This is one of my recent reads that I would recommend.
This is the funniest thing - I just finished the exact same book yesterday and just now planned to write in this exact forum to ask if anyone has read it yet!
First of all, wow, what a powerful book. For me, being one of the few people here located in the tropics, much of the book recommendations in many forums or groups are at times rather uninteresting and unhelpful (since written in, about, and for an entirely different ecosystem) and therefore at best interesting in a merely intellectual or philosophical way (which doesn’t have to be bad, of course, I’m just pointing it out).
In my book choices I try to focus on what applies to the ecosystem I myself inhabit (or ecosystems similar to it), so I am constantly looking for material on primitive tribes in tropical high- and lowlands (and consequently their culture, spiritual belief system, their skills, rituals and customs).
Of the few books available on the local flora and fauna, most are written in Thai (which would take me decades to read) - but since most people here lived “the good life” just a few centuries ago and Thailand has officially never been colonized, talking to old people in the rural area is a good way to compensate the lack (and price) of specialized books on plants.
Anyway, I heard and read about the Senoi/Sng’oi tribe before, but this was the first time I had the chance to get a more detailed picture of their life. They are nicknamed the dream people because to them the dream world is the real world; they get together every morning to discuss their dreams and what they might mean.
I love books that reflect or directly quote primitive people’s thoughts and words, and, in this case, dreams - if I could ever clear away the toxic waste dumped in my mind by civilization’s brain-washing efforts and the disturbing and artificial experiences it brings, and dream like true humans dream!
One little example for beautiful primitive thought is the passage of the book where he describes coming to visit a Sng’oi village, and, when arriving late that day, explaining that there has been road construction work. “Is it true that there is a machine that does the work of a hundred men?”, asks one of the men in the village. Most likely he means bulldozers which can in fact do the work of at least hundred men, thinks the author and confirms the question with a slight feeling of pride. “So,” asks the man, “And what do those hundred men do?”
Great emphasis of this book is on the spiritual, a supernatural “way of knowing”, which he describes as a form of internal wisdom that can be accessed only in the right setting with the right mindset [exactly the kind of wisdom that is being accessed by meditating, ingesting certain psychedelic compounds, or lucid dreaming]. He is utterly confused as a Western scientist when predictions interpreted out of the dreams of the group come true and events occur in an almost magical way.
It is a very self-critical book, in which the author compares his Western mindset to the mindset he encounters in the villages and forests of Malaysia. There are many stories in which he, reflecting back, clearly values indigenous thought over Western bias, and often feels remorse for his own cultural bias at that time.
I highly recommend this book - not only to people living in the tropics, but to everyone who is interested in getting to know a new view on this world and our place in it. One can at times just too good identify with the author, and he seems to be a wise man.
I’ve read the Madawaska Forest Garden by Steven Martyn but not yet Sacred Gardening, although I was emailing with his wife Megan today to get me a copy so that will soon change! I’ve also met Steven Martin and Megan Spencer in Crozet, VA. Yeah, Steven is the real deal, tuned in, sensitive, and also very grounded. I asked him a somewhat left field question and he instantly understood what I was really saying and delivered a perfect response. I like Steven’s approach to gardening and the use of intuition and ritual as a guide and mooring-stone to navigate through the waters that are highly charged with mythos and mystery and filled with the sacredness of being. I like his approach of wildculturing and his perspective. I appreciate that he’s talking the same kind of language I’ve grown use to of my own, feels less isolating!
Despite his degree he takes a fairly folk (or indigenous) approach to everything and therefore statement of fact ought to be taken… let’s see, not with a grain of salt… but with the kind of intuitive leaps necessary to weave the picture into something beautiful. Understand like the storyteller understands. I am reminded of his telling of the three sisters, namely, why they call the polyculture the three sisters, rather than the three brothers, or friends, or anything else. The answer has to do with an understanding of the psychology of sisterhood, and how sisters mutually support each other in their differences within a family, reflecting truthfully the relation of the corn, beans, and squash to one another. The protector, the supporter, and the achiever.
One thing I would highlight as a limitation is the way Steven makes assumptions about the way things were. For example, he studied milpa down in Mexico and used it as the basis of comparison with three sisters plantings. It’s a bit over simplified and presumptive. Anyhow, would recommend if you’re into the intuitive path.
I’m looking for Sinews of Survival. Would go great with Our Boots and To Please The Caribou.
YES! On Kings by Graeber and Sahlins available in an open access PDF!
if you haven’t found a copy yet…
Gertie has one on her bookshelf- this one actually traveled with us all the way from Germany when we immigrated so many years ago… she decided it is time for this awesome book to move on and get used again. so just send me a mail address and we ship it Agnes
I’ll probably buy this soon. Similar to “Our Boots.” Has pictures of skis but not how to make them. Lots of other great information though.
Mesolithic Forest Hunters in the Ukrainian Polyessye by Leonid Zalizynak
You can preview whole book in the browser (a basic academia.edu login should suffice). It looks super legit - graphs, statistics, strategies, etc. Some might have referenced this somewhere on the FB page.
I downloaded the pdf on my computer, but when I tried to upload it here I got this message: “Sorry, that file is too big (maximum size is 4096kb). Why not upload your large file to a cloud sharing service, then share the link?”
North American Aboriginal Hide Tanning.
This book is not that great except for one chapter on buckskin that is superior to the entire Deerskins to Buckskins book. Amazing detail and tips. Just the info on dehydrated brains is worth taking a look.
Thanks to Agnes and Gertie I now have a hardback copy of Sinews of Survival! Thanks so much!
This book has super interesting info like using fowl esophagus for thread. And that’s just the beginning… I’m also excited to have more instruction on subcutaneous water-proof stitching. I wish I knew how to do stitches like that on thin hides; I have only done it on thick buffalo hides.
How well does this work for a working relationship/ how-to sort of book? I’m thinking of getting a copy.
Is Our Boots subtitled “An Inuit Women’s Art”?
To answer your questions about Sinews of Survival: it is a great resource for tanning and sewing but super contextual to the Arctic Circle. Backstrap sinew sewing is fairly common among many, many people, but now I see buckskin thong or linen thread (or other plant fibers) being more what I would use today as I don’t have access to much backstrap sinew. (I say backstrap as smaller sinews would be a pain to sew with, even though I sew small holes with smaller sinews.) As my long time buckskin making friend pointed out, once steel tools/scissors became accessible buckskin thong became easier and plentiful to sew with, whereas sinew is the best thread available without steel tools.
For tanning in Indiana I would recommend: Deerskins to Buckskins by Matt Richards, Buckskin by Steven Edholm and Tamara Wilder, Environmentally Sound Tanning by the Tool Foundation (veg/bark tanning). I am a great resource for tanning questions too. For sewing: see Buckskin Revolution by Woniya (google that one) or The Art of Hand Sewing Leather by Al Stohlman.
See Steven Edholm’s recent video on tanning books. https://youtu.be/rqQHKf78ha8
I don’t know why, but I’m surprised Will Potter blurbed your book. I kinda took him as a more mainstream environmentalist type. That’s cool though, Green Is the New Red is an important work in its own right.
Also, that illustration is amazing.
Nah, Will definitely is an activist coming out of the hardcore scene. He’s got a very professional sense about him with the TED status and all, but he’s down for sure. No question that GITNR is a personal story and not just journalism.
Mazatl is an amazing artist. Three pieces in the book from him and it’s a genuine honor.