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Guyana - Expo Paris 1931

Guyana at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1931
© G. L. Manuel Frères
Architect(s) : Oradour

The Guiana pavilion attests to the prodigious sylvan wealth of our colony, where the most varied and rare species of wood can be found. The architect of the pavilion, Mr. Oradour, insisted on using only materials from our old American possession. As Guyana does not have a typical architectural style, the pavilion that represents it in Vincennes is not a faithful replica of a palace, a house or a native hut. It has its own particular style which is distinguished by the harmonious relationship of the lines or plans of its peristyle, its reed roof and its side galleries.

In the central hall, we notice the superb stained glass windows by Mauméjean, inspired by Guiana's fauna and flora, whose effect, seen by day, is very beautiful and whose lighting at night gives a very special aspect to the Guiana pavilion. A veranda around the pavilion with wooden pillars of different species of the country; under this veranda the visitor can admire an exhibition, by the Maison Charles, of the main species of the immense Guianese forest which extends from the Maroni to the Oyapock: trunks of "Wacapou", "Angelica", "Amaranth", "St-Martin", "Satiné", "Gaïac", etc, cut into whistles so as to show the woods in all the beauty and originality of their fibres.

In each corner of the veranda, one can see red mangrove barrels exhibited by the Compagnie coloniale de tonnellerie.

Inside: a large room entirely covered in amaranth wood up to a height of about 4 metres, with a visible framework, partly made of local wood. This room has the most pleasing effect with its 12-metre height and the lighting of its stained glass windows.

Along the walls, all around the room, some typical species of Guyanese fauna (mammals, richly coloured birds, reptiles (naturalised); the "cockerel" with its brilliant plumage and semi-circular right crest is very noticeable.
In the middle of the room is an imposing golden pyramid showing the volume of the 7,300 square metres of gold, i.e. 140,870 kg officially exported from Guyana since 1853, the date of the discovery of the precious metal in the colony. This quantity represents only a part of the gold extracted and, according to the prospecting carried out, only a tiny part of the gold still hidden in the subsoil of French Guiana, because, according to a well-known expression: "in French Guiana we walk on gold".

In the showcases artistically arranged all around the room, one can see
a) samples of very interesting mining products such as gold-bearing sands and quartz, bauxites containing up to 65% alumina with minute quantities of silica;
b) samples of forest products such as: Carapa oil and soap, antiseptics that are destined to replace the best medicinal soaps.
c) various objects, paintings, decorations, made with products from Guyana, much admired and appreciated by visitors (flowers made of bird feathers, paintings whose colours are made of butterfly wings and bird feathers, trays, candy boxes, ashtrays, cups containing the dazzling wings of lepidopterans between two glass strips, etc.).

In the centre of the room, all around the golden pyramid, there are very busy stalls selling local products or objects made with these products (perfumes based on rosewood essence, butterflies, objects made from butterfly wings and bird feathers, jewellery, etc.).

At the back of the room, we note a beautiful subject naturalized by Mr. Lomont in Cayenne and representing a jaguar jumping on a young tapir.

Several small pieces of furniture in marquetry use in a very happy way three of the most decorative species of Guyana, the amaranth, the snakewood and the Bocco (Niap establishment).

Two pedestal tables highlight the highly decorative aspect of the Moutouchi.

All in all, the Guiana pavilion, despite the modest funds made available to it, gives the impression of an elegant wealth. Lovers of modern furniture will find in this pavilion a whole collection of rare species susceptible of new applications. To all, it will show, in a lively form, the innumerable resources of this colony, so decried, but which should be so prosperous.

©Livre D'Or - Exposition Coloniale Internationale - Paris 1931