INDIGENOUS IMAGES - Photography by Richard P. Wedeen, M.D.
These photographs of the people of Guatemala, India and Mali in the 21st century capture the vitality of indigenous cultures around the world. They testify to the preservation of traditions which remain unique despite the homogenizing effect of global television.
The rituals and techniques of weaving, embroidery and the meaning of ancient designs have been handed down for generations. Although contemporary textiles are often treated as souvenirs, they represent the finest artistic traditions in continuous use for centuries. The creations are usually unsigned by the artisan and thus focus on community tradition rather than individual creativity.
The textiles often have ceremonial significance, and sometimes identify village origins and social status. They play a part in rituals that mark all important life events but also may be purely decorative. The textiles project personal identity as well as ancestral origins and provide personal empowerment for their creators.