Pope dons feathered headgear offered by Amazon native

Pope Francis wears an indigenous headdress given to him by Ubirai Matos from the Pataxo tribe, fourth from left, after the pontiff spoke at Rio's Municipal Theater to an audience mostly made up of Brazil's political, business and cultural elite in Ri
Pope Francis wears an indigenous headdress given to him by Ubirai Matos from the Pataxo tribe, fourth from left, after the pontiff spoke at Rio's Municipal Theater to an audience mostly made up of Brazil's political, business and cultural elite in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 27, 2013. Pope Francis on Saturday donned a feathered headgear offered by an Amazon indigenous tribesman and posed for photographs after addressing Brazil's ruling class in Rio. -- PHOTO: AP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Pope Francis on Saturday donned a feathered headgear offered by an Amazon indigenous tribesman and posed for photographs after addressing Brazil's ruling class in Rio.

After the speech, the Argentine-born pontiff hugged several Amazon natives with pierced noses, body paint, feather headdress and straw skirts.

One of them, Ubirai Pataxo, removed his headgear and handed it to the pope, who immediately put it on his head as photographers snapped pictures.

"This headdress is a protection amulet which links the spirit and the Earth. There is no better person than the pope to receive it," he told reporters as he left the Municipal Theater.

"I am deeply honoured. We are all Catholic and the pope is a spiritual leader for all peoples," Mr Pataxo said.

Before being allowed inside the theater, the Amazon natives were asked to put on t-shirts over their traditional pearls and feathers.

Indigenous people represent one per cent of Brazil's 194 million people and occupy 12 per cent of the national territory, mainly in the Amazon.

The pope's address to Brazil's political, religious and civil society Leaders came on on the sidelines of World Youth Day (WYD), a gathering of hundreds of thousands of Catholic youths from around the world.

Pope Francis used the speech to urge the ruling class to seek a "constructive dialogue" to find a way out of the country's social turmoil.

Last month, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took the streets nationwide to demand a better quality of life and an end to corruption.