Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

As with all long journeys, there have been many people along the way who have lent a helping hand. Marc de Civrieux, who first invited me to Venezuela to translate his version of Watunna, not only shared his many years of research with me but also encouraged and aided me in my initial visit to the Yekuana. ...

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1. Introduction: The Syntax of Culture

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pp. 1-4

I went to the Yekuana for the first time in 1976 as part of a grant from the Organization of American States to translate their creation epic known as the Watunna. While this translation was based on a Spanish version prepared over the course of nearly two decades by the French paleontologist Marc de Civrieux (19706, 1980), ...

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2. The People

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pp. 5-20

If it is true that a name reflects an inner essence, then the many used to refer to the Yekuana offer a profile of the varied character of this highland jungle people. The earliest mention of the Yekuana occurs in the report of the Jesuit priest Manuel Roman, who in 1744 journeyed to the upper Orinoco ...

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3. Culture and Ethos: A Play of Forces

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pp. 21-68

The traditional Yekuana settlement, of which there are approximately thirty dotted throughout the upper Orinoco, is a fiercely independent community, resistant to any pan-tribal authority. Each village is a completely self-contained, autonomous unit, with its own chief and shaman. What unites these communities is their shared linguistic and cultural heritage. ...

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4. "All Things Made"

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pp. 69-91

While the Yekuana, like many tribal peoples, have no fixed category corresponding to the Western concept of "art," they do distinguish between objects manufactured within the guidelines of traditional design and those that simply arrive without any cultural transformation or intent. Tidi'uma, from the verb tidi, "to make," ...

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5. Origin and Design

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pp. 92-125

In writing about the nature of origin myths in tribal societies, Mircea Eliade calls attention to what he refers to as an underlying "paradisiac syndrome" (1960:63). He claims that tribal man periodically reenacts these myths in rituals and festivals in order to return (the "eternal return") to the conditions that existed at the time of the Beginning, ...

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6. The Form of Content

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pp. 126-161

The classic distinction between form and content that has come to dominate so much of the discussion of the modern work of art quickly disintegrates as one approaches the creations of those living within the framework of a traditional tribal society. The simple dichotomy between the arrangement of materials ...

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7. To Weave the World

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pp. 162-170

When a Yekuana weaves or uses a basket, the range of meanings evoked is constellated in much more than the choice of design, the preparation of the materials, or the use to which it is put. The configuration of symbols that are elaborated draw their power from not only their own explication ...

A Gallery of Baskets

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pp. 171-222

Notes

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pp. 223-246

Bibliography

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pp. 247-262

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Index

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pp. 263-274