StoriesMagicMourningReflections of GloryHorses and DragonsAnimal AdornmentWeddingKids' CreativitySacred DancersWoven AirThe Mythical MonkeyCloth of WarThe Tanabata Bridge of WingsPrayers to the Sea GoddessSnake TwistTapa Map

Funerary mask (ya-ko-ko-su-ti-ro)

Body masks are made throughout the tropical lowlands of South America, and appear in fertility rituals and rites for the dead. The masks are crafted using one of the oldest methods – the beating and decorating of bark cloth. This technique is practiced in most tropical regions, but is especially important in the eastern half of South America, where there is no indigenous loom technology.

Where was this textile created?

World map preview image


Funerary mask (ya-ko-ko-su-ti-ro)
South America: Eastern South America, Brazil, Upper Rio Negro; Tucano people
Mid 20th century
Bark cloth, pieced, sewn and painted, with cane supports
129 cm x 187 cm
Gift of Dr. Jeanne Cannizzo
T91.0273 Textile Museum of Canada

This large cone-shaped mask covers the wearer’s body to the knees. It is made of bark cloth from the Tururi tree and painted with vegetable dyes. The face may represent a forest sprite or other human-shaped creature. The top, bottom and small sleeves are stiffened with cane hoops, and palm fringes are tied to the bottom hoop to conceal the man inside.

During dramatic mourning ceremonies for the recently dead (called óyne, or weeping), Tucano men wear body masks to represent the denizens of the spirit world. They dance, sing, and mime animal or spirit behaviour. At the end of the ceremony, mourners burn the bark cloth masks to drive away the soul of the deceased.

Do an Activity!
Test your knowledge of textiles and discover something new. You have four adventures to choose from.

Make a Mola Paint by Plant Magic Carpet Animal Know How