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(1,095 words)

Author(s): Drexler, Josef
1. ‘Tattoo,’ from the East Polynesian tatau, to ‘strike correctly,’ denotes a pattern, image, or ornament, scratched, pricked, or struck through the human epidermis. With scar tattooing, used especially with darker skin, the skin is seared or scratched with an instrument (fragment of stone, bamboo or bone knife, razor-blade). Healing is delayed (rubbing in of ashes, clay), in order that a pattern of swelling may emerge. With color or pricking tattooing (used especially with fair skin), dyed material is brought in contact with, and introduced under, the epidermis t…

Central and South America: Time Chart

(2,567 words)

Author(s): Drexler, Josef
Era 1: Precolumbian era (c. 15,000 BCE–1492 CE) around 15,000 BCE Settling of America: hunter-gatherer cultures. Phases: Paleo-Indio, formative, era of the regional developments. Shamanism, hunting rituals (cave paintings). Economic base: hunting (deep rain forest). After the end of the last glacier period (c. 5000 BCE), shallower forest. In the case of the coast dwellers, mussel heaps (Puerto Hormiga, in Colombia). Manioc raising. around 1500 BCE–1600 CE Sacred Kazikism of Colombia (Kalima, Quimbaya, Sinú, Tairona, Muisca) Raising the storable vegetable maize makes pos…


(3,975 words)

Author(s): Drexler, Josef
1. On New Year's Eve, on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, toilet articles for women, champagne, mineral water, white corn pudding, or flowers are placed in the water. It is the festival of the Sea Goddess Yamanjá (see picture), one of the most meaningful feasts in the life of the Afro-Brazilian population. The breakers carry the gifts out to sea, and then the people have assurance that their gifts have been acceptable to the goddess, and that their hope for the granting of their requests is justified.1 Still more ‘exciting,’ however, to the Western observer and the media, are the ri…

South America

(2,929 words)

Author(s): Drexler, Josef
The Holy Mountain of the Zenú 1. Some few years ago, in Colombia, the Zenú undertook their traditional Easter pilgrimage to a cave on Mt. Sierrachiquita, abode of the mythical Kazike, Mohana. The white proprietor of the mountain paralyzed the ‘pagan’ cultic system by having the cave filled. As his punishment—so the Zenú believe—Mohana blinded him. At the same time, a firm from Barranquilla consolidated the mountain, the nature sanctuary, the reservoir for medicinal herbs, and the place for shamanic ri…

Animal I: Hunting Societies

(1,571 words)

Author(s): Drexler, Josef
1. In the way of life maintained in hunting societies, which owe their economic support to the activities of the women who gather wild fruit, roots, and so on, as well as to the male hunt for wild beasts, animals occupy a most important position. Here, hunting is not just a way of securing the wherewithal for nutrition; it is bound up with religious concepts, as well. Despite the unquestionable multiplicity and variety of the religious notions characterizing the hunting cultures, certain general, basic attitudes can be attributed to them. Notions of Human Being and Animal 2. As a western o…