DOWN UNDER: Vanishing Cultures by Jan Reynolds

DOWN UNDER: Vanishing Cultures

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One of two new volumes in a series Reynolds initiated in 1991 with books about the Himalayas and the Sahara. Here, the photojournalist travels with the Tiwi--aboriginal people on an island off Australia's north coast--during a ""walkabout"": a traditional activity during which the Tiwi survive with little equipment, weaving baskets or simple shelters from bark, eating what they can catch (including snakes and worms), and experiencing their continuity with the Dreamtime (familiar to readers of Australian folklore). Some of the Tiwi wear what looks like commercially made clothing; otherwise, there is no comment on the impact of modern civilization on their lives. The color photos, together with the simple text, provide an authentic glimpse of the traditional side of Tiwi life, but almost in a vacuum. Far North, depicting Finland's Lapps, is equally fascinating; here, Reynolds does mention, in her concluding notes, that the Chernobyl disaster came close to destroying this culture, but makes hardly any other comment on the Lapps' relationship to neighboring society. Still, she does a real service in presenting both groups as they have been; the books are handsome, appealing, and informative.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich