Welcome to the fascinating world of material culture. The artifacts and gifts that people give one another at Burning Man reveal a great deal about themselves and give us information on ways of life, spiritual values and customs, which are not recorded elsewhere.
Gift-giving on the playa joins creative expression with delighted acceptance. These objects are often given spontaneously for the pleasure of giving and receiving. We delight in the charm of a 2-inch man made from one piece of copper wire and puzzle over the meaning of a playing card chosen and handed to you by a citizen in passing.
Sometimes they are given for utilitarian reasons: to thank somebody for a drink of water or a pretty little bag to help collect MOOP (Matter Out of Place). Burning Man seems to inspire the urge to create and give, and anyone inclined to make a gift generally experiences an appreciative reception.
Burning Man’s repository of playa gifts has grown to include such ephemera as stickers, decals, stamped coins, temporary tattoos, buttons, trading cards, cigarette lighters, embroidered patches, postcards, notepads, photocopied booklets and matchbooks.
It also contains arts and crafts, including silk-screened prints, T-shirts, stamps, etchings, silver charms, blown-glass pendants, medallions and small boxes of ashes collected from the Man burn.
Not all of the objects Burning man collects are mass-made playa gifts. Some are one-of-a-kind artworks. Some are artifacts from events, theme camps and art installations. Others are mementos given to volunteers in the various departments.
To add to our archives, please download and fill out our Playa Artifacts PDF form. Make sure you include the year the object was made.
On the playa, bring the form and the Playa Artifacts to the ARTery in Center Camp where we provide you with a sealed bag to store your contribution. We also have forms for you to fill out if you didn’t bring one with you.
Off the playa, mail this form and your Playa Artifacts to:
c/o Burning Man
P.O. Box 884688
You can also submit a JPG image of your playa artifacts to our online Material Culture Archives. You can search the Gallery by types of artifacts: pendants, patches, stickers, etc. Please send the artifacts and form to us for our office archives as well. These objects are displayed at the Burning Man office and will be used for future exhibitions.
Please send any questions or comments about the artifacts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!