I’ve been looking forward to sharing our recent trip to Burma with you. It was such a culturally rich, photographically stunning, relaxing trip, that I can’t stop thinking about it. The articles in this Newsletter about Burma will give you a taste of the Burma we’ve come to love. Please stop in and see the photographic exhibit, “From Burma with Love” at David Alan Collection. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then this exhibit is a beautiful novel. The show, “Burma from a Suitcase” highlights a collection of small pieces we hand-carried back from Burma. Each piece was carefully, lovingly chosen for its size, weight, and being unusually interesting from a cultural point of view. The other articles in this Newsletter about travel and adventure buying may give a bit more of an idea of what we do. We continue to be grateful to you and the other amazing people with whom we share this planet.
Be well, be generous, and be happy.
“How can I capture Burma in words, as it captured me?” This was the mantra question playing through my mind last December during the first of three happy and exciting weeks we spent in Burma. Beyond being one of the most photogenic places on Earth, Burma touched me in ways I don’t yet understand. There are things that could explain this affinity, such as the enduring sweetness of the people, or that the towns and cities have not been spoiled by the sudden world-wide growth that makes most places look more and more alike. Though these may be good explanations, there is something indefinable in the air. Burma is what it is; not trying to be something else. It remains so, whatever thecurrent government names it, “Myanmar” or does to it. It isn’t madly pursuing the global hunger for more. Perhaps Burma can better be defined by what isn’t there. I didn’t see a billboard, hear a loudspeaker, or get suck in a traffic jam, even in the capital city at rush hour. I didn’t see a smokestack, sports car, or super highway. There are probaby a thousand other things missing that give Burma this non-materialistic quality. The country is a time machine set in the 1940′s some places and in the 15th cedntury in others. There’s time here to simply be, to live life, not to try to catch up to it. Life here feels good. One can see “development” coming around the corner. Burma will change. The Burmese will rid themselves of their brutal dictatorship, be free from fear, have better healthcare, schools, and perhaps a real univeristy once again. Thre will robably also be more cars, bluejeans, and taller buildings. I hope they will still be able to see the Milky Way, breathe the air, and want to meet at the local pagoda on Sunday to play and pray. For now, I thank my lucky stars I discovered Burma, and I wish these sweet people happiness.
Burma from a Suitcase
“Burma from a Suitcase” is a show that highlights a wonderful selection of pieces I hand-carried back from Burma this year. Though this wasn’t a “buying trip,” I can never resist exploring markets and shops and bring home all I can carry. Some of my favorite pieces are the small, shaman, healing figures fashioned from medicinal herbs and a binding agent. Most are under 2 inches high. These pieces were always made between midnight and 4:00am in order to infuse them with the most potent healing energy possible. They were then used by the shaman who would grind the bottom of the statue to make a powder, which was them imbibed by his patient. Other pieces in the show vary from opium scrapers to tattoo sets and Naga necklaces. Exotic, fascinating, and fun, “Burma from a Suitcase” opens October 12, 2007.
From Burma with Love – A Photo Essay
“From Burma with Love,” a show opening October 12th, 2007, is composed of enlargements of digital photos I took in Burma during December, 2006 and January 2007. They are not retouched nor enhanced in any way. In writing the previous article, “Burma,” it became clear to me how difficult it is for me to capture Burma in words. This photographic show is my answer to that challenge. Though photography is a huge departure from what we usually show at David Alan Collection, it is not a departure from what we do. We bring the beauty, soul, and majesty of people and places in the East to you in two and three dimensions. Our wish is for these cultures to be appreciated, valued, and preserved for their richness, and for all of us to be inspired by the vast creativity of humanity. I hope we are doing our job.
Hunters and Head Hunters
Hunting is about establestablishing entworks, in this case, one that reaches across the central Java plain and beyond. Hunters, usually farmers or craftsmen by day, work as agents of the hunt as needed. They really are called hunters, and are directed by the head guy, the head hunter. He in turn is given a list of things sought by someone such as myself or Dek, my Balinese guide, good friend, and hunter extraordinaire.
So the hunters have been out beating the bushes looking for things I’m interested in, including old copper batik vats, and tamarind trees that line the roads in central Java. Other things on my current list are old teak, village-style benches, folk art carvings, carved house beams, old dining tables, and discarded plow handles. The hunters bring their “captured game” to a central location to sell to us or to return to the original owner. If the pieces are too large, we go to villager’s homes, hunting, village by billage.
The days are long, the roads are narrow, dusty, and rough; the trucks ahead are slow, the air is hazy, the weather is hot, the game is well camouflaged, and safe food is scarce.
Like Dek, I’m a hunter. It’s in my blood. I can’t help it. I do what hunters do, because I love the hunt and I love the game. I also like to be comfortable. This presents a serious conflight of interest – an unresolved conflict. The hunt is never comfortable. On the other hand, I know that here and everwhere in life, staying comfortable won’t get me anywhere I want to go. As long as the hunt goes on, I’m happy.
It’s early morning and relatively cool. Breakfast was good. The people are unfailingly sweet and friendly.
Dek promises me abundant game today. I believe him. Deks’ name is actually Kadek Gunarta, or Dek Gun to his friends. It’s a good hunter name. As I said, Dek’s my trusty guide. Usually in life, I need to know everything; where we’re going, who we’re seeing, when we’ll get there, what we’ll find, etc. Out here in the bush, I leave it all to Dek. I’m just a dog in a car. After a couple days, I’ve lost track of what day it is, turned off my cell phone (yes, they work almost everywere in Java!), and settled into the rhythm of the hunt. Where we stay, when we eat, who we see..it is just not my job. I’m more fun to be around this way. As long as I’m fed and watered somewhat regularly, I’m happy hunting. That’s it! I’m a pointer, a hunting dog-in-a-car.
After 11 days, we head back to Bali. many small truck loads of finds will arrive in Ubud over the next four months. These pieces will then be resurrected or repaired in Deks’ woodworking studio, and in time will appear on the floor of David Alan Collection. There you can taste the exquisite flavors of the Java hunt.