Monday, September 21, 2009

Mundurucú feathered headress

At the end of his journey, Henri found himself at Pará where the Amazon empties into the Atlantic. While in Pará he was shown around Santarém by the French Vice-Consul, M. Gouzenne. He speaks about the geography and goods exchanged at the mouth of the Amazon.

While in Santarém he writes about trying to procure a ceremonial trophy head and feathered headdress from the Mundurucú people, once the mightiest headhunters in the Amazon. I had assumed that he was unable to close the deal, but the Musée d'Ethnographie in Neuchâtel has a feathered headdress that is attributed to Henri in their possession (Actual photo below). The colors of the Amazon bird feathers are still incredibly vibrant after 150 years. What happened to the trophy head is a mystery.

Mundurucú feathered headress. © Musée d'Ethnographie de Neuchâtel

Mundurucú warrior in ceremonial attire, ca. 1828. Illustration by Hercules Florence.

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