Darcy Ribeiro was among the Urubu-Ka'apor between 1949 and 1951, having carried out two major expeditions, the first up the Gurupi River and the second up the Pindaré River, where he found the indigenous people quite weakened by various diseases, mainly measles. Among the results of this research, the documentary film The Urubus Indians: daily life in an indigenous village in the rainforest, directed by Heinz Foerthmann (1949), stands out.
The Urubus Indians: Daily Life in an Indigenous Village in the Rainforest (1949)
Directed by Heinz Foerthmann and Darcy Ribeiro, the film portrays the daily life of a young Urubu-Ka'apor family: Kosó, his wife Xi'ira and their little son Berém, showing the technique of the material culture of this people, such as the making of arrows and domestic life. .
The Ka'apor family poses for the photographer (left) and Ka'apor man and teenager from Vale do Pindaré, with body paint and necklace (right) by Darcy RibeiroMuseu do Índio
Although the first relations with the Serviço de Proteção aos Índios (SPI) were established in 1911, it was only from 1928 onwards that the continuous contact of the Ka'apor with non-indigenous people was effectively established. Since then, the Ka'apor population has declined sharply: there were about 2,000 in 1928; just over 900, around 1950, when Darcy was among them; and only 494 in 1982.
Despite the constant pressure on their territory, today, the Ka'apor make up again a population equivalent to that of 1928, the mark of contact with national society: there are about 2,000 indigenous people living in the Alto Turiaçu Indigenous Land, in the west of the state of Maranhao.
Ka'apor indigenous house under construction, in Vale do Pindaré (left) and the Ka'apor Urubu people gathered in front of the party house, singing and dancing (right) by Darcy RibeiroMuseu do Índio
The indigenous Koata (left) and Ka'apor man (right) sitting in hammocks by Darcy RibeiroMuseu do Índio
In his writings, Darcy Ribeiro defined the Ka'apor as late Tupinambás: "Five hundred-year-old Tupinambás, radically changed in time, as we ourselves have changed". The photographs taken by him during the period he lived with these people are an example of how cultural creations change their profile over time and how, with the change of context, they take on new meanings and new values.
Ka'apor woman holding a gourd (left) and Ka'apor man drinking chibé (right) by Darcy RibeiroMuseu do Índio
What makes Darcy's photographs really special is that, when photographing, he mixed the moods of scientific discovery and the human experience that intercultural encounters make possible. He photographed to get in touch and produce a memory of that encounter. Thus, his photography surpassed its primary function as a descriptive record and entered the world of imagination.
Ka'apor children with stilts (left) and man in a hammock making an arrow (right) by Darcy RibeiroMuseu do Índio
Ka'apor man returning from the hunt by Darcy RibeiroMuseu do Índio
Ka'apor children with body and face paint and adornment by Darcy RibeiroMuseu do Índio
Darcy Ribeiro commented more than once on a dialogue he had with Lévi-Strauss, in which the latter would have told him that their theoretical work would not last long, but that ethnographic observation has permanent value.
In the year of his centenary, we know what that smiling young man with the black mustache did not yet know: that he would be led by the twists of history to become rector, minister of the Republic, vice-governor, novelist.
It is difficult not to be tempted not to see in the photos of this exhibition the seeds of the transformative and idealistic spirit that led him to that future.
Darcy Ribeiro and Kadiwéu IndiansMuseu do Índio
Darcy Ribeiro 100
It is with great honor that the Museu do Índio salutes the 100th anniversary of Darcy Ribeiro and reaffirms the institution's commitment to combating prejudice against indigenous peoples and their cultures infused by the anthropologist in the gesture of its creation.
Physical exhibition originally held between November 23 and December 30, 2010 at Caixa Cultural in Rio de Janeiro:
General coordination and curation
SAMI - Society of Friends of the Indian Museum
Expographic design and visual design of the exhibition
Jair de Souza Design
Visual production and programming
Exhibition production and assembly
Joana Mazza and Paulo Duque Estrada
Exhibition assembly team
Paulo Duque Estrada and Kazuhiro Bedim
Joana Mazza, Daniel Bokelmann and Branca Mattos
Milton Guran, Fabio Maciel (Indian Museum) e Juca Ferreira.
Fabio Maciel and the Indian Museum team
Virtual version adapted to the Google Arts & Culture platform
Ana Carolina Aleixo
Team of the Documentary References Service of the Museu do Índio
Virtual exhibition assembly
Communication team of the Museum of the Indian