An anthropologist paints an admiring picture of a now extinct tribe with whom he dwelled for two years on the Philippine...


WISDOM FROM A RAINFOREST: The Spiritual Journey of an Anthropologist

An anthropologist paints an admiring picture of a now extinct tribe with whom he dwelled for two years on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Schlegel (Anthropology/Univ. of Calif., Santa Cruz), then a doctoral student, moved his wife and young children to the island of Mindanao in 1967 (having previously served there as an Episcopal priest) and then headed into the bush to observe and record the life of the Teduray..In time, Schlegel came to esteem them for their communal, egalitarian values. The Teduray had no established hierarchy; beyond a sexual division of labor, there was no sexual discrimination; disputes were handled in accordance with a strict legal code and reparations for various infractions (usually elopement from a marriage, which occurred frequently) were painstakingly worked out. The tribe's central precept, a twist on the Golden Rule, was ""Don't give anyone a bad gall bladder,"" said organ seen by the Teduray as the center of one's rational and emotional senses. So much did Schlegel take to his study group, in fact, that his own consciousness started to change, and much of this account is a meditation on the contrasting realities of the tribe and that of the modern world. Written some 30 years after his experience, Schlegel's account, beyond his astute discussions of creation myths, religion and daily living habits, is less an objective study than a personal voyage of discovery. The book ends in great sadness: in 1972, Schlegel, by then a professor, learned that the entire tribe had been killed by rebels during a period of religious and civil strife on Mindanao; a decade later, one of his children who had at times joined him in the field, died from a lingering disease. Part serious anthropology and part reflection from the distance of years, the book is finally a testament to one of the myriad of vanished peoples of this century.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0820324914

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Univ. of Georgia

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998