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    The Impact of Urban Life: Interactions from the Field

    The school children of the Htantaw village in the Taungthaman Village Tract were asked – What is the most beautiful place in Taungthaman? They could either draw pictures or describe in words. The children drew from their imagination and showed it to the students.

    Snacks are important part of a community’s cultural heritage. We included this in our session and served traditional snacks like noe-hta-min or rice mixed with milk.

    Ride for the Initiation Ceremony

    In the initiation ceremony, people borrow horse cart from me. But they prefer the bullock cart that is well decorated with the crystals and golden paint over my horse cart. In the last 20 years the bullock cart has become more valuable and fashionable.

    This was shared by a lady who is one of people who lends cart to others.

    I found that the people are still proud to use the bullock cart for the initiation ceremony. 

    Curriculum and Fostering Pride in Locality

    Dr. Thidar Htwe Win drew small engagement curriculum to foster value and connection of the local children with their locality. To do this, the school children were asked - "what are the most beautiful and valuable places for them in their village and around it."  By asking this, we could draw out what the children unconsiously valued.

    At first the children were too shy to speak in front of the crowd. We persuaded them with incentive of rewarding them with cute stickers. This helped them to become more engaged. We could even create a competitive environment among them.

    Grassroot Pan Africanism

     Since 2007, I have been assisting Kojo Opoku Aidoo of Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, to develop a humanistic Syllabus on ‘Mobilities of Grassroots Pan Africanism’as part of the Humanities  across Borders Program.  The project attempts to contextualize the praxis of mobilities as a grassroots pan Africanism issue in its multiple manifestations and nuanced dialectics. It also examines the tensions and contradictions of the academy and the community dialectic, bringing up questions of social mobilities and intellectual inquiry.

    What Is the Most Beautiful Place in Taungthaman: From Children's Memories

    What is the most beautiful thing or place in your village? The question asked was to the young school children from Taungthaman Village.

    The first drawing is of U Pain Bridge and the second one of Taung Tha Man Thitsar.Many children also drew pictures of their grandparents, Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda, Taung Tha Man Lake.

    We asked them to explain their drawings - what they know about the particular place or thing -  the dos and dont's.

    Fostering Waste Management in the Community (1)

    “In the past, we would pack the trash in a big bag and threw it into the lake at night. When the flood would come, all of the trash would come back out with the water,” she said laughing.

    We asked her then, “Did any of the elders (your parents, the governor of the quarter, etc.) say anything about it?" 

    She answered, “at that time, all people in the village did like that. We didn’t really care as other people did the same thing that I did.”

    Fostering Waste Management in the Community (2)

    Some people were not clear how the plastic bucket was to be used. Actually, this bucket is for wet waste and the plastic bag should be put in it first before putting trash in.

    They used the bucket in wrong way as shown in the photos. We reminded them again, “the basket made with palm raffia is for dry waste and the bucket is for wet." We encouraged them to use it the correct way. 

    Fostering Waste Management in the Community (3)

    In this picture, we can see that a person understood how to correctly the bucket. Most people did not have any problem in using the basket for dry waste. They understood that clearly. But we were facing problems in making people understand how to use the bucket for wet waste correctly.  I was glad that this person had a clearer the idea what we had said. Fortunately many others also understood the right way to use the bucket eventually. 

    U Pein Bridge (1): What Does a Bridge Mean to a Community?

    I want to maintain this bridge as our daily wage depends on this,” told to me (Khin Khin Nyein) by one of the women vendors. We observed that she was chewing the beetle leaves and we asked, “where do you spit the beetle juice?” She replied immediately, “[o]n the ground” with a shy laugh. I think the reason why she laughed was because she recognised that she herself did something which made the bridge dirty. 

    Food preparation: Questions of Hygiene

    "We used to pack food while wearing gloves but some customers would ask us to take them off and then pack with bare hands," one of the vednor's response to us when we asked her why she didn't wear gloves while packing food.

    We were puzzled by this response. Why did the customers ask the vendors to remove their gloves? How did the customers perceive gloves? Is there lack of awareness over hygiene? Do people - vendors and customers- view hygiene differently?

     

    The Network of Women

    I am Wekoweu Tsuhah (Akole) and I belong to the Chakhesang tribe of Nagaland. I am a women’s rights activist and a development practitioner, an advocate for gender equality, social and environmental justice. While growing up, I experienced fear and rage as I lived through armed conflict, alcoholism, domestic violence, poverty and these shaped the person I am today. I am passionate about working with people, women in particular; but it is only after I started working with a women’s rights organization – NEN, the North-East Network, did I truly realize and recognize these social injustices.

    Sano Vamuzo: Excerpts From an Interview

    Sano Vamuzo is the founding President of the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA), an important civil society organization formed by women in Kohima in 1984. The follwing is excerpted from an interview with Dr Rakhee Kalita Moral.

     

    Changing Nature of Public Spaces

    It was believed that if one made a wish with their arms wrapped around the Iron pillar with their back against it their wish would be granted. Before the iron railings that ‘protect’ the Iron Pillar today, many visitors, both young and old, would try their luck at making a wish. Similar are the memories of long-time residents of Mehrauli. Many remember being able to freely enter the Qutub Minar complex and playing or picnicking, before the ticket booths and high walls of today.

    Building Vocational Skills

    The Saunders Art, Gallery and Museum were opened on the August 2, 2004 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Saunders Weaving and Vocational Institute. It was supported by the Small Scale Industries Department (Myanmar) and Kanasarwa College (Japan). The objectives of establishing the museum were to develop vocational school studies and small scale industries in rural area. There are three rooms: museum, demonstration room and gallery.

    Making Jou: Traditional Boro Rice Beer

    Jou is the most favoured traditional brew of the Boro people in Assam. It has social, cultural and religious usage but jou for a long time was identified with the community. Particularly the Hindu caste society of Assam looked down upon the indigenous (tribal) people of Assam because of their traditional lifeways that involved making and drinking of jou. But for the Boros, no ritual and custom is complete without it. Traditionally, Boro women were expected to know how to make jou, and therefore, this community knowledge also is held by women.

    Weaving luntaya acheik (2): The Making of Myanmar Traditional Dress

    The Saunders Weaving and Vocational Institute accepts trainees on per year/per month basis. There are regular as well as other vocational training options. In case a local organisation wants to set up a training school, then it can get in touch with the Institute. The educational qualification requirements of the Institute are limited to matriculation, middle and primary school levels. The trainees must be single and under 25 years of age. The numbers of trainees accepted vary between 5-50 depending on the course.

    The Network of Women: Weaving Freedom

    A popular success story of the North-East Network (NEN) is Chizami Weaves where the NEN together with a network of 600+ local women from Chizami and the neighbouring villages of Phek district in Nagaland built ‘Chizami Weaves’  an enterprise that aimed to preserve and promote the rich textile weaving tradition of Nagaland. While empowering rural women economically, it also gave them a voice and agency to bring about positive changes in their families and communities. Gender relations within homes are changing.

    Trades of a Town: Tendu Patta

    Madhya Pradesh is India’s leading tendu leaf producing state. Used primarily to make Beedi , this valuable forest produce has a history of control and ownership over the years. Piyush Kothari (63), a local tendu merchant based in Pipariya, talks about the changes in the trade and how the town’s proximity to nearby forest tracts made it suitable for the early traders. Excerpts from our recorded conversation (December 2017):   

    Lunyakyaw-kyo-gyi acheik: Snippets From the Book

    This photo is from a book, Lunyakyaw-kyo-gyi acheik / လွန်းရာကျော်ကြိုးကြီးချိတ်, written by U Shwe Htun about the textile industry and textile design. It is a good source to understand the history of acheik, its evolution, the process and preservation till 2005. One of the interesting part of the history, as mentioned in the book, is the different attitudes of the reigning regime towards this weaving practice. For example, while acheik  was not allowed to be woven in the Bagan period, but in the Innwa period  (1346-1526 C.E.) only a lower quality was woven.

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