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.
In thisTed 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.
I was looking for various textiles that have been prepared by hand and I was particularly interested in natural dyes and its processes. I found this great article in Victoria and Albert Museum called “The Fabric of India: Nature & Making”.
These are some of the short film clips and a paragraph on the dying process. If you are interested, read the full article on the museum’s website.
India’s natural dyes, especially those for blue and red, have been renowned for millennia. Blue dye was so closely associated with India that the ancient Greeks took its western name – indikos (indigo) – from the country itself. Red dyeing with fixing agents (mordants) was known to the Indus valley civilisation by about 2500 BC.
Fixing the colour is the great challenge of dyeing cloth. Indian dyers’ use of mordants was key to their expertise, which was unrivalled until the invention of western chemical dyes in the 19th century. It is this wealth and mastery of bright and lasting natural dyes that perhaps best distinguishes India’s textile heritage.
This story is from Myths & Legends of Fiji and Rotuma. A students’ Edition and a collection of stories and illustration by A.W Reed and Inez Hames.
This story was written as it would be told by an orator at the fireplace in Melanesian societies. So imagine you are sitting in a Melanesian village and an orator (usually a male) will be telling this story. I have added my own illustration below.
Vegetables cooked in earth oven (umuu or mumu) are fit for men and gods only when placed in baskets with succulent steaming meat, rich and layered with fat, (bel gris in Tok Pisin). Then a man may take taro, yam or greens in one hand and a piece of meat in the other, and feast as though he were a god. In those days, the only challenge is to find an animal that can be steamed or roasted to provide enough meat for hungry men to eat. Man (as in human) decides, birds and rats are far too small.
“Let’s ask the gods”, man said.
Men gathered and started up the mountain to make their request to the gods. They were accompanied by fish, reptiles, animals, birds, and insects, all curious to hear the gods’ response.
The gods, who also love good food, were in good mood and welcomed the strange query from mankind. The gods inspected the gathering. Birds and other lives cowered and withdrew into the shadows so the gods would not see them nor pick them.
One of the gods reached out and caught a rat by the scruff of its neck and held it up. With arms and legs waving into empty air, a terrified rat cried: “Not me! Not me! Please not me! I am too small. I’m all bones and I taste horrible – please let me go!”
“Yes, the rat is too small – we need a larger animal” a man said.
“What about pig?” one of the gods suggested. “Now there’s a fine animal for you; rich and savoury.”
The pig was pulled before the gods by his short tail, and shivering before the gods, he squealed: “I’m too big! You could never fit me in one of your food basket.”
“Perhaps you are right Pig”, one of the gods said. “But you may be wrong”. Then the god instructed man: “Fill up a basket and put the pig on top so you can see what he looks like on top of the serving.”
The protesting pig was put into the basket. His legs fitted inside the basket comfortably, but his snout stuck out at one end and tail out the other end.
The pig gave a broad smile and said smugly to man: “What did I tell you?”
The rat who had escaped earlier, ran forward and quickly twisted the pig’s tail into a neat swirl and tucked it into the basket.
Pig still had a smile on his face. “You’ve got my tail, but you will never get my snout inside, it is too long.”
Worm rigged himself upright until he was balanced on his coiled tail.
“What is it Worm?” a god asked.
“Please, if we break the pig’s snout we could bend it up and then he should fit into the basket”, the worm said.
And that was what they did; which explains why Pig has a turned up nose and spends so much time digging up the ground in search of worms.
You probably know that much of the world’s environment is under threat. But a new study says languages are disappearing alongside plants and animals.
The study, from the World Wildlife Fund, measured the threat to languages using a scale that tracks how threatened species are. Not only are many languages steadily losing speakers, says co-author Jonathan Loh, but “the rate of decline, globally, is actually very close to the rate of decline in populations of wild vertebrate species.”
There’s the obvious threat of in-demand languages, which many people start speaking more and more as the speakers of smaller languages dwindle. “Thousands of indigenous languages spoken around the world are being replaced by one of a dozen or so dominant world languages like English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese,” Loh says.
But Loh, who’s also a research associate at the Zoological Society of London, says that languages are dying off due to many of the same issues that plants and animals face.
There are many aspects of the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant (PNG) that are worth writing. I wanted to share tonight two aspects that are very valuable; one is the culturally inspired dress and two, the education support it gives to PNG women.
Here are some pictures from the crowing night of the Miss Pacific Islands PNG pageant. There is a pageant category called traditionally inspired dress. In these pictures, the six contestants wear their dresses inspired by their own tribal cultures. PNG has 22 provinces, over 800 languages with three official communication languages – English, Pidgin and Motu.
The Miss Pacific Islands Pageant Papua New Guinea’s motto is: Passion, Strength and Beauty.
The Miss PNG committee, while developing and moulding the young contestants to prepare for the final and then bring the winner to the regional Miss Pacific Pageant, this powerhouse team of women raise money to educate young Papua New Guinean women.
The process is that if any of the young women completing their tertiary education cannot finish their schooling because of financial reasons, this fund can help. Since its conception in 2010, the PNG committee has paid for 140 young PNG women to complete their tertiary education.
Miss Pacific Islands – Papua New Guinea, was crowned last night in front of a packed audience at Crowne Plaza Port Moresby.
Abigail Havora, age 24, is a Biology-Chemistry graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea. Miss Havora works for Oil Search Ltd. She is also a feminist and, an advocate for youth. Miss Havora was sponsored by the Pacific Balanced Fund. In her spare time, the bio-chemist devotes her time to The Voice Inc, a dynamic youth development organisation and the PNG Cancer Foundation.
“My intent is to bring a message that strengthens the bridge between culture and the changing times so young people, especially women, are more aware of what they are contributing to, and the type of influence they are exerting. I am passionate about making a difference, which may come across as a broad statement, but my personal motto is to – leave the place better than it was.” Miss Havora said.
Miss Havora is from Gulf and Central parentage, She will represent PNG in the regional quest, the Miss Pacific Islands Beauty Pageant in Cook Islands later this year. Abigail was one of six entrants in the pageant this year.
More on Miss Pacific Islands Pageant PNG – in the next post.
On my return home to Papua New Guinea on September 16th, it was the Independence Day. My son Chris and I were very lucky to see PNG people celebrating in their traditional costumes.
On arrival at the Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby, our first meeting was with this stunning beauty. I wish I had taken more, but I only had time to take four photographs of this beautiful woman and rush to domestic terminal to transit to Lae. I will get her name later, that’s how PNG networking is, but she was dressed in Simbu traditional dress. I believe she was part of the Air Niugini staff and assisted the international departure passengers.
If you have any questions about her dress, ask me, but this post is purely to show the beauty of the image. When I come across moments like this, I am very proud to be a Papua New Guinean. My reasons being, we are unique people, we love our culture and we are always proud to show it.
My sons and I enjoyed our trip back to Lae, PNG – where we come from. I had not gone back to my village for seven and my sons for eight years. It was a long time. My reasons are too complicated to explain, but I could not wait any longer to return. The best part about our return was the story-telling and catching up. This was how we did it – sitting in a circle and chewing betel nut while we tell the stories. We tried to do this at least a few hours each day.