Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 24, 2020

Happy Christmas

Winter solstice has passed and the days are again getting longer. The dark is receding.

Time for a festivity that is about hope, about the birth of a revolutionary and savior who will make the walls come down. If only symbolically.


Picture courtesy of the Bethlehem Association

In other years I used to visit family for Christmas. This year I decided against doing that. Staying apart makes it more safe for everyone. It also relieves me of three days of cooking. Not that I mind doing that. Not at all.

I will miss the kids' surprise and smiles when they open their presents, their curiosity in trying out all the new stuff. They promised to phone me up and to tell me what they got. I will, as usual, make fun about each piece. They will then fiercely defend their new toys as the best things ever. That exchange is an important part of our ritual.

I wish you all a contemplative, hope- and peaceful Christmas.


Posted by b on December 24, 2020 at 14:43 UTC | Permalink

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@ gm - thanks for the additional links.... i watched them both.. the first one would be interesting to know as it has all that french dialogue which probably says a lot about the tradition.. i tend to agree with you that this dance and etc dates back farther then the 1950's but i don't actually know...

@ jen - thanks for your additional comments.... it is a source of curiousity to me the origins of this.. i like what you have shared and suggested, but i am not sure that that is it! in fact, i am thinking this is some kind of voodoo to dispell evil spirits, but i could be wrong.. just a guess...

i happened to note in the first link gm shared @97 there are some women watching for a brief few seconds of the video around the 8'40" mark... of course the 2nd video @98 is on a large stage perhaps in france on some cutural exchange where women are also dancing in a similar manner... it is all so very curious! thanks you 2!

Posted by: james | Dec 27 2020 17:43 utc | 101

Re: "i happened to note in the first link gm shared @97 there are some women watching"

-james | Dec 27 2020 17:43 utc | 101

Here is a big event from 1987 with a lot of fancy/important-looking politicians and dignitaries, and lots of well-dressed women in attendance, and it looks like they are all there to watch the *27 min long* performance of a *single* Zaouli Master dancer perform [in the hot/humid equatorial (8 degree N Lat) Ivorian climate, for 27 min !!].

You will note that the audience are bringing/tossing coins and bills onto the field during the Zaouli Master's performance, and most of his attendants are scrambling around to pick up the money donations off the ground and take it back to the musician's section.

You will also note that the Zaouli Master dancer's costume includes a long *pony/horsetail*-like streamer coming off the backside, in addition to the humpy-back, the bilateral handheld tassle-tails, and highly stylized[modern 'mutation' of] antlers or horns on his headgear.

Though not so much done in this particular clip, the typical Zaouli dancer's repertoire also includes a specific head movement; a quick, repeated side-to-side glancing motion that mimics the head movements of a suddenly startled, nervous/hypervigilant antelope or deer.

Overall, the Zaouli dancer's movements project a strong masculine vibe. Not at all like movements in kabuki, where male performers play female roles and convey a very clear feminine image by their movements.


PS: By the way, Bouafla town is about forty miles south down the road fromManfla Village, where many of the other traditional Zaouli dance clips were filmed.

Posted by: gm | Dec 27 2020 19:51 utc | 102

GM, James:

I don't doubt that elements of zaouli dancers' costumes are much older than the dance itself and originally carried meanings or symbolism that the Guro people may or may not remember. In some videos I have seen of zaouli dancing, some dancers had carvings of snakes around their masks instead of hartebeest horns attached to the masks. I think we should take care not to assume that the dancers and the original Guro audiences read a lot into what the costumes carry, that they read the same meanings today (if they read much at all) that they did 60 years ago in aspects of the costumes and masks, and that old cultural elements, when adapted into new uses (such as dancing), keep their original meanings. For all we know, the zaouli dance costume could be a hangover from a different cultural tradition the Guro had and which they no longer observe - but the costume remains to help preserve other traditions like wood carving, painting or weaving.

Posted by: Jen | Dec 27 2020 20:04 utc | 103

Peace and good wishes. Thank you b.

Posted by: beq | Dec 28 2020 1:27 utc | 104

@ gm | Dec 27 2020 19:51 utc | 102... the drumming and connectedness of the drummers to the dancer in that video is amazing.. his partner is way more involved then the previous videos showed...

@ Jen | Dec 27 2020 20:04 utc | 103... thanks jen.. who knows the history of all this... it seems hard to get data on the net about this culture - guro....

okay - no more videos for me! i have o'd on this stuff the past few days! between that and the carla bley videos i have been watching, i have spent too much time on youboob!

Posted by: james | Dec 28 2020 2:39 utc | 105

Okay. Last zaouli festival video (2018), Promise.

apparently a competion among several neighboring villages, in middle of steamy hot July, at ~ 7° N.Latitude.

"Festival de danses et masques gouro"

Posted by: gm | Dec 28 2020 9:52 utc | 106

@ gm 106... that might be the best one yet! thanks... it was the mot varied with many different dancers!

Posted by: james | Dec 28 2020 17:34 utc | 107

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