Sinarahua – myths, legends and amazonian art

´Myth must be kept alive.  The people who can keep it alive are the artists of one kind or another.  The function of the artist is mythologization of the environment and the world.  Myths come from an elite experience, the experience of people particularly gifted, whose ears are open to the song of the universe.’

Joseph Campbell

It struck me while reading a collection of interviews with Joseph Campell an American mythologist, in the book ‘The Power of Myth.’  That the Peruvian Amazon art scene can be understood in this context.  Artists such as Luis Tamani Amasifuen, Juan Carlos Taminchi, Jheferson Saldaña Valera and Anderson Debernardi etc are extremely popular for what people think are Ayahuasca or hallucinogenic visions.  After getting to know several of these artists, it didn’t strike me that they had to be taking ayahuasca every day, to find inspiration.  Myths and legends are ingrained into Peruvan culture.  Legends are real to the People.  It is normal to believe in Mermaids, Anaconda protectors, monsters living in the rivers etc.  The people in the Amazon were raised with respect, for their invisible world. Which we have long forgotten.  That is what makes these Amazon painters so special and interesting.  No matter how modern they become they are still linked to a mysterious ancient culture. Connected to an interior world, as real to the people as this physical reality.

We are now as artists adventurers of that unexplored, invisible world.  We are looking to navigate once again, the mysteries that lies within.  A world so immense and vast.  So complex and dangerous.  Especially for any naïve westerner, looking for visionary television.  A quick escape from worldly troubles at a party, could lead you straight into the house of a court jester.

There is nowhere left to explore in the art world – aren’t we all bored of Marcel Duchamp?  I’m not just talking about surrealism here and the issues of the subconscious.  I am talking about navigating in space – without the need of any spaceship.

It is my hope that if we can learn to believe and respect these dangerous, interior-oceans.  Our Amazonian brothers were born into.  We can move forward as a planet and find magic in the forest all over again.

Mayker Sinarahua Amasifue was born in the city of Yurimaguas, province of Alto Amazonas. He studied at the Superior School of Artistic Fine Arts Formation “Victor Morey Peña”, in the city of Iquitos.

Sinarahua came to visit me at Sachaqa a few weeks back asking if he could take part in Festival Patrona in July.  We immediately entered very interesting discussions about art and shamanism.  He told me he had spent many months visiting practicing tribes of ancient traditions, deep in the rainforest.   Learning about plant medicine – seeking deeper into that unknown territory.

Trina Lerner Brammah

Mayker Sinarahua Amasifue

Interview with Mayker Sinarahua Amasifue:

What is the legend you are going to paint during festival Patrona in San Roque De Cumbaza, beginning 23rd of July –  mural art activities?

Taking into account that the Amazon is full of many myths, legends and stories – on this occasion I will paint the legend of the Tanrrilla bird.

A small bird like a heron, very pretty and prose.   They say it has in its fine and long legs a secret to make enchantments of love. That when the healer receives the order to prepare the love potion, he must hunt it with a blowgun dart.  The healer must be dieting for several days on certain plants before hunting.  Then preparing its magic with, Icaros – magical songs.

Why is this legend so important to you?

In fact it is a very beautiful legend and very little is known of it.  I would like people to know more about the Tanrrilla and the mystery that this bird Keeps.

for mural (2)
Sketch for a mural to be painted 23rd of July – legend of the Tanrrilla bird

Why are the ancient myths and legends important for modern man?

Bearing in mind that these legends keep a lot of magic and mystery in their content and somehow keep our ancient culture alive.   It is important for us to transmit these stories to each generation and to maintain our cultural wealth.

You have recently traveled for several months into the depth of the Amazon.  What have you been looking for?

Actually, searching for many answers and wanting to learn more about jungle medicinal plants.   Which led me to know many beautiful places in the virgin jungle.  There was so much to learn and I was able to gather a lot of information.   To be translateted into painting.

A beautiful experience of sharing with the Achuar, Wampis, Awajun and shapra ethnic groups.  Learning about traditional food and dance. Their practices with different natural pigments – use to decorate.  Most important to me was to learn what ayahuasca means in their lives.  There is still so much more to learn from these ethnic groups.

You talk about traditional medicines.  Why are they important when we have pharmaceutical drugs?

I have always sought answers to, why we use so many pharmaceutical drug products.  When before families always used more traditional medicine, which are far more effective in curing diseases.  Today most Peruvians buy western medicine. Traditional medicine is so much better.

Mayker Sinarahua Amasifue

In your eyes is Ayahuasca dangerous?

Personally, I have only experienced Ayahuasca with a good shamanic teacher.    I do not see it to be dangerous, but considering the ayahuasca theme, which is very broad.  Ayahuasca can be called prostituted by some because you find it everywhere.   It certainly can be considered dangerous, to experiment with a false shaman.

What do you know about the invisible world? The other kingdoms?

Having taken ayahuasca and experiencing journeying into other realms.  I can say that there is something really magical and unique, beyond the surface of reality.   That only a good shaman can help guide you to see – these magical and unique places.


What are your plans for the future in your artistic practice?

As a person and artist, it is my goal to share all the magic and mysteries hidden in our Amazon.  It is very important for me to share my art with the world.

Three words to describe Festival Patrona 2017?

Definitely very formidable


Mayker Sinarahua Amasifue

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