59. ‘Arreador de Ñandu’

Argentina
Size: 84 × 37 cm

The South American ostrich is called ‘Suri’ by the Indians, and ‘Ñandu’ by the Criollos. Since ancient times the natives have run behind them for power. Its fibrous meat is nourishing, its tendons good for weaving ropes, its neck ideal for making bags, its enormous eggs made magical presents, and, most importantly, its feathers were used to embellish their strong naked bodies.

An arreador is a long whip used to guide cattle from over a horse, with a Ñandu foot as the whip handle. Luxurious and ornamented with fine braided leather, it has the look of a power object more than a rural tool. It came to me as a present, given by a wealthy estanciera, named Doña Claudia, better known as ‘La Madrina’. She gave it with a cunning smile, saying she knew I would appreciate its mystery.

The wooden batijuela holding the whip is a primitive tray made by the people from the dry forest, probably the first piece of ‘furniture’ they make when arriving at the camp to be. The silver wire holding the whip to the batijuela is a reminder of its Argentine origin.

Ricardo Paz