Chapter 1: In Harmony for Tens of Thousands of Years
People lived in harmony with reverence for the earth for tens of thousands of years. The people respected the land with its non-human inhabitants and learned about the innate value of plants and trees, weather and astronomy. But the people fought each other, which people of almost all origins seem to have done for their entire history.
The symbolic objects in this image include lilies for life, hope, rebirth and purity. They are just beginning to wilt reminding us of the brevity of life. There are weapons, symbols of authority and earthly power, useless to us after life. Indigenous people made bone, shell, and stone beads, which they used to decorate themselves and as money for trade. The skull that appears in each image is the most obvious reminder of the ethereal nature of life. Shells were a sign of death and frailty since they were once homes for living animals. Although in the original Dutch paintings shells represented wealth and ostentatiousness, in this context they symbolize the abundance of natural resources.