30 dic. 2010

The Bora of the Amazon forest

Name: Bora
Living Area: Peru, Colombia and Brazil
Population: approx. 3.000
Language: Bora (Witotan family)
Comments:   
The Bora are an indigenous tribe of the Peruvian, Colombian and Brazilian Amazon, located between the Putumayo and Napo rivers. The Bora speak a Witotan language. In the last forty years, they have become a largely settled people living mostly in permanent forest settlements.
In the animist Bora worldview, there is no distinction between the physical and spiritual worlds and spirits are present throughout the world. Bora families practice exogamy. The Bora have an elaborate knowledge of the plant life of the surrounding rainforest. Like other indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon, such as the Urarina, plants (and especially trees) hold a complex and important interest for the Bora.
Bows and arrows are the main weapons of the Bora culture used in person to person conflict. The Bora are very divided and politically unorganized.
The Bora have guarded their lands from both indigenous foes and outsider colonials. Around the time of the 20th century, the rubber boom had a devastating impact on the Boras. The tribe's ancestral lands are currently threatened by illegal logging practices. The Bora have no indigenous reserves.

Well-known by: their dances
The Bora native community consists of about 3,000 native-speakers almost all living in Peru (about 2000 individuals) and Colombia (about 1000 people), although several Bora villages exist in Brazil. Unfortunately, the Brazilian Boras no longer speak their native language having been largely assimilated into the Brazilian culture. The Bora language is closely aligned with Huitoto (Witotan).
The Bora tribe is divided into different clans, typically represented by an animal.  They paint their faces with different designs with huito (Genipa americana), depending upon their clan.  Intermarriage with the same clan is prohibited, thus preventing interbreeding and genetic aberrations within small communities.
Traditionally, the Boras dance using large (six foot) batons that they pound in unison on the ground as they dance.  The batons typically have shells attached to them that add to the musical harmony.
They also use Manguaré drums, which have different forms, depending on whether they are male or female, and are used in some Bora ceremonies.  They also manufacture traditional bark cloth, made by pounding the bark of a palm tree. The Boras peel strips of bark from the tree and pound it with a wooden hammer. After they wet and pound it until the outer bark disintegrates, only the inner bark is left. The inner bark is the natural fiber used for traditional Bora clothing. The bark clothes have a coarse, inflexible look and the texture of burlap. The bark clothing is coloured with natural dyes. Yellow colours are obtained from a ginger plant and black from pressed green fruits of the huito tree. The huito liquid is clear when first painted, but later turns black as it is oxidized by the air.
In addition to bark cloth, the Bora Indians have bags that are woven from chambira, a fiber obtained from a palm tree. The fibers used in these bags are typically dyed using native plants and the bags really are hand-made works of art.
The Bora tribe has managed to retain much of their knowledge of medicinal plants.  A good example is the coca plant (Erythroxylum coca) which plays an important role in the diet and traditional medicine of the Boras.  As in the Andes Mountains, coca leaves are consumed to provide essential nutrients and is an integral part of their diet.  Similar to the Andes, the consumption of coca allows individuals to work for extended periods without exhaustion. What is different from the Andes is the manner in which the Bora Indians process the coca. They do not chew the raw leaves as they do in the mountains. Instead, they dry the leaves over a fire, place them into a sack and pound them into a very fine powder. This powdered coca typically is not taken alone and traditionally a tobacco mixture is blown into one’s nostrils before the coca powder is placed in one’s mouth.
Around 1900, the Amazon rubber boom changed the ways of the Boras forever.  This period was disastrous for the Bora communities of the Putumayo as the Peruvian rubber corporations enslaved the Boras and forced them to harvest the latex from wild stands of rubber trees. Large numbers of Boras were wiped out during this period.  Before the rubber boom, the Bora indigenous population was estimated as over 15,000 individuals. Some years later, following Peru's disastrous loss of the border war with Colombia in the 1930’s and the ceding of territory north of the Putumayo, many Boras were evacuated to their present communities near Iquitos. By the 1940’s the total population of Bora natives had dwindled to fewer than 450 people.  

© Text: Wikipedia and Dr. Dan James Pantone / Image: Anibal Solimano

28 dic. 2010

Entretiens avec Pierre Robin

Title: Entretiens avec Pierre Robin
Author: Pierre Brennetot
Year of publication: 2010
Paperback: 66 pages
Language: French
Price: € 15.00
Synopsis:
Pierre Robin was a tribal art dealer for almost forty years in Paris. Now retired to the south of France, he tells of his beginnings, his career, his travels,... He recalls his meetings with many personalities from the world of art and his passion for sculpture of the Bozo of Mali. With great humour and verve, he reveals through these interviews, his tribulations in the world of "distant arts".

An excerpt from the title by Pierre Brennetot:
Pierre Robin was still installed at rue Jacques Callot, in the district of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, when I met him for the first time. He was one of the few merchants to have the door of his gallery still open and receive the Africans with their big bags full of items. Upon retirement in the Tarn, Pierre Robin received me many times. I have always been enthusiastic about the man, his life, his collection,... At each visit, in passing from one room to another of his house, he told me stories about the world of antiques in Paris. Thus came the idea of this book.
He was an actor in this period where objects "coming out" in Africa and elsewhere, where there was still making discoveries, when the travel permit to bring quantities of objects ... I, who am of a different generation (he was my father's age!), was always fascinated by this period. Today it's hard to imagine such excitement at the opening of boxes,... Collectors and dealers were enthusiastic, prices of items were affordable and if one had the eye and taste, he could make a nice collection,...
But Pierre Robin does not live deep in the past. He kept the flame of passion objects. It is now known in the area of African art for its collection of Bozo of Mali. This art so gay, so colorful, so bold, Robin loves it. Others decry these objects? Good for him! He knows that tastes change and in a few years everyone will say "ah, if I had known..."
His house is not a dusty shrine, but the world of a great "showman" as he likes to call himself. Everywhere on the walls, consoles, shelves, objects of different civilizations and different eras meet. Regularly it moves objects, for fun, to meet new people... African Art lovers may be confused by this accumulation, it is far from the collection "classic", and then Pierre Robin has sold thousands of items, mainly to finally keep its Bozo.
I wanted to write about this life of art researcher, adventurer, atypical gallery owner, so I recorded Pierre Robin during several "sessions" by preparing in advance a few questions, then finally leaving me go to a free conversation. 
Pierre Robin also gave me the opportunity to freely photograph his collection. Always enthusiastic, he shared with me his passion and a little time...

26 dic. 2010

The Carnival of Oruro

The town of Oruro, situated at an altitude of 3,700 metres in the mountains of western Bolivia and once a pre-Columbian ceremonial site, was an important mining area in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Resettled by the Spanish in 1606, it continued to be a sacred site for the Uru people, who would often travel long distances to perform their rituals, especially for the principal Ito festival. The Spanish banned these ceremonies in the seventeenth century, but they continued under the guise of Christian liturgy: the Andean gods were concealed behind Christian icons and the Andean divinities became the Saints. The Ito festival was transformed into a Christian ritual, celebrated on Candlemas (2 February). The traditional llama llama or diablada in worship of the Uru god Tiw became the main dance at the Carnival of Oruro.
The Carnival, which takes place every year, lasts ten days and gives rise to a panoply of popular arts expressed in masks, textiles and embroidery. The main event in the Carnival is the procession or entrada. During the ceremony, the dancers walk the four kilometres of the processional route and repeat the journey for a full twenty hours without interruption. More than 28,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians organized in about 50 groups take part in the procession which still shows many features dating back to medieval mystery plays.
The decline of traditional mining and agriculture is threatening the Oruro population, as is the desertification of the Andean high plateau, which is leading to massive emigration. Urbanization has given rise to acculturation as well as a growing generation gap. There is also uncontrolled financial exploitation of this Carnival.
Inscribed in 2008 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (originally proclaimed in 2001)

© Text and images: UNESCO

24 dic. 2010

Masked festivals of Canton Bo

Exhibition: Masked festivals of Canton Bo
Dates:
Until 31 March 2011, Open daily 9 am to 5 pm
Place: The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Admission: $9,-
Webpage: www.peabody.harvard.edu
About the exhibition:
The African masks that inspired painters like Picasso in the early twentieth century were only a small part of a larger cultural context and spectacle. The festivals of Canton Bo, located in the dense forest region of Southwest Ivory Coast, centered on the spirit forms of ancient ancestors who appeared in post-harvest festivals wearing carved masks and full-body coverings of straw, animal hide, textiles, and paint. Until the 2002 Ivory Coast civil strife, the Bo people invited the spirits each year to protect their village against unknown threats and to stimulate fertility for both women and crops. With such protection and fertility, the whole community would prosper. Through rare drawings and photographs, along with masks from the Peabody Museum collections, Masked Festivals explores the different kinds of masked spirits and their performances.

About the museum:
Founded in 1866, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology is one of the oldest museums in the world devoted to anthropology and houses one of the most comprehensive records of human cultural history in the Western Hemisphere.

© Text and image: www.peabody.harvard.edu

22 dic. 2010

Wayang kulit shadow puppet


Name: Wayang kulit shadow puppet
Origin: Bali, Indonesia
Date: 20th century
Museum: Wayang Museum, Jl. Pintu Besar Utara No. 27, West Jakarta, Indonesia
Materials: bovine leather, horn and bamboo
Comments:
Wayang is a theatrical performance employing puppets or human dancer. The puppet could be made of leather or wood.
Wayang is an Indonesian word for theatre (literally "shadow"). When the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theatre, sometimes the puppet itself is referred to as wayang. Performances of shadow puppet theatre are accompanied by gamelan in Java, and by "gender wayang" in Bali.
UNESCO designated Wayang Kulit, a shadow puppet theatre and the best known of the Indonesian wayang, as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on 7 November 2003. In return of the acknowledgment, UNESCO demanded Indonesia to preserve their heritage.

History of the Wayang Kulit:
Wayang is a generic term denoting traditional theatre in Indonesia. There is no evidence that wayang existed before Hinduism came to Southeast Asia sometime in the first century CE brought in by Indian traders. However, there very well may have been indigenous storytelling traditions that had a profound impact on the development of the traditional puppet theatre. The first record of a wayang performance is from an inscription dated 930 CE which says "si Galigi mawayang," or "Sir Galigi played wayang". From that time till today it seems certain features of traditional puppet theatre have remained. Galigi was an itinerant performer who was requested to perform for a special royal occasion. At that event he performed a story about the hero Bhima from the Mahabharata
Wayang Kulit is a unique form of theatre employing light and shadow. The puppets are crafted from buffalo hide and mounted on bamboo sticks. When held up behind a piece of white cloth, with an electric bulb or an oil lamp as the light source, shadows are cast on the screen.
Wayang Kulit plays are invariably based on romantic tales, especially adaptations of the classic Indian epics, "The Mahabarata" and "The Ramayana". Some of the plays are also based on local happenings (current issues) or other local secular stories. It is up to the conductor or "Tok Dalang" to decide his direction.
The Dalang is the genius behind the entire performance. It is he who sits behind the screen and narrates the story. With a traditional orchestra in the background to provide a resonant melody and its conventional rhythm, the Dalang modulates his voice to create suspense thus heightening the drama. Invariably, the play climaxes with the triumph of good over evil.
Hinduism arrived in Indonesia from India even before the Christian era, and was slowly adopted as the local belief system. Sanskrit became the literary and court language of Java and later of Bali. The Hindus changed the Wayang (as did the Muslims, later) to spread their religion, mostly by stories from the Mahabharata or the Ramayana. Later this mixture of religion and wayang play was praised as harmony between Hinduism and traditional Indonesian culture. On Java, the western part of Sumatra and some smaller islands traditionalists continued to play the old stories for some time, but the influence of Hinduism prevailed and the traditional stories either fell into oblivion or were integrated into the Hinduistic plays.
The figures of the wayang are also present in the paintings of that time, for example, the roof murals of the courtroom in Klungkung, Bali. They are still present in traditional Balinese painting today.
When Islam began spreading in Indonesia, the display of God or gods in human form was prohibited, and thus this style of painting and shadow play was suppressed. King Raden Patah of Demak, Java, wanted to see the wayang in its traditional form, but failed to obtain permission from the Muslim religious leaders. As an alternative, the religious leaders converted the wayang golek into wayang purwa made from leather, and displayed only the shadow instead of the figures itself. Instead of the forbidden figures only their shadow picture was displayed, the birth of the wayang kulit.
The figures are painted, flat woodcarvings (a maximum of 5 to 15 mm thick -- barely half an inch) with movable arms. The head is solidly attached to the body. Wayang klitik can be used to perform puppet plays either during the day or at night. This type of wayang is relatively rare.
Wayang today is both the most ancient and most popular form of puppet theatre in the world. Hundreds of people will stay up all night long to watch the superstar performers, dalang, who command extravagant fees and are international celebrities. Some of the most famous dalang in recent history are Ki Nartosabdho, Ki Anom Suroto, Ki Asep Sunarya, Ki Sugino, and Ki Manteb Sudarsono.

About the Museum:
Wayang Museum is a museum which keeps collections of wayang from various territories in Indonesia and even from other countries. Wayang Museum Building was constructed at a former old church location, which built by VOC in 1640 with the name “de oude Hollandsche Kerk”. The church functioned as a house of worship for Dutch civil and military in Indonesia until 1732. In 1733 the church was renovated and the name was changed to be “de nieuwe Hollandsche Kerk”. The building existed until 1808, until an earthquake nearly destroyed it. On the location where the church previously stood, a building was constructed.
The collections of Wayang Museum are very various, in both small and big size. Wayang Museum collects Indonesian leather wayangs, like Kedu, Tejokusuman, Ngabean, Surakarta, Banyumas, Cirebon, Gedog, Sadat, Madia Krucil, Sasak, Kaper, Wahyu, Kijang Kencana, Ukur, Suluh, Klitik, and Beber. Wayang Museum has collections of scarce wayang as well like Intan wayang, Suket, Beber and Revolusi.  Besides, Wayang Museum also has some collections of wooden wayang like Catur, Cepak Cirebon, Kebumen, Pekalongan, Bandung, Gundala-Gundala from Tanah Karo, and Si Gale-Gale from Tanah Batak. There are collections of masks which were sourced from Cirebon, Bali, and Center Java. Other artifacts are also displayed in Wayang Museum, like gamelan, Blencong lamp, glass wayang, zinc wayang, and paintings. There’re some collections that sourced from abroad, some of them are from Kelantan, Malaysia, Suriname, France, Cambodia, and Thailand.

© Photos and text: Jakarta Wayang Museum

20 dic. 2010

Indian chicken tikka masala

Chicken tikka masala (Hindi: चिकन टिक्का मसाला; Urdu: مرغ تکہ مصالحہ) is a curry dish of roasted chicken chunks (tikka) served in a rich-tasting red or orange-coloured sauce. The sauce is usually creamy, lightly spiced and contains tomatoes. The origins of chicken tikka masala are disputed. An Indian expert on street food from Delhi, Rahul Verma, has stated that the dish originated (probably by accident with subsequent improvisations) in Punjab during the last 50 years. Another view is that it originated in the first Indian restaurants in Soho, London, during the 1970's. In 2009, a Glasgow MP suggested it should be given EU Protected Geographical Status as a Scottish food. No application for such status was actually made. A number of Indian chefs, believe that it is merely a variation on an Indian dish known to the Mughal Emperors.
Chicken tikka masala is chicken tikka, or chunks of chicken, marinated in spices and yogurt then baked in a tandoor oven, served in a masala ("mixture of spices") sauce. The sauce usually includes tomatoes, frequently as puree, and either/or both cream and/or coconut cream and various spices. The sauce or chicken pieces (or both) are coloured orange with food dyes or with orange foodstuffs such as turmeric powder, paprika powder or tomato puree. Other tikka masala dishes replace chicken with lamb, fish or paneer.

Indian chicken tikka masala
Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 small onion - finely chopped
  • 1.5 inch piece cassia bark (or cinnamon)
  • 2 green cardamon pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger - very finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic - very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 3/4 teaspoon good chile powder
  • 5 tablespoons Greek-style full cream yoghurt (3/4 of a 150 gm tub)
  • 1 teaspoon (or a little more) concentrated tomato puree
  • salt to taste
  • 2 chicken breasts, skinned and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped up pieces from a block of creamed coconut
  • chopped fresh coriander leaf (cilantro) to garnish
How to cook it
Heat the oil in a large heavy pan then add the chopped onion and stir for a few minutes with the heat on high. Add the cassia, cardamons, cloves and fennel seeds and stir a little then turn the heat down to low and cook for 10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic, stir and cook for another 10 minutes on low heat stirring now and again to make sure nothing browns or burns. Add the turmeric, coriander and chile powder and fry gently for a minute. Add 1 tablespoon of yoghurt, stir round and turn the heat up so the yoghurt sizzles in the oil.
When the yoghurt has lost a lot of its moisture add another
tablespoon. Stir and fry as before. Repeat until all the yoghurt
is incorporated. Add the tomato puree and stir in.
Stir in hot water - enough to make the mixture very fluid. Bring
to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Add
salt to taste.
Heat a little oil in a large heavy frying pan and stir-fry the
chicken pieces over a moderate heat until they are sealed and have turned white. Add the chicken to the sauce and simmer gently for another 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Stir from time to time. If the sauce gets too dry add a little hot water.
10 minutes from the end add the creamed cocunut pieces and stir to melt them. Adjust the consistency of the sauce with some hot water as the creamed coconut will thicken the sauce.
At the end of the cooking you should have a fairly thick, creamy sauce with little patches of oil appearing at the top. Remove the cassia and cardamons (if you can find them! Don't worry about the
cloves)
Serve, garnished with chopped fresh coriander leaf (cilantro).

© Text and image: Wikipedia / Recipe: www.world-recipes.info  

18 dic. 2010

Ceddo

Title: Ceddo
Director: Ousmane Sembène
Writer: Ousmane Sembène
Year: 1977
Running time: 95 minutes
Country: Senegal
Plot summary:
The Ceddo try to preserve their traditional African culture against the onslaught of Islam, Christianity, and the slave trade. When King Demba War sides with the Muslims, the Ceddo kidnap his daughter, Princess Dior Yacine, to protest their forcible conversion to Islam. After trying to rescue the princess, various heirs to the throne are killed, and the King is murdered during the night. Eventually the kidnappers are killed and the princess is brought back to the village to confront the Imam, as all the villagers are being given Muslim names.

© Text and photo: Wikipedia

16 dic. 2010

The Ayoreo of Paraguay and Bolivia

Name: Ayoreo
Living Area: Paraguay, Bolivia
Population: aprox. 3.500
Language: Ayoreo
Comments:   
The Ayoreo (Ayoreode, Ayoréo, Ayoréode) are a native ethnic group living on Gran Chaco, in an area among rivers Paraguay, Pilcomayo, Parapetí and Grande, stretching both in Bolivia and Paraguay. They speak the Ayoreo language, which is classified under Zamucoan, a small language family of Paraguay and Bolivia. Ayoreo combine hunter-gatherer lifestyle with farming, depending on the season of the year. There are records about a kind of shamanism (“nainai”, shaman).
Since 1969 many have been forced out of the forest, but some still avoid all contact with outsiders. Their first sustained contact with white people came in the 1940s and 1950s, when Mennonite farmers established colonies on their land. The Ayoreo resisted this invasion, and there were killings on both sides.
The Ayoreo live in small communities. They grow squashes, beans and melons in the sandy soil, and hunt in the forest. Large tortoises and wild pig are particularly prized, as is the abundant wild honey. In the forest four or five families will live together in a communal house. A central wooden pillar supports a dome-shaped structure of smaller branches, topped with dried mud. Each family will have its own hearth around the outside; people will only sleep inside if it rains.
The most important Ayoreo ritual was named after asojna, the nightjar: when the bird’s call was first heard it heralded the arrival of the rainy season, and a month of celebrations and festivities.
The Ayoreo who now live in settled communities live in individual family huts. Those who have lost their land now have little choice but to work as exploited labourers on the cattle ranches that have taken over much of their territory.
The evangelical New Tribes Mission has a base near their communities, and exerts a powerful influence on their daily lives. Under the missionaries, the asojna ritual—and many others—have been suppressed.

Well-known by: for being one of the last uncontacted tribes of South-America outside the Amazon.
There are several subgroups, for example Totobiegosode (‘people from the place of the wild pigs’) were isolated, but many of them have been eventually relocated forcibly, while some remnants still keep avoiding contact. Some groups still live uncontacted, being the only extant uncontacted tribes in South America not living in the Amazon.
In 2010, an expedition in search of new species of plants and insects, organised by the Natural History Museum in London, was suspended when concerns were raised that Ayoreo people might be encountered and disturbed.

© Text and images: Survival International

14 dic. 2010

Man Ray and Africa Art


Title: Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens
Author: Wendy A. Grossman
Year of publication: 2009
Paperback: 200 pages
Language: English
Synopsis:
"Man Ray, African Art and the Modernist Lens single-handedly resuscitates the photograph as a critical and almost completely overlooked medium in promoting the popularity and understanding of l'art negre for a western audience. The monumental studies of Robert Goldwater and William Rubin—comprehensive and engaging though they may have been—overlooked the influential role played by the photograph in this context, a regrettable lacunae this endeavor seeks to fulfill. Not only does this catalogue of the exhibition complete a chapter in our understanding of Man Ray's work, but its cross-cultural approach allows us to see how the medium of photography influenced the infusion and comprehension of African and other non-western arts in the west, not only among artists, but by the general public as well." —Francis M. Naumann

This groundbreaking analysis spotlights a select group of Man Ray’s photographs within the context of modernist photographic history and the “discovery” of African art by the early twentieth-century avant-garde. Featuring more than seventy photographs by Man Ray—some never before reproduced—alongside many rarely seen photographs of African art by his European and American contemporaries, Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens uncovers a virtually unknown chapter in both the inventive activities of this celebrated artist and in this overlooked facet of photographic history.
Meticulously researched and compellingly presented, Wendy A. Grossman raises thought-provoking questions about the role photographs played in shaping perceptions of African art and, in turn, how such images led to distinctive modernist viewpoints across racial and geographic boundaries. Particularly notable is the treatment of the African pieces both as integral components of the modernist history to which they contributed and, as elucidated by original scholarship by African art experts, as objects with their own independent cultural histories. Revealing a more complex engagement with African art by Man Ray and his contemporaries than has been previously known, Grossman provides a rich and nuanced study that makes an important addition to our understanding of critical issues in modernism that continue to influence the way we see African art today.

12 dic. 2010

The Andean Cosmovision of the Kallawaya

The Kallawaya ethnic group, based in the mountainous Bautista Saavedra region north of La Paz, traces its roots to the pre-Inca period. Like many aspects of Andean culture, the Kallawaya’s practices and values have evolved through the fusion of native and Christian religions.
The principal activity of the Kallawaya involves the practice of ancestral medical techniques. The various rites and ceremonies related to these techniques form the basis of their local economy. The Andean Cosmovision of the Kallawaya culture consists of a coherent body of myths, rituals, values and artistic expressions. Widely recognized not only in Bolivia but also in many other South American countries where Kallawaya priest doctors practise, the medical techniques are based on the belief systems of indigenous peoples of the Andean area.
This healing art derives from a deep understanding of animal, mineral and botanical pharmacopoeia and a body of ritual knowledge intimately linked to religious beliefs. The exclusively male itinerant healers treat patients using medical and pharmaceutical knowledge that revolves around a complex system of transmission and apprenticeship in which the journey plays an essential role. By travelling through widely varying ecosystems, Kallawaya healers expand their knowledge of medicinal plants. With some 980 species, their botanical pharmacopoeia rates as one of the richest in the world. Kallawaya women participate in a number of rites, care for pregnant women and children, and weave textiles with motifs and decoration relating to the Kallawaya cosmovision. Musical groups called kantus play the drum and pan flute during ritual ceremonies in order to establish contact with the world of the spirits.
In recent times, the traditional Kallawaya way of life has come under threat from acculturation, which may lead to the disappearance of this extraordinary body of medical knowledge. The tradition is also affected by the lack of sufficient legal protection for indigenous communities, particularly in regard to policies pursued by major pharmaceutical companies.
Inscribed in 2008 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (originally proclaimed in 2003)

© Text and images: UNESCO

10 dic. 2010

The Kágaba of Colombia

Exhibition: Photography as Document: The Kágaba of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia
Dates:
Fri 22 October 2010 - Sun 30 January 2011
Open daily except monday: 10 am to 6 pm
Place: Museen Dahlem, Lansstraße 8, Berlin, Germany
Admission:
Webpage:
About the exhibition:
The expulsion of the native population was one of the many consequences of the Spanish conquest of the Caribbean coast of Colombia in the 16th century. And yet it was possible for the evicted ethnic groups to reorganise in the nearby mountain massif, where they have kept up their traditions to the present day. Even the chronicles of the conquistadors and missionaries reflect the fascination exercised by the mountains and their population.
Visual documents relating to them are however rare. This makes the photos of Wouter Bokma of Amsterdam, taken in the seventies, a valuable record of a world subject to constant change. Starting with the documentation of a traditional festival in a Kágaba village, the exhibition - which emerges from a seminar of the Latin American Institute of the Free University of Berlin - goes on to pose fundamental questions about our attitude to what goes by the name of 'ethnic photography' - questions relating to the perspective of photographers, the historical implications of their research, the visualisation of power structures and symbolic representation generally.
Held as part of the Berlin contribution to the European Month of Photography.

About the museum:
Ethnological Museum
With a total of 500,000 objects from throughout the world and large numbers of sound recordings, documentary photographs and films, the Ethnological Museum ranks among the largest and best of its kind. The museum collects, preserves and researches cultural products of pre-industrial societies, primarily outside of Europe.
The museum currently embraces the following collections: Africa, American archaeology, American ethnology, Europe, the Islamic World, Eastern and Northern Asia, South and South-East Asia, the South Seas and Australia, as well as the ethnology of music. The Children's Museum is also located here.

© Text and image: Ethnological Museum of Berlin

8 dic. 2010

Yakut ritual cup

Name: Yakut ritual cup for drinking fermented mare milk
Origin: Yakutsk Region, Siberia, Russia
Date: Early 20th century
Museum: The Russian Museum of Ethnology
Materials: wood
Comments:
Yakuts originally migrated from Olkhon and the region of Lake Baikal to the basins of the Middle Lena, the Aldan and Vilyuy rivers, where they mixed with other northern indigenous peoples of Russia such as the Evens and Evenks.
The northern Yakuts were largely hunters, fishermen and reindeer herders, while the southern Yakut raised cattle and horses.
In the 1620s Russians began to move into their territory and annexed it, imposed a fur tax, and managed to suppress several Yakut rebellions between 1634 and 1642. The discovery of gold and, later, the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway, brought ever-increasing numbers of Russians into the region. By the 1820s almost all the Yakuts had been converted to the Russian Orthodox church although they retained, and still retain, a number of Tengrianist practices.
In 1919 the new Soviet government named the area the Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
In the late 1920's through the late 1930's, Yakut people were systematically persecuted, when Joseph Stalin launched his ruthless collectivization campaign. The Soviet regime established numerous forced labour camps (generally known as the GULAG system) where hundreds of thousands from all over the Union were sent for imprisonment. Tens of thousands of Yakuts also disappeared there, and not until the late 1960s had the Yakut population recovered to pre-collectivization levels.
The cuisine of Sakha consists predominatly of traditional drink kumis, sliced frozen salted fish, loaf meat dishes, venison, frozen fish, thick pancakes, and Salamat - a millet porridge. Kourchah, a popular dessert, is made of mare milk. Indigirka is a traditional salad. This cuisine is only used in Yakutia.

Yakuts, the most Northern horse-breeders in the world, moved twice a year (from the winter camp where they lived in a stationary log dwelling " tent" to the summer camp where they lived in the birch-bark dwelling "uras"). They moved mounted. In front of the procession teenagers drove cattle, then loaded pack animals followed, then members of the families on the horsebacks. Women put the cradles with babies in front of them on the saddles. It took only two or three hours to dismantle yurts, pack things and load animals. When people moved to the summer camp it was considered to be a festive occasion and was preceded with various purification rites and was held according to strict ritual rules.

© Photos and text: www.eng.ethnomuseum.ru

6 dic. 2010

Mexican huevos rancheros

Huevos rancheros (Ranch Eggs) is a classic Mexican breakfast dish popular throughout much of the Americas consisting of eggs served in the style of the traditional large mid-morning fare on rural farms.
The basic dish consists of fried eggs served upon lightly fried corn tortillas topped with a tomato-chili sauce. Refried beans, slices of avocado, or guacamole accompany the dish.
As the popularity of the dish spread beyond Mexico variations using wheat flour tortillas instead of corn and pureed chili or enchilada sauce instead of tomato-chili salsa have appeared. Non-Mexican additions such as cheese and sour cream and garnishes of fresh tomatoes and lettuce also have become common beyond the dish's native range.

Mexican huevos rancheros
Ingredients:
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 5-in. corn tortillas
  • 2 14 oz. cans whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 large eggs
How to cook it
Preheat your oven to 200º F. Place oven-proof dinner plates in oven to warm
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Stack 2 tortillas in skillet and cook 30 seconds, then flip stack over with tongs and cook 30 seconds more. While second tortilla cooks on bottom, turn top tortilla over with tongs, keeping tortillas stacked. Flip stack again and cook in same manner, turning over top tortilla and flipping stack again so that both tortillas are softened and both sides puff slightly, then deflate (do not let them become browned or crisp). Wrap tortillas loosely in foil and keep warm in oven. Fry remaining tortillas in same manner, adding 1 tablespoon oil to skillet for each batch. (Do not clean skillet.)
Puree tomatoes with their juice, onion, cilantro, chipotle, garlic, and salt in a blender until very smooth. Carefully add mixture to hot skillet (it may spatter) and simmer, stirring occasionally, until salsa is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then crack 4 eggs into skillet and cook 3 to 4 minutes for runny yolks, or to desired doneness. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, covered, then cook remaining 4 eggs in remaining tablespoon oil in same manner. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
Spoon 1/4 cup salsa onto each plate and top with 2 tortillas, slightly overlapping them. Transfer 2 eggs to tortillas on each plate and top with some of remaining salsa. Sprinkle with cilantro.

© Text and image: Wikipedia / Recipe: www.world-recipes.info  

4 dic. 2010

Turumba

Title: Turumba
Director: Kidlat Tahimik
Writer: Kidlat Tahimik
Year: 1981
Running time: 95 minutes
Country: Philippines
Plot summary:
Set in a tiny Philippine village, the inimitable Kidlat Tahimik's film focuses on a family that makes paper-mache animals to sell during the traditional Turumba festivities. One year, a department store buyer purchases all their stock. When she returns with an order for 500 more (this time with the word "Oktoberfest" painted on them), the family's seasonal occupation becomes year-round alienated labor.

© Text and photo: Wikipedia

2 dic. 2010

The Vedda of Sri Lanka

Name: Vedda
Living Area: Sri Lanka
Population: <2.000
Language: Vedda
Comments:   
The Wanniyala-Aetto, or "forest people" are more commonly known as Veddas or Veddahs.
The original language of the Veddas is the Vedda language. Today it is used primarily by the interior Veddas. Communities, such as Coast Veddas and Anuradhapura Veddas, that do not identify themselves strictly as Veddas also use Vedda language in part for communication during hunting and or for religious chants. When a systematic field study was conducted in 1959 it was determined that the language was confined to the older generation of Veddas from Dambana. In 1990s self-identifying Veddas knew few words and phrases in the Vedda language, but there were individuals who knew the language comprehensively. Initially there was considerable debate amongst linguists as to whether Vedda is a dialect of Sinhalese or an independent language. Later studies indicate that it diverged from its parent stock in the 10th century and became a Creole and a stable independent language by the 13 century, under the influence of Sinhalese.
The parent Vedda language(s) is of unknown genetic origins, while Sinhalese is of the Indo-Aryan branch of Indo-European languages. Phonologically it is distinguished from Sinhalese by the higher frequency of palatal sounds C and J. The effect is also heightened by the addition of inanimate suffixes. Morphologically Vedda language word class is divided into nouns, verbs and invariables with unique gender distinctions in animate nouns. Per its Creole tradition, it has reduced and simplified many forms of Sinhalese such as second person pronouns and denotations of negative meanings. Instead borrowing new words from Sinhalese Vedda created combinations of words from a limited lexical stock. Vedda also maintains many archaic Sinhalese terms prior to the 10th to 12th centuries, as a relict of its close contact with Sinhalese. Vedda also retains a number of unique words that cannot be derived from Sinhalese. Conversely, Sinhalese has also borrowed from the original Vedda language, words and grammatical structures, differentiating it from its related Indo-Aryan languages. Vedda has exerted a substratum influence in the formation of Sinhalese.
Animism is the original religion of Veddas. The Sinhalized interior Veddas follow a mix of animism and nominal Buddhism whereas the Tamilized east coast Veddas follow a mix of animism and nominal Hinduism, known as folk Hinduism amongst anthropologists.
The Vedda marriage ceremony is a very simple affair. The ritual consists of the bride tying a bark rope (diya lanuva) of her own twisting, around the waist of the bridegroom. This is the essence of the Vedda marriage and is symbolic of the bride's acceptance of the man as her mate and life partner. Although marriage between cross-cousins was the norm until recently, this has changed significantly, with Vedda women even contracting marriages with their Sinhalese and Moor neighbours.
In Vedda society, woman is in many respects man's equal. She is entitled to similar inheritance. Monogamy is the general rule, though a widow would be frequently married by her husband's brother as a means of support and consolation (widow inheritance).

Well-known by: their cult of the dead
One of the most distinctive features of Vedda religion is the worship of dead ancestors: these are termed "nae yaku" among the Sinhala-speaking Veddas. There are also peculiar deities that are unique to Veddas. One of them is "Kande Yakka".
Veddas along with the Island's Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim communities venerate the temple complex situated at Kataragama, showing the syncretism that has evolved over 2,000 years of coexistence and assimilation. Kataragama is supposed to be the site at which the Hindu god Skanda or Murugan in Tamil met and married a local tribal girl, Valli, who in Sri Lanka is believed to have been a Vedda.
There are a number of other shrines across the island, not as famous as Kataragama that are as sacred to the Veddas as well as to other communities.

© Text and images: Wikipedia

30 nov. 2010

Sotheby's Oceanic and African Art auction

Auction: Oceanic and African Art auction at Sotheby's Paris
Date:  30th November 2010, 4:00 PM
Preview:
Sat, 27 Nov 10, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sun, 28 Nov 10, 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Mon, 29 Nov 10, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Place: Sotheby's Galerie Charpentier, 76, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris (France)
Webpage:  www.sothebys.com
Commentary:
Sotheby's African and Oceanic Art Department is based in New York and Paris with a European liaison at Sotheby's London offices at Bond Street and representation in other Sotheby's offices around the world. Sotheby's is the only international auction house in the world with full-time departments devoted exclusively to these highly specialized collecting areas. 
The market for African and Oceanic art is international, with private collections, museums, institutions and dealers as buyers and sellers from across the United States, Europe, and Asia taking part in Sotheby's auctions. Sotheby's sales feature works made in the early 20th century or earlier for ritual or ceremonial use within the traditional cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia and Indonesia including masks, figurative sculpture, architectural fragments, amulets and jewelry, ancient metal work, and functional objects such as furniture, houseposts, terracotta and wooden vessels, staffs, and some weapons. 
The African and Oceanic Art auctions are held bi-annually in New York, generally in May and November during the highly exciting period when Contemporary art is on view and sold in New York. A week-long preview precedes each auction. In 2006, Sotheby's Paris auctions will enter the fifth year, and are held on a bi-annual basis, with a preview open to the public in our historic offices on the rue du Faubourg St. Honoré. In both categories, our sales feature works at a wide range of values, from 5,000USD to more than 1,000,000USD in New York and from €1000 to more than €1,000,000 in Paris. A fully illustrated scholarly catalogue in English accompanies each auction in New York and a bi-lingual catalog in French and English is prepared for each Paris auction.
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