Claude Lévi-Strauss : walk amongst the objects

For the centenary of the doyen of French cultural and social anthropology, otherwise known as structuralism, 21 pieces amongst the objects brought by Claude Lévi-Strauss from his expedition to South America between 1935 and 1939 have been chosen from the collections of the Musée du Quai Branly. They emphasize the sensitive and impassioned approach that this perceptive observer has always had on the Amerindian world and, in particular, the  Amazonian culture.

  • Frontal piece of ceremonial headdress

    Frontal piece of ceremonial headdress

  • Peaked helm

    Peaked helm

  • Frontal mask

    Frontal mask

  • Transformation mask

    Transformation mask

  • Shaman statue

    Shaman statue

  • Doll


  • Figurine


  • Dancing mask

    Dancing mask

  • Celebration seat

    Celebration seat

  • Flute


  • Rhomb


  • Labial Perforator

    Labial Perforator

  • Hairpin


  • Diadem


  • Ear pendant

    Ear pendant

  • Ear pendant

    Ear pendant

  • Pair of wrist ribbons

    Pair of wrist ribbons

  • Pendant


  • Necklace


  • Crown


  • Ceremonial pendant

    Ceremonial pendant

Transformation mask

Transformation mask

British Columbia, Canada, Kwakiutl population, Wood paint, graphite, Cedar, cloth, string, 34 X 53 cm (closed), 130 cm (open), Former collections of Heye Foundation in New York and Claude Lévi-Strauss, 71.1951.35.1

This transformation mask opens into two sections. Closed, it represents a crow or an eagle; when spread out, a human face appears. It was associated with initiation rites that took place during the winter. During these ceremonies, both religious and theatrical, the spirit of the ancestors was supposed to enter into men. This type of mask interested Claude Lévi-Strauss by its capability to affirm « supernatural omnipresence and the multitude of myths ».