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Book source: Paw a Paw Dindoe, F.H.J. Muntslag, VACO, Paramaribo, 1979. ISBN 99914-0-000-1

Subject: [Book] Saramaccaners & Aucaners


In his book 'Paw a Paw Dindoe' the author F.H.J. Muntslag gives us a few glimpses of the life of Saramaccaners and Aucaners. The Saramaccaners live along the Suriname River. A long time ago they lived along the Saramacca river but moved out after a disagreement with another unnamed tribe. The Aucaners got their name from the village Auka where in the past a peace treaty was signed between the run away slaves and whites.

{Religion} These tribes show a fear and respect for all their gods. They act based on their mood and feelings and often their conscience. Their supreme being is the 'Gran Gado' and his name is rarely uttered since there are many minor gods. The tribes live according to customs and traditions. Their religious believes are complex and not well known to outsiders. The author mentions a minor god 'Gado-Paw'...the wooden God who resembles a human carved in wood. The day to day gods which have a bearing on the lives of the tribes are those which are perceived to have power due to their link with the ghosts/spirits of deceased parents, grand parents and ancestors.

{Philosophy} There is a saying among the tribes ...'Sleep, wake-up and learn" and they try to stick to that. We in the 'west' would have a saying ...'one is never too old to learn'.

{Role of Women} The descendants of the slaves still live a life which was shaped by historical experiences. The law of inheritance is determined by the blood line of the mother and not the father. The head of the family is the mother and not the father. They have a saying...'honor every woman'. Succession to a tribal position is determined in favor of the son of a sister and not the son of a brother.

{Tribal Art} The Saramaccaners woodcarving show deep cuts in their wood carving work while the Aucaners make superficial cuts and use paints. The wood carvings of both tribes show now a mixture due to the influence of tourists. All their carvings have a story to tell and have a symbolic meaning. They use the figures of animals, insects and plants in their carvings. Their designs are an expression of moods such as: joy, grief, love, hate etc. The spider is often used to express someone being shrewd or cunning. Each carving expresses so many unique meanings that only an expert can explain them. The author's book 'Paw a Paw Dindoe' is just doing that. It has many photos, drawings and explanations of the designs meaning.

Met dank aan Albert Buys

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