In 1985, Dennis McKenna, brother of the late Terence, travelled to Pucallpa, the fastest-growing town in the Peruvian Amazon, to work on an ethnobotanical project with Luis Eduardo Luna. During this trip they encountered Pablo Amaringo, living with two adopted children, his mother and several other family members in a very humble house in a swampy area of one of Puccallpa’s poorest districts.
Pablo Amaringo archive
It is with great regret and sadness that I announce today that Don Pablo Amaringo died at 9.30am (UK time) this morning November 16 in the Regional Hospital in Pucallpa. Don Pablo had been sick and in hospital for the past three weeks as a result of an infection he picked up after returning from Lima. He will be buried in Pucallpa on Wednesday November 18.
In 1991, in collaboration with anthropologist Luis Eduardo Luna, Pablo Amaringo released a book of his visionary paintings called Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman. Here are some of the paintings from that book:
You can also download a PDF which includes Pablo’s description of his paintings: Ayahuasca Visions by Pablo Amaringo.
With a population of nearly 200,000, Pucallpa is Peru’s fastest growing jungle town, situated on the banks of the Ucayali river in the heart of the Amazon basin.
Like most third world communities, it has all the problems associated with hastily built frontier towns: bad roads, a lack of even the most basic sanitation facilities, and various other economic deprivations. Most of the population live a subsistence existence in one or two roomed wooden huts. Medical and educational facilities are severely limited.
Pucallpa is a commercial centre and the logging, rubber and oil industries provide much of its revenue and contribute much to the rapid deforestation of the area.
Usko-Ayar (Usko in Quechua means ‘spiritual’ and Ayar means ‘prince’) was set up in the summer of 1988 with some financial aid from the Finnish Government when Pablo Amaringo decided to transform his home into a painting school, with the help of anthropologist Luis Eduardo Luna. Here, several dozen young people and children receive instruction on painting, drawing, speaking English and an appreciation of the rich botanical diversity of the jungle.