Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cultural Revival: The Taíno

I can still hear the lesson taught to me by a late sculpture professor, mentor and friend, Ed Love. Upon a visit to my home in Washington, DC, he commented on my sculptures. At that time, I worked mainly in welded steel inlaid with etched and color embellished Plexiglas panels.

He said, “Always describe your own work. Don’t leave its interpretation up to anyone else. No one else can accurately explain its meanings.”

I took this advice.  It is now associated with two pieces of artwork , presented to the 2014 Jamaica Biennial judges, that is part of a cultural revival of Taíno aesthetics. One is an assemblage sculpture titled “Inriri: Yamaye Bird-man” and a silkscreen print, “Deminan of the 4 Twins”. Both are part of the Creation epic of the Caribbean’s Amerindian people, the Taino.

Usually an art historian or critic takes on the task of catering to his own experiences or taste.  During some critiques, the term “in the style of” is often evoked. For example, “in the style of Picasso, or Rembrandt.” They never say in the style of a non European “master”. What if I choose to emulate unknown artists from an indigenous Amerindian culture such as the Taíno? The viewer may be unfamiliar with indigenous Caribbean cultural aesthetics, but should not avoid a Caribbean model for visual expression. I see my artwork as an extension of an ongoing cultural revival of the indigenous people of the Caribbean.

Research in a number of scholarly fields continues to reveal more about the once-believed “extinct” people, of the Caribbean, as newly discovered revelations about Amerindians survival are constantly being made. The impact of over six million Taíno Amerindians is Earth-shaking (Spanish Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas was the source of this count).

Chief Irvince Auguist, Carib Reserve, Dominica 1992
The Island Carib

The Island Carib who live in the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles and Central America, have a story of survival that differs from the Taíno with whom their warriors had continued to intermarry. They, like the Taíno had lived and navigated among 7,000 islands and the mainland Americas. To say that these indigenous Caribbean people became extinct is a gross misunderstanding of human survival 
after a holocaust. The rest of the planet, 
like the Amerindians never recovered from a form of culture shock that spread as far east as Europe, Africa and Asia. World languages, cuisine and technology are as peppered with the Taíno aji (chili/capsicum) as Jamaican jerk (really Taíno barbecoa) with scotch bonnet and pimento (Taíno allspice). Over time, Caribbean Amerindian influences so subtly melded into most world languages and cultures that they are rarely identified as imports. Pizza, curry, sweet potato and pumpkin pies, stir-fry (with bell and chili peppers), fish & chips, and barbecue (called barbie in Australia) although identified as part of local national customs all share this common South American and Caribbean Amerindian source. Unknowingly, most of the world’s people carry a little Amerindian in their stomachs. Those millions who survive off Mainland (Central and South America) originated corn/maize or cassava/yuca were introduced to these foodstuffs via the Caribbean’s Amerindian cultures during a 28 year First Encounter period.

According to Dr. Jose Barreiro (Cuban Taíno) of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in a 2013 discussion at Fondo del Sol in DC, the Taíno survivors in Cuba still 
practice traditional agriculture by the fazes of the moon. Not unlike the Island Carib canoe-maker in Dominica who cut down the gommier tree (”when the moon is finishing”) also by the moon’s position. “Unless a researcher knows the right type of question to ask, or understands what they are seeing,” Barriero stated, the incorrect assumption would be that these capmecinos up in the mountains, don’t know much about Taíno culture. This wrong assumption can lead to the common statement that the Taíno of the Caribbean became extinct soon after the arrival of Columbus. Not only does the DNA visibly survive in the populations of Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, but also in the diasporas living outside of the Caribbean. There is no question of the Island Carib, for they have a reservation on the Island of Dominica where they elect a chief every four years. Their relatives, the Garifuna population is estimated to be around 600,000 who live along the “Caribbean Coast in Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras including the mainland, and on the island of Roatán”. They also survived with their African kin via insurrections on St. Vincent, Martinique and Guadeloupe and by way of a shipwreck of Africans not yet slaves, but bound for enslavement. They did not go quietly into the night as some have thought.

The Taíno 

Above: “Dr Erica Neeganagwedgin, a Taino born in St Elizabeth [Jamaica] who attended Hampton School in the said parish, makes a point to Cacique Roberto 'Mucaro' Borrero, president of the United Confederation of Taino People.”— Jamaica Gleaner, Saturday , July 5, 2014

An example of Amerindian revival is being spearheaded by Cacique Roberto Mucaro Borrero, director of the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP) of which I am a member. Taíno organizations both in the US and the islands are currently keeping alive both the language and culture of their ancestors.  It is with this aim that the two works, a silkscreen print and an assemblage sculpture were created. As a Jamaican artist, like most people in my profession, I have gone through a series of self-examining style and content changes in my career. From an island of mainly non-European people, having not been taught about any other cultures that comprise my identity, was only natural to fill in the gaps ignored by a colonial government. 

The question first to be answered was, “Where am I?” The only real answer was, “In Amerindian territory.” If so, were there any vestiges of indigenous cultures? A research grant in 1992 led me to “Yes”, even though they were subtly hidden in practices we consider to be Jamaican.

Above: ”Olive Moxam-Dennis (left) said though she always knew she was Taíno). But  never discussed. It was her daughter, Dr Erica Neeganagwedgin (right), who helped her to embrace her Taíno heritage”,-- Ibid.

My survival theory was recently realized by a Jamaican newspaper article. Some Yamaye (Jamaican) Taíno descendants publicly announced their lineage in  2014 at the sixth 
Charles Town International Maroon Conference held in Portland, Jamaica. Other Taíno representatives from the NY/Puerto Rican (Cacique Borrero) and Connecticut/Dominican Republic areas were photographed with Jamaica’s indigenous descendants. The original fear by the local Taíno, a common occurrence among survivors, was public ridicule. For some inexplicable but not uncommon reason, the general populace seemed shocked at the survival of people who went underground or “blended in”. Having been on the Eastern Woodland Native American powwow circuit for over 30 years, I often have been told similar stories of Amerindian survival and the added burden of being a “hidden Indian”. 

Above: “Jamaica-born Taíno, Olive Moxam-Dennis, chats with Cacique Jorge Baracutey Estevez, Dominican Republic Taíno who lives in Connecticut, USA, at the sixth Charles Town International Maroon Conference in Portland recently.”-- Ibid

Above Maroon Conference photographs by the Jamaica Gleaner (

 There was recently a call for entries for the 2014 Jamaica Biennial sponsored by the 
National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ). I submitted two Taíno-inspired pieces of art in an effort to include the missing Amerindian portion of Jamaica’s cultural puzzle. From my observation Jamaica (similar to the US in the 1960s) is rightfully going through its once denied Afro-centric phase. I had been following the type of artwork that is promoted as competition worthy. The current emphasis is on abstraction, some minimalism and “Intuitives”, artists who are spiritually moved to create art without “formal” training. One NGJ blog article also highlighted the works of some contemporary artists. Abstraction is the norm.  While technically good; the subject matter exhibits the thinking of a nation working towards artistic 
identity while mimicking artistic styles that have a genesis in Europe and American Modernism. This begs the question; what is Jamaican art? Is it a colonial shadow or, if given clues, would it be identified as uniquely Jamaican? Only the Intuitive works could be compared favorably with similar but distinctive Haitian painting styles.

Granted, Jamaica is a European creation in the Amerindian Caribbean. Its current population is mostly ethnic African mixed with European, Middle Eastern and Asian, built on Amerindian Taíno retentions. Although many Caribbean artists have varying degrees of 
African DNA, one could not easily tell by most of the artwork being created. Some artists seem to be exploring their African roots; echoing an early 20th century movement called the “Harlem Renaissance” (that included Jamaican poet Claude McKay) which gave birth to African American “race pride” artists, such as those members of the Africobra art collective (a Chicago-based group known for its “Wall of Respect”. Africobra’s aim was to consciously express one’s self by going against Mainstream Eurocentric styles by using African designs, imagery and “Cool Aid” colors. The experimentation with American Indian aesthetics had 
taken hold in New York decades earlier ushering in the Modern Art Movement, a style emulated by some Jamaican artists today. In the US this infusion of the indigenous was necessary in order to create a truly new American style of expression. Jamaican artists could take a page from this American Modernist movement by researching those things that make them Jamaican and not European, American or African. Truly “Jamaican” cultural heritage has a Taíno foundation. A country that prides itself on jerk foods, a Taíno based cuisine that uses a Maya word for its technique should know more about its indigenous roots.

 Amerindian acknowledgement

Below: Three views of Inriri: Yamaye Bird-man”. Assemblage sculpture. Materials: Maple and plumb wood, macaw and wild turkey feathers, abalone and cowrie shells.  (2014) by Michael Auld.
Front view

Semi profile

The Amerindian acknowledgement phase in Jamaica is just beginning. My e-mailed photographs and explanation along with an entry form for the Jamaica Biennial read:

“My two works titled "Deminan of the 4 Twins" and "Inriri: Yamaye Bird-man" are based on contemporary 
interpretations of stories and aesthetics from the indigenous ancestors of Jamaica, the Yamaye Taíno. Deminan, is one of the four sons of Itiba Cahubaba the Fifth Earth Mother of the Taíno Creation epic. Inriri is a part of the bird-man category of beings, one found in Jamaica's Carpenter Mountains in the 1700s, and is also associated with the bird (Cahubabael) that is related to the woodpecker's finding a woman's "honey spot". Duality is important to the Taíno belief system, so the twin "Inriri" imagery represents "the crucifixion of Taíno culture."
In the Taíno Creation story, Deminan Caracacoal and his three brothers, called the “4 
Twins”, were born to Itiba Cahubaba, the Fifth Earth Mother. They mate with Turtle Mother to produce the world’s people. The Taíno are from Deminan, so only he is named. In my print, they are set in a cave-like womb surrounded by pictographs.

Deminan of the 4 Twins”, silkscreen print, (2013 ) by Michael Auld

This story, a part of the island’s history, should be told as effortlessly as the Anansi the 
Spider-man folkloric tales.

 All creation stories are valid parts of cultures, not unlike “Adam & Eve” of the Hebrews or Michabo the Great Hare of the Algonquians. After all, although many roots are in the Eastern Hemisphere, we do live in the Western Hemisphere.

Post script: Not surprisingly, my submissions were quickly rejected. As a designer my modus operandi (MO) has instinctively been to be ahead of the game.

Here are the sources for the above artworks.
AbovePrecolumbian(?) "Taíno bird-man". This wood sculpture, probably Inriri (the woodpecker who is featured in the Taíno's Guahayona story about the women who were taken from their husbands to the Island of Women) was found in a cave in Jamaica's Carpenter Mountains in the 1700s. It was the inspiration for my assemblage wall sculpture above. The iconic Bird-man loaned itself to a cross-like image and a contemporary statement of  crucifixion, a method of torture implemented by the ancient Romans. To me, it represented a cultural crucifixion. My sculpture's analogy alluded to the premature "death" and current resurrection of Taíno culture in Jamaica.

Above three photographs: My silkscreen print above, titled "Deminan of the 4 Twins", was inspired by my life-sized sculpture of Itiba Cahubaba the Fifth Earth Mother of the Taíno. (Seen here in close-up details). Materials: composite wood, vines, shell, clay and paint.

In the epic about her, she died after giving birth by Cesarean section to four "twins". The twins are set in a cave-like womb since caves (sometimes with pictograph drawings) were considered sacred by the 
Taíno. The cave was the womb of Mother Earth, from where we came into this reality.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Payback or jelentései?

Kicking Native Americans out of their homeland was first tried in North America by the English colonists. Pequots were “deported” to Bermuda after King Phillip’s War.  Carolina Amerindians were exported to the Caribbean for slave labor there so that the “settlers” could take their fertile lands. “Indian Territory” was set up by the Americans in Oklahoma as a form of Eastern US ethnic cleansing. (Notice the visible low populations of the Native presence in the East as opposed to Oklahoma, New Mexico, etc.).

 jelentései /yel-en-tey-say/ (nasaln.
1.    The Algonquian word for destiny/karma
2.    destiny, fate, fortune, kismat, kismet

karma/ˈkärmə/. n.
(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.

Informal: destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

It is interesting to see the Texas border issue play out between the mostly Amerindian (and some “Mestizo”) child refugees and angry Anglo protesters intent on sending these minors back to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The unfolding issue has highlighted a number of observations.

(1) Now that the shoe is on the other foot, do the protesters finally understand how it felt to be a Native American who had to watch the first "illegals" arrive on their shores and cross Amerindian  territorial borders, beginning in 1607? The 17th century “European Invasion” started the takeover of North America by outsiders.

(2) Who belongs in the USA? What would Native American forefathers think about the current "border crisis"? Surely not in the same way the immigrant poem below idealistically proposed. Anti-immigrant protests by earlier European arrivals showed fear of takeover by later arriving "huddled masses" from Europe.

The concept of "finders, keepers" is reminiscent of an English naval officer's quip after the English took the island of Jamaica away from the Spanish in 1655. The Naval officer said in so many words, "What is their problem? They took it away from the Indians. Now we are taking it away from them (the Spanish)."

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The statue beneath which this poem appears represents Libertas the Roman goddess of liberty. It is evident that this poem by Emma Lazarus, graven on a tablet within the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands, at the time only applied to a chosen few. It represented freedom and democracy that did not apply to Amerindians or descendants of enslaved Africans who were already here. Today, the sentiment does not apply to those dogged Amerindian children crossing our border into Texas, fleeing for their lives. The statue was placed at the entrance to the New York harbor on Liberty Island and it obviously only applied to masses coming across the Atlantic not the Rio Grande.

Maybe the new Texas border fence should have a plaque that paraphrases the one below the Statue of Liberty with:

"Keep out your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming hoard."

The irony is that the Anglo “settler” descendants/beneficiaries who took Indian lands by force and disease want to send all the little Amerindian refugees back south to that other portion of “Indian Territory”, South and Central America.
The history of unwanted migration began earlier north of the border beginning in 1607. "Free" Powhatan Indian lands that still belonged to the displaced and disenfranchised Native Americans had been offered to Englishmen for the taking. Euphemisms like "virgin territory", "wide open spaces" and "wilderness", were applied to territories already populated and owned by the indigenous Amerindians. It was taken by force for sole ownership by foreign "settlers" in a hemisphere already inhabited and managed by early Amerindians [Read the book "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus" by Charles C. Mann].  In effect, our huddled non-Amerindian masses were invited in to share stolen booty while the original owners were corralled on reservations. (The Treaty of 1677 between the King of England and the Queen of Pamunkey, was clear on who could and could not even visit the Virginia reservations without a pass from an Englishman.)

So it was with generations of those who clandestinely inherited stolen Native goods. The children from Central American countries are perfectly described on the Statue of Liberty's pedestal. The only problem? They are the young southern Amerindian cousins of indigenous Americans living in the United States. By both historic and scientific definition they are not recent immigrants like the folks who seek to keep them out. Amerindians coming back North is an ancient practice as can be seen by reported Maya DNA markers found in some South Eastern Woodland people. Both mound-building and corn had already arrived from the south thousands of years before Europeans. The Central American children are survivors of a 500 year holocaust escaping yet another form of genocide from imported guns and bullets, crossing the border to help replenish the DNA of their northern Amerindian cousins. The only main things that divide them are the foreign languages (English and Spanish) of the European "settlers".

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Football: Is it American? What role did the Olmec play in this international game?

The Olmec, “the mother civilization of Mesoamerica, flourished in the present-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco, Mexico from around 1500 BCE. The name "Olmec" comes from the Nahuatl word for the Olmecs: Ōlmēcatl [oːlˈmeːkat͡ɬ] (singular) or Ōlmēcah [oːlˈmeːkaʔ] (plural). This word is composed of the two words ōlli [ˈoːlːi], meaning "rubber", and mēcatl [ˈmeːkat͡ɬ], meaning "rope", so the word means "rubber line or lineage"-Wikipedia

So, What About Soccer?

The FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil is continuing the traditional international fervor for ball games. The World Cup started in 1930, Brazil has won the most times, fittingly with five wins under her belt. Next to the Olympics, this is the most watched and celebrated sport event in the world. The rubber ball game began in the Americas, so, why has it been so hard to chronicle ALL of football, or "soccer's" contributory beginnings? Especially when the people who invented rubber from a tree sap named themselves after their world-changing invention. The product took over a thousand years to hit the world market.

When I was a lad growing up in the Caribbean we played football, the game that actually describes how it is played. When I arrived at Howard University in 1962 the game that Americans called soccer was dominated by the foreign students from the Caribbean and Africa. The ball that I played with was made from sewn strips of leather, a lace to close the innards, and a tube or bladder made from an ancient Amerindian invention, rubber. It was this borrowed indigenous sap or blood of a Tropical American tree, Hevea brasiliensis, that made soccer/football possible. Without this vulcanized invention we would be left with how the game originated, kicking a stuffed leather or grass ball. With that dead trajectory, we might as well be playing rugby. It is doubtful that football would have gotten off the ground to become a World Cup event. I am still trying to find mention of the Olmec genius who figured out how to bleed a tree and, through the process of vulcanization, produced a bouncing ball, waterproof capes and shoes, body  hair remover, bungee straps, and toys. It was not until the 19th century that this Amerindian invention was exploited (as most other indigenous  goods were) taken out of the Americas only to return to the Amazon jungles with world-wide fixated attention. Even the Latin name for the tree is “Brazil”. The only more appropriate homecoming for the ballgame, would have been Mexico.

Hevea brasiliensis

Maybe latex is in the blood of Brazilians, Mexicans and others who have dominated the rubber ball game for centuries while other people were kicking around tufts of grass or the skin of an animal. Do I expect Mexico's Olmec, who invented the rubber ball and one of the world's earliest team sports, or the Caribbean's Taino civilization, who introduced the magical sphere to World Cup football to get credit at all? What about the offshoots, basketball, volleyball, tennis or any game played with a bouncy ball? Not really. After all, it is only rubber on the tip of a pencil or as a condom, right? I often muse at the arrogance of the invaders in citing Amerindian accomplishments. "They did not develop the wheel", is the common refrain. Yeah. Only for toys. On the other hand, the wooden and steel wheels were dragging along in an Eastern Hemisphere wasteland for centuries, until Olmec rubber revolutionized the wheel, often mentioned as a benchmark of "civilization". With Amerindian rubber, the cart or carriage became an automobile, truck and aircraft only by the grace of the Olmec. Try driving one of those around on steel rims! The ungrateful benefactor generations that inherited the Olmec legacy have never been taught this Amerindian lesson. What do they know of the other treasures, precious metals, stones, pearls horticultural products and Amerindian technologies that enriched their "First World" homelands? It is summer, so, just whip out the Amerindian hammock and throw a shrimp on the Taino barbie! Don't forget the Mexican invented corn.

Early soccer/football was like a three legged dog. It could function, but could it run at Greyhound speed without a fourth appendage? So too is the fast-moving composite game called soccer. In the book by David Goldblat titled "The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer" the author chronicles the history of the game that the world calls football. He stated that cultures like the Australian Aborigines, Chinese, Native Americans [the Powhatan Confederacy of Virginia], Egyptians, Japanese and other SE Asians, all played a type of football. The Chinese want to take credit for its invention... But hold on! Their balls were made from straw, others from rattan or stuffed leather. During the "founding of America", Virginia Governor William Strachey, described how Powhatan Indians played a fast ballgame with their feet or with a bat. He failed to be mention that the Amerindian, specifically the Olmec of Mexico discovered how to use latex from the sap of the Hevea brasiliensis tree.  Their use of rubber completely revolutionized the ball and how the contemporary game of football/soccer is played. The Maya, who built impressively large ball stadiums from stone, were successors to the Olmec, whose name translated loosely to "People of the Rubber". This lack of credit to Amerindians by some writers is typical. The World Cup football contests are being played out in the homeland of latex rubber, and yet it is made to seem like an import to the Brazilian Amazon from of all places, 19th century Europe.

When the Spanish arrived in the Caribbean with Columbus in 1492, the rubber ball game was already more than one millennium old. The Spanish marveled at the bounce of the Taíno batu, calling the elasticity of the bounce witchcraft. 
Above: A Taino batu or rubber ball player was the first 
in the Americas to impress the arriving Spanish.
The Spanish took Amerindian teams back to Spain for 
an exhibition match at the court of the king where the 
Portuguese ambassador was also introduced to the game. 
It took Europeans centuries to create their own versions of
the rubber ball game. The bounce of the soccer/football below 
the figure was originally made possible with an Amerindian 
rubber bladder, pumped with air. Today, balls are made from
synthetic materials developed by the Germans in WWII.

Male Taino ball players used their hips to keep the ball airborne. No sissy stuff with the hands or feet. Women either did the same or kicked it or swatted it with a bat. They played on a clay court using two teams. When the ball hit the ground, it was considered dead and a point would be awarded. One can still visit these ball courts or batey in Puerto Rico. The rubber ball game was found as far north as Arizona. During rough times, the Mexica (Aztec) imported increasing number of rubber balls from the Yucatan provinces to placate the people. In Central America where the ballgame was invented, the emperors built walled stadia with two carved stone circles, protruding from the East and West walls, with a hole in the center, just large enough for the sold, bone-breaking latex ball to pass through. Sounds like basketball doesn't it?
An airborne Maya rubber ball player striking the solid ball
with his hip through a carved stone hoop. Fast-moving, agile
players dived like a volleyball player to save the ball from
hitting the ground. In Mesoamerica the ballgame took on
spiritual, life and death, or ominous significance. 
There, both teams were warriors intent on playing a spiritual game, the outcome of which involved the gods and fate. Gambling kingdoms away were sometimes at stake and the building of stadiums increased when strife threatened the Mexica (Aztec) Empire. In some versions of the game, warrior-players were prepared to die, some as honored sacrificial messengers to the gods; others as losers. 

The movement of the ball in the air could represent the all important movement of the sun, whose fate was in the hips of the ball player. Teams could represent light or dark. 

With the fall of Mesoamerican empires and  Spanish intervention both in the Caribbean and Mainland Central America, the rubber ball game almost disappeared. Although it is still played in villages in Mexico, it was replaced by football. Not much is different between the ancient spectator ballgame and other rubber ball games that took its place. While batey was played as a social game in the Caribbean (you know us; we like sun and fun), gambling was prevalent among the Amerindians of both the Caribbean and Mesoamerica. Like the Catholic practice of a bloodied, sacrificed Son of God that replaced blood sacrifice in Central America (not to mention the introduced Christian practice of ritually drinking the blood of Christ and eating his body), football replaced the need for dispatching warrior players as messengers to the gods. However, the brutality that follows some European fans (especially in stiff upper lipped England) still seems to call for spilled blood. Not from the players, but from their beer crazed fans.

Top: (a), The ruins of a Maya ball court in 2008, the Yucatan, Mexico from the position of the North end of the "I" shaped field. One of the stone hoops appears in the wall to the left.
(b) Effigy of a Maya ball player.
(c) A detached, carved stone hoop.
(d) Codex illustration of the configuration of a ball court. Only two players show their positioning,

Originating over 3,700 years ago the ballgame was very popular. There have been an estimated 1,300 ball courts found in Mesoamerica. The gigantic Olmec stone heads show leaders wearing what is described as a ballplayer's headgear. The Maya and Aztec left records showing that the ballgame was also used to solve hereditary issues, wars, to foretell the future and help in political issues. The Classic Maya origin story told in the Popol Vuh describes the ballgame as a contest between humans and underworld deities, with the ballcourt representing a portal to the underworld. --
(I think that with the advent of the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament, this article was worth reviving.)