mebengokre

“- Do you want to take a picture of Maria? She is very beautiful!
- Sure, bring her here! Minutes later, Painkré (the indigenous girl portrayed in previous photos) brings Maria, a little doll whose body is painted with Kayapó motifs, just like her. The drawings were made to ‘train’ indigenous to paint other people’s faces.
- She looks just like me, doesn’t she? She doesn’t have ‘hairs above the eyes’! - asks Painkré, showing me the blue-eyed, white doll who, just like her, doesn’t have eyebrows.“

Ph: Ana Caroline, Brazil

Mebengokre (kayapo) woman. Brazil by Taina Lopez.
Their self-denomination is “Mebengokre”, which means “the people from between the waters”. The name Kayapo which means “monkey-like” was given them inappropriately at the beginning of the 19th century. The Mebengokre define themselves as Kaben mei (those who speak beautifully) and Kaben djuoy (speak truly), in opposition to all the groups who do not speak Mebengokre kaben (their language). The Mebengokre don’t always trust the kuben (white man), because the kuben enhire (the whites lie too much).

They distinguish many categories of names for Me mex (beautiful people) and Me kakrit(common people): the Idji kakrit(common names), the Idji mex(beautiful names), the Idji mex kaigo(fake beautiful names); Amin jaren (prank names) and Mex kajgo (unauthentic names). However,  the Idji mex(beautiful names) are sacred and they are almost never pronounced.
- Mebengokre kaben ne mexkumrex: the Mebengokre language is beautiful.

For the Mebengokre, the body is a mirror of what one should be, namely Mereremex (the true nature of beauty or those who extend their beauty). The term mereremex, is not only a visual attribute. In their cosmology, everything that the universe is made up of is intimately linked and indissociable. Each and every thing only exists through the relationship it has with other things and it is important to maintain a degree of harmony between the different Mekaro-ni(spirit, soul, constituent parts). 

A curious fact: The Mebengokre also say Mex(beauty) or Mexkumrex(the true beauty) exactly the same way that the Brazilians say beleza(beauty) for many ways of greetings:Thank you, Good, Beautiful, Ok, Be well…