Between 1997 and 2010, with short intervals, I lived and conducted research in the north of Brazil (Amazon region) and worked in projects in the German development cooperation. I immersed myself deeply into the natural environment, culture and society of the Amazon region and was able to expand my knowledge in a lot of new areas.
This experience transformed how I understood the connection between human beings, nature and culture. To me, the muiraquitã symbolizes this new insight. According to legend, the mythological Amazonas (or Icamiabas) gathered green mud from the floor of a lake (Yacy-taperê, or Moon Lake) for an annual celebration and used it to form muiraquitãs in the shape of a frog, turtle, or similar figures. The muiraquitãs dried on the air and retained their form. They served as objects of exchange and were worn – and are still worn today – as amulets. They are believed to endow the carrier with magical powers.
The region along the Tapajós and the lower Amazon Rivers is considered the cradle of the muiraquitã legend. In this region I conducted research on the causes underlying the tropical deforestation. The muiraquitã thus holds a mythical and personal meaning to me, but also stands for our (collective) task to conserve all creation. It represents a bridge between nature and culture.