Rostro Sobre Hoja by Enriqueta Gastelumendi de Santin
That’s the title of this woodcarving by Enriqueta Gastelumendi de Santin that was on display at the Museo del Fin del Mundo in Ushuaia, Argentina, visited four years ago today. I liked its understated elegance and the sense of power in evokes.
De Santin, a local artist who passed away in 2001, was a direct descendent of the the Selk’nam people, one of four indigenous groups who inhabited Tierra del Fuego. The group has been considered extinct since May 1974 when the last full-blooded Selk’nam died. Full version of the image is below.
I also visited the Museo Yamana that day, which is the primary reason why this image came up. The Yamana, also called the Yaghan, Yagán, Yahgan, Yámana, and Tequenica, was another incredibly resourceful local group who, like the Selk’nam, were all but decimated soon after their initial encounters with Europeans in the late 19th centuries. The Yaghan are down to their final full-blooded native speaker, Cristina Calderón, born on 24 May, 1928 near Puerto Williams, on Navarino Island, Chile. The island lies just across the Beagle Channel from Tierra del Fuego National Park near Ushuaia, Argentina.
I’m researching the group at the moment, after coming upon The Gold Diggings of Cape Horn: A Study of Life in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, an account of New York Sun journalist John Randolph Spears’ travels and reportage from the area published in 1895. By the standards of the time, he was remarkably enlightened, describing the Yaghan in a much more sympathetic light than many of his contemporaries.
I’m still not finished with it, but can nonetheless heartily recommend it to anyone interested in the indigenous groups of South America’s southern cone as presented through the eyes of an intrepid reporter working in the latter years of the 19th century. And the price is right too: you can download it free in several formats here; or for kindle users, here’s a free version directly from Amazon.
Today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 1,127th straight, was snapped in Ushuaia, Argentina, on 3 February 2013.