Tatiana Cardeal

Tatiana Cardeal

For many indigenous groups, such as the Kayapó, painting the body is a means of expression, a method of communication. It can say who you are or what you are doing. It is ritualistic, but it also conveys a social message. It can, for example, show the war-readiness of the Kayapó warriors, or express the celebration of their corn harvest. The painting stays on the skin for many days, like a henna painting. After a few days the black ink changes to purple, or blue, and then disappears.

We were at the Indigenous National Party in Bertioga, Brazil, celebrating indigenous culture and traditions. A Kayapó woman was painting my leg with ink made from black seeds from the genipapo fruit, so that I could join in the celebrations with them.

My focus was dancing with the movement of her hand, delicate but strong. I wanted to close my eyes, to feel deeper my body and her touch, but I was fascinated by her rhythm and the warm colours.

I heard a drum playing far away... daydreaming. Falling from the inner world, the sound called me back, and I realized that the camera was there, prepared in my hands.

I shot.

*Tatiana Cardeal* Brazil


New Internationalist issue 419 magazine cover This article is from the January/February 2009 issue of New Internationalist.
You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Get a free trial »

Subscribe   Ethical Shop