The Baskeet Museum is found in Lower Laska (Laska Baakkalla), about 200m south of the main road. It was opened in November 2008. The central building on the museum compound contains a collection of musical instruments, household articles (pottery, calabashes), ritual objects (e.g. shields and spears) and tools (e.g. digging tools, knives and axes).
THE PAINTINGS ON THE WALL OF THE MUSEUM
The exterior design of the main building is as interesting as the objects that it hosts. Above the entrance, the visitors are greeted in Baskeet: hasshu kosshbar yeyde ‘Welcome’ (lit. “May you have come in peace.”)
The walls of the building are covered with paintings depicting (i) the use of musical instruments and ritual objects, (ii) a court scene, (iii) the layout of a Baskeet family compound (with its buildings and gardens), (iv) a mourning ceremony. The picture below was taken in 2008 when the painting of the mourning ceremony (yeepi) was about to be completed.*
The participants and the layout of the mourning ceremony, which is held in the compound of the deceased, can already be seen on the picture. To the left you see three musicians playing bamboo trumpets (zaya). The mortuary (gaapi keetts), which has been built for the deceased on the day of his death, is located at the upper end of the painting. The roof of the mortuary is covered with the deceased’s blanket (here: in white and red). At the entrance of the fence of the mortuary, two poles are visible on which two goat skin halves (shaala) have been put up (NB: goats are slaughtered to provide food for the guards of the mortuary; see the guard in the green shirt in front of the mortuary). The shield and the spear of the deceased are leaning to the fence of the mortuary. The people in the middle and lower part of the painting represent four groups of close relatives of the deceased and three groups of visitors expressing their condolences. Note that condolences are expressed in a squatting position. Two relatives on picture (see the fragment below) have shaved their heads to express their grief.
OTHER BUILDINGS IN THE MUSEUM COMPOUND
Apart from the main building of the museum, one can also have a look into the replica of a so-called “rattle house” (kor ketts) – i.e. a building in which guests are received and ritual objects stored -, a “coffee house” (buni ketts) – i.e. a kitchen -, and a granary (diɁ) – i.e. a small house on poles in which grain is stored.
In the garden of the Museum, trees that are indigenous to the Baskeet area have been planted and labels with their Baskeet names have been attached to them.
COME FOR A VISIT
If you ever come through Laska, the museum is certainly worth a short visit! Look out for the sign that was shown in an earlier post (here) on the main road. You will have to chase up the key in the offices nearby and ask around for a knowledgeable person who can explain the functions and origins of the exhibits to you. If you don’t get hold of a key, take at least a look at the paintings on the museum walls.