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Ceremony of Mariwin | Matis Chief Amazon Native Tribe | Mariwin Ritual Amazon Indian Tribe Ceremony
Mariwin Mask - Amazon Indigenous Ceremony Matis Capybara - Ceremony Indigenous People of the Amazon | Capybara Spirit
Ceremony of Capybara - Matis Indians Amazon Indian Nude Amazonian Indian Girl
Amazonian Native Girl Matis Indian Girl Amazonian Woman Ceramics
Amazon Woman Topless Amazon Woman Tattoo Indian Girl Naked
Matis Indian Chief Amazon Indian Shaman Queixada - Amazon Indian Ritual
Queixada | Amazon Indian Ceremony Indigenous People | Amazonian Indian Ritual Queixada - Tribal Photos and Videos
Native Tribal Dance Indian Girl | Body Painting Body Painting | Native Amazon Indian
Blowgun Hunting | Amazon Native Tribe Korubo Blowgun Indian Chief | Cacique
Blowgun or Blowpipe hunting Amazonian tribe hunting monkey Indigenous Amazonian Chief
Matses Indians Photo Gallery

Matis Indians Photo Gallery

The Jaguar People

The Matis Indians (not to be mixed up with the neighboring Matsés Indians) are a small band of panoan-speaking native Amazonians who live in the Javari (Yavarí) Valley on the Itui River in Brazil not far from the border with Peru.  Only about 300 of them have survived to the present date, the majority disappearing in the early 1980's, sacrificed to the consequences of their first encounters with modern civilization and the various disease epidemics that followed.  However, recently the population of the Matis people has been increasing and their traditional cultural practices are experiencing a revival, an example being the facial tattooing of youths upon reaching adulthood. 

This photo gallery of these indigenous people of the Amazon Rainforest as presented on these web pages is the result of an expedition that I sponsored and funded.  Collectively, these photographs document many important aspects of their Amazonian culture, including important ceremonies, the making of ceramics, and blowgun hunting.  Three ceremonies are shown: Mariwin,  Capybara, and Queixada.  The Mariwin ceremony involves masked "ancestral spirits" who arrive (to the dismay of Matis children) with whips, while the Capybara and Queixada ceremonies involve "imitations" of animals which are important to their culture for hunting and religious aspects.   The Matis Indians have not been converted to Christianity and still practice an animistic religion, with animal spirits being of principle importance in their cosmological system.   Simple said, the Matis are a very superstitious people and believe that animal spirits are responsible for health or illness, bountiful harvests versus famines, and having good fortune in contrast to bad luck.  In their world view, animal spirits must not be offended or they could become sick, have crop failures or be ill-fated.  If offended, animal spirits can be manipulated with plants (often called by the same name as the animal) whose extracts are normally applied externally or in the eyes (an example being bëcchëte). 

In contrast to most other tribes in the region (e.g. the Matsés and Marubos Indian Tribes) who no longer use blowguns (blowpipes), the Matis tribe still uses precision four-meter blowguns.  Matis blowguns are beautiful works of art in addition to being precision instruments.  The Matis typically decorate their blowguns with mosaics made from pieces of tortoise eggshells, resulting in beautiful and functional instruments.  Blowgun darts are tipped with curare poison which paralyzes the prey.  These indigenous people of the Amazon have developed very impressive technology for blowgun hunting and are capable of taking game at distances of up to 50 meters.  Their technology is different than the Korubo Indians in that Matis darts are smaller and use two pieces of "cotton" rather than one.  Curiously, the blowgun without the mosaic decorations illustrated  in the photos above is of Korubo origin rather than Matis.  I have documented many aspects of Matis blowgun technology in various documentary films.

Presently, the greatest dangers to the survival of the Matis natives are two foreign diseases: hepatitis and malaria which are the most important causes of mortality in their communities.  Consequently, I personally funded the installation of a water wells for a native communities in the Javari (Yavarí) River Valley.  This health project that is installing water wells in indigenous villages in the Javari Valley will aid in eliminating the risk of some types of hepatitis (i.e. hepatitis A).  In addition, I am working with the Peruvian Ministry of Health in their ASIS program to conduct a survey in the Javari Valley in order to establish to what extent hepatitis and malaria are present in indigenous communities.  This is the first step in establishing an effective health program in that first you need to identify which diseases are important in order to combat them. 

Unlike some other Amazonian natives, the Matis are remarkably friendly and helpful.  Once when we were searching at night together for frogs (to be used in their poison frog ceremony), I remember how carefully they guided me and took care of me in this dangerous situation, and believe me that being in the Amazon Rainforest at night, crossing creeks via logs, and avoiding poisonous snake is indeed a dangerous environment for both natives and non-natives alike.  Over the years I have developed a great respect for my Matis friends and have been amazed by their survival skills in the Amazon jungle.  Therefore, I would like to share some of my experiences with you via this photo gallery and hope that you too will appreciate their culture and that you will be culturally sensitive and help to preserve indigenous cultures such as that of the Matis people. 

If you would like to discover more about Amazonian Indian tribes, please become a member so you can gain access to the
Member's Area.  This exclusive area is divided into six different sections: videos, maps, dictionaries, books, magazines, and Brasil Indigena.  In this Member's Area you will encounter a "gold mine" of valuable information about Amazonian natives.  This information has been chosen so that you can use these material to help plan your expedition to the Amazon jungle and meet real indigenous tribes rather than just visiting an expensive tourist trap.  If you like my images of Amazon Indians, you can view more of them on this website, in addition to viewing original documentary films of my expeditions to the Matis Indians that are available on  DVD and Instant Download.  By purchasing a documentary you instantly become a member of and receive a password to enter the Member's Area.

The author, Dr. Dan James Pantone, is the editor of and the founder of the Movement in the Amazon for Tribal Subsistence and Economic Sustainability, a nonprofit association that is assisting native people in the Amazon Rainforest so that they can preserve their culture and lands in a sustainable and independent manner. 

Dan James Pantone, Ph.D. arranged and led this expedition.
For more info, contact Dr. Pantone at djpantone(at)

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