Kené art: Tradition and design from the jungle of Peru

Kené in the Shipibo language refers to the design system of the shipibo-konibo people (in plural it is called kenebo). These designs can be seen being used to cover the surface of the body, clothing and other material supports such as cloth, wood or ceramics. Among the materials they use to trace their designs are natural dyes, seeds, cotton, fabrics, colored wool yarns and beads.

Kené art Tradition and design from the jungle of Peru 01

Source: Pikbee

These designs do not follow any existing pattern or use any instrument to do so. And here comes the interesting part, keep reading.

See and make kené

Women see kené in their "contemplations”, by the use of piripiri ritual. The piripiri is a series of Cyperaceae plants and the ritual consists in placing drops of their juice in the eyes and navels of the women to strengthen and allow them to see the designs in their "contemplations".

They also make kené: these "contemplations" or visions happen to materialize through drawing, weaving and embroidery on bodies, fabrics or utensils. This art is typically female, taught from mother to daughter.

But men also see kené designs, the difference is that they do not capture their visions on any material surface. In addition, they have visions from ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) and other medicinal plants during the shamanic sessions.

Kené art Tradition and design from the jungle of Peru 02

Source: Pinterest

Interpretation of their ourlines

The geometrical outlines of the Kené designs could not be interpreted as representations of something specific, even though animal and things names are used to remember their contours.

These traces would rather be paths, according to the Shipibo-Conibo thinking.

Kené art Tradition and design from the jungle of Peru 03

Source: David Crews

Their trade

Kenne art and commerce have an important relationship, since their designs are considered decorative elements and of great artistic value by the Western world. It is the women designers who travel to the cities to sell their products and thus supplement their family income.

Kené art Tradition and design from the jungle of Peru 04

Source: Etsy

Kené art Tradition and design from the jungle of Peru 05

Source: Etsy

Kené art Tradition and design from the jungle of Peru 06

Source: Etsy

For more information (in Spanish) you can enter this link of the book Kené: art, science and tradition in design by Luisa Elvira Belaunce.


I hope you liked this post about craftmanship in my country.

Big hug,




KENE: arte, ciencia y tradición en diseño. Luisa Elvira Belaunde. Instituto Nacional de Cultura. Lima, 2009.

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  • Madi Rowan 2019-01-31 at 6:13 am

    All of these pieces are just lovely! I really love in particularly how the women designers are the ones who go to sell their creations to support their families.
    -Madi xo |

    • lacasadefreja 2019-02-01 at 9:25 pm

      Thank you Madi 🙂

  • Jen @Jenron Designs 2019-01-31 at 6:09 pm

    I love this post and I learned so much. These beautiful patterns have always called to me but I had no idea where they came from or what to call them, thanks!

    • lacasadefreja 2019-02-01 at 9:21 pm

      Happy to show a bit of my country here 🙂

  • Tracy @ Cleland Clan 2019-01-31 at 7:22 pm

    These designs are so intricate. Thank you for sharing about this custom. I didn’t know anything about it.

    • lacasadefreja 2019-02-01 at 9:21 pm

      🙂 thanks!

  • Alexa 2019-01-31 at 7:53 pm

    This art is so beautiful, I’ve never heard of this otherwise, but I’m so intrigued by the intricate designs!

    • lacasadefreja 2019-02-01 at 9:20 pm

      So happy more people can learn a little bit about it 🙂

  • Maninder 2019-02-02 at 6:14 pm

    Wow! Such stunning work and a very educational post.

    • lacasadefreja 2019-02-04 at 8:52 am

      Thank you Maninder 🙂

  • The Key Characteristics of a Peruvian Kitchen 2019-09-12 at 1:00 pm

    […] As La Casa De Freja notes, Kené (a type of design traditionally used by the shipibo-konibo people), is huge in Peru. The design system, which is seen as often on the body as it in the home, uses a combination of materials (including vegetable dyes, seeds, cotton, fabrics, wool yarns, and beads) to come up with some truly arresting, unique works of art. If you can, add a few pieces to your kitchen to create the kind of talking point that is guaranteed to get everyone jabbering. […]


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