All the material/information in this article has been taken from the Damanhur websites, referenced below.
“At time in history when the majority of peoples and races are becoming extinct, leaving humanity poorer in culture and diversity, Damanhur has created a human group with its own artistic expression, philosophy and culture.
From the founders, a mere dozen people, to over a thousand living today in or near the communities, the history of the Federation speaks of a project that has come to life, has grown and today is reaching out on a planet-wide scale as a new peace-bearing people, interweaving sociality, spirituality and respect for the environment, the recovery of ancient traditions and advanced technological research, with its roots deep in the territory and at the same time moving out towards everything happening around the globe.
The People of Damanhur is united not by bonds of blood but by profound spiritual choices. The central values that unite all those belonging to the people are sharing, solidarity, positive thought and an active commitment to the re-awakening of humanity on this planet.
The aims of Damanhur are: the freedom and re-awakening of the Human Being as a divine, spiritual and material principle; the creation of a self-sustaining model of life based on ethical principles of good communal living and love; harmonic integration and co-operation with all the Forces linked to the evolution of Humankind.
It all began in the early Sixties when Oberto Airaudi was aged ten. From an early age, he claims to have experienced visions of what he believed to be a past life, in which there were amazing temples.
Around these he dreamed there lived a highly evolved community who enjoyed an idyllic existence in which all the people worked for the common good. More bizarrely still, Oberto appeared to have had a supernatural ability: the gift of "remote viewing" - the ability to travel in his mind's eye to describe in detail the contents of any building. "My goal was to recreate the temples from my visions," he says. Oberto - who prefers to use the name 'Falco' - began by digging a trial hole under his parent's home to more fully understand the principals of excavation.
In 1977, he selected a remote hillside where he felt the hard rock would sustain the structures he had in mind. A house was built on the hillside and Falco moved in with several friends who shared his vision. Using hammers and picks, they began their dig to create the temples of Damanhur - named after the ancient subterranean Egyptian temple meaning City of Light - in August 1978.
As no planning permission had been granted, they decided to share their scheme only with like-minded people. Volunteers, who flocked from around the world, worked in four-hour shifts for the next 16 years with no formal plans other than Falco's sketches and visions, funding their scheme by setting up small businesses to serve the local community.
By 1991, several of the nine chambers were almost complete with stunning murals, mosaics, statues, secret doors and stained glass windows. But time was running out on the secret.
The first time the police came it was over alleged tax evasion and still the temples lay undiscovered. But a year later the police swooped on the community demanding: "Show us these temples or we will dynamite the entire hillside."
Falco and his colleagues duly complied and opened the secret door to reveal what lay beneath. Three policemen and the public prosecutor hesitantly entered, but as they stooped down to enter the first temple - named the Hall of the Earth - their jaws dropped. Inside was a circular chamber measuring 8m in diameter. A central sculpted column, depicting a three dimensional man and woman, supported a ceiling of intricately painted glass.
"By the time they had seen all of the chambers, we were told to continue with the artwork, but to cease further building, as we had not been granted planning permission," says Esperide Ananas, who has written a new book called Damanhur, Temples Of Humankind.
Retrospective permission was eventually granted and today the 'Damanhurians' even have their own university, schools, organic supermarkets, vineyards, farms, bakeries and award-winning eco homes.
'They are to remind people that we are all capable of much more than we realize and that hidden treasures can be found within every one of us once you know how to access them,' says Falco.
The Damanhurian activities cover many sectors:
artistic workshops, glass-work, mosaics, painting, sculpture, restoration and agricultural tourism, computer and I.T. consultancies, publishing, therapeutic research, eco-architecture and eco-building.
Art: For more than twenty years Damanhurian glass artists have created windows, doors, and domes inside the Temples of Humankind. In the Hall of Mirrors they have created the largest Tiffany glass dome in the world which covers more than 100 sq meters. The windows in the Hall of Metals representing the different ages of the human being are famous throughout the world.
Fused glass allows different pieces of glass to be used together. When they are heated they become liquid and fuse together to create designs. The technique is used in the making of plates and artifacts and is also used in creating windows. It is a very ancient technique which was practiced by the Egyptians and which preceded blown glass. Other techniques utilized are Cold Glass, Tiffany, and GRISAGLIA.
Mosaic is probably the most ancient decorative art that has been developed by Humankind. The art workshop ‘The Voice of Mosaic’ was founded in 1988 to furnish works for the Temples of Humankind that are today recognized by the Belli Arti of the Piemonte Region as a ‘Works of Art by living artists’.
Over the years the workshop has grown in experience and size and today it has become a real master workshop.
The most widely used material in Damanhurian mosaic works is marble. It is used in various forms: rough cut, polished, in cubes, chips and flakes with touches of vibrant color added by the insertion of cubes of glass paste.
Painting: The Damanhurian painting workshop was founded almost ten years ago in order to create wall paintings in the Temples of Humankind; it still functions in this capacity today pictorically transmitting the philosophy of Damanhur.
In the studio the meeting of inner growth and technical experimentation encourages the expression of the fundamental caracteristics of the Damanhurian School of Painting.
Dance: In Damanhur festive periods and moments of celebration such as the Equinoxes and Solstices are accompanied and enriched by Sacred Dance.
This type of dance, is one of the expressive forms of the Sacred Language and uses particular gestures in addition to ideogrammatic signs and words.
It is an ancestral ideogrammatic language that existed in an epoch before languages subdivided. Traces of it are found in the languages of many peoples: Japanese, Chinese, Phoenician, Hebrew, and Egyptian etc. It was born before the sub division of logic and facilitates the transition from one logic to another and because of this it is considered a magic language.
It is defined as ‘Sacred’ because it is a bridge-language, one that serves as a translator of things human into divine concepts and because it can be used with and by more than the normal five senses.
Education: Over the years the Damanhur School has revised its structure and scholastic model, experimenting with different solutions to provide a holistic and cultural education that values diversity and encourages spiritual development.
Since 1999 the Family School has been part of the Association Damanhur Education.
The dream of Damanhur’s teachers and parents is to create a new and innovative
Health: At Damanhur the human being is always considered holistically as a union of mind, body and spirit. Attention is not directed towards the illness but to the entire needs of the person, including those on an inner level. Every human being is unique and for each one the path to health is specific and personal because it not only involves the physical but also the emotional and spiritual. Because prevention is the best form of cure Pranatherapy is widely used in Damanhur. An integrated system of natural medicine is used for healing and where necessary it is combined with the best methods and techniques provided by contemporary medicine.
For this reason, also, an eco-society like Damanhur stimulates and permits the formation of new, diversified professions that transform into businesses and services. To this extent, the experience of the Temples of Humankind has played a part because during their realization, artists and craftsmen and women have helped the less expert to learn their trades and discover talents as yet unknown.
Fixed points of every Damanhurian business are the vision of work as an instrument of spiritual refinement and the offer of oneself to others through one's own works, the creative dimension and the choice of low environmental impact materials and procedures.
“To grow spiritually also means taking on responsibility for the environment around oneself, for the wellbeing of others, for the growth of society.”
The Damanhurian complementary monetary system has a high ideal value and has been created to give back to money its original meaning: to be a means to facilitate change based upon an agreement between the parties. For this reason it is called Credit: to remind us that money is only a tool through which one gives, in fact, 'credit', that is to say, trust.
In this way, the Credit encourages an economic and social revitalization of Valchiusella because it facilitates keeping capital inside the area so that it can be re-invested to the benefit of the local economy, businesses and activities.”