It is with sadness that we announce the passing in early January, 2021 of FSS Living Treasure of Shamanism Mandu Manuel da Silva. Almost 100 when he passed, his shamanic career spanned nearly 70 years. Known as Mandu (chief), his correct title was “snuff-jaguar” (dzato dzauika). He was known by the native peoples of the Northwest Amazon to be one of the last “true” jaguar-shamans, considered one of the most important of the several types of shamans among the Baniwa people.

Mandu and apprentices. Photo by Euzivaldo Queiroz.

In 2009, Dr. Robin M. Wright* introduced the Foundation to Manuel da Silva, citing him as a master shaman whose immense shamanic knowledge was in need of preservation. Mandu was subsequently named an FSS Living Treasure of Shamanism, and was at the heart of the Baniwa Shamanic Revitalization project sponsored by the Foundation with the objective of preserving the endangered shamanic practices of the region. The Foundation’s substantial support for this project enabled the building of the Shaman’s House, resulting in the teaching of several apprentices, as well as many recordings and writings by Dr. Wright.

The Foundation was honored to be part of supporting and preserving Mandu’s shamanic wisdom for future generations.

More about Mandu’s life, and the history of the project and the Foundation’s involvement:

Video on the Inauguration of the Shaman’s House:

Recordings of Mandu singing the shamans’ journeys and a wealth of information about his shamanic practices and people can be found in the Baniwa of the Aiary and Içana Collection of Robin M. Wright:, included in The Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA).**

*The Foundation gratefully acknowledges FSS Field Associate Robin M. Wright, Ph.D., for first introducing us to Mandu Manuel da Silva and the practices of the jaguar shamans. He worked tirelessly for several decades to assist Mandu and his people, and to study and preserve this important body of shamanic knowledge for future generations. A rich archive can be found in Dr. Wright’s book Mysteries of the Jaguar Shamans of the Northwest Amazon (foreword by Michael Harner), as well as in Robin’s numerous writings, audio, and video recordings.
**AILLA is a joint effort of the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, the Department of Linguistics, and the Digital Library Services Division of the University Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin.