Monday, September 18, 2017

Kayamba :: Around The World From 80 Countries

The Around the World exhibition at the Benton County Historical Museum contains two musical instruments from Africa:  a talking drum from Nigeria, and an adeudeu string instrument from Uganda. The museum's Horner Collection also contains another instrument found in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and other places in East Africa-- the kayamba. Two rafts of reeds or grass stems lashed together with cord are separated by slats of wood.  The space between is filled with seeds or pebbles.  The musician holds kayamba with the rafts parallel to the ground and slides it back and forth, causing the seeds to rattle.  Many also beat their thumbs on the flat side to create an additional rhythm. Depending on the area, the kayamba was used to accompany a dance to drive out a witch, cure illness, as part of a girl's initiation ceremony. In Mozambique, where this one is from, women use kayambas to amuse babies. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Buddhist Objects :: Around The World From 80 Countries

Zen Buddhist monasteries in Japan, use fish drums (mokugyo) to keep time while chanting religious texts. The sound also helps keep meditators alert, so has been called “the wakeful drum.”  The fish is a symbol of wakefulness as fish never close their eyes, even when sleeping.  A slow beating of the drums also accompanies funeral processions.

The drum is hollow and has a handle on top which is carved to resemble fins. Fish scales are hand-carved on the body.  An inscription painted on it reads, “Donated by Oono Hisakazu as an offering of thanks for granting my wish.”  It is common in Buddhism for lay petitioners to ask deities for help or a boon during times of need.  If the requested outcome occurs, then it is customary to proffer thanks by making a gift to a local monastery.
In Korea, the Buddhist monasteries use copper or brass cymbals to mark time and expel evil spirits.  The two cymbals are tied together by means of an “auspicious knot.”

 By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Korean Pouches :: Around The World From 80 Countries

My post of August 10 included Ruth Hoy's description of dressing up and visiting Chinese relatives for the New Year. The beginning of the Lunar New Year (January 28 in 2017) is also an important holiday in Korea, celebrated by playing games, flying kites, and riding on seesaws. This three-day holiday is primarily a family time when people travel back to their hometown and visit relatives.  They dress up in traditional Korean clothing. Ordinary clothing was usually white or other muted colors, but holiday clothing, especially that of children, was more colorful. Children participate in a ritual (sebae) with deep bows to elders and wishes for good fortune.  Grandparents and other elders give the young children money while parents usually give rice cakes or fruit.  The children put the gifts in a “lucky pouch” or bokjumeoni.   Children will also write their wishes on a slip of paper and place it inside a pouch.  These small bags or purses are used because traditional Korean garments do not contain pockets. 

Although Koreans were using embroidery as early as 108 CE, it has not been as significant form in Korea as it is in China. Embroidery was used on some garments for leaders and for brides, but mostly on accessories such as these pouches. Pouches for children were often embroidered with good luck characters or symbols.  Brides embroidered longevity symbols on pouches for their mother-in-laws. Today, the designs are often printed.
By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon