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THE KAYABI: TATTOOERS OF THE BRAZILIAN AMAZON | | LARS KRUTAK
Tucum palm tree growing deep in the Amazon jungle. Silvana's facial tattoos were made by the last Kayabi tattoo master who was recently murdered. Her name is tattooed in small letters on her forearm. Her Kayabi name glyph is tattooed on her leg. THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, there may have been more tattooed tribes living in the dense jungles and swamps of South America than anywhere else on earth. Some groups tattooed for medicinal purposes or to ward away evil spirits; others etched designs into their bodies to show success in battle or to venerate or imitate the mythic cultural heroes of the past. Still more attempted to transform themselves into predatory animals or gain spiritual guardians with their ritual markings, while others believed that their ancestral marks transformed "girls" into "women" and "boys" into "men." Today, however, there are less than ten tribes that continue to wear or tattoo in South America including the Matis, Matses, Karajá, Ikpeng, and Kayabi (amongst