The Mayoruna tribe are indigenous to the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon. There are currently about 3,200 Mayoruna people, most of whom speak the Panoan Matsés language.
Mayoruna directly translates to “river people” in the Quechua language - although many call the tribe "cat people" because of the characteristic nose piercings the women wear. The Mayoruna believe they’re descended from jaguars and the nose piercings made from veins of palm leaves mirror whiskers.
In the last thirty years, the Mayoruna have become a largely settled people living mostly in permanent forest settlements along or near the Amazon River. However, they still rely on hunting and gathering for most of their subsistence. Plants, especially trees, hold a complex and important interest for the tribe. Each plant is associated with an animal spirit. When a plant product is used as a medicine, it is typically applied externally and the shaman talks to the animal spirit associated with that plant.
In the Mayoruna worldview, there is no distinction between the physical and spiritual worlds and spirits are present throughout the world. Explorer and photojournalist Loren McIntyre discovered this firsthand when he encountered the Mayoruna (some say he "discovered" them) during a National Geographic assignment in the Amazon. THE ENCOUNTER is based on his experience and the story of the Mayoruna/McIntyre encounter itself.
Limited 12 performance engagement at the Curran April 25 - May 7.
Photo credits: Alicia Fox Photography, Loren McIntyre, National Geographic.