From email@example.com Sat Mar 25 06:10:51 2000
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 23:45:26 -0600 (CST)
From: IGC News Desk <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: VENEZUELA: Cyberspace Showcase of Native Cultures
CARACAS, Mar (IPS) - Twelve indigenous groups living in the depths of the Venezuelan Amazon are the protagonists of a 350-item exhibit that allows Internet users to explore the mysteries of these ancestral cultures, whose survival is threatened by the real inroads of the modern world.
Each object tells a part of our ancestral history, states the
web-page presenting the virtual exhibit (www.orinoco.org), an
audacious display of cultures that developed throughout the centuries
in the Venezuelan Amazon.
The objects are part of the Cisneros Foundation collection, which in
the real world organised the
Orinoco-Parima exposition, shown
in Germany and with a tour schedule that includes museums throughout
Europe and the United States, ultimately returning to be shown in
Maracaibo and Caracas.
The world reflected by the real and
virtual components of the
exhibit exists in the upper Orinoco, near the river's source in
the Parima mountains, some 1,040 m above sea level. It is an isolated
and difficult to penetrate region that has captivated explorers and
exploiters alike for the last 500 years.
The web-site explains that the exhibit allows the viewer to know
material culture of great vitality that is rapidly disappearing.
The region is currently home to legal and illegal mining operations,
missionaries of various tendencies and other influences that affect
the survival of indigenous cultures.
The Orinoco River, the third largest river basin in the world, cuts Venezuela in two with a route beginning in the country's southwest, in the middle of the jungle bordering Colombia, and ending in a heavy-flowing delta on the Caribbean in the extreme northeast, near the Guyana border.
Navegation - on the Internet, not the river - permits the global audience greater access to the traditions, customs and myths of a world shaped by its unique geography.
We invite you to discover the existing connections between objects,
the people who made them and the belief systems they reveal, say
the web-site's authors.
Fifteen of the objects are highlighted because they
wealth of the societies represented in the collection. Another 350
pieces are represented by photographs and identifying records in the
site's database, available in Spanish and English.
The Foundation, sponsored by the Cisneros Organisation business group, created the collection after receiving a major endowment from Edgardo Gonzalez Ni¤o, who began collecting objects from the Orinoco cultures in the 1950s when he sought refuge in the jungle, eluding the Marcos Pérez Jimenez dictatorship.
A virtual tour of the exhibition reveals weapons, baskets, fabrics and
numerous objects that make up life in the jungles of the upper
Orinoco, including mortars used to grind bones or the
inhaler, used by the Yanomami peoples.
A glossary of terms helps visitors enter this normally distant world. The 'yopo' is a tree whose seeds are used to prepare a hallucinogenic powder, inhaled by shamans for religious-magical and healing purposes, according to the web-site's explanation.
The glossary also has historical references about the region, such as
an explanation about James Angel -
popularly known as Jimmy Angel,
this soldier-adventurer from North America gave world renown to the
Venezuelan waterfall, today named Angel Falls, which is the highest in
the world at 969 metres.
The site also explains the major traits of the upper Orinoco's 12
indigenous groups and the mythological stories of their appearance on
Earth. Such as the case of the moon, which was attacked by archers
and began to bleed over the Earth, and from these drops of blood
the Yanomami were born.
The fate of Venezuela as a nation lies on the shoulders of our
ancestors, asserted poet Santos Lopez when the web-site was
launched earlier this month alongside a book on the
Lopez stressed that the objects and artistic creations in the
understanding of our native peoples of the
their knowledge, feelings and spirituality
are reflected in them.
The orinoco.org site is complemented by the German exhibit's web-
page, found at www.kah-bonn.de/ausstellungen/orinoko/0e.htm. The
German site affirms that the items on display allow the viewer to
a system of life because they represent
magical and cosmic principles.
The web-page adds that the exhibit attempts to reflect on key issues for the upper Orinoco's different groups: existence, development, food, organisation, celebration, healing and transition.
We are talking about a philosophy of synthesis, explains Santos