Center of the Universe

Center of the UniverseCelebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here’s a program from our archives.The Yekuana People live in the rainforest of southern Venezuela, and the centerpiece of each of their villages is a large dwelling with a cone-shaped roof, called a roundhouse. The whole community helps to build the roundhouse, and it’s a living symbol of the Yekuana’s place in the world. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.music, Yekuana bamboo “flutes”The music we’re listening to is traditionally played during the construction of a roundhouse. Telling us about it is, author and anthropologist, David Guss. Guss: “The roundhouse is built in the image of the cosmos, so that all the architectural aspects of the roundhouse reflect various aspects of the cosmos themselves, so that the cross-beam is known as the Milky Way. The centerpost holds up the center post of the universe. The two concentric circles that people live in, which is the floor plan of the roundhouse, which again is reflected by the two concentric circles of the roof, are in turn a representation of the two concentric circles of heaven. The Yekuana place themselves at the center of the world. And all the artifacts of the culture, the baskets, the canoes, the houses, they’re also reflections of the same structure, and the same conceptualization of reality. And they allow the Yekuana to maintain themselves at the center of that world, and so at the center of every roundhouse is the umbilical cord of the universe.”This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Center of the Universe

The Yekuana roundhouse is a living symbol of the cosmos. This archival program is part of Pulse of the Planet's 30th anniversary celebration. David Guss is a professor emeritus at Tufts University.
Air Date:06/27/2018
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Center of the UniverseCelebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here's a program from our archives.The Yekuana People live in the rainforest of southern Venezuela, and the centerpiece of each of their villages is a large dwelling with a cone-shaped roof, called a roundhouse. The whole community helps to build the roundhouse, and it's a living symbol of the Yekuana's place in the world. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.music, Yekuana bamboo "flutes"The music we're listening to is traditionally played during the construction of a roundhouse. Telling us about it is, author and anthropologist, David Guss. Guss: "The roundhouse is built in the image of the cosmos, so that all the architectural aspects of the roundhouse reflect various aspects of the cosmos themselves, so that the cross-beam is known as the Milky Way. The centerpost holds up the center post of the universe. The two concentric circles that people live in, which is the floor plan of the roundhouse, which again is reflected by the two concentric circles of the roof, are in turn a representation of the two concentric circles of heaven. The Yekuana place themselves at the center of the world. And all the artifacts of the culture, the baskets, the canoes, the houses, they're also reflections of the same structure, and the same conceptualization of reality. And they allow the Yekuana to maintain themselves at the center of that world, and so at the center of every roundhouse is the umbilical cord of the universe."This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.