Series of Cultural Heritage

The Decompression Tank

The steel pressure tank that was made at the end of the fifties by employees of Shell Curaçao N.V. was used for twenty years by St. Elisabeth Hospital (Sehos). Dozens of divers with phenomena related to the decompression sickness, also called the Bends, were treated in it.

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Organ in the “snoa”

The organ in the Mikvé Israel Synagogue in Curaçao was consecrated on October 24, 1866. For almost a hundred years, this organ rendered faithful service as musical support during services, but since approximately 1950, it has not been played any more.

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Father Nooijen, historian and collector

In 1919 he was born at Bakel (near Helmond in Brabant, the Netherlands) as the middle son in a rural family of eight children. After completing high school at Nijmegen, he joined the Black Friars. Subsequently, in 1947, father Nooijen was sent to the Netherlands Antilles together with five others as priests.

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Wooden houses

In the past few decades, people all over the Caribbean have come to recognize the importance of preserving the big -mostly stone- monuments such as forts and city dwellings. With difficulty are people becoming aware of the fact that the wooden houses, too, often modest in size, are part of our past and form part of a cultural heritage to be preserved, in addition to the fact that the characteristic wooden buildings of each island can contribute to the economic development of our tourism. Documenting urban wooden constructions is particularly important. For the Netherlands Antilles, the historic wooden buildings in Curaçao and the Windward Islands are important. In Bonaire, the number of wooden houses is zero. This article pays attention to the wooden house construction in Curaçao. Subsequently, there will be an article on the wooden houses in the Windward Islands./p>

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Historical use “beaches of the sea”: III

“Rancho”

In the Papiamento dictionary, the term “rancho” is defined as “shabby little house”. For the Curaçao fisherman, the word rancho had, however, a special meaning. In fisherman’s jargon, this is a primitive shack which was built by fishermen of boulders on the hurricane rubble ridge on the beach, usually not more than 10-15 meters from the water. No mortar was used in the construction. The shack had a makeshift roof of driftwood and branches which provided shelter against the elements. These shacks were formerly used to spend the night during fishing excursions in remote areas. The shacks were generally reached on foot via patrol paths (patrulis) and along the coast.

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Monkey Jar, Gurglet, or Goglet?

Traditional Caribbean water vessels are the cherished antiques of two senior ladies on the island of Saba. Although the artifacts were not made on Saba, they are interesting examples of inter-island trade and the continuity of a potter’s cottage industry whose roots go deep in Caribbean colonial history. These pots were made on Nevis, which continues traditional ceramic production to this day.

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Musical memory of the Leeward Islands

Up the stairs through the door with the sign ‘ofisina/kantoren’. There, on the first floor of the Public Library at Scharloo, hidden from the public at large, is a unique collection of cassettes and CDs. “Ninety-five to ninety-eight percent of all Antillean music that was recorded mechanically”, Mr. S. “Ruut” Rubens estimates. “Very little is lacking.” And precisely for that reason, the collection is so valuable. Four hundred 78 rpm records, 650 singles, 650 LPs, 640 original cassettes and 1300 CDs form the hard core of the Antillean collection.

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Masquerade: heritage of the Caribbean

One of the folkloric expressions here is the so-called masked parades or, as we know it on the island of Bonaire, ‘Maskarada’ or ‘Maska’. Many islands in the Caribbean and several countries of Latin America have masked parades. We must not confuse these parades with the carnival celebration. These parades have antecedents that go back much further in time than the carnival celebration in the countries in question. Masked parades of the areas we are referring to are the one on St. Kitts & Nevis, Jonkannu of Jamaica, Guloya of the oriental part of the Dominican Republic, Maskarada of Bonaire and the parade known as “el baile de los diablitos” of the Afro-Venezuelan people of Chuao on the coast of Aragua.

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The Maraca

The thirties and forties, a world without television, computers and plastic, but full of music. The Latin-American rhythms came from Venezuela and later from Cuba to Curaçao: música llanera, son, rumba. And with the music, the instruments followed, such as the maraca.
“The era of the calabash”, is what Elis Juliana calls the decade before the Second World War. “All kinds of things were made from it: scoops, candies and musical instruments, but unlike the bastèl, a kind of drum, the gorobí, a simple flute from a small calabash with two little holes and the raspu, the grater made from the long calabash, the maraca is not a typical Curaçao instrument. Nowadays the cheap version of the ‘rattle’ -a small dried calabash, the kalbas di mondi, filled with corn seeds or beans- is mainly sold to tourists as a souvenir. But originally, the instrument had a spiritual function. Together with drums and flutes, it was used during the rituals of the Incas, the Mayas, the Aztecs and, until recently, of the Kogi and other indigenous population groups of Latin America. “Mostly one in the hand and sometimes even tied to the feet”, says Harry Moen, leader of the music group Serenada. The Piaroa in the Amazon area still use the maraca when performing curative rituas. The maraca then contains a blue stone.

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Headscarf, a fascinating African heritage

If you were to earn your living by tying headscarves, lensu di kabes, you would probably be eating dry bread just as in the past. The traditional headscarf is out of fashion. Just as the long skirt and blouse with three-quarter sleeves. Young girls think the lensu is old-fashioned. They do wear headscarves again, but the modern versions do not resemble the old masterpieces of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in any way.

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Marimbula

The XXII Festival del Caribe, which will take place at Santiago de Cuba from July 3 until July 9, will be dedicated to the Netherlands Antilles, Aruba and Suriname this year. A good opportunity to dwell on the cultural heritage that came to the Antilles via Cuba. There are three musical instruments that come under this heritage: the tres, the bongo and the marimbula. Antillean migrants who had worked on the Cuban sugar plantations at the beginning of the 20th century brought them back home with them.

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Contra

One of the spiritual expressions of Antillean folklore which has its roots in African soil is making contras: small packages with the function of an amulet to protect the life of the one who is wearing it or to protect the life and health of recently born children and also to bring good luck or attract love for the female or male sex.

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Archeology at Kleine Werf

The quays of the port of Willemstad are repaired and/or extended every so often. In March and April 2007, the quay wall of Kleine Werf was extended. During the excavations performed for this extension, the National Archeological and Anthropological Museum (NAAM) photographed and recorded the site, ground profile and archeological finds. Based on the findings, NAAM considers Kleine Werf an important site for historical archeology.

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King Momo

Every year, during Carnival, King Momo returns in a different outfit. And in Curaçao, his appearance is different than in Aruba, and again for children it is different than for adults. Once begun as an ‘ordinary’ doll, made from old clothes and filled with saw dust and crackers, he is now provided with splendid clothes and filled with professional firework. This year, Momo will be no less than 7 meters tall! King Momo is not a doll; he is a person. Or at least a doll that lives. That is because there is much life around the doll, according to Henry Bethencourt (alias Heroudini), who breathes new life into King Momo every year…. and also terminates that life.

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Straightening Comb

The hair styles of the last fifty years, especially of the female part of our population, are worth a special study. This goes also for the current perceptions about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ hair.
This contribution is a first exploration of hair styles, and, to quote the culturist Elis Juliana, of the ‘struggle against the hair’.

The scene is telling the story. Curly hair is not the fashion on the islands of in the Netherlands Antilles. Most women have their hair straightened with creams especially developed for these purposes. De-curling hair is big business. This craze blew over from the United States during last century. But it began with a simple metal comb.

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Being a child in slavery

From July 1st, Abolition Day, till 26th of November 2006, there will be an exposition at Landhuis Groot Santa Martha, Soto, called the Heritage of Slavery.
With topics like plant life, punishment and opposition, ancestor worship and empowerment, it gives an image about the history and heritage of slavery in the Antilles, Surinam and the role of the Netherlands. In this respect, NAAM publishes new information about too little heritage, such as this publication from the anthropologist Rose Mary Allen, who at this moment is finishing her PhD thesis Towards a social history of the Afro-Curaçaoan population, 1863-1917.

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Carnival and Carnival costume

Little is known about the origin of carnival in Curaçao. It was presumably brought to the island by the European elite at the end of the 19th century. In the official journal no. 30 of 1872, it is officially mentioned for the first time.
Until 1953, carnival was especially celebrated in social clubs. In the sixties, carnival was revived by Elias Bronswinkel . And from 1970, the Curaçao carnival grows into an annual popular feast. It begins with the Tumba Festival, the election of a Queen and a Prince and Pancho
The Curaçao carnival has hardly been investigated. How do carnival groups organize themselves? Why are there fewer masks? What is the role of the Prince and his Pancho? What does the local ‘Rei Momo’, which is eventually burnt, symbolize? What are the similarities and differences between carnival in St. Maarten, Bonaire, Aruba, Statia and Saba? NAAM aims to contribute to develop more insight in this popular culture heritage with this article.

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Karkó – shell horn

Some instruments require thorough craftsmanship in order to be able to make them. A guitar, for example, or a piano. Others are found ready for use in nature. Like the karkó (Strombus gigas Linné) in Bonaire, a wind instrument made from the seashell with the same name which is fished from the inland waterway ‘Lac’. The natural trumpet is quickly made, but the real art is to play it.

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FLOATS

Carnival: celebration of a popular feast

Little is known about the origin of carnival in Curaçao. It was presumably brought to the island by the European elite at the end of the 19th century. In 1872, it is officially mentioned for the first time.
Until 1953, carnival was especially celebrated in social clubs. In the sixties, carnival was revived by Elias Bronswinkel . And from 1970, the Curaçao carnival grows into an annual popular feast.

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Church bell on Saba

The Holy Trinity Anglican church bell which first peeled on Saba in the late 1800s has been resurrected from retirement and restored to its former glory. Its new location is in front of the Tourist Bureau in Windwardside. It hangs in a replica of an old Saban
wooden bell tower, complete with intricate, red-painted shingled roof, reminding visitors of the artistry of the roofer’s trade still practiced on this small island.
Reverend David Hope served as the island’s first resident Anglican rector from 1878 to 1883. At that time, 75% of Saba’s population of just over 2,000 was Anglican. (Today 15% of the island population of 1,500 is Anglican, with the majority Roman Catholic.)

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