Pucallpa & The Ucayali

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A huge “lapuna blanca” tree, the largest species of the rainforest, dominates the sky in Pucallpa. Photo: Patrick Quiov

Welcome to Pucallpa and the Ucayali River Region

The closest major city and a bustling port town, Pucallpa (translated from Quechua as Red Earth) was founded in 1848 by Franciscan missionaries who settled a large Shipibo-Conibo community in the region. Surrounded by rivers and huge tracts of rainforest reserve until the Brazil frontier, the city has remained fairly isolated until the building of  highway to Lima through Tingo Maria in 1945. Hot, dusty, and full of contradictions, Pucallpa is fast growing into one of the most culturally authentic and ecologically rich locations in the world.  Arkana will host many programmes in Pucallpa with partner organizations and institutions in the city and various sites around the Ucayali river region. 

Floating restaurants at the lagoon of Yarinacocha on the Ucayali River, a major tributary of the Amazon river.

Indigenous Heartland

Pucallpa and the surrounding Ucayali river region is the heartland of the Peruvian Amazon and many Amazonian indigenous cultures including the Cashibo, Cocama, Ashaninka, and Shipibo-Conibo people, who have a vibrant art practice and material culture including embroidery, painting, and the ancient tradition of slip glaze pottery.  Thousands of people travel from afar every year to learn about Shipibo-Conibo culture and traditional medicine. We will be hosting several different programs with the Shipibo-Conibo community in Pucallpa and the surrounding area that offer opportunities for knowledge exchange and development on humanitarian projects including intercultural education and arts programming, permaculture and sustainable agriculture, building, and waste management projects.

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A Shipiba artisan in the community of San Francisco paints mysterious “quene” designs on hand built pottery.

Visionary Art

Pucallpa itself is a bustling port city with a thriving culture of indigenous art, music, and traditional medicine. The city has also given rise to the growth of its own visionary art movement.  Home once to the late master shaman and artist, Pablo Amaringo, who along with anthropologist Eduardo Luna, founded the Usko-Ayar School of Amazonian Painting.  Pablo’s highly original images, densely populated by rainforest plants and other worldly beings, were revealed to him during his work as a ayahuasquero, a traditional healer who works with the powerful psychoactive plant brew, ayahuasca. Pablo’s work preserves the vibrant esoteric tradition of Vegetalismo (plant spirit shamanism), a cosmovision that evokes a world where human shamans can travel to other ethereal realms to communicate with plant spirits and other beings and receive knowledge to heal the body, mind, and spirit.  His work has become a source of great interest internationally and his school has fostered the growth of many local artists in Pucallpa who have expanded on Amaringo’s unique visionary style.  Arkana takes pride in counting many highly talented local mestizo and indigenous as consultants and faculty. 

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Talented Mauro Reatigue Perez,a former student of Pablo Amaringo, with one of his spectacular visionary paintings

For more information about our work in Pucallpa and with partner organizations, please contact us!