Hi Tribalmystic friends and family,
I am painting more watercolours and that’s why I’ve been silent on this blog. It feels like I’m telling a story in a different way and this is very fulfilling. I have a few assignments to finish but I wanted to share one of these ‘stories’. Here I am working through an artwork of a young woman from Simbu, Papua New Guinea. I love her headdress and feathers. Birds are interesting and amazing creatures, but when you paint so many bird feathers, it is quite challenging. And because I love lorikeets and have raised them – there is the guilt …of the dead birds, but there’s another story – culture, nature conflict…
Anyway, I think I have almost got the Kina shells right, but the challenge of the feathers takes time. It also gives me more pleasure to learn and practice. Google Papua New Guinea culture if you want to see some real headdresses of fantastic colours, shapes and feathers.
I hope you like Meri Simbu II. I painted Meri Simbu the first six years ago and due to her popularity, it was no surprise when a client asked me for a new version. Meri Simbu II is about 800+mmx1200+ big, so I have to do small sections and pay attention to the details at the same time. The first Meri Simbu was no larger than an A4 paper size.
I will be back to stories soon. Thank you for continuing to visit the Tribalmystic blog and thank you to all those who have emailed personally me and for the birthday wishes for today.
This is a work in progress. Old man from Simbu, Papua New Guinea is a painting challenge to myself to paint larger (work) with better light and skin tone. I love the traditional dresses and particularly the headdresses from Simbu, a highlands province that is very rich in culture. I painted a young woman from Simbu a few years ago and was asked, why haven’t I painted a male from the same area. Good question. I had never thought of it. So I picked up the brush, filled the re-cycled jars with water…and, am still working on the old man from Simbu.
I found this exercise exhilarating because to get the painted black face separated from his normal brown skin and give him a background – all in dark colours was tricky. I hope you like him.
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.
The Hiri Queen. JK.Leahy Watercolour
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.
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.
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: JK.Leahy Poetry
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
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.
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 – Spiders
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.
An extraordinary true story that became a book and then a film. In cinemas now. I’m going to watch it.