The Iny͂ People of Central Brazil


An insight into how indigenous people in a small area have preserved their unique heritage, through the rituals that balance and preserve their way of life.

Untitled 5 by Jack Trolove

The Iny͂ People of Central Brazil is a collaboration between the School of Humanities at Massey University, Te Manawa and the Museu do Índio in Rio de Janeiro. It’s the culmination of four years of work between these international institutions.

The Iny͂ people are a small tribe living in a geographically limited area in Central Brazil. Despite modern pressures, they have preserved their heritage and way of life. The exhibition provides an insight to the culture of the Iny͂, with a particular focus on the unique ceramic doll figures made by Iny͂ women artists.

Called ritxoko, these figures represent daily activities, wildlife, important rituals, and characters from Iny͂ cosmology. The ritxoko tradition is handed down from generation to generation, and in 2012 it was officially listed as national cultural heritage by the Brazilian Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage.

The ritxoko ceramics are accompanied by a short documentary about the women who make them, in addition to photographs of Iny͂ life, creating a well-rounded picture of Iny͂ cultural heritage.

The exhibition had its genesis in a research collaboration between Massey University’s Portugese Programme and Department of Linguistics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. This relationship led to the School of Humanities, Media & Creative Communication at Massey University suggesting the exhibition to Te Manawa. Professors Kerry Taylor and Leonel Alvarado travelled to Rio de Janeiro to meet with Federal University staff, and other exchanges by both students and staff have all helped make this exhibition a reality.

All ritxoko ceramic works on display will be available for visitors to purchase.


An Iny͂ woman paints a ceramic figure
Photos by Chang Whan.