The Sorceress: Watercolour


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Is the word ‘sorceress’ or ‘sorcerer’ only used for the bad spells or bad medicine-making? Over to you first English speakers. Feel free to make your comments below. I had this word come up last September when I was applying for a PhD. My watercolour above is meant for good medicine. So, if you are facing some challenging times right now, I am sending you some good medicine and thoughts.

My mother and I made a list of many good indigenous or traditional medicine our people (the Bukawac-speakers) have used over the years. We both realised, a lot of the trees and special plants have been lost. To get some, our family and people have to purchase or travel to other parts of the province and sub-district to purchase or ‘borrow’ or get in exchange (barter-system) for other goods. Traditional healing using herbs and other good medicine (as I call it) is still a common practice in many parts of Papua New Guinea.

Hiri Queen – Watercolour


The Hiri Queen. JK.Leahy Watercolour

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The  crowning of the Hiri  Hanenamo Queen is an annual event in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.  The contest is run to coincide with the PNG Independence celebrations. Above is my own interpretation of the queen. I enjoy this contest and the festival itself and am very proud of the Motuans for continuing to reinforce their heritage to their young women.

In 2016, Olive Tau was crowned as 2016 Miss Hiri Hanenamo Queen followed by her Runner- up Boni Bitu from Porebada village.

In third place and taking the Miss Hetura for 2016 was Maha Asi from Tubuserea village. See their pictures below courtesy of Loop PNG.

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Hiri Trade – Adventure Kokoda
The Hiri Trade expedition was between the Motuan and the Erema (Gulf) people in the Gulf of Papua. This is a form of barter trade where the Motuans traded clay pots for sago with villagers along the Gulf coastline.
The Motuan (men) sailed westwards during the south-easterly winds known locally as the “Lahara winds”. After the trade, they returned when the winds changed eastwards. These winds are called the “Laurabada winds”.
According to oral history, the first sailing trip was led by an Edai Siabo of Boera village. Siabo was said to be inspired by a sea spirit after a fishing trip. With this inspiration, he and his henchman built a lagatoi (double hulled canoe) and made the first trip to the Gulf coastline.
This trip and subsequent trips were necessary because during these times there was usually drought along the Motuan coastline. Return trips brought a bountiful of sago to last throughout this drought. The actual trade would take only a few days however the return trip usually took place after 2 to 3 months.
During this long wait repairs are done on the canoes and relationships are strengthened among the traders. As a result of this long period of time away from home, it causes uncertainty back home – resulting in wives and partners of crew members re-marrying.
The return trips are usually arduous and dangerous as the wet winds brings with it storms. Lives are often lost also during these trips.
The last of such trading trips was in the late 1950’s where a Lagatoi sank just off the coast of Boera village. Several lives were lost in this mishap.
The colonial administration then banned trading trips as such. Today access to better transport system such as motor boats, airplanes and road links also contributed to the end of such trips.

What Hiri Hanenamo means.
Hanenamo is a young woman who display the right attitude, manners and behaviour and whose character is respectful of the such title. She observes the rules, norms and laws of her society bringing happiness to her family.
It is from this original concept that the modern-day Hiri Hanenamo (Queen) competition is derived from. In fact the wife of the first Hiri pioneer Edai Siabo was the first Hiri Hanenamo for her display of commitment and dedication to the rituals vital to ensuring a successful Hiri Trading voyage.
Hiri Hanenamo is not attributed to beauty alone; beauty is only one aspect of being a Hiri queen. Elegance and grace in carrying out duties and performances are also considered. Approval and appraisal by village elders honour such a person.
Today many of these components of village life are taken into consideration by the judges during the Hiri Hanenamo Quest staged during the festivities.
A young girl is declared Hiri Hanenamo if she can display the appropriate traditional qualities to the judges. In addition, authentic tattoo designs, bodily decoration and ornaments according to the background of the woman’s village is also taken into accounts.
Terminology:
Hiri – Trading route and voyage taken by the Motuan sailors.
Moale – Motuan word for celebration, happiness or joy
Hanenamo – A young Motuan woman who abides by all customary expectations within the community she resides in.

Void – Poem


VOID: JK.Leahy Poetry

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A rippling void is dancing across endless waters,

yet returning in the dark night to stab at the heart

The cold wind sings this blackness like its favourite song,

The waves join the wind to mock, jeer and keep rolling by

Birds call, keep strong! fight!

A yearn deeper than the flows of strong murky rivers pushes forward

Thoughts tug at the heartstrings, jarring it with questions and rationales

A child could only wait; for a father could speak at any time

Birds Frolicking: Watercolour


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Painting in negative first or negative painting was a skill I accidentally discovered when I painted this watercolour. It happened during my early years of painting watercolour in 2008. This work slowly took form as I tried to figure out how to leave almost half of the paper in white to reveal the pelicans.  All I needed to do was give the birds the water and some background. YouTube makes it so easy these days. You can also learn to paint in the negative very quickly on Pinterest.

I gave this painting away as a gift to a dear friend, but it was an important work of technique discovery for me. It is also a study that I would like to paint again some day.

 

Creating Culture Innovation In Indigenous Knowledge


In this Ted Talk, Terri Janke weaves her own personal story in with her reasons for ethical collaborations between Indigenous communities and researchers. Indigenous people hold knowledge that can be used for improving the planet and building sustainable economic opportunities. By engaging respectfully with Indigenous people, scientists and creative collaborators can potentially eradicate Indigenous people’s poverty, which stands at 15% of the world’s population.

Terri Janke was born in Cairns and has family connections to the Torres Strait Islands (Meriam) and Cape York (Wuthathi). She was awarded NAIDOC Person of the Year 2011, the Attorney General’s Indigenous Lawyer of the Year 2012, and was a finalist in the 2015 NSW Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

A Burst of Life: Nature Photography


A Burst of Life: Nature Photography – Spiders

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I shot this spider and the green bullet looking pouch (pictured below) with babies, over two days before they disappeared from my garden. That was a few days ago. It was a burst of life with small moving creatures on the dull sturdy orchid plant – a typical Queensland nature. The black ant should give you an idea of how tiny these babies were.

I’m not sure if the same spider (above) had all these babies.  I tried to Google it. They (both the large and baby spiders), were on the same orchid. I think the baby spiders were eaten by birds before I went back, on the third day. The delay in posting on this blog was because I had to try to find the name of the spider and see if these babies came from it. I was also watching the Australian Tennis Championships in between the spider investigation. I still don’t have a clue. If anyone knows, please tell me.

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Kau Kau Cuttings – Watercolour


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Kaukau Cuttings. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©

My mother and I have been planting Kaukau or sweet potato cuttings. We hope, we will soon stop buying the good kaukau at Coles for $9 per kilogramme. The cheaper – $6 per kg kaukau, is tasteless, so we took the expensive one and tried to grow it.

It was natural to have kaukau on my mind when I painted my first watercolour this year. Women is Papua New Guinea, especially in the highlands, share kaukau cuttings and this is how they transport the leaves – in bilums. Sometimes they would be given the cuttings by friends and family members. Other times they bring the cuttings from the garden home to plant near their houses.

In fact, it weren’t for my mother being in Brisbane, I wouldn’t plant kaukau because it is too much work. The soil is too dry and if rain does grow the tuber; hare, possums, rats and who knows what else, eat the leaves. Often the animals dug for the tubers as well. This time we used bamboo stakes and placed a net around the garden. My mother was determined.

I had to give in to this planting, because my mother would not give up. And now, I’m glad I went along with her. We planted two species, one was our favourite Hawaiian kaukau from Coles.  Another kaukau called wan mun (one month) was given to us by my friend Marina. That term wan mun meant literally in one month we would eat the tuber. That has not happened yet. I’m not surprised because the conditions here are tough.

We are still waiting for the one month kaukau to bear and it is now three months. The Hawaiian sweet potato is white skinned and purple inside. I chopped the tips off and grew them in a drum until the shoots were strong enough to transfer to the garden. It was a long process.

Kaukau Cuttings II. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©

Unlike the women I had painted and their gardens, the kaukau in our garden seemed to take forever to grow. I remember growing it in the humid Lae (PNG) climate. Six months gone in Brisbane, and we now start to see the kaukau leaves spread and grow rapidly. I stuck my fingers under soil to see whether there were really any tubers – and there are. I was inspired to really bring these tubers to harvest. I will post some pictures here at harvest time. I don’t know when that is.

“We have to wait for a few more months”, my mother said. This was because, she said the hot summer and then hail storms last year killed off all the leaves and then the surviving tubers re-grew new shoots. We cut the stems and planted more. Now my son has this crazy idea we could build a larger garden to grow more. (I don’t think so...I muttered under my breath).

I hope you enjoy my watercolours and I will keep you posted on the sweet potatoes.

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Women & Kaukau Cuttings II. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©

 

 

‘Are’are Sounds: Solomon Islands – Melanesia


Some of you that are new to this blog may not know that I promote art, culture and heritage from Papua New Guinea, my country of origin and the Melanesian region.  Music plays a large role in the Melanesian content that I promote. It was one of the reasons I started this blog two years ago. It is very important for me to continue to share and persevere in promoting as a way of safeguarding some of the Melanesian cultures, and I hope that you enjoy this journey with me, not only for its purpose, but the beautiful sounds.

The spectacular playing of stamping tubes by the ‘Are’are people is one of the twenty musical genres filmed by Hugo Zemp. This YouTube preview presents six short excerpts of a 2h20 long film in which each musical genre, one more beautiful than the other, is shown in length and commented by master musician ‘Irisipau. The 2-DVD set allows discovery and appreciation of the extraordinary richness of musical invention and polyphonic splendor of only 8000 ‘Are’are people living in the Solomon Islands, South-Western Pacific.

Read more in related article

 

 

 

 

New Birth: New Year


Happy New Year to all the readers of Tribalmystic blog. It is three years today that this blog, Tribalmystic Stories was born and I want to thank you all for following, participating and reading some of the stories. I have had a nice break, and I hope you have had the same. I’m looking forward to a new and interesting year ahead of us.

I wanted to begin 2017 with a tough shot I tried to take throughout the day today. It was not easy to photograph this mother and baby spider together; one on either side of the web and with the breeze flanking their gold web like a flag. Lucky for me, they did not move away from this super location (from the back veranda to the garden) and at various times, when I tried to take a better picture, both insects could not keep still. I hope you like the pictures.

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Tribalmystic is storytelling about people, places, and things that have extraordinary stories. Author: Joycelin Leahy

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