Sebastião Salgado: The unparalleled beauty of the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous peoples

The social documentary photographer spent years capturing the vast areas and traditions of Amazônia

Charlotte Hodges
Thursday 20 May 2021 14:15
<p>Men of Zo’é ethnicity, residents of the village of Towari Ypy, wearing traditional headdresses</p>

Men of Zo’é ethnicity, residents of the village of Towari Ypy, wearing traditional headdresses

Sebastião Salgado travelled the Brazilian Amazon and photographed the extraordinary region for six years: the forest, the rivers, the mountains, the people who live there, which all feature in his new book ‘Sebastião Salgado. Amazônia’.

He explains: “For me, it is the last frontier, a mysterious universe of its own, where the immense power of nature can be felt as nowhere else on earth. Here is a forest stretching to infinity that contains one-tenth of all living plant and animal species, the world’s largest single natural laboratory.”

Luísa, daughter of Moisés Piyãko Asháninka, paints herself in the mirror. Kampa do Rio Amônea Indigenous Territory, state of Acre, 2016

Marauiá mountain range. Yanomami Indigenous Territory. Municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, state of Amazonas, 2018

Keiá Yawanawá from the village of Mutum, paints the back of young Kanamashi, from the village of Amparo. The flower-shaped ornament in her hair is made of bird feathers. Rio Gregório Yawanawá Indigenous Territory, state of Acre, 2016

Salgado visited a dozen indigenous communities scattered across the largest tropical rainforest in the world, documenting the daily life of the Yanomami, the Asháninka, the Yawanawá, the Suruwahá, the Zo’é, the Kuikuro, the Waurá, the Kamayurá, the Korubo, the Marubo, the Awá and the Macuxi.

Bela Yawanawá, from the village of Mutum, with a headdress and painted face. Rio Gregório Indigenous Territory, state of Acre, 2016

Miró (Viná) Yawanawá making feather adornments, one of the arts a beginner must learn to master. Rio Gregório Indigenous Territory, state of Acre, 2016

Capturing their warm family bonds, hunting and fishing techniques, the manner in which they prepare and share meals, their talent for painting their faces and bodies, the significance of their shamans, and their dances and rituals.

Salgado has dedicated this book to the indigenous peoples of Brazil’s Amazon region: “My wish, with all my heart, with all my energy, with all the passion I possess, is that in 50 years’ time this book will not resemble a record of a lost world. Amazônia must live on.”

You can purchase ‘Sebastião Salgado. Amazônia’ here

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