From Forests to the Cabinet. A look Through the Biographies of the Gunayala Carvings located in the Världskulturmuseet



报告嘉宾:Nuria Romero Vidal
嘉宾简介:西班牙圣地亚哥·德·孔波斯特拉大学 博士生

The Världskulturmuseet (Museum of the World Culture) in Gothenburg (Sweden) hosts a large collection of wooden objects from Gunayala (Panama) whose origins date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This collection integrates sculptures such as the nudsugana, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic carvings with their own agency used in healing rituals. These special objects have a very particular life cycle: from their birth from specific trees, their carving process, and the acquisition of agency, through their useful life to the loss of their agency and their passage to toys or objects in private or museum collections. 
By addressing the information obtained through the study of several of these sculptures of the Gothenburg collection, we will deepen our understanding into the biography of these wooden sculptures focusing on their double materiality: the tree and the object. We have tried to trace a long journey from the forests where they were born to the Världskulturmuseet’s deposit and permanent exhibition. To reconstruct this long-life cycle, associated ethnohistoric documentation has been revised, including correspondence, maps, drawings, and photographs during anthropological expeditions as well as the information and notes accompanying the objects. In addition to these ethnographic resources, it has been possible to register wood macroscopic and microscopic features in order to analyze the correspondences between the notes’ transcriptions and the taxonomic identifications. Finally, some questions related to the carving process were also used as a guide to trace their biographies. Going deeper into this journey is essential both to understand the complex environmental and cultural information stored in this type of carvings and propose new ways to manage indigenous heritage in ethnographic collections.