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Disappearing Traditions

  • The Traveling Chinese Opera

    I was lured in by the music, by the singing, the thumping of wooden blocks, the plucking of strings, and the striking of gongs. It was the traveling Chinese opera.

  • Portable Sweet Potato Oven: Another Side of Chinese Craftmanship

    A metal box, some racks, and a chimney = a truly ingenuitive portable sweet potato oven.

  • Old-Fashioned Chinese Pressure Cooker Making Pop Rice

    An old man makes pop rice with an old-fashioned pressure cooker. Tools and devices such as this are fast becoming forgotten relics in a China racing for the future.

  • Giant Clay Chinese Oven Roasting Sweet Potatoes

    Right in the middle of consumer crazed modern China is a little shop roasting sweet potatoes on ancient clay ovens presenting a lens through which to view this country in transition.

  • Traditional Chinese Bed

    Traditional Chinese beds and how they are made.

  • Meerschaum Pipe Carving: Another Art Fading into History

    Cardboard box sat upon cardboard box in stacks that rose up from the floor to nearly the ceiling of a meerschaum pipe workshop in Eskisehir, Turkey. They had been sitting there for what may as well have been ages, the workshop was nearly devoid of artisans, and I was informed sadly that because of the [...]

  • The Meaning of the Cultural Zoo

    There is a value to the cultural zoo, which is essentially what cultural preservation movements aim to create. A cultural zoo is essentially what happens when a tradition or art is reenacted in modern times in a way that is removed from the social sphere in which it was originally created. Exhibits in the cultural zoo [...]

  • Preserving Cultural Traditions is More than Just Arts and Crafts

    11 cultural traditions were just added to the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List. This is a collection of arts and other cultural traditions in danger of going extinct which UNESCO feels should be preserved because of the role, message, or meaning they have for the societies where they are practiced. Added to the list this year was Chinese shadow puppetry, Mexican mariachis, a particular type of poetic duel indigenous to Cyprus, Fado singing in Portugal, Jultagi Korean tight rope walking, Hezhen Yimakan Chinese story telling, Lenj Iranian fishing boat construction, Kaskek ceremonial Turkish stew, Japanese rice rituals, the Jaguar Shamans of Colombia, and Indonesian Saman Dance. Read about these endangered cultural practices and the changing contexts in which they struggle for existance.

  • Maya Dance of the Deer

    The Baile de Venados — the dance of the reindeer — is still performed by the Q’eqchi’ Maya in the eastern jungles of Guatemala for numerous celebrations. I observed this dance in conjunction with festivities connected with the International Day for Indigenous People and the graduation ceremonies of students from the Ak-Tenimit NGO school on [...]

  • Bedouin Tattoos in Jordan

    Tattooing has long been a custom for both Bedouin men and women. Today, the old style can still be seen over the hands and faces of older men and women, and it is very common for young men to still get tattooed with modern designs on their upper and lower arms. The tradition of hand [...]