Leaving Footprints Behind: Painted Armor | Pernambuco, Brazil

Pride. Respect. Earth. Honor. Tradition. Humility. These are the words that come to mind when thinking about the Fulni-O Tribe of Brazil. Meaning “people of the river and stones,” the Fulni-O Tribe hails from northeastern Brazil, and are fairly unknown to the outside world. Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, the tribe members tribes were forced to retreat to drought stricken lands upon the European invasion.

Now, there are roughly 6,000 members of the Fulni-O Tribe, who have been present on their current reservation for more than 500 years. While there, I had the opportunity to meet these astonishing people and participate in their way of life. Members of the Tribe invited me to spend time on their cultural holy grounds, and welcomed me with traditional paint and dance. Through every song that was sang, their presence left an impact, and their roots to the earth could be felt.

The paint used in the Fulni-O “Painted Armor” tradition comes from Mother Nature, and symbols of Earth’s elements, land, water, trees, plants and animals are painted on tribe members to give them protection in life. Every year the entire tribe spends 3 months in a spiritual retreat away from society and connecting to their ancestors. They gave me a small piece of this tradition. It was an honor, and most importantly a privilege for them to show me their way. I am humbled and I am eternally grateful!

Source: Mike Petrone & Matheus Neves

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