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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sneak Peek from the Stacks: Decorative Dispatch

Carole D. Yawney Papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Image has been altered to remove the sender's address.
February not only marks African American History Month but includes the 68th anniversary of Bob Marley's birth (February 6).  In the spirit of both, the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) presents this artful envelope from the Carole D. Yawney Papers featuring a Nyahbinghi drum and Ras Mortimo Planno, the Rasta elder widely regarded as Marley’s spiritual mentor. The artist, Nicolas Derouet, eventually changed his last name to "Planno" to honor the elder. These kinds of artistically aestheticized envelopes/letters are not uncommon in Rastafari culture and employ iconic imagery related to Ethiopian royalty, Africa, the Bible, nature, and dreadlocks as part of how Rastafari culture travels and reproduces itself. The NAA holds extensive Rastafari materials including photographs, posters, ephemerals, sound recordings of music and spoken word, and videotape created or collected by Carole D. Yawney and George E. Simpson—the first scholar to publish about the Rastafari movement in Jamaica.

— Adam Minakowski, Reference Archivist, National Anthropological Archives and Jake Homiak, Department of Anthropology Collections and Archives Program Director

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