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Object Monday: Shipibo Kënpo

Shipibo Kënpo  (MMA 80.46.1)

Shipibo Kënpo  (MMA 80.46.1)


The Shipibo (or Shipibo-Conibo) people live along the Ucayali River in southeastern Peru in the upper reaches of the Amazon. Shipibo women are renowned for their finely decorated textiles and ceramics. These are ornamented with designs known as kené¸ intricate web-like patterns that originate beyond the realm of humans and are experienced in dreams in visions.

In addition to its elaborate decoration, Shipibo pottery is characterized by extremely thin walls and shiny surfaces, the latter the result of a coating of tree resins. Ceramics are used in daily life and produced for sale to tourists, providing an important source of income to Shipibo communities. 

This vessel is a communal beer drinking bowl or kënpo.  Drinking bowls are made in three sizes. This is the largest and is made to be passed around at social gatherings.

To see more Shipibo objects in the Maxwell collection, visit From Head to Mouth: Other Amazonian Collections in the Maxwell Museum, opening in our galleries in mid-October 2021.

Kënpo (communal drinking bowl)
Artist: unknown
Culture: Shipibo (Shipibo-Conibo)
Region: Ucayali River Valley, Peru
Date: mid-20th century
Donor:  Christine Price
Catalog #: MMA 80.46.1