28 feb 2011

Accras (fish fritters)

Accras are deep fried fish fritters traditionally made with salt cod, but you can substitute fresh cod. Different versions are popular all over the West Indies and specially French Guyana.
For some reason the hot pepper loses its power in this recipe, so you might want to use a bit more than you think is needed, especially if you like things spicy. Accras can be served as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to the main meal. Indeed, I find them so filling that I don't need much else to make a meal.

Ingredients (makes 36 accras)
  • Softened butter for pan
  • 8 ounces salt cod
  • 2 onions, peeled and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 hot pepper, minced finely (more or less to your taste)
  • handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped finely
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 eggs, separated (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • oil for frying
How to cook it
Begin by soaking the salt cod in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator for 24 hours, changing the water several times. to remove the salt. Place the desalinated fish in a pot of water and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the fish is soft and flakes easily. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Remove any bones and skin from the fish, and place it in a mixing bowl. Flake the fish with a fork.
Mix the fish with the minced onions, pressed garlic, minced hot pepper, parsley, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the flour, then beat in the water and egg yolks. Finally, stir in the baking soda.
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold them into the batter.
In a Dutch oven or similar sturdy cooking vessel, heat 1 inch of oil until it is hot. Drop the batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil. Don't crowd the accras - you'll need to do several batches. Cook until golden brown, turning once. Total frying time is about 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towel.
Serve hot with lime wedges or your favourite dipping sauce.

© Text and image: Upon The Key

26 feb 2011

Sang sattawat

Title: Sang sattawat
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Writer: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Year: 2006
Running time: 105 minutes
Country: Thailand
Plot summary:
Syndromes and a Century (Thai: แสงศตวรรษ saeng satawǎat, literally Light of the Century) is a 2006 Thai drama film written and directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The film was among the works commissioned for Peter Sellars' New Crowned Hope festival in Vienna to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It premiered on August 30, 2006 at the 63rd Venice Film Festival.
The film is a tribute to the director's parents and is divided into two parts, with the characters and dialogue in the second half essentially the same as the first, but the settings and outcome of the stories are different. The first part is set in a hospital in rural Thailand, while the second half is set in a Bangkok medical center. "The film is about transformation, about how people transform themselves for the better," Apichatpong said in an interview.
In Thailand, Syndromes and a Century became controversial after the Board of Censors demanded that four scenes be cut in order for the film to be shown commercially. The director refused to cut the film and withdrew it from domestic release. Since then, the director had agreed to a limited showing in Thailand where the cut scenes were replaced with a black screen to protest and inform the public about the issues of censorship.

© Text: Wikipedia

24 feb 2011

The Kayan Lahwi of Burma

Name: Kayan Lahwi
Living Area: Burma and Thailand
Population: 130,000
Language: Kayan
The Kayan Lahwi (Padaung or Long Necked Karen) are a subgroup of the Kayan, a mix of Lawi tribe, Kayan tribe and several other tribes from a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority of Burma (Myanmar).
The Kayan consists of the following groups: Kayan Lahwi (also called Padaung), Kayan Ka Khaung (Gekho), Kayan Lahta, Kayan Ka Ngan. Kayan Gebar, Kayan Kakhi and, sometimes, Kayaw.
Padaung (Yan Pa Doung) is a Shan term for the Kayan Lahwi.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s due to conflict with the military regime in Burma, many Kayan tribes fled to the Thai border area, where they live with an uncertain legal status, and villages displaying Padaung women with brass neck coils for tourist dollars appeared.
A 2004 estimate puts the population at approximately 130,000.
The Kayans’ traditional religion is called Kan Khwan, and has been practiced since the people migrated from Mongolia during the Bronze Age. It includes the belief that the Kayan people are the result of a union between a female dragon and a male human/angel hybrid.
The major religious festival is the 3-day Kay Htein Bo festival, which commemorates the belief that the creator god gave form to the world by planting a small post in the ground. During this festival, held in late March or early April, a Kay Htoe Boe pole is erected and participants dance around the pole. This festival is held to venerate the eternal god and creator messengers, to give thanks for blessings during the year, to appeal for forgiveness, and pray for rain. It is also an opportunity for Kayan from different villages to come together to maintain the solidarity of the tribe.
The Kayan have a strong belief in augury and nothing is done without reference to some form of divination, including breaking thatch grass, but most importantly consulting the chicken bones.
In present times the annual Kay Htein Bo festival is always accompanied by a reading of the chicken bones to predict the year ahead. Fowl bone prognostication can be witnessed in the Kayan villages in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province during the annual festival and during “Cleansing Ceremonies” which are held when a family has encountered ill fortune. Dreams are also used to make predictions.

Well-known by: their women's elongated necks
Women of the various Kayan tribes identify themselves by their different form of dress. The Kayan Lahwi tribe are the most renowned as they wear ornaments known as neck rings, brass coils that are placed around the neck. The women wearing these coils are known as giraffe women to tourists. These coils are first applied to young girls when they are around five years old.
Each coil is replaced with longer coil, as the weight of the brass pushes the collar bone down and compresses the rib cage. Contrary to popular belief, the neck is not actually lengthened; the illusion of a stretched neck is created by the deformation of the clavicle. Many ideas regarding why the coils are worn have been suggested, often formed by visiting anthropologists, who have hypothesized that the rings protected women from becoming slaves by making them less attractive to other tribes. Contrastingly it has been theorised that the coils originate from the desire to look more attractive by exaggerating sexual dimorphism, as women have more slender necks than men. It has also been suggested that the coils give the women resemblance to a dragon, an important figure in Kayan folklore. The coils might be meant to protect from tiger bites, perhaps literally, but probably symbolically.
Kayan women, when asked, acknowledge these ideas, but often say that their purpose for wearing the rings is cultural identity (one associated with beauty). The rings, once on, are seldom removed, as the coiling and uncoiling is a somewhat lengthy procedure. They are usually only removed to be replaced by a new or longer set of coils. The women do not suffocate if the rings are removed, though the muscles covered by them are weakened.
Many women have removed the rings for medical examinations. Most women prefer to wear the rings once their necks are elongated, as their necks and collar bones are often bruised and discolored from being hidden behind brass for so long. Additionally, the collar feels like an integral part of the body after ten or more years of continuous wear.
In 2006, some of the younger women in Mae Hong Son started to remove their rings either to give them the opportunity to continue their education, or in protest against the exploitation of their culture and the restrictions that came with it. In late 2008, most of the young women who entered the refugee camp removed their rings. One woman who wore the rings for over 40 years also removed her rings. The women report temporary discomfort which faded after three days. The discoloration is more persistent.
The government of Burma began discouraging this tradition as it struggled to appear more modern to the developed world. Consequently, many women in Burma began breaking the tradition, though a few older women still wear them and in remote villages some of the younger girls are carrying on the tradition. In Thailand, the practice has gained popularity in recent years because it draws tourists who bring business to the tribe and to the local businessmen who run the villages and collect an entry fee.

© Text and image: Wikipedia 

22 feb 2011

The Arts of Africa

Title: The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art
Author: Roslyn A. Walker
Year of publication: 2010
Paperback: 304 pages
Language: English
Dr. Roslyn Adele Walker id the Senior Curator for The Arts of Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. Dr. Walker is also the author of the newly published book The Arts of Africa, the first catalogue dedicated to exploring the Museum’s collection of nearly two thousand African objects—acclaimed as one of the top five of its kind in the United States. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the collection, which began with a gift of more than two hundred objects from DMA benefactors Eugene and Margaret McDermott, the catalogue draws from both historical sources and contemporary research to examine over one hundred figures, masks, and other works of art representing fifty-two cultures, from Morocco to South Africa.
This beautifully illustrated book showcases 110 objects from the Dallas Museum of Art’s world-renowned African collection. In contrast to Western “art for art’s sake,” tradition-based African art served as an agent of religion, social stability, or social control. Chosen both for their visual appeal and their compelling histories and cultural significance, the works of art are presented under the themes of leadership and status; the cycle of life; decorative arts; and influences (imported and exported). Also included are many fascinating photographs that show the context in which these objects were originally used.

20 feb 2011

The Nestinarstvo fire-dancing rite

The Nestinarstvo fire-dancing rite is the climax of the annual Panagyr ritual on the feast days of Saints Constantine and Helena (3 and 4 June) in the village of Bulgari, in the Mount Strandzha region of south-east Bulgaria. The ritual is held to ensure the well-being and fertility of the village. In the morning, consecrated and ceremonial rituals are solemnized and a procession with the sacred icons representing the two Saints travels outside the village to a spring with holy water, accompanied by drum and bagpipes. At the spring, holy water and candles are handed out to everyone present for good health. The festival culminates in a fire-dance in the evening as the highest form of veneration of the Saints. People silently form a circle around the burning embers led by the sacred drum, and the Nestinari, who are spiritual and physical leaders through whom the saints express their will, begin entering the circle and treading the embers. Formerly celebrated in some thirty nearby Bulgarian and Greek villages, Nestinarstvo remains today in Bulgari, a village of only a hundred persons. During the Panagyr, however, thousands crowd the village, including in recent years many Greeks who join the ritual.
Inscribed in 2009 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
© Text and images: UNESCO

18 feb 2011

China around 1910

Exhibition: China around 1910 - Photograph's by LeMunyon and Van Citters
Until 1 May 2011
Place: Museum Volkenkunde, Steenstraat 1, Leiden, The Nederlands
Admission: € 7.50
Webpage: www.rmv.nl
About the exhibition:
In this exhibition Museum Volkenkunde shows a special selection from its own collection of photos. There are several pictures, taken by Le Munyon around 1910 and unique film archives on display. The beautiful photographs are coloured by hand and they show daily life in Beijing. They are displayed along with photos taken by the Dutch diplomat Van Citters. His pictures focus on landscapes around Beijing at the beginning of the 20th century.

© Text and image: Museum Volkenkunde

16 feb 2011

Indonesian mouth mask

Leti Island Indonesian mouth mask depicting the head of a bird
Name: Mouth mask depicting the head of a bird 
Origin: Leti Island, Indonesia 
Museum: Dallas Museum of Art 
Material: wood, boar tusks, clam shell, mother-of-pearl, buffalo horn, resinous material, pigment 
Dimensions: overall: 5 ½ x 6 3/8 x 5 ¾ in (14x16x14 cm) 
Reference code:  1997.141.McD
Age: 19th century
On the island of Leti, ritual dances featured a small sculpture representing the head of an animal. The dancer held the masklike object in his mouth by the tab extending from the back of the head. Only three examples are known to have survived, two masks in European museum collections, which represent pigs, and this Dallas mask, which depicts a bird, perhaps a pigeon or rooster. The imagination of the sculptor is apparent here in the improbable use of boars’ tusks to create the white feathers that rise above the head and encircle the face. The mouth masks are associated with a distinctive fertility ritual called porka, the goals of which were increase and abundance among human beings, animals, and plants as well as the renewal of creation. In its original form, the ritual cycle began with a headhunting raid and accorded sexual freedom to unmarried people during certain phases. Formerly celebrated at seven-year intervals and times of disaster, the porka ritual survived, with changes, during the 20th century as a New Year’s celebration. It is thought that the last complete ritual was performed between 1850 and 1860.

© Text and image: www.dallasmuseumofart.org

14 feb 2011

Haitian Griots

This rich, flavorful dish is one of Haiti's most popular, invariably served at parties and family gatherings. Cubes of pork are soaked in a sour orange marinade and then slow-roasted until tender. The tender morsels are then given a finally fry in oil until delectably caramelized. This recipe uses a mixture of orange and lime juice in place of the hard-to-find sour orange juice. Also spelled grillots, griyo, griyot or griot.

Ingredients (6-8 servings):

  • Pork shoulder, cubed -- 4 pounds
  • Onion, thinly sliced -- 1
  • Green or red bell pepper, thinly sliced -- 1
  • Scotch bonnet peppers, chopped (optional) -- 1 or 2
  • Shallots, thinly sliced -- 2 or 3
  • Garlic, chopped -- 3 or 4 cloves
  • Thyme -- 2 teaspoons
  • Salt -- 2 teaspoons
  • Pepper -- 1 teaspoon
  • Oranges -- 2
  • Limes -- 3
  • Oil -- 1/4 cup

How to cook it:
Add the pork and all the other ingredients except the oil to a large, non-reactive bowl and mix together well. Refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours to let the meat soak up the marinade.
Oven to 375°F. Place the pork and its marinade into a large roasting pan and cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Place in the oven and roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the pork is tender.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Remove any extra liquid in the pan, putting it into a saucepan, and set aside. Add the oil to the pan and stir it into the meat. Return the roasting pan to the oven and let the pork cook for 20 to 30 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Any liquid will evaporate away and the meat will begin to fry in the oil and brown.
While the meat is frying in the oven, place the saucepan with the reserved liquid on the top of the stove and boil it down until it is well reduced and thickens. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and mix the reduced sauce into the browned pork. Serve hot with with sos ti-malis, banan peze and a side of pikliz.
-Use sour orange juice if you can find it. Or substitute pikliz vinegar for some of the orange and lime juice if you like.
-Griots can also be made on the stovetop. Use a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid.
-Finely chopped scallions can be substituted for the shallots. Use four or five scallions.

© Text and image: www.whats4eats.com

12 feb 2011


Title: Tilaï
Director: Idrissa Ouedraogo
Writer: Idrissa Ouedraogo
Year: 1990
Running time: 81 minutes
Country: Burkina Faso
Plot summary:
Saga returns to his village after a long absence, and finds that his father has married Nogma, his fiancee, during his leave. Nogma has become his second wife, and by law, Saga's mother. Saga runs away and builds a straw hut near the village. Still in love, Saga and Nogma begin an affair, with Nogma telling her parents she is going to visit her aunt, then running to Saga's hut. After the affair is discovered, Saga's father decrees that he must die for dishonoring the family. Nogma's father hangs himself from a tree, and Nogma is disowned by her mother at her father's funeral. Saga's brother Kougri is selected to execute Saga. He pretends to kill Saga so as to restore the family's honor. Saga and Nogma then run away to another village, and the family falls apart. As Saga and Nogma begin to build a life, Nogma tells Saga that she is pregnant. Meanwhile, Kougri comes to regret his failiure to kill Saga. After Saga's birth mother dies, Saga returns to the village, exposing Kougri's failure to carry out his father's orders. Kourgri's father tells him he is banished. Kourgi then picks up Saga's rifle and shoots him for having brought ruin to the family and his own life. He then walks off into exile and probable death.

© Text: Wikipedia

10 feb 2011

Uncontacted tribes of Peru

Astonishing new photos of one of the world's last uncontacted tribes 

31 January 2011

New photos obtained by Survival International show uncontacted Indians in never-seen-before detail. The Indians are living in Brazil, near the Peruvian border, and are featured in the ‘Jungles’ episode of BBC1’s ‘Human Planet’ (Thurs 3 Feb, 8pm, UK only).
The pictures were taken by Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department, which has authorized Survival to use them as part of its campaign to protect their territory. They reveal a thriving, healthy community with baskets full of manioc and papaya fresh from their gardens.
The tribe’s survival is in serious jeopardy as an influx of illegal loggers invades the Peru side of the border. Brazilian authorities believe the influx of loggers is pushing isolated Indians from Peru into Brazil, and the two groups are likely to come into conflict.
Survival and other NGOs have been campaigning for years for the Peruvian government to act decisively to stop the invasion, but little has been done.
Last year an American organization, Upper Amazon Conservancy, carried out the latest of several overflights on the Peru side, uncovering further evidence of illegal logging in a protected area.
Marcos Apurinã, Coordinator of Brazil’s Amazon Indian organization COIAB said today, ‘It is necessary to reaffirm that these peoples exist, so we support the use of images that prove these facts. These peoples have had their most fundamental rights, particularly their right to life, ignored … it is therefore crucial that we protect them.’
New footage will be released later this week
Survival will be releasing extraordinary new footage of this uncontacted tribe later this week as part of our campaign to protect uncontacted tribes' lands. Sign up to be the first to see the video, and we'll keep you updated with news, films and photos from tribes around the world once a month.

Renowned Brazilian Indian leader Davi Kopenawa Yanomami said today, ‘The place where the Indians live, fish, hunt and plant must be protected. That is why it is useful to show pictures of the uncontacted Indians, for the whole world to know that they are there in their forest and that the authorities must respect their right to live there.’
Peru’s Amazon Indian organisation AIDESEP issued a statement saying, ‘We are deeply troubled by the authorities' lack of action… despite complaints from Peru and abroad against illegal logging, nothing has been done.’
TV presenter Bruce Parry of hit TV series Tribe said, ‘Protecting the land where uncontacted tribes live is of global importance. We have consistently failed to introduce them to our world without inflicting terrible traumas. It is for them to decide when they want to join our world. Not us.’
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, 'The illegal loggers will destroy this tribe. It's vital that the Peruvian government stop them before time runs out. The people in these photos are self-evidently healthy and thriving. What they need from us is their territory protected, so that they can make their own choices about their future.
'But this area is now at real risk, and if the wave of illegal logging isn't stopped fast, their future will be taken out of their hands. This isn't just a possibility: it's irrefutable history, rewritten on the graves of countless tribes for the last five centuries.'

New photos: questions and answers
Who are the uncontacted people in the photos and footage?
Many tribes in this region suffered atrocities during the ‘rubber boom’ a hundred years ago, when wild rubber became an important international commodity. Many were killed or died from disease. However some managed to flee deeper into the forest. The uncontacted Indians living here today may be descended from these people.

Why have they painted and decorated themselves?
Many South American tribes use body paint as decoration and for other reasons. Red paint (known as urucum) is made from seeds from the annatto shrub. Indigenous people use it to colour things like hammocks and baskets, as well as their skin. (It is also used as a dye by the food industry.) Many Amazon tribes make black dye from the genipapo plant. Some also use crushed charcoal. Black can be used to signal hostility. Like other tribes in the region, the men have shaved their foreheads and have long hair.

How can they be filmed if they're uncontacted?
The Brazilian authorities have been monitoring this group of uncontacted Indians for years from the air. Over-flights are used to gather evidence of invasions of their land.
Indians certainly hear the plane long before it becomes visible. They will have seen many planes over the years from commercial jets to light aircraft belonging to missionaries, prospectors, and government authorities like FUNAI.

How do these people live? What do they eat? What are the foods visible in baskets?
They probably live in a similar way to many other Amazon Indians. They have cleared large vegetable gardens for fruit and vegetables, and manioc, maize, sweet potato, pumpkin, peanuts, papaya, and bananas can all be identified. They also plant cotton which is spun and woven for skirts. The men have cotton waist bands and some have small head dresses. The men carry bows and arrows for hunting – probably tapir, wild pig, deer and monkeys. No canoes have been seen (many Amazon tribes do not use them), but they probably fish as well.
Baskets are made to store vegetables and carry game and fish. (To the left of the main photo there is a pile of manioc or sweet potato, with peelings lying on the ground. The basket is full of papaya. At the entrance to the house are two baskets, one showing a carrying strap. The basket to the far right shows unpeeled tubers – probably manioc. Another is covered with banana leaves to protect whatever food is inside.)

What will their state of health be like?
It is likely to be very good. In the photos the Indians appear strong and healthy and their gardens are full of produce.

Why are the photos and video footage being released?
Various government officials in Peru and Brazil have denied the existence of uncontacted tribes and accuse indigenous organizations and their supporters of inventing them. The photos and footage provide clear and compelling evidence that uncontacted tribes do exist. Many tribal people recognize the importance of using the photos and footage to persuade governments to protect uncontacted peoples’ land and to uphold their rights. You can read statements from Yanomami leader Davi Kopenawa Yanomami and from COIAB, the network of indigenous organizations in the Amazon.

What next?
Survival is launching an urgent campaign calling on the Peruvian government to expel all loggers working illegally on the land of uncontacted Indians in Peru.

© Text and photos: Survival and www.uncontactedtribes.org/brazilphotos

8 feb 2011

Dongria Kondh lecture from Michael Palin

Lecture: The Dongria Kondh
Speaker: Michael Palin
Date: February 22nd 2011, 19:30-21h
Place: Soho Hotel, Richmond Mews, W1D 3DH, London (UK)
Webpage: www.survivalinternational.org/
Admission: £20.00 + £1.85 fee
Actor, writer and broadcaster Michael Palin talks about his recent travels to Orissa, India, and his visit to the Dongria Kondh tribe.
The Dongria Kondh recently won a historic battle to save their lands and forests from an open-pit bauxite mine.
Vedanta Resources, a British company, intended to dig a bauxite mine on Niyamgiri mountain in India.
The mine would have destroyed the forests on which the Dongria Kondh depend and wreck the lives of thousands of other Kondh tribal people living in the area.
All proceeds in aid of Survival International.
The event includes a Q&A.  

About Michael Palin and his support to the Dongria (23/07/2010):
Actor, presenter and explorer Michael Palin has sent a message in support of the Dongria Kondh tribe of India, who are resisting a mine on their land byFTSE 100 companyVedanta Resources.
In a statement, Michael Palin said, ‘I’ve been to the Nyamgiri Hills in Orissa and seen the forces of money and power that Vedanta Resources have arrayed against a people who have occupied their land for thousands of years, who husband the forest sustainably and make no great demands on the state or the government. The tribe I visited simply want to carry on living in the villages that they and their ancestors have always lived in.’
On July 28th, Vedanta’s Annual General Meeting in London will be attended by protestors from Survival International and other groups keen to draw shareholders’ attention to Vedanta’s human rights and environmental record.
PIRC, the shareholder lobby group, have announced that they are urging shareholders to vote against re-electing three of the company’s directors on human rights, safety and environmental grounds.

© Text and image: Survival

6 feb 2011

The Samba de Roda of the Recôncavo of Bahia

The Samba de Roda, which involves music, dance and poetry, is a popular festive event that developed in the State of Bahia, in the region of Recôncavo during the seventeenth century. It drew heavily on the dances and cultural traditions of the region’s African slaves. The performance also included elements of Portuguese culture, such as language, poetry, and certain musical instruments. At first a major component of regional popular culture among Brazilians of African descent, the Samba de Roda was eventually taken by migrants to Rio de Janeiro, where it influenced the evolution of the urban samba that became a symbol of Brazilian national identity in the twentieth century.
The dance is performed on various occasions, such as popular Catholic festivities or Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies, but is also executed in more spontaneous settings. All present, including beginners, are invited to join the dance and learn through observation and imitation. One of the defining characteristics of the Samba of Roda is the gathering of participants in a circle, referred to as roda. It is generally performed only by women, each one taking her turn in the center of the ring surrounded by others dancing in the circle while clapping their hands and singing. The choreography is often improvised and based on the movements of the feet, legs and hips. One of the most typical movements is the famous belly push, the umbigada, a testimony of Bantu influence, used by the dancer to invite her successor into the centre of the circle. The Samba de Roda is also distinguished by specific dance steps like the miudinho, the use of the viola machete - a small lute with plucked strings from Portugal, as well as scraped instruments, and responsorial songs.
The influence of mass media and competition from contemporary popular music have contributed to undervaluing this Samba in the eyes of the young. The ageing of practitioners and the dwindling number of artisans capable of making some of the instruments pose a further threat to the transmission of the tradition.
Inscribed in 2008 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (originally proclaimed in 2005)
© Text and images: UNESCO

5 feb 2011

Michaan's Auction

Auction: Folk Art International Resources for Education Auction
Date:  7th February 2011, 10 am
Preview: February 4-7
Place: Main Gallery, 2751 Todd Street, Alameda, CA (USA)
Contact:  Gregory Ghent, tel: 5107400220123, Gregory@michaans.com
Webpage:  www.michaans.com
Bid Live via LiveAuctioneers.
Ethnographic, Asian, and Modern art sold to benefit the programs of Folk Art International Resources for Education, a charitable organization.
Michaan's Auctions is a leading, full-service auction house on the West Coast specializing in the appraisals and sale of antiques and fine art. Some of Michaan's specialty departments include Asian Works of Art, Furniture and Decorative Arts, Modern, Contemporary, European and American Paintings, Prints and Jewelery.
Established in 2002, Michaan's Auctions holds up to thirty sales each year that attract a broad base of buyers and consignors from all over the world. With one of the largest facilities in Northern California, Michaan's offers buyers the ability to preview and bid on many unique and desirable pieces. Some of these pieces have garnered world record prices, including an A.D.M Cooper painting, The Three Graces, 1915, sold at auction for $21,060 in 2005, as well as an Eduard Gaertner,German City Street Scene, 1831, sold at auction for $266,000.
Michaan's has built its' reputation on its' ability to accept single items, groups or entire estates with the “no risk consignment policy”, a policy that sets them apart from other auction houses. There are no photography fees and if your item does not sell the consignor does not pay the insurance or a “buy-in” fee. Michaan's team of specialists are dedicated to staying current on the latest issues and developments in the market and are committed to providing personalized and professional attention throughout the entire auction process.

4 feb 2011

African Masks: The Art of Disguise

Exhibition: African Masks: The Art of Disguise
Until 13 February 2011
Place: Chilton Galleries, Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 North Harwood, Dallas, Texas (USA)
Admission: $ 10
About the exhibition:
The African mask is a highly developed and enduring art form. African Masks: The Art of Disguise, an exhibition of approximately seventy objects from the Museum’s collections and on loan from local collectors, will reveal the function, meaning, and aesthetics of African masks. Masks serve as supports for the spirit of deities, ancestors and culture heroes, which may be personified as a human, animal, or composite. Masked performances, which are held on the occasions of thanksgiving celebrations, rites of passage, and funerals, often entertain while they teach moral lessons. This exhibition will present a variety of masks from several different sub-Saharan peoples that offer a variety of types, styles, sizes, and materials and the contexts in which they appear. Because the carved wooden mask is frequently only one part of an ensemble, full masquerade costumes will be displayed. And the masks will “come to life” in performances recorded on film and in contextual photographs.
African Masks: The Art of Disguise is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and curated by Roslyn A. Walker, Senior Curator, The Arts of Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas, and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.

© Text and image: Dallas Museum of Art

2 feb 2011

Solomon Islands Amulet

Name: Woven cane amulet
Origin: Santa Isabel Island, Solomon Islands, Melanesia, Oceania;
Museum: Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford (UK)
Materials: cane, shells, animal bristles
Reference code: PRM 1904.29.
This is a narrow bag of woven cane, with four shell rings placed around the middle, and a plait of pig’s bristles tied to the looped end.
It contains the relics of the maker’s ancestors, and was probably used with a magical spell intended to cause the death of an enemy. The Solomon Islanders held their ancestors in great reverence, and also believed very strongly in magic. Both their magical beliefs and their religious system were based on the concept of mana, which has been defined by Starzecka and Cranstone as ‘Supernatural power which can be present in varying degree in man and objects but always derives from spirits. It is associated with anything ... outside the natural order of things: exceptional success in business or talent for carving are caused by mana, and an unusually shaped stone has mana’ (Starzecka and Cranstone 1974: 13).
Amulets and charms in the Pitt Rivers Museum
The Pitt Rivers Museum has almost 6,000 amulets and charms in its collections; though not all of them are on display. They have been collected from all over the world, including England, and demonstrate the wide array of methods for using magic employed by different cultures.
An amulet is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as: ‘Anything worn about the person as a charm preventative against evil, mischief, disease, witchcraft, etc.’ The definition of charm is very similar: ‘Anything worn about the person to avert evil or ensure prosperity’, though a charm may also be a spell or incantation believed to have a magical power.
Some of the objects on display are technically not amulets or charms but objects that were used in a ritual or instilled with a supernatural power. Some have been taken directly from the natural environment, and assigned a magical function by a single person, while others have been carved or painted to create an object with a meaning that would be recognised by most members of the culture.
The underlying theme that unites all amulets and charms is that the people who created and used them believed in them; almost any object may become a charm or an amulet, so long as someone believes it has the power to affect or alter the world around them.
Some amulets and charms are examples of ‘sympathetic magic’, which generally means that the appearance of an object resembles, in some way, the cure or protection it is believed to offer.
Unlike some of the objects on display in this Museum, amulets and charms are still widely used in many cultures today. You may have an object yourself that you trust will bring you luck! The amulets and charms on display at the Pitt Rivers Museum are material evidence of the hopes and beliefs that are shared by all of humankind.

© Photos and text: The Pitt Rivers Museum
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