31 may 2011


Name: BRUNEAF XXI (Brussels Non European Art Fair)
Date and opening times: 8-12 June 2011
Place: Different shops and galleries in Brussels. Office in: 17, Impasse Saint Jacques, Brussels (Belgium)
Contact: Phone: +32 (0)2 514 02 09, Fax: +32 (0)2 514 02 09, info@bruneaf.com
The idea of uniting a handful of primitive antique dealers to tie in with the inauguration of the Ambre gallery and offer the public the first “Non European Art Open Days” at the Sablon first saw the light of day in 1983.
The idea took off and it was a resounding success… the project became firmly established, attracting more and more galleries from both Belgium and abroad over the years.
In 1988, the first modest brochure appeared with details of this constantly expanding forum of antique dealers and only three and a half years later the first catalogue was published, marking the success of this momentary fellowship of antique dealers with one objective in common: to promote the exceptional wealth of primitive art, of which they are the ambassadors.
From 1996 onwards, Brussels antique dealers invited colleagues from abroad to the event. Today, the participation of galleries from France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the USA gives Bruneaf a decidedly international touch.
The Brussels Non European Art Fair has become one of the leading events displaying non-European art, covering fields as diverse as African, Oceanic, Indonesian, pre-Columbian, Asiatic and Australian Aboriginal art.
Sculptures, masks, fetishes, weaponry, jewellery, coins, fabrics, traditional objects executed by ethnic groups according to their own particular customs and worked in wood, metal, gold, silver, bronze, ivory or terra cotta - the objects on exhibit are ritual or domestic artefacts, combining shape with ornamental design. Although form always meets practical requirements, it is also testimony of a certain vision of the world. Objets d’art from Africa, Indian or Tibet thus draw on the wealth of the myths which form the collective memory, respecting the aesthetic and symbolic standards of tradition and following in the footsteps of the traditional crafts used by their ancestors.

See list of exhibitors here.

© Text and image: Bruneaf.com

29 may 2011

Peking Opera

Peking opera is a performance art incorporating singing, reciting, acting, martial arts. Although widely practised throughout China, its performance centres on Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. Peking opera is sung and recited using primarily Beijing dialect, and its librettos are composed according to a strict set of rules that prize form and rhyme. They tell stories of history, politics, society and daily life and aspire to inform as they entertain. The music of Peking opera plays a key role in setting the pace of the show, creating a particular atmosphere, shaping the characters, and guiding the progress of the stories. ‘Civilian plays’ emphasize string and wind instruments such as the thin, high-pitched jinghu and the flute dizi, while ‘military plays’ feature percussion instruments like the bangu or daluo. Performance is characterized by a formulaic and symbolic style with actors and actresses following established choreography for movements of hands, eyes, torsos, and feet. Traditionally, stage settings and props are kept to a minimum. Costumes are flamboyant and the exaggerated facial make-up uses concise symbols, colours and patterns to portray characters’ personalities and social identities. Peking opera is transmitted largely through master-student training with trainees learning basic skills through oral instruction, observation and imitation. It is regarded as an expression of the aesthetic ideal of opera in traditional Chinese society and remains a widely recognized element of the country’s cultural heritage.

Inscribed in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Text: UNESCO, Image: Zhao Yiping

28 may 2011

Chez Pascal: A Frenchman's Home is his Gallery

From Time.com article by John Krich, 24 March 2011
Chez Pascal: A Frenchman's Home is his Gallery
"As implausible as it sounds, one of Bangkok's most stunning private collections of antiques is located on a cul-de-sac approachable through the city's most notorious stretch of girlie bars. And this establishment comes with the most personal of services: a guided tour from Pascal Butel, a transplanted Frenchman who is one of Asia's least known yet most devoted collectors.
He was practically born to the life. When he was 7, his grandmother in Nice chose to bestow on him, from her brassiere, the keys to trunks of treasures foraged from Indochina by her father. As a young man on a whimsical urge, Butel made Thai his college major in Paris and afterward headed east.
These days, he lives in a house full of exceptional finds. While his bedroom is off-limits, the rest of the place is packed with astounding objects: a Himalayan shaman's pouch made from a bear paw, a rare Isfahan carpet, intricately carved Nepalese looms, striking totems from Nagaland, Javanese chests. Butel waxes poetic about each object, discussing its provenance and uses daily or divine. The trove, apparently, is a fraction of Butel's main collection, kept in France.
More than merely collecting, Butel sees himself as helping preserve traditional "communities of interest and belief" and celebrating a time when "the hand that shaped was directly connected to the heart." Despite being able to lecture like a professor about all he's gathered, he also knows his own limitations. "Just as a grandmother never tells you everything about her life," he says, "the best part of these objects is their mystery."
Casual tourists are not welcome, but Butel will open his doors to those who genuinely share his passion. For an appointment call (66) 8094 40208." 
You can email him as well at pbsthai@hotmail.com.

Pascal Butel's tribal and traditional arts of Asia are only a portion of his collections, which also focus on antique objects, furniture and high end statuary. 

27 may 2011

L’Africa delle meraviglie

Exhibition: L’Africa delle meraviglie
Dates: 31 December 2010 to 5 June 2011
Opening times: 9-19h Monday to Friday, 9-20h Saturday and Sunday
Place: Palazzo Ducale, Genova (Italy)
Entrance fee: 10 €
About the exhibition:

Sottoporticato rooms at the Palazzo Ducale, once a stock of food, houses masks and fetishes in an architectural context in which today seems more like a cathedral than a deposit. It 's so great that in the first room with three aisles, including austere medieval pillars of dark stone, are placed African sculptures, presented in order to enhance the aesthetic dimension, taking the eye and the gaze of the art collector.
The collectors themselves do not appear here as mere providers but as one of the figures that mediate our relationship with Africa, collecting aesthetic creations and helping to shape our taste.
Through videos, household items and installations you can share the passion, travels and the experiences of those who live under the empire of the masks, that is to say the fan collectors of traditional African arts. Their stories tell us not only of their lives, often surprising, but also of the relation that Italy has had with the African lands, and of the imagination and reality that shapes our vision of Africa.
Looking at Africa through art is not the same thing as looking through the lens of the famine, tribal wars and humanitarian emergencies: there emerges a whole cultural and human richness.

© Text and image: Palazzo Ducale Genova

25 may 2011

Tatanua mask

Name: Tatanua mask
Origin: Oceania
Museum: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas (USA)
Materials: wood, paint, opercula, shell, and cloth
Reference code: 1975.8
Age: early 20th century
These men's dance masks, and the line dance in which they appear, are called tatanua, which may derive from the word tanua (spirit or soul). They are associated with the malagan festival in Papua New Guinea. So great is the power of each mask that the dancer must remain absolutely quiet once it is lowered over his head. A supporting male chorus provides a voice for the masks. As part of the malagan celebration, the tatanua dance represents the renewed vitality of the living and their capabilities to survive and prosper. The masked dancers announce a return to order following the chaos in the village associated with death.
Though the masks are superficially similar in appearance, there are many variations reflecting the wide range of associations and meanings which they have.
The upper part consists of a cane framework held together with string and covered with barkcloth, or in later examples, European textiles. It is decorated to represent the hairstyle worn by young men as a mark of bereavement, in which the hair was partially shaved and coated with lime. Tatanua masks are decorated differently on each side of the crest, using feathers, wool, shells, short wooden sticks or seeds. One side is often
coated with lime. The crest is of yellow or reddish brown fibre. The face, normally carved from lime wood (Alstonia), is decorated with black, white and reddish brown pigment in an asymmetric design. Sometimes blue pigment is used to enhance the whiteness of washing. The straight mouth is usually open, showing teeth.
The tatanua mask is worn by men in ceremonies to honour the dead. In 1907 Richard Parkinson published a description of a ceremony that he witnessed on a visit to New Ireland. The masked dancers performed, accompanied by drumming, wearing garlands of leaves and a leaf garment covering the lower body. Brenda Clay describes her observations of a performance by tatanua dancers in 1979. Men prepared the masks and the performance away from women. The masks are preserved between performances, to be rented out by one of the few remaining skilled carvers.
There are several categories of masks used in the malagan. The tatanua mask represents the spirits of the dead who are believed to attend the ceremonies and participate in the dances. Villagers clearly associated the different tatanua masks with specific deceased relatives and believed the mask wearers to be the reappearance of the spirit of that individual. In the past the tatanua ceremony was an exclusive male ritual complex and took place in the men's enclosure.
Some of the tatanuas are displays of the “ideal male”, that is, male power and capabilities; others are “portraits” of specific deceased. The placement of the shell eyes is an occasion for ceremony and it is at this moment that the spirit is believed to enter the mask. Tatanua dancers performed line dances rather than the individual dances that were typical for other kinds of masked dancers. Their movements imitated birds and/or snakes. The dancer, who wore a short grass costume, re-enacted the activities of an ancestor, sometimes in a comic manner. The crest represents the style of hair once worn by male ancestors. The tatanuas were not destroyed after the malagan festival, unlike most of the other art objects created for this ceremonial display.
While the individual elements that make up a particular piece can be identified, the meaning of the piece as a whole changes when the various elements are combined. The interpretation of the person who commissioned the piece may vary from that of other viewers and, indeed, there can be as many interpretations of the piece as there
are viewers. The elements used in each piece were chosen by the person who commissioned the piece and were dictated by his knowledge of the relative to be commemorated.

© Photos and text: Dallas Museum of Art and British Museum, Utah Museum of Fine Arts

23 may 2011

Cajun crawfish boil

RECIPES – Cajun crawfish boil
Cajuns (in French: les Cadiens or les Acadiens) are an ethnic group mainly living in the U.S. state of Louisiana, consisting of the descendants of Acadian exiles (French-speakers from Acadia in what are now the Canadian Maritimes). Today, the Cajuns make up a significant portion of south Louisiana's population, and have exerted an enormous impact on the state's culture.
While Lower Louisiana had been settled by French colonists since the late 18th century, the Cajuns trace their roots to the influx of Acadian settlers after the Great Expulsion from their homeland during the French and Indian War (1754 to 1763). The Acadia region to which modern Cajuns trace their origin consisted largely of what are now Nova Scotia and the other Maritime provinces, plus parts of eastern Quebec and northern Maine. Since their establishment in Louisiana the Cajuns have developed their own dialect, Cajun French, and developed a vibrant culture including folk ways, music, and cuisine.
The crawfish boil is a celebratory event where Cajuns boil crawfish, potatoes, onions and corn over large propane cookers. Lemons and small muslin bags containing a mixture of bay leaves, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper and other spices, commonly known as "crab boil" or "crawfish boil" are added to the water for seasoning. The results are then dumped onto large, newspaper-draped tables and in some areas covered in spice blends. Also, Cocktail sauce, mayonnaise and hot sauce sometimes used. The seafood is scooped onto large trays or plates and eaten by hand.
Attendees are encouraged to "suck the head" of a crawfish by separating the abdomen of the crustacean and sucking out the abdominal fat/juices.

  • 2 heads garlic, unpeeled
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 (3 ounce) packages dry crab boil
  • 1 tablespoon liquid shrimp and crab boil seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 large oranges, halved
  • 3 large lemons, halved
  • 2 large whole artichokes
  • 15 red potatoes, washed
  • 30 pieces baby corn
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 (16 ounce) packages mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 (16 ounce) packages smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 4 pounds live crawfish, rinsed
How to prepare it:
Fit a large (5 gallon) pot with a strainer insert, and fill half full with water.
Add the garlic, bay leaves, dry and liquid crab boil seasonings, salt, pepper, oranges, lemons, artichokes, and potatoes.
Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
Stir in the corn, onions, mushrooms, and green beans; cook 15 minutes more.
Stir in the sausage; cook 5 minutes more.
Add the crawfish, return mixture to boil, then simmer until the crawfish shells turn bright red and the tails pull out easily, about 5 minutes.
Test for doneness by peeling a crawfish.
Be sure not to overcook, or crawfish will become tough.
Remove strainer basket from the pot and drain.
Serve crawfish hot, Louisiana-style, spread over a picnic table covered with newspapers.

© Text and image: Allrecipes.com, wikipedia

21 may 2011

La vie sur terre

Title: La vie sur terre (Life on Earth)
Director: Abderrahmane Sissako
Writer: Abderrahmane Sissako
Year: 1998
Running time: 61 minutes
Country: Mali and Mauritania
Plot summary:
In the last days of 1999, after a few shots of a French supermarket, abundant in food and color, we hear Dramane compose a letter home to his father in Mali whom he then visits in the village of Sokolo. He meets the lovely Nana, and there are possibilities. People place long-distance calls from the post office. "Reaching people," says the postmaster, "is a matter of luck." Contrasts between Paris and Sokolo - between Mali and France and between Africa and Europe - are underscored by voice-over poems and comments by Aimé Césaire. A man dictates a letter to a brother in France: what is the nature of their hardships? People look for their place on this earth.

© Text: IMDB

Watch images of the film with music from Salif Keita's Folon.

19 may 2011

The Tasaday of the Philippines

Name: Tasaday
Living Area: Mindanao Island, Philippines
Population: 24 (1971)
Language: Tasaday dialect of Manobo
The Tasaday (tɑˈsɑdɑj) are an indigenous people of the Philippine island of Mindanao. They are considered to belong to the Lumad group along with the other indigenous inhabitants of the island. They attracted wide media attention in 1971 when they were first "discovered" by Western scientists who reported that they were living at a "stone age" level of technology and had been completely isolated from the rest of Philippine society. They later attracted attention in the 1980s when it was reported that their discovery had in fact been an elaborate hoax, and doubt was raised both about their status as isolated from other societies and even about the reality of their existence as a separate ethnic group. The question of to which degree the Tasaday evidence published in the seventies reflect reality is still being discussed. The Tasaday do speak a language that is distinct from the language of neighboring tribes and which has been described by linguists as having probably split from the adjacent Manobo languages 200 years ago.

Known by their: hoaxed isolation
The Tasaday were first contacted in June 1971 by Manuel Elizalde's team, by that time head of the PANAMIN, the Philippine government agency created in 1968 to protect the interests of cultural minorities.
In March 1972, another meeting occurred between the Tasaday, Elizalde, and members of the press and media including the Associated Press and the National Geographic Society, this time at the Tasaday's secluded cave home site. This meeting was popularly reported in the August 1972 issue of National Geographic by Kenneth MacLeish, which featured on its cover a photograph of a Tasaday boy climbing vines.
And AP photographer John Nance wrote a bestselling book about them titled The Gentle Tasaday. What most captivated the world about the Tasaday was their peacefulness. It was said they knew no words for enemy or conflict. They seemed to be an uncorrupted version of Man, living in a rain-forest Garden of Eden. Their gentleness was especially striking in 1971 when images of violence and horror were coming daily out of Vietnam.
In April 1972, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos declared 19,000 acres (182 km²) of land surrounding the Tasaday's ancestral caves as the Tasaday/Manobo Blit Preserve. By this time, eleven anthropologists had studied the Tasaday in the field, but none for more than six weeks, and in 1976, Marcos closed the preserve to all visitors.
One of the reasons for the closing was a number of suspicions that arose. Apparently, their dead were left in the forest under a layer of leaves, yet no bones, compost, or the like were found. Secondly, although the Tasaday had claimed to be living in the jungle at their cave shelter full time, there was no garbage or sign of human waste. Elizalde claimed that among the 24 remaining Tasaday, there was no wife-sharing, adultery, or divorce. Their diet was claimed to be all forage, i.e., wild fruit, palm pith, forest yams, tadpoles, grubs, and roots. The calories in such a diet are less than the amount needed for survival, so they should have been paper thin. The apparent yams that they survived on were experiencing a shortage around the area where they lived. When dietitians and health advisors suggested further research, they were promptly banned from the Tasaday's home.
After President Marcos was deposed in 1986, Swiss anthropologist and journalist Oswald Iten, accompanied by Joey Lozano (a journalist from South Cotabato) and Datu Galang Tikaw (a member of the T'boli tribe to serve as chief translator, though he did not speak Tasaday), made an unauthorized investigation to the Tasaday caves where they spent about two hours with six Tasaday.
Upon returning from the forest, Iten and Lozano reported the caves deserted and further claimed the Tasaday were simply members of known local tribes who put on the appearance of living a Stone Age lifestyle under pressure from Elizalde. He said that: "In retrospect, the fraud seemed obvious. Why, some wondered, were the caves so clean? Even a Stone Age tribe would have had garbage, such as crab shells or scraps of food. And how did such a small tribe avoid inbreeding? Also, the Tasaday were a mere three hours walk from a modern village. It seemed odd that they would not have encountered this village while searching for food."
Iten found the Tasaday’s caves empty and the tribe members living in huts nearby, dressed in jeans and t-shirts, living a simple, but certainly not primitive, lifestyle. Upon questioning them (using Lozano as a translator), two of the Tasaday admitted to Iten that they weren’t really a stone-age tribe and never had been. They claimed that Elizalde had pressured them into posing as one. “We didnt live in caves, only near them, until we met Elizalde,” they said. “Elizalde forced us to live in the caves so that we’d be better cavemen. Before he came, we lived in huts on the other side of the mountain and we farmed. We took off our clothes because Elizalde told us to do so and promised if we looked poor that we would get assistance. He gave us money to pose as Tasaday and promised us security from counter-insurgency and tribal fighting.”
Iten’s discovery sent shockwaves around the world — a fake stone-age tribe managed to surprise even the most jaded newspaper readers — and soon reporters were once again making the journey out into the Filipino rain forest to visit the Tasaday.
Adding an element of sad comedy to the unfolding story, a group of German journalists who arrived within days of Iten’s departure found the Tasaday back at their caves dressed in leaves. But upon closer inspection the Germans noticed cloth garments peeking out from beneath the Tasaday’s leaves, as if the Tasaday, caught unaware by Iten, had hastily decided to resume the act of being a stone-age tribe, but weren’t quite sophisticated enough to pull it off without outside coaching and so had simply pulled on leaves over their clothes.
Researchers, searching for evidence of a hoax, now realized there were many unanswered questions about the Tasaday. For instance, was it really believable that the Tasaday had been isolated for a thousand years given that they lived only a few miles away from a nearby village? Why did the Tasaday seem to be resistant to modern diseases? (Their isolation should have left them with little resistance.) Why had Elizalde so tightly controlled access to the tribe? And why did many of their instruments and utensils appear to have been cut with steel knives if they lacked all knowledge of steel?
Faced with questions like these, and armed with confessions from the Tasaday themselves, the media decided the matter was settled. The Tasaday were dismissed as a hoax, an outrageous publicity stunt dreamed up by Marcos and his cronies to put a gentle face on the country’s totalitarian government. This judgement was expressed in documentaries such as Scandal, the Lost Tribe and The Tribe That Never Was. And so the tribe became the laughing stock of the world. Iten dubbed them the Philippine equivalent of a Swiss yodeling society.

The Revenge of the Tasaday
Despite the overthrow of Marcos, Elizalde continued to wield enough influence in the Philippines to mount a vigorous pro-Tasaday campaign. He led the defense of the Tasaday when the Philippine Congress investigated the hoax claims in 1987 (the Congress eventually decided the issue was best left to scientists, not politicians, to decide), and in 1988 he flew members of the Tasaday to Manila so that they could file a lawsuit against the Philippine professors who were calling them a hoax. This made the Tasaday the first stone-age tribe to ever sue for libel! These efforts paid off when, also in 1988, Philippine president Corazon Aquino declared that the Tasaday were a “legitimate Stone Age tribe.” (It’s rumored that one of Aquino’s speechwriters was a personal friend of Elizalde.)
Elizalde could exert political and legal pressure to defend the Tasaday, but these tactics had little effect on scientific opinion. But increasing numbers of scientists were won over to the pro-Tasaday side by the fieldwork of researchers such as Lawrence Reid of the University of Hawaii who lived with the Tasaday for extended periods throughout the 1990s.
Reid studied the Tasaday language and concluded that it was not fake or recently invented. He identified their language as a dialect of Cotabato Manobo (which was not the language spoken by the nearby farming community from which, according to the hoax theory, they had been recruited). However, Reid also concluded that the Tasaday had not been isolated for a thousand years. He speculated that they had splintered off from the Cotabato Manobo community approximately 150 to 200 years ago, perhaps fleeing into the jungle to escape an outbreak of disease.
Reid’s linguistic evidence was compelling, but there was one damning piece of evidence that supporters of the Tasaday still had to account for: the Tasaday’s own confession that they were a hoax. How to explain this away? This puzzle was answered when two members of the Tasaday admitted that, yes, they had made such a confession, but also insisted that they had been bribed by a translator to make the confession. And why would the translator have done such a thing? Friends of the Tasaday credited this to the anti-Marcos sentiment that ran high in the Philippines in 1986. There were many who were eager to tear down anything associated with Marcos, and since the Tasaday had been considered a showpiece of his regime, a means by which he projected an idyllic view of the Philippines to the outside world, they became a target of choice for Marcos’s detractors.
This became the version of the Tasaday story promoted by friends of the Tasaday. The Tasaday, they said, were a real tribe, but they had been the victims of the downfall of Marcos. In other words, the claim that they were a hoax was itself the real hoax! Enemies of Marcos had relentlessly smeared the Tasaday as a way to get back at Marcos. These enemies included loggers who were eager to gain access to the Tasaday rainforest, a desire that had been stymied when Marcos declared it a protected reserve. If the Tasaday were deemed a hoax, the tribe’s rights to the reserve would vanish, and the loggers could move in. So, as the friends of the Tasaday explained, there was a powerful financial incentive to make the world believe the Tasaday were a fake stone-age tribe.

To know more about them:
Allen W. Palmer. Primitives Among Us. Science Communication. March 1, 2000: 223-243.
John Nance. The Gentle Tasaday: A Stone Age People in the Philippine Rain Forest. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1975.
Hemley, Robin. Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2003.

© Text and image: Wikipedia, www.museumofhoaxes.com, National Geographic

17 may 2011

Yanomamö: The Fierce People

Title: Yanomamö: The Fierce People
Author: Napoleon Chagnon
Year of publication: 1968
Paperback: 304 pages
Language: English
Based on the author's extensive fieldwork, this classic ethnography, now in its fifth edition, focuses on the Yanomamo. These truly remarkable South American people are one of the few primitive sovereign tribal societies left on earth. The new edition includes events and changes that have occurred since 1992, including a recent trip by the author to the Brazilian Yanomamo in 1995.

Chagnon is best known for his long-term ethnographic field work among the Yanomamö, his contributions to evolutionary theory in cultural anthropology, and to the study of warfare. The Yanomamo are a society of indigenous tribal Amazonians that live in the border area between Venezuela and Brazil.
Working primarily in the headwaters of the upper Siapa and upper Mavaca Rivers, Chagnon conducted fieldwork among these people from the mid-1960s until the latter half of 1990s. Because the Yanomamö people could not pronounce his last name, they nicknamed him "Shaki", the closest pronunciation they could approximate, which also seemed appropriate because Chagnon was constantly asking questions, and "Shaki" means "pesky bee". A major focus of his research was the collection of genealogies of the residents of the villages that he visited, and from these he would analyze patterns of relatedness, marriage patterns, cooperation, and settlement pattern histories. Applying this genealogical approach as a basis for investigation, he is one of the early pioneers of the fields of sociobiology and human behavioral ecology.
Napoleon Chagnon is well known for his ethnography, Yanomamö: The Fierce People (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1968) which was published in more than five editions and is commonly used as a text in university level introductory anthropology classes, making it the all-time bestselling anthropological text. Chagnon was also a pioneer in the field of visual anthropology. He collaborated with ethnographic filmmaker Tim Asch and produced a series of more than twenty ethnographic films documenting Yanomamö life. His life's work has made him both a celebrated figure and a lightning rod for controversy and criticism.

©Text: Wikipedia

15 may 2011

Uygur meshrep

Found among the Uygur people concentrated largely in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Meshrep constitutes the most important cultural carrier of Uygur traditions. A complete Meshrep event includes a rich collection of traditions and performance arts, such as music, dance, drama, folk arts, acrobatics, oral literature, foodways and games. Uygur muqam is the most comprehensive art form included in the event, integrating song, dance and entertainment. Meshrep functions both as a ‘court’, where the host mediates conflicts and ensures the preservation of moral standards, and as a ‘classroom’, where people can learn about their traditional customs. Meshrep is mainly transmitted and inherited by hosts who understand its customs and cultural connotations, by the virtuoso performers who participate, and by all the Uygur people who attend. However, there are numerous factors endangering its viability, such as social changes resulting from urbanization and industrialization, the influence of national and foreign cultures, and the migration of young Uygur to cities for work. Frequency of occurrence and the number of participants are progressively diminishing, while the number of transmitters who understand the traditional rules and rich content of the event has sharply decreased from hundreds to tens.

Inscribed in 2010 on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

© Text and Image: UNESCO

13 may 2011

Arts d’Afrique, voir l’invisible

Exhibition: Arts d’Afrique, voir l’invisible
23 March to 21 August 2011
Opening times: 11-18h, every day except Monday
Place: Musée d’Aquitaine, 20 cours Pasteur, Bordeaux (France)
Entrance fee: 5 €
Webpage: www.bordeaux.fr
About the exhibition:
By bringing together over 200 extraordinary works of art - the biggest ever presented to the public - from major European public and private collections, the Musée d'Aquitaine offers an original reading of African creativity. Its report to the invisible, revealing a unique world view, is essential to understand and discover the wealth of past and present cultures of the African continent.

These objects of extraordinary variety of shapes and functions, including the oldest dating from the 11th century (statue Soninke of Mali) and the production extended to the mid 20th century, are the direct operators of traditional authentic ceremonials, such as initiations (masks nature spirits, some with their ritual costumes), ancestor worship (protective statues, male or female honored on altars), magic or divination (fetishes defense or attack, the body charged with nails and "medicine"), that make them irreplaceable in African thought, as well as masterpieces of universal art.

© Text and image: Musée d’Aquitaine

11 may 2011

Birdskin parka

Name: Birdskin parka (annuraq)
Origin: Smith Sound, Greenland
Museum: British Museum, London (UK)
Materials: skins of auks
Reference code: AOA 1899-419
Age: end of 19th century
This birdskin parka was made by the Inughuit of the Smith Sound area in northern Greenland. It was collected by the American explorer Robert Peary (1856-1920), who visited the area several times between 1891 and 1909 in preparation for his expeditions to the North Pole.
The Inughuit often used the skins of auks or little auks to make parkas. The skins are sewn together into belts, and the belts are then sewn into poncho-like garments. The feather-side of the skin would have been turned to the inside. Birdskin parkas were worn directly on the body as inner parkas by men, women and children, usually under an outer parka of sealskin. After 1910, when Knud Rasmussen opened his trading-post in Thule, birdskin parkas were quickly replaced by European underwear bought in the store.
Birdskin clothes are light, warm and waterproof, but they tear easily. On arrival in the Department of Conservation of the British Museum, the skin of the parka was torn in several places. With ageing, the feathers had become less securely attached to the skin and were easily dislodged. The tears were repaired by adhering patches of a Japanese tissue paper coloured to match, or where possible with goldbeaters' skin, a transparent membrane prepared from ox intestine, which more closely matches the appearance of the skin. The parka was then gently padded with acid-free tissue paper. However, the parka remains fragile, and cannot be exhibited, because this might lead to further damage and loss of feathers.

© Photos and text: British Museum

9 may 2011

Belizean fry-jacks

Fry jacks are a staple in Belizean cuisine: delicious golden and crumbly fried dough. They are very similar to the New Orleans beignet, fried bread, and to Latin American sopapillas (alternately spelled sopaipilla), which are made with flour tortillas, and often topped with cinnamon, honey and whipped cream. Sometimes the fry jack is called the beignet without the powdered sugar, since they are typically topped with either honey or jam, or served as a breakfast food with savory accompaniments like beans, bacon and eggs.
Basic fry jacks are made from simple recipes that combine shortening, flour, water, salt and baking powder. The dough is then quickly fried in hot oil, which causes the dough to rise slightly, and produces a crunchy, crispy, golden brown rectangle or triangle. When sopapillas are made, tortillas may be sliced, or they may be fried whole, with the tortilla becoming puffy and crispy as it cooks in the hot oil.
Also Known As: fry bread, beignets, sopapillas, fried dough

•  750g of sieved flour
•  1 tblsps shortening
•  375ml Water or 1 cup
•  Salt to taste

How to cook it:
Add sifted flour, baking powder and salt together. Fold in the shortening. Add the water gradually until the dough is the right consistency (not sticky but soft) Knead dough and separate into pieces and shape into balls. Roll the balls flat and fry until golden brown. Serve with savoury dishes or with golden syrup.

© Text and image: www.wikipedia.com

7 may 2011


Title: Emitaï
Director: Ousmane Sembene
Writer: Ousmane Sembene
Year: 1971
Running time: 103 minutes
Country: Senegal
Plot summary:
As World War II is going on in Europe, a conflict arises between the French and the Diola-speaking tribe of Africa, prompting the village women to organize their men to sit beneath a tree to pray.
Based on a real incident, Emitai dramatizes the tension between West African villagers and French soldiers during the early days of World War II. The Vichy government sends troops to round up young African men to fight as soldiers. The people in a Diola village in Casamance resist, leading to a conflict over rice supplies that escalates into tragedy. The film was considered objectionable in many quarters in France and the final image was censored there. Because the film honestly portrays the complicity of some Africans in their own oppression, it was also banned in Senegal and other parts of Africa.

© Text: IMDB

1 may 2011

Traditional chinese medicine

Acupuncture and moxibustion are forms of traditional Chinese medicine widely practised in China and also found in regions of south-east Asia, Europe and the Americas. The theories of acupuncture and moxibustion hold that the human body acts as a small universe connected by channels, and that by physically stimulating these channels the practitioner can promote the human body’s self-regulating functions and bring health to the patient. This stimulation involves the burning of moxa (mugwort) or the insertion of needles into points on these channels, with the aim to restore the body’s balance and prevent and treat disease. In acupuncture, needles are selected according to the individual condition and used to puncture and stimulate the chosen points. Moxibustion is usually divided into direct and indirect moxibustion, in which either moxa cones are placed directly on points or moxa sticks are held and kept at some distance from the body surface to warm the chosen area. Moxa cones and sticks are made of dried mugwort leaves. Acupuncture and moxibustion are taught through verbal instruction and demonstration, transmitted through master-disciple relations or through members of a clan. Currently, acupuncture and moxibustion are also transmitted through formal academic education.
Inscribed in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Text: UNESCO, Image: Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion

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