During my one month residency at Museum Volkenkunde I have been able to study one culture in specific; I got interested in the jewellery and customs of the Mentawai people from Indonesia.
Indonesia exists of many islands, one of them are the Mentawai Islands, they're located south-west of Sumatra.
The population is estimated to be around 80.000, also the islands are just below the equator.
There is also a Lonely Planet travel guide, in which I found a very remarkable quote:
‘‘Though not far from the mainland, the Mentawai Islands and its people were kept isolated until the 19th century by strong winds, unpredictable currents and razor-sharp reefs….
… attempts to mainstream the culture have separated the people from the jungle and whittled the jungle into profit. It isn’t what it used to be, but it's a long way from being like everywhere else.‘‘
In Museum Volkenkunde you will find a lot of exports, which function as a mirror to a societey, the natural surroundings. Materials sourced in nature, as well as precious materials or ceramics.
They could be all categorized as ‚Jewellery‘, however each of them is an allegory, a story, a poem, a dooropener to another culture:
We enter a new world.
Perhaps we could even ask, who was the maker of this object?
Part of my journey through Leiden (you can get yourself a detailed local maps from the tourist information or the surrounding shops) has been: making maps as well as mental maps. One good advice if your Google Map should strike in Netherlands, count the streets and canals on the map before you start your journey and you will not get lost.
You will be amazed which small streets you can wander into, where you alongside, will discover many amazing local shops, great food and curiosities.
During my stay I have been able to dwelve into the culture of the Netherlands for a bit.
I have attended a contemporary theatre play – which has been curated by dutch artists. I felt that the mixture of the sounds combined with (non-) verbal communication has been terrific and understandable even for none-natives.
During the Holland Festival 2018 there will be more to discover of similar multimedia art located on different spots in Amsterdam, running from early summer till late September.
For sure it is also possible to visit the many beautiful parks and inside gardens with flowers blossoming almost all year around. (Summer: gardens at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam/ Winter: Botanical Garden with hothouse, recommended for everyone that comes and visits the Netherlands for the love of its many flowers/ botanical knowledge).