Shipibo Butterfly Tapestry

In ancient Hippocratic medicine, the patient was called asthenis, meaning a person who lacked strength or vital energy; the doctor was iatros, which means the healer who re-establishes the sthenos or vital energy in the person.

The Shipibo-Conibo are an indigenous people along the Ucayali River in the Amazon rainforest in Peru. Formerly two groups, the Shipibo and the Conibo, they eventually became one distinct tribe through intermarriage and communal ritual and are currently known as the Shipibo-Conibo people.

Shipibo designs come from seeing the sacred healing energies that come from the plants. They can be seen as the codes of the ikaros that express their healing energies and are seen by the Onanya healers in their visions. The patterns on their art are external two dimensional manifestations of these energies. The Onanya weave these geometric designs into the bodies of their patients to bring order and harmony and to reconfigure the patients’ energy bodies. The patterns correlate to a variety of different senses. The Onanya “see the songs” and “hear the designs” at the same time in a phenomenon known as synesthesia, the blending of the senses. These design energies come from the plants singing in ceremony and from their dietas. The plant doctors’ ikaros work through the Onanya penetrating the patient’s energy body to heal and protect it.



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