National Geographic : 1989 Sep
SEPTEMBER 1989 GEOGRAPHIC .A. .A. .. ... .. ..A IA I A Halting the Importation of Bolivian Textiles The export and sale of beautiful but important artifacts from past societies has become a recurrent problem for scholars (NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC, August 1981, July 1984, April 1986, October 1988, March 1989). No less a problem is the sale of items from a culture that still exists. The U. S. government has banned imports from one such age-old culture, the Aymara of the Bolivian Andes. Acting on a request from the Bolivian government, U. S . officials barred the importation, unless approved by Bolivian authorities, of antique textiles woven in the Aymara community of Coroma (right). The U. S. Informa tion Agency's Cultural Property Advi sory Committee ruled that continued importation-which had grown enor mously in the past decade-was a threat to the historical record of the Aymara culture (GEOGRAPHIC, February 1927) and thus constituted an emergency under the 1983 Cultural Property Implementation Act. Coroma's textiles-ponchos, capes, shawls, and tunics woven from alpaca or vicunia hair-date back as far as the 15th century. Only in recent years have anthropologists learned that these tex tiles, preserved in sacred bundles, play a key role in Coroma's political, social, economic, and religious life. Nearly half of Coroma's textiles have made their way to the U. S. collectors market. No Square Corners on a Round World ou can't fit a round peg into a square hole, and you can't fit a round world onto a rectangular map. In fact you shouldn't even try. So say seven major geographic organizations, including the National Geographic Society, who have adopt ed a resolution urging publishers, the media, and government agencies to stop using rectangular world maps, such as those drawn on the familiar Mercator projection. Since the earth is round, with a coordinate system composed entirely of circles, flattening the globe surface to produce a rectangular map severely distorts large portions of the world, especially near the Poles. Such a map's GOVERNMENTOF BOLIVIA straight edges and sharp corners pro mote erroneous impressions, notes the resolution, which originated in the American Cartographic Association committee on map projections. The National Geographic Society recently switched from one nonrectan gular projection to another. As Chief Cartographer John Garver explained (GEOGRAPHIC, December 1988), the new projection, by cartographer Arthur H. Robinson, gives "a different and more realistic view of the world." Rebuilding a Monastery on the World's Roof local Buddhist leaders and interna tional groups plan to join in rebuilding the main temple of Nepal's Thyangboche Monastery, destroyed by a fire in January. The monastery, on a 12,700-foot-high ridge in Sagarmatha National Park en route to a base camp of Mount Everest, is well-known to Himalayan trekkers; many agree that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. An electric heater was blamed for setting the temple afire when most of Thyangboche's monks were in Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital, attending a funeral for a lama. The monastery had only recently obtained electric power, through a project to provide an alternative to cutting trees for firewood (GEOGRAPHIC, November 1988). Fortunately, many of the build ing's religious artifacts were saved. The original Thyangboche Monas tery was built in 1919. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1934, it was soon rebuilt and has become a major religious cen ter. It is famed for its annual Mani Rimdu festival (GEOGRAPHIC, June 1982) depicting the glory of Buddhism. Sir Edmund Hillary is raising funds for the rebuilding through a Hima layan Trust/Thyangboche Monastery account at Nepal Grindlays Bank in Kathmandu.