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The Ticuna

The Ticuna  (also known as Tukuna, Tikuna, and Maguta) occupy Amazonas, Brazil, southeast Colombia, and northeast Peru. They live along rivers and small tributaries, in small communities numbering 50 to 150 individuals, cultivating manioc and fishing. Unlike the Shuar, they are relatively peaceful.

Like most Amazonian peoples, the Ticuna raise chickens and keep monkeys, parrots, and macaws for pets. The feathers of these birds are used to make headdresses and ornaments for ceremonial dress. The Ticuna are a highly social group who travel frequently by canoe to other villages. They are famous as canoe builders.

Ticuna masks and full-body bark-cloth costumes are recognized throughout the region. Unlike other Amazonian peoples, the Ticuna use little body ornamentation. The men hunt and create ceremonial masks, while the women cook and cultivate the land.


Ticuna Môça Nova ritual, initiation into adulthood of women. The ritual drum beating.

Shamans play an important role in Ticuna society. Because of their extensive knowledge of medicinal plants, they are valued as powerful healers. During rituals, shamans communicate with the malevolent spirits that dwell in specific trees.

The Ticuna are actively resisting encroachment on their ancestral lands by colonists.