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Piro design: painting as meaningful action in an Amazonian lived world

Gow, Peter (1999) Piro design: painting as meaningful action in an Amazonian lived world. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 5 (2). pp. 229-247. ISSN 1359-0987

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Starting from the problems of describing non-Western visual aesthetic systems ethnographically, this article provides a basic account of yonata, painting with design, among the Piro people of the Bajo Urubamba river in Eastern Peru. Yonata, and its product yonchi, `design', is the Piro variant of the Amazonian practice of painting surfaces with designs of `geometric' type. Placing this practice in the context of the Piro lived world, I argue that painting with design encodes the ideal life trajectory of a Piro woman. For Piro people, design is beautiful, and through design women demonstrate the success of their own lives as beauty on the bodies of others and certain material objects. In the conclusion, I extend the analysis presented here to Australian Aboriginal and Melanesian cases, and to the Western tradition.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1999 Royal Anthropological Institute
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2010 15:17
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:18

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