On Saturday, March 17, about 25 friends, family, and staff gathered in Tangolunda to christen “Noah’s Ark,” the new centerpiece of the Bacaanda Foundation’s arts and crafts programming. The ark will serve as a museum display in the Bacaanda gift shop, showcasing animals made from locally sourced natural materials.
For the christening, Lily Jarnryd, granddaughter of Bacaanda founder Britt-Marie Jarnryd, took aim at the bow of the ark with a carefully-rigged bottle of water that exploded nicely, to cheers and laughter, signaling that the ark was ready for attendees to start loading Noah and his pairs of animals.
Visitors to the museum display will be able to see a whole menagerie of animals crafted from native gourds, seeds, seed-pods, and other natural materials. More animals will be available in the gift shop, and visitors can buy them for themselves or to add to the ark.
According to Jarnryd, the Foundation became interested in the potential of the gourds and seeds as a craft medium several years ago, when they entered and won a contest in La Crucecita to design and build a Nativity scene made only from natural materials from the local environment. Now the Foundation provides native gourd seeds to people along the coast, where the gourds thrive, and buys back the gourds once produced.
The Foundation also purchases natural materials collected by people in several mountain villages above Huatulco , including mamey seeds, ojo de venado (eye of the deer, or velvet bean), and the impermeable tree gourds that grow on the calabash tree (Crescentia cujete). “It’s really quite amazing to see what happens when people realize that everyday natural materials around them have value,” says Jarnryd. “Any kind of supplemental income is very important in an economy mostly based on subsistence agriculture.”
The animals are created on the workshop side of the Bacaanda Foundation’s offices in Tangolunda. The workshop is one of several Bacaanda programs intended to give villagers the skills, tools, and some marketable models for income-producing work based in their local economy. Currently, the Foundation is hosting two artisans from Santiago Xanica. Britt Jarnryd hopes that the museum displays will bring more attention to, and support for, the Foundation’s programs.