Research project FVG ; department RKE v.z.w & Native American Studies  


Where : Ticuna-people of the Upper-Solimões river, in the state Amazonas, Brazil                

Subject: The Feast of the New Girl

Explanation: A girl, who menstruates for the first time, is isolated in a separate room of the parental home (formerly: Collective living hut). The transition from childhood to New Girl, Worecü, is celebrated with a feast of three days duration. The parents and family of the girl begin with the preparations of the ritual months before. They collect food (manioc, meat and fish from hunting and fishing), restore the festive hut, make mask suits, invite the guests and so on. At the start of the festivities, after months of isolation, the girl is placed in the bead, an enclosed space in the festive hut, which represents the womb. Numerous rituals accompany the party. Such as the ritual dance with which important raw materials are brought into the village, the ornamental painting of the guests, music and dance, the finery of the girl, the consumption of manioc beer, the action of the mask packs, releasing the girl from the bead, cropping the hair of the girl and ultimately the ritual of cleansing in the river and the inclusion of the New Girl in the community.

Despite the efforts and threats of the invader and occupier to mortgage the (cultural) survival of the Ticuna people, Ticuna Indians could, partly thanks to the power of this festivity, maintain themselves and survive more than three hundred and fifty years in this threatening and all devouring environment. Upon my arrival at the Ticuna people (in 1984), mention was made of the gentle and passive attitude of this indigenous people. They were accommodating and therefore were able to survive, numerous neighboring peoples were virtually decimated or disappeared definitely from the surface of the earth in their resisting (?) the occupier. Consultation of specialized literature, however, shows that the Ticuna did not at all submit passively to the imperialist whites. On the contrary.

The Feast of the New Girl has, throughout the ages, never completely disappeared from the Ticuna communities, see the testimonies of chroniclers, adventurers and researchers, as Spix and Martius, (period 1817-1820) or H.W. Bates (period 1848-1859). Moreover the festivity could also stand when in the late seventies of the twentieth century, the Messiah, José da Cruz, usurped the Ticuna villages with his Brotherhood of the Holy Cross, another great conversion wave the Indians of the Upper Solimões had to undergo.

This says a lot about the dynamics and strength of this festivity. In the eighties (20th century) once again was proved that the New Girl's Feast is for the Ticuna people a major joker and a strong identity element to distinguish themselves as indigenous people and to claim their rights, as provided for in the Brazilian Constitution.


The mapping of the villages where the Feast of the New Girl is still alive. To gauge the why, the importance, the meaning, the threats and the future of the Feast and the means and arguments to be used to ensure its continuity. Above all I wish to submit all facets of the festival to a thorough study, as well as the deeper meaning of the Feast itself.

For my research, field work in the different Ticuna villages is indispensable. The key players are of course the people themselves. The research can only go on with their approval and cooperation.

Major obstacle in the study, regardless of all the problems which entails a stay in the tropics, are the large distances between the villages that are only accessible from the river. Hundreds of gallons of fuel and oil for the boats, which is a significant cost, must be dragged to approach the villages.

 Daniel De Vos 14 October 2015