THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, portrays the Aboriginal beliefs in spiritual existence. According to the tribes that first settled down in the continent, the Dreaming's roots date all the way back to the very begging of the creation of the world. The meaning and ideology of the term is generally not so well-understood by non-indigenous people as it is referred to as part of the culture of one of the early nations, which differs from modern perceptions.
The Spirits were the creators of everything. They made the land and the seas, the rocks and the plants, the sky and the earth. They were the higher power and the Australian Aborigines spent their lifetimes honoring this power, which guided their path and shaped their way of thinking. Not only creators of everything, which could be seen as well as felt, the Spirits also gave the Aborigines the Dreaming.
The time when everything started existing according to the initial Australians, was called the Dreaming. This is the foundation of the continent's culture. The origin of the Dreaming goes way back - 65 000 years back in time to be exact. The Ancestors of the nation shaped the land, forming some parts of it as sacred. The Aborigines were very careful and overprotective of those places, strongly believing in their significance.
The Australian Aborigines are known to have believed that the world didn't have any shape and was therefore empty. Darkness dominated, and life was simply asleep, but this changed when the creation began happening. After the Dreaming and the influence of the Spirits, objects began taking shapes and came to be. They created the four elements: water, earth, air and fire, as well as all the planets, the Sun and the Moon. The Dreaming therefore is a continuous process, which never ended. It is a small cosmos on its own, unifying the past, present and the future into one.
The Australian Aborigines' home riches so many vivid areas of the continent, including Fraser Island, Tasmania, Palm Island, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island. The Aborigines had very strong believes in relation to the powers of the land, claiming that they never owned it - it rather owned them. The only reason they were able to call it their home is because they were looking after it and the land was taking care of the people in return.
Equally important to the Dreaming was the tribes' understandings of the disappearance of the Spirits. There came a time, when the creators of everything vanished from sight. Some of them were thought to have started living in sacred places, which is why the Aborigines perceived their homeland to be so sacred. The ancestors of today's Australians used to believe that the creators started living in rocks, in water holes and some went up to the sky to guide the people from above and keep them safe. Others transformed completely, taking the forms of the rain, the lightnings and the thunderstorms so they could be part of peoples' life.
Among the hundred's different Aboriginal languages, there isn't a word to describe 'time', because to them this simply doesn't exist. Dreaming and Dreamtime are used to replace it and summarize the ideologies of the Aborigines about everything they knew, everything they could see, feel and experience. This is why the Dreaming has such a vivid, and overwhelming meaning and has survived the obstacles of time. For the past couple thousand years, the Dreaming has built a rich cultural heritage that can identify a whole nation.
Read more about the Land, its connection to people and the way it has been perceived from different generations in the very first print issue of ORIGIN. The Land Issue covers varied topics, most of which remain related to cultural aspects of the land and its importance.
A lot of people travel to explore places and learn about them which is the message that ORIGIN wants to spread. With traveling, however, comes certain responsibilities that we should all be aware of. Elephants riding has become a popular way to explore locations by land. People have been doing this as part of their trips, mostly to places such as Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and other parts of Asia. It is a common thing to see in certain places in Africa as well. We investigated the activity to explain why it is wrong and riding elephants should be banned everywhere.
Our first print issue studies culture and traveling represented through the land. We explored various location around the globe and learned what makes the land so valuable, which nations cherish it and how it helps us establish an identity. Traveling is important to us but traveling responsibly and making an impact is what we feel proud to stand behind. This is why riding elephants as a way of amusement should be reconsidered.
Let’s talk about the details. Elephants are very caring and extremely intelligent animals. It is a well-known fact that they never forget anything. When kept in captivity instead of spending their life in the wild, elephants die younger. Unlike in other species, this is common for the gentle giants and is often a result for stress.
Many African cultures respect elephants, believing they symbolize strength, loyalty and power. However, power can be a very tender concept. Elephant used as a tourism tool suffer from great pain daily. Elephants can be hurt very severely from the weight of carrying people and a trainer on their backs. The reason for this is the design of their spines. They have sharp protrusions, extending upwards from their spine instead of having round spinal disks. The protrusions and the tissue that serves to protect them can be harmed easily from weight pressure. Once a damage to their spine has been made, there is no going back and sometimes the harm can be irreversible. While this can’t be physically seen, the harm that the chairs can do to the elephants’ skin is. It is often the case that the chairs and the weight on their back can damage the animal’s skin and cause pain to their body. The chair, called Howdah, that gets attached to their backs, rubs on their skin and can cause blisters, which can sometimes get infected.
The training that elephants are required to go through when in captivity sometimes adopts a traditional Thai ‘phajaan’ or ‘crush’ technique. Explaining the technique would compare it to the animals’ spirits constantly and continuously being broken by the means of torture and social isolation. This is done in order to tame them. Elephants are wild animals, this is their nature as they are born in such conditions. Making them safe and obedient around people requires them to go through such training. As horrible as it sounds, in some places young elephants are taken away from their mothers to be abused with nails, bull hooks and bamboo sticks to make them obey rules, given by people. The animals often lack sleep and are starved to become submissive.
Actions from such nature are cruel and harmful as the technique is used to crash the animals’ spirit. Once wild and free, elephants become a source of tourism and entertainment. Nobody, who cared about sustainable tourism should ever ride an elephant.
In a sense, elephants have a human soul. They socialise and feel everything – pain, happiness, grief, sadness etc. They spend their life building families and finding friends. The largest land animals are a gift from nature and it is our responsibility to take special care of them and make sure they live according to their nature. Many animals, who are kept in captivity, are forced to live in isolation and carry heavy loads all day long, which is a wrong way to treat them. Their strength and power shouldn’t be abused but treated gently and celebrated by people. Elephants require minimal care to stay happy and healthy, which comes from giving them freedom to behave naturally and socialise. It is our responsibility to be culturally aware while traveling and make sure to spread awareness about the problem.
You can read the rest of the article as published in the LAND issue.
TOUR THE BRITISH MUSEUM
From a 'cabinet of curiosities' to one of the biggest exhibition spaces in the world, follow the British Museum’s significance as the oldest and first public museum in history
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Josh Duke, Vitor Pinto, Bambi Corro, Fimone Fisher, Riley
18 November 2020
Dedicated to culture, art and human history, the British Museum in London is home to nearly eight million works, collected throughout the era of the British Empire. Its significance lays with the institution being the first public national museum in the world. With its vast display of age-old antiquity, precious artefacts, well-preserved drawings and a wide collection of art, it is no wonder the British Museum is at the top of the country’s most visited attractions.
Whether you are intrigued by deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics, controversial Greek sculptures, or other-worldly Egyptian mummies, the British Museum has it all. The museum opened its doors in 1759, which makes it one of the world’s oldest with an ever-growing popularity to this day. With close to six million visitors walking through its gallery rooms each year, the British Museum is best known for its display of the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures all the way from Athens' Acropolis, the Egyptian mummies, the Anglo-Saxon Sutton Hoo Ship Burial relics and the winged bulls from Khorsabad.
Once Upon a Time…
It all started with a 'cabinet of curiosities' in 1753.
Long before the British Museum obtained its vast collection of Roman, European, Greek, Asian, Islamic and Etruscan artefacts, its galleries were devoted to impressive libraries and the collections of the Irish physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753). The London-based doctor and scientist married the widow of a wealthy Jamaican planter and over the course of his lifetime managed to obtain a large collection of curiosities.
Sloane's possessions built up to some 71,000 objects of different kinds including 7,000 manuscripts, around 40,000 printed books, extensive drawings, antiquities from various continents and natural history specimens consisting of 337 volumes of dried plants. Afraid to have his collection broken up after his death, Sloane made a £20,000 deal with King George II and this was how in 1759 the museum was first opened to the public on site of the current building.
Growth and Significance
The British Museum turned into a boundary-breaking establishment. It was the very first of a new kind of national museums that belonged neither to a king nor a church. It was the first museum to freely open its doors o the public with the intend to collect art and artefacts of all kind and origin.
Following the museum’s success, several branch institutions were founded, including the Natural History Museum in 1881. Hosting some of the most treasured books in the British Library, the "foundation collections" of the museum included the Harleian Library, the Cottonian Library (dating back to Elizabethan times) and the "Old Royal Library" (with manuscripts gathered by British monarchs).
Over the 250 years following its opening, parallel to the expanding British colonisation, the museum’s number of cultural art objects and antiquities grew to reach some eight million works turning it into one of the largest collections in existence today. Apart from Sloane's scientific collection, the museum gained antiquarian and literary sections, which turned it into both a library and a National Museum. Some of its most famous objects that stir international controversy to this day include the Rosetta Stone of Egypt and the Elgin Marbles of Greece.
The British Museum Today
Although the British Museum is among the largest in the world, the lack of temporarily exhibition space means that less than 1% of its entire collection (approximately 50,000 items) are in fact showcased on public display. About 2 miles of exhibition space is taken by nearly a hundred galleries open to the public while various tours allow visitors to explore the history behind some of the world’s oldest yet best preserved artefacts and manuscripts.
Today the museum’s original collection of manuscripts, books and natural history adds up to the 150 million objects at the independent British Library. The Natural History Museum hosts additional 70 million works of modern and ancient artefacts representing the culture of nations from all over the world. Meanwhile the British Museum’s collection continues to grow to over 13 million objects. Artefacts of small and medium sizes are stored off-site in Blythe House in West Kensington, while Franks House in East London is used to store various other collections including Palaeolithic and Mesolithic works.
The building of the museum faces Great Russell Street with a Greek Revival façade. Unmistakably recognisable with its 44 columns raising to a height of 14 m (45 ft), the British Museum’s design was based on the architecture of the temple of Athena Polias at Priene in Asia Minor. In 1852 the main entrance was decorated with 15 allegorical figures by Sir Richard Westmacott, meant to display The Progress of Civilisation.
Digitalising Ancient History
It is well known that the British Museum has the largest online database of objects of any museum in the world. The process of putting its collections online began in 2012 and today the museum has around 2,000,000 individual object entries with some 650,000 illustrated artefacts. The database also includes specialised online journals and research catalogues all free to access. With such a vast historical display at the digital users’ fingertips, it is no longer the museum’s online catalogues are explored by nearly 20 million annual visitors.
Did you know…
In 2000 the Great Court was restored by architect Norman Foster and today the stunning glass-and-steel roof not only fills the British Museum with an abundance of light, but it also gifts the building with its significant décor visitors are known to love. At the centre of the Great Court is the famous Reading Room where trailblazers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Karl Marx and Virginia Woolf used to research and write some of history’s best valued literary works.
The British Museum Tours
Various tours of the museum’s treasures are organised daily and if you’re unsure of where to start your visit, you can easily book one or check the exhibitions and events in advance. The individual galleries open to visitors via free 30-minute Eye-opener tours, which also cover lunchtime gallery talks. Family and audio guides are also available at the Great Court’s main desk in 10 different languages at the price of £7 per adults and £6 per child.