.9 × 21 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of E.R. Squibb and Sons, 61.89. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 61.89_acetate_bw.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 61.89_acetate_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Necklace decorated with animal- and human-figurine beads separated by black seed beads. The animals consist of 5 frogs, 3 beetles, 2 lizards, 1 turtle, 1 winged insect (cicada?), and 1 bird. There are two human figurines carved out of an orange-brown material. The winged insect and bird beads are carved out of the same material; all the other animals are carved out of black coconut shell. The beads are strung onto a plant-fiber cord. Condition: good; some of the small seed beads are broken or are breaking.
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    Tukano. <em>Charm Necklace</em>, mid-20th century. Palm nut, seeds, plant fiber, 6 1/4 × 3/4 × 8 1/4 in. (15.9 × 1.9 × 21 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of E.R. Squibb and Sons, 61.89. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 61.89_acetate_bw.jpg)