THE STORY OF CEREMONY
Created in 2017 by Damien Cifelli & Anne Crawford, Ceremony Jewellery is inspired by a story.
This piece of fiction is used as fuel to spark ideas for the distinctive jewellery designs.
The story begins with a chance discovery.
The discovery of a box, to be specific, containing the yellowing notebooks of the explorer and anthropologist Sir George Caramoan. Forgotten until long after his death, they contain illuminating notes and sketches of a single event, what Caramoan refers to as The Ceremony.
After a long process of piecing together the information, an image of the event becomes clear.
I have been blessed to see the great tribal gathering that, having many names in many different languages, can only be translated as 'The Ceremony'. Despite being an outsider, they have generously allowed me to stay and document the occasion, on the condition that I do not reveal its location.
The likes of this event has never been recorded before. In this hidden place is an immense congregation of peoples from across the globe.-
The Ceremony, witnessed by George Caramoan is held every 100 years and serves as a general assembly of all the world’s major and minor indigenous tribes. This one, in 1920 is the only one ever witnessed by an outsider.
The sheer volume of participants is staggering. I have not seen this many people even in the stands at a World Cup final. They must have travelled far to be here, a great migration of the human being.
From my quick observation it seems that every corner of the globe is represented here. Every jungle territory and snow blasted tundra, every rippling swathe of desert and sawtooth mountain range, from the northernmost reaches of Siberia to the distant tip of Patagonia and from the deepest interior to the most remote of islands.
There are representatives of vastly populated nomadic communities and tiny tribes from god-forsaken Pacific Islands. Their faces are pale as snow and as dark as night. They come wrapped in furs or stripped to the waist, painted head to toe or dressed like myself , in western attire. It is as though I look upon a bestiary. Animals of every kind shuffle by with curly black hair or ruler straight fair hair, fat stomachs or long noses, short and squat, tall and skinny, small hands, big feet, fast and slow.
It is almost impossible to believe that we are all one species.
What stands out, and is represented in more than half of his notes, is the central place that Jewellery takes in these proceedings.
The organisation of such an event is far beyond my understanding, communication being to my mind the greatest hurdle. But it is one that has been skillfully overcome. After several days at the Ceremony I have come to realise that the jewellery of each tribe serves an important purpose. It designates their identity and their status, a sort of pictographic language.
I have resolved to document as many of these pieces as I can, as I believe they are a physical manifestation of this momentous occasion. Another event of this kind will not happen in my lifetime or even my children’s. For that reason alone I think it is of the utmost importance to document it.
Within the pages of notes describing the gathering are a vast number of sketches of jewellery. Each annotated with a brief description of the tribes they represent. It is hard to say whether many of these tribes still exist.
Why Caramoan hid his notebooks is not clear, but a passage in one of them gives us a clue.
These people I have spent time with are strong. They have lived the same way for centuries and thrived. Despite their strength, it is heartbreaking to observe them as they are undeniably fragile. Their agenda contrasts with that of the modern world and it is hard to imagine them winning such a fight. I fear for their future and I fear that the world will not understand. For now they wish to remain hidden, to live in peace as they have always done, but perhaps the day will come for these people to be revealed to the world.
Ceremony Jewellery is an attempt to represent this great event, by creating the jewellery we imagine to have been present. Every piece is handmade in Edinburgh and accompanied by the story of the individual tribe from which it comes.