Oriented in the classics Latin and Greek he did most of his high school at the Benedictine school of Kremsmunster in Austria. Oyuela-Caycedo also says Reichel by was expelled from the SS and following a mental crisis Reichel-Dolmatoff abandoned the Nationalsocialist party and SS and left Germany and Austria, and is in later living and studying in Paris. Gerardo emigrated to Colombia in , where he became a Colombian citizen in In Gerardo wrote his first article on the Muisca settlement of Soacha.

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By - January 16, With a dark past behind him, Reichel-Dolmatoff went on to pioneer the Colombian cultural anthropology scene, bringing to light elaborate Indigenous cultural systems and plant medicine use. Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff is widely considered to be the father of Colombian anthropology.

He devoted almost six decades of his life to researching various Indigenous groups throughout the country, including the Guahibo, Kogi, Muisca, Kuna, and Tukano. Aside from cultural anthropology, he made significant archaeological discoveries, helping shape the well-rounded body of knowledge about both ancient and more recent indigenous life in Colombia that we have available today. His work on ayahuasca and psychedelic shamanism in the Amazon rainforest has gifted readers around the world with a treasure of information.

As a descendant of Russian aristocrats and Austrian savants and artists, his high school education was rooted in the study of Latin and Greek. He followed this classical orientation and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.

At the young age of 14, Reichel-Dolmatoff entered a dark decade of his life , possibly not by his own choice. In , this chapter came to an abrupt end, following his hospitalization due to a mental breakdown. During this time, he became actively involved with the Nazi resistance movement, which he continued even after he emigrated to Colombia, as the Secretary to the Free France movement.

He was awarded a national award by the President of France for his resistance work. His prior involvement with the Nazis remained a point of regret throughout his life, a period which he tried to keep hidden. Ideations from this troubling time cannot be seen in any of his writing. He also got involved with French ethnologist Paul Rivet, who was in exile in Colombia. Rivet was the founder of the National Institute of Ethnology and the local representative of the Free France movement.

The two worked for the liberation of France, and conducted anthropological and archaeological research in parallel. Reichel-Dolmatoff became a Colombian citizen in , and, after marrying Alicia Dussan Maldonado also an ethnologist , it was clear that he had made Colombia his new home. Rivet had a strong interest in fieldwork, and he would send Reichel-Dolmatoff on missions throughout the country; from the Llanos Orientales savannas, through the Guajira desert, to the tropical forests of Choco and the jungles of the Amazon basin.

He basically put Colombia on the proverbial anthropological map. He documented his findings extensively in numerous books, the most well-known of which is Amazonian Cosmos: The Sexual and Religious Symbolism of the Tukano Indians This passage is regarded as a dissolution into transcendence or the rupturing of a cosmic placenta and subsequent rebirth in an alternate reality.

Reichel-Dolmatoff also extensively recorded the initiation and training of neophyte shamans. Around the age of twenty-five, the Tukano initiates begin their training after a long period of observing the work of elder shamans. The training itself consists of months or years of isolation in a remote forest with other initiates, on bare living and ritual essentials.

During the training, they will consume small amounts of food, mainly simple broths and manioc starch. The purpose of all the restrictions is to bring the initiates to a state of bare existence, and cause a kind of psychic death. This causes significant lack of energy, which is considered a suitable, defenseless state in which psychoactive plants they consume can take full effect.

This opens up the door to rebirth into shamanic realms of ancestors, creator beings, and masters of animal and plant spirits. The elders help their trainees navigate a web of symbols with which they can express and encapsulate their process of transformation.

The first stage is characterized by the appearance of small star shaped or flower shaped elements which flicker and float brilliantly against a dark background, in repetitive kaleidoscope patterns. There is a marked bilateral symmetry to these luminous perceptions which sometimes appear as clusters of fruits or feathery leaves.

Grid patterns, zigzag lines and undulating lines alternate with eye shaped motifs, many concentric circles or endless chains of brilliant dots …. The person watches passively these innumerable scintillating patterns. After a while the symmetry and the overall geometrical aspect of these perceptions disappears and the second stage sets in.

Now figurative, pictorial images take shape; large blots of colour will be seen moving like thunderclouds and from them will emerge diffuse shapes looking like people or animals or unknown creatures. The Indians interpret these images as mythological … which to them bear witness to the essential truth of their religious beliefs.

In a third stage, all these images disappear. There will be soft music and wandering clouds, a state of blissful serenity. To make it sublime, to pass from the erotic, the sensual, to a mystical union with the mythic era, the intrauterine state, is the ultimate goal … coveted by all. The myth says that the vine was birthed by the First Woman, in the form of a boy radiating golden light.

She rubbed this luminous boy with leaves, and the men cut off pieces of him, which became the ancestral strains of B. Tukano lore is rife with imagery of raw human processes as symbols of sophisticated spiritual experiences. Accolades Reichel-Dolmatoff wrote some 40 books and over academic articles , singlehandedly pioneering and advancing the Colombian anthropological and archaeological scenes. His contributions brought out into the open the wealth of knowledge and wisdom of indigenous peoples of the Colombia, highlighting their relevance to the Western world.

They also brought us a vast understanding of their use of ayahuasca as a healing and divinatory agent and how it fits into their culture on the whole. He was a renowned and internationally welcomed academic figure with numerous honorary fellowships and awards confirming his merit. For his vast accomplishments, he was awarded the Thomas H. The tireless intellectual and researcher remained active until his final days and completed a book on Amazonian trees and an academic lecture just days before his death.

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The Kogis Indians of Colombia

Photographer living near the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta for 4 years, I have had the privilege of sharing extraordinary moments with this unique culture. I share with you here all that I have been able to learn alongside the Kogis in recent years: culture, tradition, beliefs, etc… Who are the Kogis? Where does the word Kogi come from? The Taironas The Taironas were organized in the form of Caciques kingdoms. Each of these cities had a main cacique who led the minor caciques of the surrounding villages. The social organization was already very developed, and each community played a different role in society.


Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff


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