Cultures Live On Through Indigenous Crafts

Indigenous crafts

Indigenous crafts may ultimately be all that survive of many cultural traditions. As I discussed in my last blog post Can Indigenous Societies Survive?, Indigenous Societies are in peril. In researching the photos to use in this post, I was struck by the amazing beauty in the everyday lives of Indigenous peoples.

I did not see art as we know Art, the kind that hangs in museums that can’t be touched. I saw creativity and extraordinary beauty in things that related to their everyday lives in Indigenous Crafts. Since I did not focus on this in my other blog post, I would remiss not to emphasize it here.

It is apparent from these photos that the people take great pride in their creativity. They may not see art as we do but they clearly express talents that must be preserved. They appreciate and make things of beauty as part of their daily lives; such as a horse with blue eyes and the set up for making their cheese. Their crafts speak to their cultures, to what is important to them and what they treasure in their lives.

I realized this when I saw the picture of a horse’s saddle created by someone from the Mongolian Nomads. These photos are part of a photo essay about the Mongolian Nomads made by Taylor Weidman done for the Global Oneness Project.

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The feature photo at the beginning of this post and the one at the end are from a story by Unnikrishnan Raveendranathan. They demonstrate the craft of basket weaving. It is a lost art that has been revived, in this case by Edward Willie, so that he could teach it to his daughter. He also said, “I teach weaving to others so that I can share the connection to the earth that it gives us.”

Indigenous cultures and their crafts are what connect all of us to the earth. This is why we treasure them even as our technology destroys their way of life. Noam Chomsky said it best in this quote, “It’s pretty ironic that the so-called ‘least advanced’ people are the ones taking the lead in trying to protect all of us, while the richest and most powerful among us are the ones who are trying to drive the society to destruction.”

The irony is that as we destroy the cultures of the Indigenous peoples, we grow to treasure their art. We stick it in museums or buy it at great cost at auction. Somehow that is how we ‘technologically advanced’ peoples know how to appreciate nature’s beauty. We put it in cages, we hang it on walls, we frame it in museums. We bemoan the loss of these Indigenous Societies but only know how to keep them alive through their Indigenous Crafts.

Indigenous crafts
Edward Willie Basket weaving photographed by Unnikrishnan Raveendranathan

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