Sunday, September 27, 2009

Additional Confirmation of Henri's Voyage

I recently found a couple of mentions of Henri in regard to botanical samples and additional artifacts he brought back from the voyage, namely:

In the April 1865 Monthly newsletter of the Royal Prussian Academy the Sciences, Henri is mentioned to have collected samples of Spruce while in Peru.

"S. asperula (Mart.) Spring ist vor allen anderen gegliederten Arten durch kurze, dichtgedrängte, ziegelartig sich deckende Blätter der Zweige ausgezeichnet. Den in Spring angefübrten Fundorten dieser Art will ich noch beifügen: Panuré am Rio Uaupés und Barra in der Provinz Rio Negro, an beiden Orten von Spruce gesammelt und als S. erythropus vertheilt. In Peru wurde sie auch von Henri de Buren gesammelt (Herb. Neocom.)."

In the 1908 Studies of Tropical American Ferns by William R. Maxon, Henri is mentioned to have collected samples in Mexico near Jalapa.

"As already noted P. pycnocarpttm has been very generally misidentified and Its concept widely extended. Thus, Christensen, in his Index Filicum, gives the range “Mexico-Chile-Argentina” for this species. The citation of Mexico is presumably taken from Fournier who mentions two collections by de Buren and Hahn from the mountains near Jalapa. These plants which have not been examined, are probably referable to P. fallacissimum a very distinct species which is related rather to P. subvestitum."

The Musée d'Ethnographie in Neuchâtel found another piece in their collection from Henri's voyage. A stone arrowhead with the inscription "Mexique/ H. de Buren" on one side.

Stone arrowhead © Musée d'Ethnographie de Neuchâtel

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mundurucú feathered headress

At the end of his journey, Henri found himself at Pará where the Amazon empties into the Atlantic. While in Pará he was shown around Santarém by the French Vice-Consul, M. Gouzenne. He speaks about the geography and goods exchanged at the mouth of the Amazon.

While in Santarém he writes about trying to procure a ceremonial trophy head and feathered headdress from the Mundurucú people, once the mightiest headhunters in the Amazon. I had assumed that he was unable to close the deal, but the Musée d'Ethnographie in Neuchâtel has a feathered headdress that is attributed to Henri in their possession (Actual photo below). The colors of the Amazon bird feathers are still incredibly vibrant after 150 years. What happened to the trophy head is a mystery.

Mundurucú feathered headress. © Musée d'Ethnographie de Neuchâtel

Mundurucú warrior in ceremonial attire, ca. 1828. Illustration by Hercules Florence.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The butler (almost) did it

The largest contingent of those attached to the expedition to establish the Peruvian town of Caballococha were from Germany. Most left Germany of their own accord to start a new life, some it seems had other reasons for leaving.

During his entire time in Peru, Henri who travelled in style, had a young German, August Forgens, assigned to him to carry some of his possessions, help him set up his elaborate tent when they arrived at a new village and to also help him entertain guests. It seems Henri's accommodations were quite upscale given the circumstances, and Henri would invite different members of the expedition to dine or have a cordial with him in the evening.

Just before Henri left the expedition to travel on to Brazil he was informed by a compatriot of Forgens that August had been implicated in an attempted assassination of General Karl Wilhelm von Willisen, Supreme Commander of the forces of the German Confederation. Most of the men who were on the expedition were former military men and if the story is accurate, Forgens may have been motivated by the defeat of the Schleswig-Holstein troops under the command of von Willisen at the hands of Denmark during the Battle of Isted in 1850. The defeat was highly demoralizing and effectively broke the back of the Schleswig-Holstein army.

General Karl Wilhelm von Willisen

Monday, September 14, 2009

Agriculture, Forestry and Hunting

In looking through Henri's papers today I found his entry in the 1883 Swiss National Exposition in Zürich, a proof of his membership in the Swiss Hunting Association and Swiss Forestry Association. I was struck by their graphic composition and beauty. They seem to represent well a man who loved to work with his land and interact with nature. In the 1883 Swiss National Exposition he would enter in the wine and spirits category and would win an honorable mention for his red wine.

Exposition Nationale Suisse, Zurich 1883. Monsieur H. de Büren, Vaumarcus

Société Suisse de Chasseurs, 1886

Schweizerische Forestverein, 1879

Saturday, September 12, 2009

1er Prime d'Honneur

After his voyage, Henri was very active for the remainder of his life in botanical and agricultural societies of French-speaking Switzerland. Below is a new discovery from a family member (Merci Pitchoune) of an agricultural award that Henri won in 1879. On one side it states "1er prime d'honneur, pour agriculture, 1879" and on the other "Henri de Büren, Vaumarcus". It is not clear why he won this award, but it simply reinforces that fact that he was a gifted botanist like his father.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bear and Bull Fight in Lima

As I read Henri's letters home one of the passages that struck me was his description of two Bear and Bull Fights he witnessed in Lima in 1853.

"The Bull and the Bear have one of their legs chained so they cannot freely move within a small enclosed circle. The battle loses some of its interest as a result, but it must be said that it is fairer fight than in the typical corrida."

After the second fight which it seems was far more gruesome than the first, Henri left in disgust.

"I was sickened not only from the display, but also for those who seemed to derive so much pleasure from the spectacle."

I thought this was pretty barbaric and of another age. It made me think of ancient Rome or Bull and Bear baiting in Elizabethan England. When I did a little research however, I found that it was also very prevalent in California at the time.

From an 1868 New York Times article

"Spain or Mexico never pitted a bear against a bull in the public arena, and it has been left for enlightened America to develop the prowess of such animals in combat. Grizzly Joe, the bear who fought yesterday against the calico-colored Texas bull. is almost a pioneer in that line, although several exhibitions of the kind have been given in California."

From Chris Ralph's Article The Bull and Bear Fight

"In the early days of California, the pioneer population of the state was wont to amuse themselves with the gruesome ritual of bull and bear fights. Certainly something that would never be accepted today, these events made the Mexican tradition of bullfighting look tame by comparison. A large portion of the California population in those days was Spanish, and anything pertaining to the fighting of bulls would draw out the full Mexican population. However the bull and bear fight was not limited to just one ethnic group, and was a sport appreciated by all the population in those days, as the Americans would turn out alongside everyone else. Sunday, by custom, was the day set apart for these exhibitions, for on that day, everybody came to town for shopping and other business."
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...