Heritage Honduras

From Picturesque Landscapes to Views of War, Honduras through Postcards

Postcards continue to survive in the hands of collectors and historians, even in Honduras. Although very few know about them, the memory of great producers of the documents prevails, among them, Carmelo Celano and Rafael Ugarte.

More than 120 years ago, the first postcard was conceived, however, the golden age of these documents was in the 20th century, in part due to their affordable cost and more so, because the photographs and illustrations became the essence of the documents, capturing realities of times past.

Celano, an Italian who established his roots in the heart of Central America, published his first series of photomechanical postcards depicting colorful views of the north coast such as, Calle del Comercio in the industrial capital, streets of La Ceiba and Loading Bananas, Choloma.

On the other hand, the banana industry continues to be a recurring theme, states the Honduran historian, Jorge Amaya in his article, “The Banana Republic: Imaginaries of the Honduran Identity represented in 100 Postcards.”

In the international imagination, Honduras has been recorded as a “Banana Republic,” a connotation that is understood as a synonym for corruption and political manipulation.

 

 

Sunsets with dark colors of remote places, roads and famous buildings as well as an architecture of the banana legacy in the north are portrayed in Ugarte’s postcards. In others, mountains and wooded landscapes predominate, a nature that gives life to the image.

 

Pie de Foto: tarjeta postal del Hotel Americano en La Ceiba.

 

“Honduran landscapes have been represented through quite recurring themes, for example Honduras is a mountainous country and is represented through its forests and the pine, symbols of the Honduran territory and also of its colors,” explains historian, Jorge Amaya.

In both photographic and lithographic postcards, landscapes are exploited as attractions and as cultural heritage, as historian Jorge Amaya analyzes in his article, “May God bless the bountiful land in which I was born: The landscape of the nation, geography, imaginaries and spaces of the homeland through 60 postcards in Honduras.”

 

A view of Carretera del Sur, Honduras, Francisco Siercke, editor, Choluteca, Rafael Ugarte.

 

The harsh face of the 1924 civil war has also been captured on photographic postcards. In the works of Arnold T. Williams, a photographer from La Ceiba, the green horizon disappears and monochromatic spaces replace it, exposing devastated fields and forgotten human bodies that lie in the street without a dignified grave or the claim of a relative.

 

Pie de foto: Photographic postcard by Arnold T. Williams. La Ceiba, 1924.

 

Almost unrecognizable are some faces of the military and revolutionaries with their bayonets, but their clothes differentiate them from civilians.

They are another type of image that reflects the conflicts in Honduras between caudillos and political parties for power whose price is blood.

 

Pie de foto: Two hours after combat. La Ceiba. Author: Arnold T Williams.

 

Pie de foto: In the firing line. 1924. La Ceiba. Arnold T. Williams.

 

Honduran historian, Jorge Amaya highlights the work of many historians who have studied photography and have dedicated their craft to collecting these photos.

 


Rebecca E. Schwimmer Rodríguez | Correspondent, Honduras & Central America

My name is Rebecca E. Schwimmer Rodríguez, I am a journalist focused on Honduras and Central America. My mother is Honduran and my father is American. He has lived in the country for more than 30 years. I am close to graduating with a degree in journalism from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras and I have had the opportunity to work for a local digital newspaper in Tegucigalpa that has encouraged me to cover issues of politics, health, migration, entrepreneurship and culture , one of the areas that I am most passionate about. My inclinations are to know the dynamics and preservation of culture in its different manifestations, art, cultural heritage and photography. I would like society and Honduran authorities to recognize the importance of identity construction, artistic appreciation and sensitivity and the development that this knowledge can promote in a nation.