How do we envisage where we have come from and where we are going? Ethnology enables us to explore the deep and subtle relationships of the past to the present, and the present to the past.
In this issue, art historian Chisato “Kitty” Dubrueil shows how the dynamism of present-day Ainu art can be traced back to Japan’s ancient Jomon culture; contemporary Chinese writer Su Tong chronicles the fallout when a dominant culture’s anthropologists and folklorists research the rural lifestyle it has superceded; Japanese photographer Yagi Kiyoshi painstakingly documents village life among the Alaskan Eskimo and Aleut islanders, and pioneer ethnologist Miyamoto Tsuneichi discovers the significance of Tsushima’s folk-songs.
Through a similar lens, Keith Harmon Snow observes the Dalai Lama breathing new life into the ancient Kalachakra ritual. Rasoul Sorkhabi investigates the enlkightened brain, Benjamin Freeland ponders the 1935 suppression of the Omoto-kyo cult as evidence of a modern democracy’s transmutation into fascism, and “tolerant dissenter” Tsurumi Shunsuke , at 83, reminisces about being interned in the USA in 1942 as a self-confessed anarchist. documents the unwelcome legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam, and Zakiyah Munir Lily appraises “liberal” Islam in Indonesia from a progressive perspective. John Hanagan interweaves the tragic narratives of Hiroshima and Wounded Knee, and Beverly Effinger finds Paradise in Kanazawa.
Cover Image: Two-headed figurine, Seniste-Nipopo, courtesy Ken Wada
The arts and spirituality, for many artists, are one and the same, the core of any culture. For indigenous people, the arts are more than personal expressions of freedom, they help us to stay in touch with the traditional inner self. The arts are the songs of our soul.
While Native women are credited for the creation of traditional works of art, little credit is given to those women artists who are also cultural leaders. Of course, we who identify with an Aboriginal culture know it is the women who are at the center of our universe.
At the Pine Ridge reservation heavy men sat on broken porches. Their opaque eyes formed a wall we were afraid to breach. We drove through without stopping, and thirty miles east swung north on a narrow road to a large, decrepit sign telling the story of the “Massacre.”
When one woman had sung and had grown short of breath, the next would begin. Many of the songs were from the kabuki stage and there was always dancing with the hands. Moving their hips, standing on their knees, although they danced only with their upper bodies, they radiated beauty from deep within. I was unable to see them only as old farming women.
By flinging hard beans in the face of hovering misfortune, we and our descendants are showing the night our strength, shouting out to the darkness without as well as within (both home and self) that we care about the entities that reside here, that we are responsible for and will defend this place, for this household and its members are shared in our charge.
At the winter solstice, the ghost-casting ceremony was re-enacted at Eightpines. Some of the participants were old people who had come spontaneously, and through the help of the village council, the folklorist had managed to assemble even more of the local people. The folklorist wanted the ceremony to be as realistic as possible, and said that the best thing would have been to go back in time sixty years.
“Amaravathi is the place where the Buddha Shakyamuni turned the wheel of dharma when he gave the first Kalachakra teaching 2500 years ago,” Jingme said. “That makes this teaching more important. People also say it is the last Kalachakra in India — we are praying that the Kalachakra will take place in Tibet in the future.”
Although Buddhism believes there is “no self” (anatman ) in the sense that grasping to a concrete ego in our life is merely a delusion, it does maintain a continuum mind (chitta ) or fundamental consciousness existing before and after our bodily life. The nature of this mind, as the Dalai Lama has discussed in his works, is “clear light” and “knowing.”
In the emptiness of existence, I pick things up and put them down — gathering objects of desire, discarding what is unwanted, aware sometimes that what I’m really touching are dreams.
Islamic equality is meant not just in the mosque, but in the economic, social and political realms as well, which means a burning concern for the rights of all of God’s creatures, men and women, Muslims and non-Muslims.
Now, even in the post-Marxist 21st century, governments still use the concept “God” to control those with different viewpoints, branding those views as “wrong” — as if the position of those in power were absolute justice. I have never believed in such a thing as absolute justice. There must be tolerance for different points of view.
By early-1935 widespread suspicion of O-moto’s collusion with anti-government forces had led to intense police scrutiny of the sect, and while concrete evidence of involvement in terrorist activity could not be found, the police concluded that there were legitimate grounds for suppression of the sect for violation of the Peace Preservation Law, which forbade any attempt at “altering the national polity or form of government.”
Between 1962 and 1971, under the code name Operation Ranch Hand, US forces sprayed about 80 million litres of herbicides over the Vietnamese jungle. Some areas in South and Central Vietnam were so heavily defoliated that what was once triple-canopy jungle is now barely more than grass and shrubs.
Sri Lanka’s indigenous Wanniya-laeto (People of the Forest), are also known as the Veddha. Archaeological evidence suggests their Neolithic ancestors inhabited this island 10,000 years ago or more.
Organized annually by the Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Guild, this all-age attraction, which draws a total of 14 million book fans, can only be described as colossal. Over 600 international and national publishers are set up in a maze of temporary stalls and no less than 200 “little magazine” presses take part — the fair is so vast that you can simply never see everything.
The Peace Constitution of Japan, DVD, dir. John Junkerman — Benjamin Freeland
Kuhaku & Other Accounts from Japan, ed. Bruce Rutledge — Ellis Avery
From the Playground of the Gods: the Life & Art of Bikky Sunazawa, by Chisato O. Dubreuil — Rebecca Dosch-Brown
Race, Resistence, and the Ainu of Japan, by Richard Siddle — Rebecca Dosch-Brown
Native American in the Land of the Shogun: Ranald MacDonald and the Opening of Japan, by Frederick L. Schodt — Trevor Carolan
Mudang: Reconciliation Between the Living and the Dead, dir. Park Ki-bok — Adam Hartznell
Kamishibai Man, by Allen Say — Holly Thompson
Inspired Shapes, by Koyama Ori — John Einarsen
The Dalai Lamas: A Visual History, ed Martin Brauen — Rasoul Sorkhabi
Wrong About Japan: A Father’s Journey with his Son , by Peter Carey — Ken Rodgers