The Medicine Hunter sent me this photo of a Shipibo Indian textile, taken on his travels exploring medicinal plant culture in Peru. Shipibo Indians have an extraordinary textile tradition that reflects their spiritual cosmology and the visions they invoke through the use of ayahuasca, a powerful psychotropic plant that's said to offer profound healing and creativity. (click to enlarge photo)
Chris writes, "The recurrent patterns in those most
unusual works are the ayahuasca geometry which most every ayahuascero sees directly. I have , of course, and then take a good look at the blouses, skirts, pants, shirts and robes worn by the Shipibo (who are often called the ayahuasca people), and see the replication of the visionary experience in textile form."
Along with this link to the most vivid powers of the imagination, these textile patterns also correspond to music. The Shipibo can literally sing these patterns to each other, and both songs and images have complex and powerful meanings that are experienced as balancing and transformational energies.
I'm just touching the surface of this fascinating textile tradition that graphically illustrates how cloth can be a vehicle for spirit, meaning and communication. For more, read "Communion with the Infinite," by Howard G. Charing, another ethnobotanist who works with shamans, ayahuasca and the Shipibo people. Over at FiberFocus, Rayela has also written about Shipibo textiles.
Chris has generously promised to send more photos, and is actively working to promote and preserve the Shipibo culture and traditions, so stay tuned. I love the sun and shadow on this photo, and the tiny turquoise and fuschia diamonds in the pattern; it's hypnotic. I haven't had the ayahuasca experience, but even the tiny glimpse of it in their textiles and artwork is magical.