The Unseen Museum: Ka’apor Necklace
This necklace (tukaniwar) was worn by women of the Ka’apor tribe of eastern Brazil for the Ta’i Rupi Taha name-giving ceremony. The museum’s collections include beautiful feather work from the Amazon Basin of South America. The Ka’apor are particularly adept at working with small feathers.
The yellow feathers on the cord are from the breast of the channel-billed toucan (Ramphastos vitellinus ariel); they are twined to a tiny thread, which is lashed to the larger cord. The pendants are made of turquoise blue breast feathers and purple throat feathers from the spangled cotinga (Cotinga cayana) and black feathers from the white-tailed cotinga (Xipholena lamellipennis). The cotinga feathers are stuck to cut scarlet macaw (Ara macao) tail feathers with sap from the macarandua tree (Manilkara huberi).
Deb Harding is a collection manager in Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Section of Anthropology. She frequently blogs and shares pieces of the museum’s hidden anthropology collection, which is home to over 100,000 ethnological and historical specimens and 1.5 million archaeological artifacts.