Art and Residence Among the Shipibo Indians of Peru: A Study in Microacculturation


  • Peter G. Roe

    1. University of Delaware
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      PETER ROE is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1973. Since 1969 he has worked on the central and upper Ucayali River region of the Peruvian jungle and has published works on both the archaeology of the Late Prehistoric Cumancaya complex and the ethnography and ethnoarchaeology of the Shipibo-Conibo Indians. He has also published on the ancient Chavin art style of the highlands and coast of Peru. His major interest is the relationship of ideology to material culture and he has just finished a book on lowland South Amerindian cosmological systems.


The geometric decorative art of the Shipibo Indians, Peruvian montaña, is produced by women balanced between a cultural imperative for personal innovation and submission to the constraints of traditional style. The experimental commissioning of painted Shipibo textile samplers using a rule-based approach reveals that additional variables in the Deetz-Longacre hypothesis associating female stylistic uniformity with matrilineal descent and matrilocal residence, such as the number of elements and rules used and the higher position in a hierarchy of complexity such solutions occupy, contribute to aesthetic micro-acculturation. That is done in the Shipibo case in a way that belies the presupposition that the mother is always the most important mentor in a girl's art, while supporting this archaeological theory's prediction that a group of coresiding females produces relatively homogeneous art. [ethnoarchaeology, art-style analysis, Deetz-Longacre hypothesis, South American Indians, Peru, Shipibo]