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Mebengokre ngap

Mebêngôkre (Kayapó) ngâp (necklace)
ca. 1960
Xikrin Village, State of Pará, Brazil
Mother of pearl from mussel shells, seeds, cordage, paint or resin
53 x 31 cm
Collected by George Love

Ngâp—ceremonial necklaces made by Kayapó women from freshwater mussel shells, beads, and cotton string (kadjât kunrâi)—are worn by adults and children in rituals such as the Bemp, Takâk, Kworokangô, and Mebiok. These ceremonies are the central focus of social life in Kayapó communities. In them, people receive new names, most often from their grandparents. The ceremonies help establish and confirm the Kayapó identities of those who receive names and celebrate the involvement of the whole community.

The participation of the entire community in Kayapó ceremonies is very important. The Kayapó also seek to be beautiful in their rituals. The value of beauty (mêtch) and its power (prã) are of major importance to Kayapó people.

—Piydjô Kayapó (Kayapó), knowledge keeper, Kikretum village

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