Traveling through the ancient and fertile jungle regions of Peru, Neisha developed a deep connection with the world of Shamanic plant medicine of the Amazon. Here she met Lastenia, a powerful, spirited and passionate artist from the Shipibo community of San Francisco. Lastenia welcomed Neisha into her heart and home, and a beautiful artistic connection bloomed between these two strong and dedicated women.
Days were spent sharing stories while collecting fruits, leaves and barks from the bountiful land. Icaros/medicine songs were sung to the dye baths that were used to create the earthy tones featured in the Light the Way range, and women from the community gathered together to paint these hand dyed fabrics with the art of their ancestors.
The Ucayali River jungle regions of Peru is the home of the Shipibo people; a tribe with a strong connection to nature. Medicinal and psychoactive plants such as Ayahuasca have been used for centuries in these communities. Ayahuasca is traditionally drunk under the care of a shaman who is able to connect with the spirit of the plant, assisting a patient to heal mind, body and spirit. A patient can then be prescribed another ‘master’ plant medicine to drink, in order to heal physical and/or energetic imbalances.
Lastenia’s joy lives in her family. Specifically her 6 daughters and 10 grand daughters. With a family full of women it was only fitting that she adopt another daughter when she met Neisha, who was inspired by the artistry of her people. Their shared love of creating art, exploring plants, dancing and making each other laugh formed a joyful foundation for their artistic collaboration.
Lastenia has worked tirelessly with her husband, medicine man Julio, to provide for their family from her artwork. A dedicated artist, over her 57 years she has traveled from city to city selling her embroideries and paintings in town square across Peru. It hasn’t been an easy journey for Lastenia, but she lives passionately for her art and her family. What she wants the most is a studio of her own where she can paint and embroider in solitude. Her collaboration with Neisha is helping to fulfill that dream.
Shipibo art consists of antique and contemporary lines that are either painted or embroidered onto fabric or painted onto pottery. The lines depict the ancestors, the Shipibo's connection to nature and the words sung in icaros/medicine songs. For example two women can sit either side of a large urn, unable to see the work of the other. While they paint they will sing the same icaro and at the end the lines they have painted will match perfectly.
Antique Shipibo art is more solid and geometric in form and speaks of the ancestors. Contemporary Shipibo art is the work of an individual artist or community. This art has thinner, free flowing line work and often more complex geometry.
All dyes featured in Light the Way are from nature and used as medicine in Peru. Fabrics are dipped in the dye solution and laid to dry in strong sun repetitively until the desired colour is achieved, a process that can take up to 5 days. It is said that each plant has a spirit and imbibing these plants will give the patient the plants qualities. The same can be said about wrapping your body in fabrics made with these medicines.
The star plants are:
Caoba - a deep burnt orange/brown is achieved from the bark of this tree used to strengthen and fortify. Caoba is used physically to strengthen digestion, and energetically for concentration, strength and courage.
Achoite – soft sunset tones of peach and pink are achieved from the sap connected to the seeds of this fruit, a soft and gentle feminine medicine. Achoite is used physically to heal the womb, and energetically to soften and nurture the spirit, and open the heart.