Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Vanuatu National Museum

      Every single day we drive by the national museum.  We have never stopped to see it.  It was always something to do sometime.  Well, last week we made the time to go to the museum.  It was amazing.  It is not very large.  It is one building that was built to look like an old building  -  a chief's house or something.  You can choose to walk through by yourselves or have a guided tour.  We chose a guided tour.  Our guide was a very interesting man.  He played for us on native instruments, and he sang for us.  And  -  he did beautiful sand paintings.  The sand paintings were the early way of communicating.  They would draw a picture to let others know when they would we returning home, etc.  Pictures were the written language.

      The instruments are made from bamboo.  The large one looks like a marimba.  It is played with the hands  -  no mallots.  The bamboo tubes are attached to the sticks that act as the mallots.  So - the player just twangs the sticks and they make a mellow sound.

      The pipe has holes they cover with their fingers.  The holes are only on the very end of the long bamboo pipe.
      The sand paintings are made with one continuous flow.  They never raise their finger off of the sand until they are finished.  Each picture tells a story!

      The totems are also village drums.   They are hollow and they people would send out a message to be repeated by the drums/totems of the next village and so worth.

      There were many items from early life  on the islands.  There were relics from WWII.  There were all kinds of animal traps that were made from reeds.  The was some pottery.  There were pictures of old customs and some of the implements used to preform the rituals involved.  One such ritual was the way to announce a woman's engagement.  The woman was held down.  The men would circle about her to make lots of noise.  They did not want anyone to hear the woman screaming in pain.  The ritual was to knock out two of her incisor teeth  -  one on each side.  With her teeth missing, it was clear that she was a woman spoken for.  With her teeth missing, no one could go back on their word in regards to the marriage taking place.  Can you imagine!
      Most of these things were  small and in glass cases.  It was not possible to get pictures.
      I tried to take some pictures of the ceremonial headdresses and the masks. 

     There some of the old outrigger canoes.  Notice how narrow they are.  They are hollowed out trees.  There is no way that anyone could sit or kneel in the canoe.  Life was never easy for these people in the islands.

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