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