30 jul 2011

World's Lost Tribes

Title: World's Lost Tribes, The Adventures of Mark and Olly 
Year: 2007 
Running time: 50 minutes
Country: USA
Plot summary:
Join extreme travellers Mark Anstice and Olly Steeds as they embark on unique expeditions into some of the most remote places on Earth.
Explorer, Mark and journalist Olly have spent months with two remarkable indigenous tribes in West Papua - the Kombai and the Mek - trekking high into uncharted highlands, seeking total immersion in isolated cultures with histories of tribal war, sorcery and witchcraft.
In this hugely different world, Brits Mark and Olly attempt to live off the land, exactly like their hosts. It's a hardcore challenge because not only do they have to learn how to survive on a largely unusual (and often unpalatable) diet, they must also work alongside the tribes, learn new languages and understand each tribe's rituals.
Join Mark and Olly in their incredible adventures as they make friends, and enemies, and learn the secrets of these primal societies.

Mark Anstice and Olly Steeds have done more than their fair share of globetrotting.
With Mark's military experience and Olly's journalistic nous, they're a formidable team with the skills necessary to gain the trust, befriend and ultimately earn the respect of their tribesmen hosts.
Their expeditions in West Papau stretched them both mentally and physically in a new world where nothing could be taken for granted.
The pair had to dig deep at times, but did, and came out the other side with some unforgettable memories and unparalleled experiences.

Kombai Tribe
The Kombai tribe was discovered only 25 years ago, in the dense jungles of West Papua, New Guinea. The tribe's lifestyle - dubbed 'stone-age' - has remained unchanged for 15,000 years.
There are thought to be about 4,000 Kombai people. They are spread across approximately 250 small clans, each of which speaks a different language.
The Kombai are generally suspicious of outsiders, and few have shown interest in the missionaries who made contact with them. Anecdotal evidence suggests there has only been one convert to Christianity since 1982.

The tribes usually live in treehouses 30 feet to 100 feet above the ground. These homes, which offer views above the dense jungle, are built as a means of defence against raiding parties. They also enable the Kombai to avoid sorcerers and insects, and to keep cool.
The Kombai are hunter-gatherers, moving from place to place during long treks in search of food. They eat cassowary birds, riflebirds, wild pigs, grasshoppers, tree kangaroos and snakes. However, their main protein comes from the larvae of the Capricorn beetle, also coined the 'sago grub'.
They also eat biscuit-like concoctions called sago, which are made from the pulp of the sago tree. The pulp is turned into flour and then baked or steamed. It is supplemented with green bananas, cucumbers, mushrooms, fruits and berries. Palm leaves and ferns make up their diet as well. The Kombai cook with hot stones.
Short and muscular in appearance, many of the male tribesmen wear a sago thorn pushed through the septum of their nose. They wear leaves or small penis gourds, both as adornment and to protect their genitals. These are worn particularly during feasts, although some groups of the Kombai wear a hornbill head instead of a gourd.
Kombai women wear the bones of the flying fox through their nose and dog-tooth necklaces. They paint their faces with chalk and berries mixed with soot from a fire. Their clothing includes skirts made from woven sago leaves or young palm frond leaves. To make their skirts, the women hold the leaves in their teeth and tear them into thin strips. After powdering their thighs with ash, they use their palms to tightly roll strips of material, which form a growing length of thread. The thread is then looped around their big toe, which anchors the macraméing of the skirts.
Cannibalism is still believed to take place, though rarely, among the Kombai and only ever in the context of kakhua - male witches, who in the Kombai's belief, are responsible for the deaths of many tribal members. Those accused of being witches are said to be killed, baked and eaten in the belief that the practice will free the spirit of the victim killed by the male witch.

Mek Tribe
In World's Lost Tribes: New Adventures of Mark and Olly, explorer Mark Anstice and journalist Ollie Steeds are on an extreme mission to contact and live with the legendary Mek tribe of West Papua whose way of life has barely changed in thousands of years.
On their last adventure Mark and Olly were adopted by the elusive Kombai tribe. Now they are trekking high into the uncharted central highlands, seeking total immersion in a culture with a history of tribal war, sorcery and witchcraft.
The Mek people are an ancient tribe that has survived for thousands of years in one of the most beautiful but hostile environments on Earth and Mark and Olly are the first white expedition to enter the Merengman village, located in a part of the jungle described as "hundreds of miles of dark and screaming".

After gaining their trust, Mark and Olly will live with the tribe for four months, totally immersing themselves in their way of life where they will experience weddings, witch hunts, and axe-wielding chiefs, while traversing deadly bridges, enduring sleepless nights with the tribesmen and eating local delicacies such as tadpole kebabs and frog heads.
In their incredible adventure, Mark and Olly will attempt to gain acceptance into the village with the reward of the Mek's traditional penis gourd, and experience the chance to document the wisdom of the ancestors that will soon be lost.

© Text and image: Discovery Channel (www.yourdiscovery.com/worldslosttribes/)

28 jul 2011

The San of southern Africa

San Trisbesman, ethnikka blog for cultural and traditional ethnic diffusion
Name: San, Sho, Barwa, Kung or Khwe. Generally known as Bushmen. 
Living Area: most areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola
Population: >90.000 
Language: various Khoisan languages 
These people were traditionally hunter-gatherers, part of the Khoisan group and are related to the traditionally pastoral Khoikhoi. Starting in the 1950s, and lasting through the 1990s, they switched to farming as a result of government-mandated modernization programs as well as the increased risks of a hunting and gathering lifestyle in the face of technological development. There is a significant linguistic difference between the northern Bushmen living between Okavango (Botswana) and Etosha (Namibia), extending into southern Angola on the one hand and the southern group in the central Kalahari towards the Molopo, who are the last remnant of the extensive autochthonous San of South Africa.
The Bushmen have provided a wealth of information for the fields of anthropology and genetics, even as their lifestyles change. One broad study of African genetic diversity completed in 2009 found the San people were among the five populations with the highest measured levels of genetic diversity among the 121 distinct African populations sampled.
The terms San, Khwe, Sho, Bushmen and Basarwa have all been used to refer to the hunter-gatherer peoples of southern Africa. Each of these terms has a problematic history, as they have been used by outsiders to refer to them, often with pejorative connotations. The individual groups identify by names such as Ju/'hoansi and !Kung (the punctuation characters representing different click consonants), and most call themselves by the term Bushmen when referring to themselves collectively.
The different San language groups of Namibia met in late 1996 and agreed to allow the general term San to designate them externally. This term was historically applied by their ethnic relatives and historic rivals, the Khoikhoi. This term means outsider in the Nama language, and was derogatory because it distinguished the Bushmen from what the Khoikhoi called themselves, namely, the First People. Western anthropologists adopted San extensively in the 1970s, where it remains preferred in academic circles. The term Bushmen is widely used, but opinions vary on whether it is appropriate because it is sometimes viewed as pejorative.
In South Africa, the term San has become favored in official contexts, and is included in the blazon of the new national coat-of-arms; Bushman is considered derogatory by some groups. Angola does not have an official term for the San, but they are sometimes referred to as Bushmen, Kwankhala, or Bosquímanos (the Portuguese term for Bushmen). In Lesotho they're referred to as Baroa, which is where the Sesotho name for south, Boroa, comes from. Neither Zambia nor Zimbabwe have official terms, although in the latter case the terms Amasili and Batwa are sometimes used. In Botswana, the officially used term is Basarwa, where it is partially acceptable to some Bushmen groups, although Basarwa, a Tswana label derived from Twa, also has negative connotations.

The Bushman kinship system reflects their interdependence as traditionally small mobile foraging bands. The kinship system is also comparable to the eskimo kinship system, with the same set of terms as in Western countries, but also employing a name rule and an age rule. The age rule resolves any confusion arising from kinship terms, as the older of two people always decides what to call the younger. Relatively few names circulate (approximately only 35 names per gender), and each child is named after a grandparent or another relative.
Children have no social duties besides playing, and leisure is very important to Bushmen of all ages. Large amounts of time are spent in conversation, joking, music, and sacred dances. Women have a high status in the San society, are greatly respected, and may be leaders of their own family groups. They make important family and group decisions and claim ownership of water holes and foraging areas. Women are mainly involved in the gathering of food, but may also take part in hunting.
The most important thing in the lives of the San people is water. Droughts can last for many months and waterholes may dry up. When this happens, they use sip wells. To get water this way, a San will scrape a deep hole where the sand is damp. Into this hole will be put a long hollow grass stem. An empty ostrich egg is used to collect the water. Water is sucked into the straw from the sand, into the mouth, and then travels down another straw into the ostrich egg.
Traditionally, the San were an egalitarian society. Although they did have hereditary chiefs, the chiefs' authority was limited. The bushmen instead made decisions among themselves by consensus, with women treated as relatively equal. In addition, the San economy was a gift economy, based on giving each other gifts on a regular basis rather than on trading or purchasing goods and services.

Villages range in sturdiness from nightly rain shelters in the warm spring (when people move constantly in search of budding greens), to formalized rings, wherein people congregate in the dry season around permanent waterholes. Early spring is the hardest season: a hot dry period following the cool, dry winter. Most plants are still dead or dormant, and supplies of autumn nuts are exhausted. Meat is particularly important in the dry months when wildlife can't range far from the receding waters.
Bushmen women gather fruit, berries, tubers, bush onions, and other plant materials for the band's consumption. The eggs of ostriches are gathered, and the empty shells are used as water containers. In addition to plants, insects furnish perhaps ten percent of animal proteins consumed, most often during the dry season. Depending on location, the Bushmen consume 18 to 104 species including grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, moths, butterflies, and termites.
The women's traditional gathering gear is simple and effective: a hide sling, a blanket, a cloak called a kaross to carry foodstuffs, firewood, smaller bags, a digging stick, and perhaps a smaller version of the kaross to carry a baby.

Known for their endurance hunting:
Bushmen men traditionally hunted using poison arrows and spears in laborious, long excursions. Kudu, antelope, deer, dikdik, and buffalo were important game animals. The Bushmen offered thanks to the animal's spirit after it had been killed. The liver was eaten only by men and hunters, because it was thought to contain a poison unsafe for women.
In the 1990s, a portion of the population switched to livestock farming as a result of government-mandated modernization programs, as well as the increased risks of a hunting and gathering lifestyle in the face of technological development.

© Photo and text: Wikipedia

26 jul 2011

Ser quilombola

quilombola women, ethnikka blog for cultural ethnic traditions
Lecture: To be a Quilombola
Speaker: Marta Rodrigues
Date: August 1st 2011, 18:30h
Place: Cultural Center of the City Council, Salvador de Bahia (Brazil)
Webpage: www.ceao.ufba.br
Admission: free of charge
The public hearing titled "Identity and Access Quilombola Public Policy" initiative of the Commission of Reparation of the City Council, chaired by Councilwoman Marta Rodrigues, will discuss the importance of affirming the quilombola identity in the process of defending their constitutional rights and their public policies. The event will be attended by the Secretary Elias Sampaio (SEPROMI), Alexandro Reis, director of the Heritage Protection Department of Afro-Brazilian Palmares Cultural Foundation, Silvany Euclênio, Director of Programs of the Secretariat of Policies for Traditional Communities SEPPIR, Secretary Carlos Brasileiro (SEDES), Secretary Ailton Ferreira (SEMUR), Eduardo Jorge Gomes (SEDIR), José Vivaldo Mendonça, director of the Company for Development and Regional Action (CAR), State Representative Bira Côroa, Valmir dos Santos, from Quilombo State Council of Bahia and journalist and director of the documentary "SER QUILOMBOLA", Jaqueline Barreto, who will present her project for the communities.
The hearing will be initiated by the screening of the documentary "SER QUILOMBOLA." The audiovisual production discusses the main elements that constitute the identity from the quilombola communities of the São Francisco do Paraguaçu and Porteiras, located respectively in the cities of Cachoeira and Entre Rios. Some issues discussed are relationship with the land, kinship ties, racism, traditions that reinvent themselves and self-esteem. "Ser Quilombola " counts with the participation of historians Ubiratan Castro and João José Reis, Lydia Cardel, a sociologist and professor at the Federal University of Bahia, the former representative of the Palmares Cultural Foundation, Luciana Mota, and the sociologist Walter Altino.
The documentary covers the two criteria of Decree 4.887/03 which is under threat in the Supreme Court: territoriality and self-definition. It also represents a right of reply of the São Francisco do Paraguaçu community displayed by the report in Jornal Nacional Rede Globo. The documentary is intended to be used as a political tool that encourages self-esteem and the need of quilombola affirmation of identity as an instrument access to public policies.

About Quilombolas:
A Quilombola is a resident of a Quilombo in Brazil. They are the descendents of slaves who escaped from slave plantations that existed in Brazil until abolition in 1888. The most famous Quilombola was Zumbi and the most famous Quilombo was Palmares.
Many Quilombolas live in poverty.
A quilombo (from the Kimbundu word kilombo) is a Brazilian hinterland settlement founded by people of African origin, Quilombolas, or Maroons. Most of the inhabitants of quilombos (called quilombolas) were escaped slaves and, in some cases, a minority of marginalised Portuguese, Brazilian aboriginals, Jews and Arabs, and/or other non-black, non-slave Brazilians who experienced oppression during colonization. However, the documentation on runaway slave communities typically uses the term mocambo to describe the settlements. "Mocambo" is an Ambundu word that means "hideout", and is typically much smaller than a quilombo. Quilombo was not used until the 1670s and then primarily in more southerly parts of Brazil.
A similar settlement exists in other Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America, and is called a palenque. Its inhabitants are palenqueros who speak various Spanish-African-based creole languages. Quilombos are identified as one of three basic forms of active resistance by slaves. The other two are attempts to seize power and armed insurrections for amelioration. Typically, quilombos are a "pre-19th century phenomenon". The prevalence of the last two increased in the first half of 19th century Brazil, which was undergoing both political transition and increased slave trade at the time.

© Text and image: http://www.ceao.ufba.br 

24 jul 2011

China engraved block printing technique

China engraved block printing technique
The traditional China engraved block printing technique requires the collaboration of half a dozen craftspeople possessed of printing expertise, dexterity and team spirit. The blocks themselves, made from the fine-grained wood of pear or jujube trees, are cut to a thickness of two centimetres and polished with sandpaper to prepare them for engraving. Drafts of the desired images are brushed onto extremely thin paper and scrutinized for errors before they are transferred onto blocks. The inked designs provide a guide for the artisan who cuts the picture or design into the wood, producing raised characters that will eventually apply ink to paper. First, though, the blocks are tested with red and then blue ink and corrections are made to the carving. Finally, when the block is ready to be used, it is covered with ink and pressed by hand onto paper to print the final image. Block engraving may be used to print books in a variety of traditional styles, to create modern books with conventional binding, or to reproduce ancient Chinese books. A number of printing workshops continue this handicraft today thanks to the knowledge and skills of the expert artisans.

© Text: UNESCO, Image: YZYQ

22 jul 2011

'Vaudou' Exhibition

Vaudou Exhibition, ETHNIKKA blog for Traditional Knowledge and Culture
Exhibition: Vaudou (Vodun) 
5 April to 25 September 2011 
Opening times: daily except Monday, from 11 to 20h. Tuesday evenings until 22h. 
Place: Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, 261 Boulevard Raspail, Paris (France
Entrance fee: 8,50 € 
About the exhibition:
A great connoisseur of African art, Jacques Kerchache traveled to Benin in the 1960s where he first discovered Vodun art, the source of Vodun itself. He met its priests, was initiated into its rituals and was struck by the astonishing forms invented by its sculptors.
Jacques made it his mission to elevate Vodun art, to situate it among the greatest of human creations. He was determined not to let humanity’s deepest secrets remain in the dark.
During his visits to the Gulf of Benin, Jacques built up an unprecedented collection—a secret passion that consumed him all his life. The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is now unveiling this collection in accordance with the wishes expressed by Jacques before he passed away ten years ago, and as a token of the strong friendship that developed over the years.
Enzo Mari produced the scenography with a masterful hand. Yuji Ono photographed the sculptures.

Vodun is not a coherent and unified whole. It is associated with a large number of societies from Dahomey, southwestern Zaire and western Nigeria, whose liturgies continue to thrive in the Caribbean (Brazil, Haiti, Jamaica) as a result of the massive slave trade that went on for over two centuries.
The practice of Vodun has always been confined to an intellectual elite. Its objects or fetishes can only act once they have been rendered sacred. They are the material signs of divine affirmation and their longevity depends on their use.
Vodun” resonates with a sense of magic and this magic must remain intact. It is not our intention to indulge in exotic clichés or to unveil any mysteries, but rather to consider, for the first time ever, the purely aesthetic aspect of this art.
Artists have played a key role in all cultures from prehistoric times to the present day. And, in particular, in societies without writing, artists are a support for the spoken word, the very identity of a people, respecting their prohibitions so as to better circumvent them, always finding new ways to enhance the expressiveness of their works without destroying that element of esotericism that gives them their beauty. Artists are the people who ask original questions with regard to an object, no matter what its use (contemplative or active), the people for whom it is not so much the subject that is important as the way in which it will be handled. In all times and all places, artists have always been the great magicians.
Malraux wrote: “The 21st century will be religious or it will not be.” This does not mean that it will be under religious domination, but that it will be endowed with spiritual power, and the act of creation is overwhelmingly invested with such power. Even though it may represent an ideology, art is nevertheless an opening, a demonstration par excellence of freedom. Global, universal, timeless, art is made available to all human beings, to all those who are able to understand it.
To speak about Vodun art is thus, above all, to reflect on the status, the identity of the artist.
Picasso never knew the art of Vodun and yet there are astonishing affinities between his artwork and the works of these committed artists, works that are provocative on an aesthetic as well as a magical level. The contemporary artists that have come into contact with such art have quite naturally been fascinated by the extraordinary questions they raise. Vodun art contains all of these things at once: a constant connection between the aesthetic and the sacred, the perfect creation of a sort of three-dimensional ideogram taken to its extreme, an art of subversion in which everything signifies, a process that is surprisingly modern and highly inventive, an experimentation in form, as well as a stab at humor on an aesthetic level.
Jacques Kerchache, undated
Excerpted from the catalog Vodun: African Voodoo,Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2011

Born in 1942 in Rouen, France
Died in 2001 in Cancún, Mexico
A self-taught galerist and connoisseur known for his exacting eye and profound knowledge of the Primitive Arts, Jacques Kerchache was during his life one of the most passionate and vanguard figures of the French art world. Born in 1942 in Rouen, he had precocious beginnings, opening his first gallery in 1960. From 1959 to 1980 he travelled frequently to Africa, Asia, America and Oceania, venturing in regions few other dealers dared to explore in search of exceptional works of art. It was during his first trip to Benin that he became fascinated by Vodun sculpture. This passion led him to bring together what would become one of the most significant existing collections devoted to African Vodun.
Jacques Kerchache would frequently be called upon to serve as an advisor or curator, working on such groundbreaking exhibitions as the New York MoMA’sPrimitivism in Twentieth Century Art (1984), which explored the influence of Primitive art on the work of 20th century artists, or the Musée du Petit Palais "L’Art des sculpteurs Taïnos" (1994), which presented for the first time to a large public pre-Columbian art from the Caribbean islands. He is also one of the main authors of the seminal work, Art of Africa published in 1993 by Harry N. Abrams. Throughout his career, Jacques Kerchache strongly encouraged French museums to move beyond what was a primarily ethnographic approach to the Primitive Arts in order to consider them for their universal aesthetic value. In 1990 he launched a manifesto entitled “The masterpieces of the World are Born Free and Equal,” promoting with great conviction the entry of Primitive Arts into the collections of the Louvre. It was thus under his initiative that the Pavillon des Sessions—devoted to the arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas—was created at the Louvre in 2000. He also promoted the creation of the Quai Branly Museum, which opened its doors following his death in 2006. His wife has since donated many works of their collection to the museum.
The interests of Jacques Kerchache were not limited to the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. His universalist approach to art and aesthetics also led him to support the work of contemporary artists as well, developing close friendships with Sam Szafran, Paul Rebeyrolle and Georg Baselitz. The same open-minded, avant-garde spirit also led Jacques Kerchache to work with the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain on many occasions, contributing as an advisor to the thematic exhibitions À visage découvert (1992) and être nature (1998) and as an author for the exhibition catalog of the contemporary Haitian artist Patrick Vilaire, Réflexion sur la mort (1997).
Jacques Kerchache received two of France’s highest decorations, the Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite and the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.

© Text and image: Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain

20 jul 2011

Tankil tusk armband from the Philippines

Tankil boar tusks armband from Philippines
Name: Tankil armband 
Origin: Luzón Island, Philippines (Kankanay ethnic group) 
Museum: Museo Nacional de Antropología, Madrid (Spain) 
Material: wood, hair, boar’s tusks, bamboo
Dimensions: height=13 cm, diameter=10 cm
Reference code:  CE1285
Age: 19th century
Boar's tusk bracelet used by men in the ceremonies of cutting heads, decorated with tufts of hair cut from a severed head. It was a traditional Filipino personal adornment common to various ethnic groups within the islands, worn as a symbol of status and social prestige.
Cutting heads was one of the most significant hallmarks of the groups in the Cordillera of Luzón (Philippines), whose importance in the past is reflected in their mythology. It was an essential part of religious ceremonies, but most importantly, it was the way to obtain power and prestige within the community, as well as to avenge the insults suffered by any member of it. The continuation of this practice was due to the belief that a human head was the most valuable gift that could be done to the ancestors, as this would ensure a bountiful harvest and fertility of domestic animals.
The heads were taken from the enemies, and were placed in posts in the center of the villages where a ceremony was held with special dances. Boar tusks bracelets, called tankil were used only by men in these ceremonies.

© Photos and text: Museo Nacional de Antropología, Madrid (Spain)

18 jul 2011

Fijian Kokoda

Cooking" raw fish by marinating it in lemon juice is a technique used by people in many lands). Different Pacific Islands have different styles, but they all generally involve sharp citrus juice, coconut cream, and chunks of a white-fleshed fish.

  • 500g white fish fillets (walu - Scomberomorus commerson, kawakawa - rockcod, or mahimahi - Coryphaena hippurus)
  • 3 large limes (or lemons)
  • 1 cup fresh coconut cream
  • 1 large onion, minced or chopped fine
  • 1 potent chilli (or teaspoon Tabasco)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large capsicum (green pepper), diced
  • pinch salt
How to prepare it:
Cut fish into bite-sized pieces. Marinate overnight in juice of limes and salt.
Remove from fridge and remove excess liquids, you don't have to drain it dry.
Add coconut cream, chopped onion and chilli just before serving.
Decorate with tomato and capsicum.
Serve in a large bowl, or as individual servings on a bed of lettuce in a coconut half-shell (bilo).
Note: if you refrigerate the kokoda for too long after combining the ingredients, the coconut cream will solidify.

© Text and image: www.grouprecipes.com

16 jul 2011

Secrets of the Tribe TV series

Title: Secrets of the Tribe 
Year: 2010 
Running time: 60 minutes   
Country: USA 
Plot summary:
Explorer Mark Anstice and language and religion expert Ben Protheroe travel to Benin, West Africa to immerse themselves in the culture of local tribes. In each episode, they experience a different tradition.

Episode 1: Initiation. Hosts Mark and Ben travel to the West African country of Benin, where a local tribe teaches them about the voodoo rituals they practice and also invites them to stay and participate in a special mass circumcision ceremony.

Episode 2: Scarred. Explorer Mark Anstice and World Religions expert Ben Protheroe travel to the Somba tribe in Benin in West Africa to try to witness their ceremony of infant scarification.

14 jul 2011

The Huichol of Mexico

Name: Huichol
Living Area: Sierra Madre Occidental in Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas and Durango states (Mexico)
Population: 26.000
Language: Wixárika
The Huichol or Wixáritari are an indigenous ethnic group of western central Mexico, living in the Sierra Madre Occidental range in the Mexican states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Durango. They are best known to the larger world as the Huichol, however, they refer to themselves as Wixáritari ("the people") in their native Huichol language. The adjectival form of Wixáritari and name for their own language is Wixárika.
The three main Huichol communities belong to the municipality of Mezquitic, Jalisco and are called San Sebastián Teponohuastlan (Wautüa in Huichol), Santa María Cuexcomatitlán (Tuapuri in Huichol) and San Andrés Cohamiata (Tatei Kié in Huichol).
The most commonly accepted theory regarding the origin of Wixárika is that they come from the region of San Luis Potosí and that before their migration to the Bolaños Canyon region, they considered themselves part of the Guachichil ethnic group. Central to the traditional religion of the Wixárika is the gathering of hikuri (or peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus) in the place that they call Wirikuta, that is located in the region of Real de Catorce in the state of Potosí San Luis. Hikuri does not grow in the region of Wixárika, but it is abundant in San Luis Potosí, territory that was at the center of the dominion of the Guachichiles before the arrival of the Spaniards.
The Wixárika arrived in the Bolaños Canyon region looking for refuge and settled among the Tepecano settlements that already existed there. It is likely that there was mixing among the ethnic groups, as is evidenced by the many traditions, rituals (as the one of the use of chimales, or woods of oration, and the use of peyote in their ceremonies) shared among the groups. It is clear that the two ethnic groups would unite under a single leader to defend themselves from Spanish incursions and to mount rebellions against the Spanish colonial government. There is historical evidence of a rebellion mounted jointly by the two ethnic groups in El Teúl in 1592 and another one in Nostic in 1702.
The Wixaritari are relatively well-known among anthropologists for their long tradition of rejecting Catholic influences over their cultures and practices. Indeed, Wixaritari, along with the Lacandons and other ethnic minorities in the country, have fought for their religious and cultural freedom since the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. These ethnic minorities are often portrayed as non-existent or as extremely marginal due to the stereotype of indigenous people in Mexico as fervent Roman Catholics.

Known for their: use of peyote (Hikuri)
Like many indigenous American groups, Huichols have traditionally used the peyote (Lophophora williamsii or hikuri) cactus in religious rituals. Huichol practices seem to reflect pre-Columbian practices particularly accurately. These rituals involve singing, weeping, and contact with ancestor spirits. "It is Wirikuta, where the Huichol go each year to collect peyote." "Before reaching Wirikuta, their final destination, they pass by the sacred springs of Tatéi Matiniéri ("Where Our Mother Lives"), the house of the eastern rain goddess. They cross steppes. The first one is the Cloud Gate; the second, Where the Clouds Open."
Huichols have traditionally believed that in rituals they interact with the primal ancestor spirits of fire, deer, and other elements of the natural world. "A newborn, separated from its umbilical cord, will still have ... the agave plant where the cord was buried. When children grow up they need to obtain cuttings from their protector so that they can bury their children's umbilical cords under them". The Huichol keep the souls of ancestors who have returned to the world in the shape of rock crystals."
Their religion consists of four principal deities, the trinity of Corn, Blue Deer and Peyote, and the eagle, all descended from their Sun God, "Tao Jreeku". Most Huichols retain the traditional beliefs and are resistant to change.

© Text and image: Wikipedia

12 jul 2011

Aleutian Bentwood Hats

Lecture: Aleutian Bentwood Hats
Speaker: Patty Lekanoff-Gregory
Date: Thursday, 7th July 2011, 12 pm
Place: Anchorage Museum, 625 C Street, Anchorage, Alaska (USA)
Webpage: www.anchoragemuseum.org
Admission: $12
Artist Patty Lekanoff-Gregory explains how to make Unangax (Aleut) bentwood hats and their importance in traditional Aleutian Island culture. Included with admission

About the Patty Lekanoff-Gregory:
O. Patricia Lekanoff-Gregory owns A.L.E.U.T. Tours, operating in Unalaska. She is an expert at making traditional Unangam bentwood visors and hats, and mentors at Camp Qungaayux^, a culture camp sponsored by the Qawalangin Tribe, Unalaska City School, the Ounalashka Corporation and the Alaska Systemic Rural Initiative. Patty has served on the Qawalangin Tribal Council (1994 to 2002), the City of Unalaska Parks, Culture and Recreation Advisory Board (1985 to present), the Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Association, Inc. (1997 to present), the Unalaska Historic Preservation Commission (1994 to present) and has worked with the Aleut International Association with the Aleuts from Bering Island in Russia. She has also served previously on the Unalaska Visitors' Alliance, the Unalaska/Port of Dutch Harbor Convention and Visitors' Bureau, Unalaska Senior Citizens, and the Unalaska Aleut Development Corporation.

© Text and image: Anchorage Museum

10 jul 2011

The art of Chinese seal engraving

Chinese seal engraving, ETHNIKKA blog for cultural diversity
The art of seal engraving is a cornerstone of Chinese fine arts. The seal was originally used as a signature or sign of authority, but it came to be used by all social classes and in much of Asia. The Seal Engravers’ Society of Xiling in Zhejiang Province, central China, which was founded a century ago, preserves the art of seal engraving along with approximately a hundred other specialized institutions. The design is first sketched on paper, and then engraved on stone, in reverse, with a knife. In addition to mastery of traditional calligraphy, the art of engraving requires a high degree of virtuosity, since the artist works on a tiny surface area where every curve, every thickness of line counts. The very diverse motifs are the fruit of the artist’s imagination and culture. As an instrument of calligraphy and painting, the seal is a work of art in itself. It expresses an entire culture’s ideas about humankind and nature. Today, seals continue to be used in official documents and private correspondence. Even though those understanding the complex characters are ever fewer, the art of seal engraving is still practised by both professionals and amateurs.

© Text: UNESCO, Image: Luo PengPeng

8 jul 2011

Art of the American Indians Exhibition

Art of the American Indians - ETHNIKKA blog for cultural knowledge
Exhibition: Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection
24 April to 4 September 2011 
Opening times: Tuesday and Wednesday: 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. 
Thursday: 11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Friday*, Saturday, and Sunday: 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Closed Mondays
Place: Chilton Gallery, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas (USA)
Entrance fee: $10
 About the exhibition:
In the Dallas Museum of Art’s first Native American exhibition in nearly twenty years, 111 works of art from the renowned Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, will be on view beginning in April 2011 in the Museum’s Chilton Gallery I. Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection explores the extraordinarily diverse forms of visual expression in Native North America. Organized by geographic culture areas, the works of art in this exhibition date from well before first European contact to the present, and celebrate the continuing vitality of American Indian art.
This four-venue national exhibition reveals the exceptional variety of Native artistic production, ranging from the ancient ivories and ingenious modern masks of the Arctic to the dramatic sculptural arts of the Pacific Northwest, the millennia-long tradition of abstract art in the Southwest, the refined basketry of California and the Great Basin, the famous beaded and painted works of the Plains, and the luminous styles of the Eastern Woodlands, including the Great Lakes.
Organized by the Fenimore Art Museum, Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection opened at the Cleveland Museum of Art in March 2010. Carol Robbins, The Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Curator of the Arts of the Americas and the Pacific, is the curator of the Dallas presentation. Other venues on the national tour include the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota (October 24, 2010–January 9, 2011) and, after Dallas, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana (December 4, 2011–February 12, 2012). A 120-page full-color catalogue will accompany the exhibition, which has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.

© Text and image: Dallas Museum of Art

6 jul 2011

Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski

Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski (1884 - 1942) 
Born in 1884 in Kraków, Poland, to an upper-middle-class family, Malinowski had always a frail complexion and suffered from ill health. However, he excelled academically and received a doctorate in philosophy focusing on mathematics and physics. While recuperating from one of his illnesses, he read James Frazer's The Golden Bough. This book turned his interest to ethnology, which he pursued at the University of Leipzig. In 1910 he went to England, studying at the London School of Economics under C. G. Seligman and Edvard Westermarck.
In 1914 he traveled to Papua (in what would later become Papua New Guinea), where he conducted fieldwork at Mailu Island and then, more famously, in the Trobriand Islands. On his most famous trip to the area, he became stranded owing to the outbreak of World War I. Malinowski was not allowed to return to Europe from the British-controlled region because he was a Pole from Austria-Hungary. Australian authorities gave him two options: to be exiled to the Trobriand islands, or to face internment for the duration of the war. Malinowski chose the Trobriand islands. It was during this period that he conducted his fieldwork on the Kula ring and advanced the practice of participant observation, which remains the hallmark of ethnographic research today.
By 1922 Malinowski had earned a doctorate of science in anthropology and was teaching at the London School of Economics. That year his book Argonauts of the Western Pacific was published. It was widely regarded as a masterpiece, and Malinowski became one of the best-known anthropologists in the world. For the next two decades, he would establish the London School of Economics as one of Britain's greatest centers of anthropology. He became a British citizen in 1931.
Malinowski taught intermittently in the United States. When World War II broke out during one of his American visits, he stayed there. He took up a position at Yale University, where he remained until his death. In 1942 he cofounded the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America.
Malinowski died on 16 May 1942, just after his 58th birthday, of a heart attack while preparing to conduct summer fieldwork in Oaxaca, Mexico. He was interred at Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut.

His ideas
Malinowski is renowned as one of anthropology's most skilled ethnographers. He is often referred to as the first researcher to bring anthropology "off the verandah", that is, experiencing the everyday life of his subjects along with them. Malinowski emphasised the importance of detailed participant observation and argued that anthropologists must have daily contact with their informants if they are to adequately record the "imponderabilia of everyday life" that are so important to understanding a different culture.
He stated that the goal of the anthropologist, or ethnographer, is "to grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world" (Argonauts of the Western Pacific, Dutton 1961 edition, p. 25.)
However, in reference to the Kula ring, Malinowski also stated, in the same edition, pp. 83–84:
Yet it must be remembered that what appears to us an extensive, complicated, and yet well ordered institution is the outcome of so many doings and pursuits, carried on by savages, who have no laws or aims or charters definitely laid down. They have no knowledge of the total outline of any of their social structure. They know their own motives, know the purpose of individual actions and the rules which apply to them, but how, out of these, the whole collective institution shapes, this is beyond their mental range. Not even the most intelligent native has any clear idea of the Kula as a big, organised social construction, still less of its sociological function and implications....The integration of all the details observed, the achievement of a sociological synthesis of all the various, relevant symptoms, is the task of the Ethnographer...the Ethnographer has to construct the picture of the big institution, very much as the physicist constructs his theory from the experimental data, which always have been within reach of everybody, but needed a consistent interpretation.
In these two passages, Malinowski anticipated the distinction between description and analysis, and between the views of actors and analysts. This distinction continues to inform anthropological method and theory.
His study of the Kula ring was also vital to the development of an anthropological theory of reciprocity, and his material from the Trobriands was extensively discussed in Marcel Mauss's seminal essay The Gift.
Malinowski originated the school of social anthropology known as functionalism. In contrast to Radcliffe-Brown's structural functionalism, Malinowski argued that culture functioned to meet the needs of individuals rather than society as a whole. He reasoned that when the needs of individuals, who comprise society, are met, then the needs of society are met. To Malinowski, the feelings of people and their motives were crucial knowledge to understand the way their society functioned:
Besides the firm outline of tribal constitution and crystallised cultural items which form the skeleton, besides the data of daily life and ordinary behaviour, which are, so to speak, its flesh and blood, there is still to be recorded the spirit—the natives' views and opinions and utterances. — Argonauts, p. 22.
Apart from fieldwork, Malinowski also challenged common western views such as Freud's Oedipus complex and their claim for universality. He initiated a cross-cultural approach in Sex and Repression in Savage Society (1927) where he demonstrated that specific psychological complexes are not universal.
Malinowski likewise influenced the course of African history, serving as an academic mentor to Jomo Kenyatta, the father and first president of modern-day Kenya. Malinowski also wrote the introduction to Facing Mount Kenya, Kenyatta's ethnographic study of the Gikuyu tribe.

Read Argonauts of the Western Pacific at: http://www.archive.org/details/argonautsofthewe032976mbp

© Text and photo: Wikipedia

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