South America

South America

South America is the continent south of North and Central America. A large part of the continent is equatorial and the climate is more temperate and tropical. The southern region of South America is more arid, and the coastline of Chile is known for volcanic and seismic activity.

The Museum of International Cultures has displays on many different regions and ethnic groups of South America, including:



Ecuador is a South American state in the northern area of South America. It is comprised of a large tropical rainforest, the Amazon, with the Andean Mountains forming a sierra highland that features snow-capped peaks as well.

Although Spanish is the official language, Ecuador is mostly populated by Native American ethnic groups, who speak native languages, 13 of which are officially recognized.

The Museum of International Culture’s Ecuador exhibits include:

Quichua Pottery

The Quichua people are an ethnic group in Ecuador, with a well-known and historically rooted tradition of pottery-making. Although the process seems simple, it is a complicated process that involves many steps and a careful, skilled hand.

The Museum of International Culture has displays of Quichuan pottery and examples of the tools that Quichuan potters would use, and informational boards on the pottery-making process.

Waorani People

The Waorani people are another native ethnic group of Ecuador. They speak a language isolate, a language not known to be related to any other language, known as Huaorani. The Museum of International Cultures has a display on the Waorani people, featuring pictures of the Waorani people, examples of the weapons they use, including a blowgun, and an informational board on the kumi, the only garment the Waorani people use for modesty.



A carranca (the word translates literally to “scowl” in Portuguese) is a traditional boat figurehead used primarily in Brazil. They were said to scare away evil spirits. Two such figureheads guard the entrance to the Museum of International Culture’s South American exhibit.



Peru is a country south of Ecuador, with similar geography to Ecuador—tropical and subtropical forested regions, with highlands created by the Andean mountains. Like Ecuador, it has a strong native population, which the Museum of International Culture is happy to provide information on to visitors. Our exhibits include:

Shipibo People

The Shipibo people are a native ethnic group of Peru who live along Ucayali River in the Amazon. They have a highly traditional fishing lifestyle that they fight to keep even through climate change and deforestation.

The Museum of International Culture’s exhibit on the Shipibo people includes examples of Shipibo tools, clothing, and traditional human-shaped pottery, as well as pictures of Shipibo people that demonstrate their dress and lifestyle.

Traditional Jewelry

The Museum of International Cultures also has an exhibit of traditional South American jewelry, which highlights the creativity and artistry of those who made it. Although many people today would balk at the thought of using bugs for jewelry, our example of a necklace made of beetle wings and shells demonstrates the aesthetic potential.


Alpaca fur has been a traditional textile of South America for thousands of years. Alpacas are a native South American animal, part of the camel family. They were bred for their fur, which is similar to wool in its usages. Alpaca fur can be woven into clothes, rugs, ropes, and many other important textiles.

The Musuem of Internatioanl Cultures has a rug made of alpaca fur that demonstrates the softness and durability of the material.