Exotic Materials, Native Artifacts. Exploring Objects in the Encounter Between Amerindian Peoples and Old World Animals

Palabras clave: artefactos nativos, animales exóticos, colecciones de museos europeos, tierras bajas de Sudamérica


The presence of exotic animals of European or African origin in the New World
is a classic topic of research, and the introduction, acclimatization, and use of these species among the indigenous peoples in lowland South America have been investigated from several different historical, anthropological and zoological perspectives. Yet no studies thoroughly address the material dimension of encounters between native peoples of the Americas and adventitious animals, specifically representations of exotic animals in native artifacts, objects made from raw materials derived from these exotic animals’ bodies, and technologies used in relations with these beings (such as control and use). This article introduces some possibilities in investigating artifacts of this nature in European museum collections, and presents some initial impressions from a research agenda which is underway.