Oga Pysy

Techniques of Dialogue

RAFFAELLA FRYER-MOREIRA

FABIANA ASSIS FERNANDES

SUPPORTED BY THE BRITISH MUSEUM'S ENDANGERED MATERIAL KNOWLEDGE PRACTICES FUND

Oga Pysy: Techniques of Dialogue will document the material processes and technical knowledge through which Guaraní Kaiowá ceremonial houses (Oga Pysy) are constructed, the local cosmological frameworks that inform their architecture, and the ceremonial ritual practices that these structures contain and enable. The physical architecture of the Oga Pysy is directly informed by the local shaman Nhanderu, who holds all technological knowledge required to build the Oga Pysy. An all-embracing range of digital mediums will be used in the process of documentation and preservation, including technologies of sensory immersion such as VR/360 video, photogrammetry, technical diagrams, and ambisonic sound.

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Photographs by Fabiana Assis Fernandes

wHY OGA Pysy?

The Guarani Kaiowá live in a context of sustained conflict with the surrounding non-indigenous population and the large-scale agricultural industries which occupy the region. With a population of 45,000, only 30,000 reside in eight officially recognised indigenous reserves, whilst 15,000 live in temporary roadside encampments. The imminent dangers of ecological degeneration and religious intolerance in the region has led to only 20 ceremonial houses existing across all territories occupied by the Guarani and Kaiowá population. 


 

Dangers have intensified over the last twelve months, rendering a series of violent arson attacks that have already destroyed two ceremonial houses. The Oga Pysy plays a key role in providing a physical space and vessel to the Guarani and Kaiowá community to establish a direct link to their central deity, Nhanderu Tupã. Within the ceremonial houses, several seasonal rites and ceremonies are performed to restore social and cultural harmony in the community, whilst simultaneously restoring harmony with their cosmological entities.


 

 The physical architecture of the Oga Pysy is central to these material components being made. The absence of Oga Pysy is understood to result in social disharmony and a breakdown in community relations. The threat of violent conflicts with the neighbouring non-indigenous population, reduced space and lack of ecological resources has led to a stark reduction of ceremonial houses being built. This project will directly contribute towards a collection being created by the Indigenous Cultural Heritage Working Group, held by the Museum of Image and Sound, in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Our primary purpose is to produce, preserve, document and educate others on the rich cultural heritage held by the Guarani and Kaiowá in Brazil.

Anthropology oF Techniques 

The Guarani Kaiowá live in a context of sustained conflict with the surrounding non-indigenous population and the large-scale agricultural industries which occupy the region. With a population of 45,000, only 30,000 reside in eight officially recognised indigenous reserves, whilst 15,000 live in temporary roadside encampments. The imminent dangers of ecological degeneration and religious intolerance in the region have led to only 20 ceremonial houses existing across all territories occupied by the Guarani and Kaiowá population. 


 

Dangers have intensified over the last twelve months, rendering a series of violent arson attacks that have already destroyed two ceremonial houses. The Oga Pysy plays a key role in providing a physical space and vessel to the Guarani and Kaiowá community to establish a direct link to their central deity, Nhanderu Tupã. Within the ceremonial houses, several seasonal rites and ceremonies are performed to restore social and cultural harmony in the community, whilst simultaneously restoring harmony with their cosmological entities.


 

 The physical architecture of the Oga Pysy is central to these material components being made. The absence of Oga Pysy is understood to result in social disharmony and a breakdown in community relations. The threat of violent conflicts with the neighbouring non-indigenous population, reduced space and lack of ecological resources has led to a stark reduction of ceremonial houses being built. This project will directly contribute towards a collection being created by the Indigenous Cultural Heritage Working Group, held by the Museum of Image and Sound, in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Our primary purpose is to produce, preserve, document and educate others on the rich cultural heritage held by the Guarani and Kaiowá in Brazil.

Collective Aims 

This project aims to use a range of digital mediums to enable detailed documentation of the material practices through which Guarani and Kaiowá ceremonial houses are built, and the social relations that ceremonial houses enable and sustain.  These digital documents will be proven as a valuable and enriching resource for museums and cultural heritage institutions in the UK, Brazil, and internationally. The diversity of methods will not only serve to ensure a historical record using the most sophisticated technological tools available, but to enable and nourish a fostered dialogue between the source community and their archival material practices for future generations to access and learn. 



The urgency for academic institutions to embrace and innovate existing methodologies through which research is stored, presented and gathered will permit a strenuous value to moving beyond the discipline of anthropology. The visual will evoke and harness how the potential of the digital will bring the Guarani and Kaiowá own self-representations to the fore – their words, gestures, feelings displaying a biographical and rich insight to their personhood and identity relations.