Another Vancouver gem

African body map

While Vancouver’s mosaic tiles may be semi-precious gems, the Museum of Anthropology on the University of British Columbia campus is a diamond, emerald and ruby all in one.  Just as strolling through the city earlier this week yielded aha’s from our sidewalk mosaic discoveries, walking through the museum’s “Multiversity Galleries” gave us the opportunity to unearth many treasures by simply pulling open the drawers in cabinets found under the displays.

New Guinea orator's stool

Three different exhibits tell the story of exchanges between Native Northwest Coast artists and artists far away.  The Multiversity Galleries contain Northwest Coast masks, totem poles, baskets, sculptures, tools, and weavings; but as part of the museum’s emphasis on cultural sharing, it also displays similar pieces from around the world.  Among thousands of objects, we saw Chinese robes and pottery, a Tibetan mandala, African body maps, and a Japanese kimono.

Just inside the entrance to the museum is a stunning, two-sided carving of the sun and moon, with one heavenly body carved by a local artisan and the other by a New Guinean.  Another exhibit, “Inuit Prints:  Japanese Inspiration,” contains examples of Japanese-style woodblock prints created by Canadian artist James Houston and Inuit lithographs that were inspired by Houston’s work.

Reconciliation ceremony

The last exchange  was more personal than artistic.  Text, photos, and objects told the story of a “reconciliation ceremony on the island of Erromango in the South Pacific Republic of Vanuato.”  In 1817, two English missionaries, mistaken for traders with evil intentions, were murdered on Erromango.  In 2006, one of the missionary’s relatives donated artifacts to the museum that once belonged to the missionary.  This led to a discussion of a possible reconciliation between descendants of both the missionary and his killers, which came about three years later.  The ceremony consisted of presentations, the giving of gifts, a re-enactment of the event, apologies, and the “giving of a child to the missionary’s family.”  (I believe the family members were becoming godparents “responsible for the education and well-being of the child,” and not taking her home as their own, though I can’t be sure.)

This ceremony may be appropriate for all kinds of situations for which people feel remorse, for example, for accidentally taking a life.  It should be performed more often, not just on remote Pacific Islands, but right here at home.  It might also be useful for the U.S. Congress to hold after failing for so long to reach agreement about the debt limit.  The purpose of the ceremony would be to reconcile their bad behavior with the higher expectations of the American public.  Never mind.  I realize that I said the ceremony would be for people who feel remorse.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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1 Response to Another Vancouver gem

  1. Jill Turnell says:

    I’ve enjoyed all of your blogs this week – was especially interested to learn of that reconciliation (sp?) ceremony. You’re right – I’m sure our elected officials think they’ve done a dandy job – acting more like 8-year olds than adults. I get so disgusted I refuse to listen to any more.

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