Wayana-Apalai communities in Brazil wear Olok headdresses, made with harpy eagle and scarlet macaw feathers, during initiation rituals. The Florida Museum protects important cultural objects such as this from illegal trade that violates the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which protects threatened or endangered species.
This Olok headdress was made in the late 20th century by the Wayana-Apalai in the Amazonian area of Brazil. It is worn in an initiation ritual known as Marake. The harpy eagle and scarlet macaw feathers are carefully stored and then reused when mounted on a basketry frame for this ceremony. This headdress was clearly reassembled for sale after it was removed from the community and sold to a collector.
It was brought to the U.S. illegally as part of a collection of over 2,500 objects imported in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. Through court proceedings, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department confiscated the entire collection and the Florida Museum of Natural History became a secure repository for the objects in 2005.
Curator, Latin American Art and Archaeology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Made by Wayana-Apalai people, Brazil
Dates to ~late 20th century