By Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff
In Amazonian Cosmos, a different and engaging contribution to South American ethnography, Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff investigates the area view of an remoted Indian tribe, the Desana, of the Northwest Amazon. the writer labored with a unmarried informant over a protracted interval, and later checked his findings widely within the box. The acculturated local informant expressed his principles of guy and the Universe in phrases that transcend the slim limits of a really good ethnological paintings and that display an interrelated approach of symptoms and emblems of a lot wider curiosity. through the use of mythology and local languages as keys to an figuring out of social habit, the writer has reached a degree of inquiry and a intensity of notion hardly accomplished in a research of primitive rain woodland Indians, these remnants of as soon as strong tribes that now are quickly disappearing.
Claude Lévi-Strauss writes of Amazonian Cosmos: “I have tested your publication with passionate curiosity and i'm surprised on the riches of that universe that you disclose to us in it. South American ethnography is not really an identical back, for you may have introduced it right into a new period ... it truly is very unlikely to specific sufficient appreciation for the bright demonstration you could have given us of hitherto unsuspected probabilities for research in depth.”
Amazonian Cosmos is the author’s personal translation of Desana, released in Spanish in 1969.
GERARDO REICHEL-DOLMATOFF is examine fellow on the Universidad de los Andes, and member of the Instituto Colombiano de Antropología in Bogotá. he's the writer of 8 books, together with “Colombia”: historic Peoples and locations and the folks of Aritama, and has additionally released various articles on Colombian ethnology and archaeology.
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Extra resources for Amazonian Cosmos: The Sexual and Religious Symbolism of the Tukano Indians
We push our way on between large barges laden with fresh water from Fusina, in round white tubs seven feet across, and complicated boats full of all manner of nets that look as if they could never be disentangled, hanging from their masts and over their sides; and presently pass under a bridge with the lion of St. Mark on its archivolt, and another on a pillar at the end of the parapet, a small red lion with much of the puppy in his face, looking vacantly up into the air (in passing we may note that, instead of feathers, his wings are covered with hair, and in several other points the manner of his sculpture is not uninteresting).
Miniato at Florence, are all like sepulchral caverns compared with Torcello, where the slightest details of the sculptures and mosaics are visible, even when twilight is deepening. And there is something especially touching in our finding the sunshine thus freely admitted into a church built by men in sorrow. They did not need the darkness; they could not perhaps bear it. There was fear and depression upon them enough, without a material gloom. They sought for comfort in their religion, for tangible hopes and promises, not for threatenings or mysteries; and though the subjects chosen for the mosaics on the walls are of the most solemn character, there are no artificial shadows cast upon them, nor dark colors used in them: all is fair and bright, and intended evidently to be regarded in hopefulness, and not with terror.
P. 95. In other respects Mr. Hope has done justice to this building, and to the style of the early Christian churches in general . round the shaft, which, knotting itself into a triple chain, shows at one side of the shaft its tail and head, as if perpetually gliding round it beneath the stalks of the vines. The vine, as is well known, was one of the early symbols of Christ, and the serpent is here typical either of the eternity of his dominion, or of the Satanic power subdued. ŧ vi. Nor even when the builder confines himself to the acanthus leaf (or to that representation of it, hereafter to be more particularly examined, constant in Romanesque work) can his imagination allow him to rest content with its accustomed position.