Amazonian seeds in indigenous body ornaments

Kayapó-Xikrin necklace made of unknown seeds and fruits, Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, São Paulo, Brazil

Many ethnographic body ornaments are kept in European museums, made by indigenous people from Amazonian seeds. Many of these artefacts miss the associated information on who made these objects and when, what seeds are included, and what information we can retrieve from those seeds. Brazilian postdoc Caroline Fernandes Caromano is doing research on these body ornaments kept in Europe and Brazil and traces how these ornaments differ in space, ethnicity and time.

Detail of necklace made of unknown seeds from Suriname, Museum of World Cultures, Amsterdam
Fig 1. Detail of necklace made of unknown seeds from Suriname, Museum of World Cultures, Amsterdam

Supervisors & Contact

Caroline Fernandes Caromano (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, archeologist)

Tinde van Andel (Naturalis and Leiden/ Wageningen University, ethnobotanist)

Period and duration

6 months; starting in Fall 2023 or at the start of 2024

Study and level

Biology, MSc

and goals

We are looking for a MSc student for a research project on seeds used in necklaces, bracelets and other ornaments made by Amazonian indigenous groups. The seed ornaments are located in European museums, and the seeds need to be identified and photographed, both on the ornaments and on herbarium specimens kept at the Naturalis herbarium.

Possible research questions: Which indigenous groups made what type of body ornaments? What are the seed species used in these bracelets, necklaces and other ornaments?

Here is a video on Caroline's research on indigenous body ornaments.


The student should have knowledge of (tropical) plant families, love plant identification and have an interest in indigenous people and material culture. The internship takes place at Naturalis (Leiden), with visits to other museums in the Netherlands and possible elsewhere.