Main menu

Masquerades and Demons: Tukuna Bark-Cloth Paintings

March 25, 1993 to June 27, 1993


This exhibition presented a selection of approximately 40 objects-- masks, costumes, and paintings-- made of bark-cloth by the Tukuna people of the Amazon, in the eastern part of Colombia near Brazil.

These striking works were created specifically for the Moça Nova ritual, a puberty rite marking the coming of age of young Tukuna women. Participants in the ceremony wear full-length costumes and masks representing tree-demons, animal, and water spirits. Large and small paintings covered with abstract symbols and figurative forms were used to decorate the huts of the young women prior to the rite of passage to delimit ritual dancing space and as screens behind which sacred musical instruments were kept from sight.

The artifacts included in the exhibition were selected from the collection of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the single largest holding of Tukuna bark-cloth painting in the world. These works had never been published or shown prior to this exhibition.

Masquerades and Demons : Tukuna Bark –Cloth Paintings was curated by Dr. Maarten van de Guchte, Curator at the Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the organizing institution.

An exhibition catalogue, published by the Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, accompanied the exhibition, and is available for research.

This exhibition was made possible through the support of Harvey J.Stapleton, Research Board, University of Illinois; Office of the Chancellor; office of the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Roger E. Kanet, Director International Programs and Studies, Devora Gynspan, Director of Development, International Program and Studies; Enrique J. Mayer, director, center for Latin American and Carribean Studies; Theodore J.Zernich, Director, School of Art and Design, Department of Anthropology, the Krannert Art Museum, and the Illinois Arts Council.