Vanishing Worlds: Art and Ritual of Amazonia, a traveling exhibition of more than 150 rare and extraordinary objects, offers insight into the cultures and traditions of diverse native peoples of South America’s Amazon region.

On view at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, March 3 – June 30, 2007

Scientists believe that people have inhabited the Amazon region for at least 15,000 years. Prior to European contact, between three and five million people thrived in the Amazon region, an ecologically diverse land of 2.5 million square miles, home to lush rainforests, savannas and an unparalleled array of plants and wildlife. Today, fewer than 100,000 Amazonian native people survive.

This exhibition, organized by the Houston Museum of Natural Science, offers a look into the traditional cultures of diverse peoples located in areas that stretch from the Atlantic coast of Brazil to the foothills of the Andes, south of the Amazon River. The objects in the exhibition come from the Ka’apor, Karajá, Tapirapé, Ticuna, Shipibo-Conibo, Shuar, Kayapó, and Xingu River region peoples. Colorful headdresses, masks, body ornaments, and full body costumes, as well as domestic and utilitarian pieces like basketry, weapons, pottery and textiles, are showcased.

Read more from the Penn Museum news release here.

Image caption: Kayapó-Mekrãgnoti headdress, roriro ri. Worn by adult men during various ceremonies. Photo © Houston Museum of Natural Science.

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