The Gold Smoke of Epidemics – oru a wakëxi – the shamans’ and the xapiri’s efforts to destroy it remain in vain …

Yanomami shaman invoking the spirit of the Anaconda – Barbara Crane Navarro – illustration for the children’s fantasy/adventure book “Amazon Rainforest Magic: The adventures of Namowë, a Yanomami boy” (Volume 1)

“The gold prospectors became very many in our forest highlands, destroying the river’s headwaters and killing their inhabitants with their diseases. The gold miners are earth-eaters, evil beings! Their thought is empty and they are full of epidemic smoke! We must prevent them soiling our rivers and chase them out of the forest.

All the most valiant xapiri spirits come down to fight the xawara epidemic and gather in an innumerable troop to confront it. When it really becomes too dangerous and they must save their people from death, our shaman elders even make the epidemic’s own image dance … once it becomes a xapiri spirit, it bravely fights the white people’s dangerous metal smoke… This is how our great shamans sometimes succeeded in driving this fierce disease away and curing its victims in the past. Yet most often the xawara epidemic proves tougher to fight…and the xapiri’s efforts to destroy it remain in vain. Very high in the sky, its smoke becomes far too aggressive and powerful.

The xawara epidemic is very hard to fight because it is the trace of other people. It does not come from our forest. Its evil xawarari beings are more numerous than the gold miners and even than all the white people.”

Davi Kopenawa

About Barbara Crane Navarro - Rainforest Art Project

I'm a French artist living near Paris. From 1968 to 1973 I studied at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, then at the San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco, California, for my BFA. My work for many decades has been informed and inspired by time spent with indigenous communities. Various study trips devoted to the exploration of techniques and natural pigments took me originally to the Dogon of Mali, West Africa, and subsequently to Yanomami communities in Venezuela and Brazil. Over many years, during the winters, I studied the techniques of traditional Bogolan painting. Hand woven fabric is dyed with boiled bark from the Wolo tree or crushed leaves from other trees, then painted with mud from the Niger river which oxidizes in contact with the dye. Through the Dogon and the Yanomami, my interest in the multiplicity of techniques and supports for aesthetic expression influenced my artistic practice. The voyages to the Amazon Rainforest have informed several series of paintings created while living among the Yanomami. The support used is roughly woven canvas prepared with acrylic medium then textured with a mixture of sand from the river bank and lava. This supple canvas is then rolled and transported on expeditions into the forest. They are then painted using a mixture of acrylic colors and Achiote and Genipap, the vegetal pigments used by the Yanomami for their ritual body paintings and on practical and shamanic implements. My concern for the ongoing devastation of the Amazon Rainforest has inspired my films and installation projects. Since 2005, I've created a perfomance and film project - Fire Sculpture - to bring urgent attention to Rainforest issues. To protest against the continuing destruction, I've publicly set fire to my totemic sculptures. These burning sculptures symbolize the degradation of nature and the annihilation of indigenous cultures that depend on the forest for their survival.
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2 Responses to The Gold Smoke of Epidemics – oru a wakëxi – the shamans’ and the xapiri’s efforts to destroy it remain in vain …

  1. Pingback: The Gold Smoke of Epidemics – oru a wakëxi — Barbara Crane Navarro | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

  2. Pingback: The Gold Smoke of Epidemics – oru a wakëxi — Barbara Crane Navarro – Tiny Life

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