Museum of NC 2

The Museum of New Caledonia – Part Two, Upstairs
 
 
 
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Upstairs I was drawn straight to the tapas collection from several islands.
 
 
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Intricate work for such basic ‘ingredients’.
 
 
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Bear was drawn to the ‘usual suspects’ from Fiji.
 
 
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I did like this, Bear......No you’ve got your throwing axe.
 
 
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The museum has been on this site since 1971 but looks much newer.
 
 
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We were right at home with a display case featuring our friends from Vanuatu.
 
 
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Weaving from Vanuatu.
 
 
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Tamtams too.
 
 
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Ancestors’ Mast. The Asmat people of New Guinea believed that death could not be from natural causes, it resulted from war or black magic. In both cases, the deceased must be avenged by the surviving members of his family, or else he would continue to wander without being able to join his ancestors in their spiritual world. It was for a collective revenge ceremony ordered by the village [the feast of masts] that ancestors’  masts were especially carved. They were first given the name of a deceased person and placed opposite the Men’s House. Then began dancing to the sound of drums, the climax being a mock battle by the men. Finally, the women arrived and symbolically chased away the spirits of the dead. A head hunting raid on an enemy village formed the ultimate act of revenge and the pinnacle of all the preceding ceremonies.
The mast, which is considered as a type of pirogue to carry the souls of the deceased towards the land of the dead, often has at its base a representation of a pirogue, in which is placed enough food for such a journey. The mast also evokes fertility through a perforated wing coming from its summit; carved penis or Tsjemen.
Ancestors’ masts or Bisj, carved from an upturned trunk of a type of mangrove, are the most spectacular of Asmat ritual carvings. An aerial root kept on the trunk constitutes the projecting, soaring part of carvings called tsjemen. These masts are erected in honour of ancestors at a ceremony called Bisj mbu, when members of a group make a promise to avenge the death of those of their deceased ancestors who are represented on the carvings. They are the materialisation of the Asmat’s faith in the power of their ancestors to ensure the everlastingness and fertility of their group.
The Asmat tribe was reported in the Mail Online dated the 18th of March 2014 for the death of Michael Rockefeller. Titled: Cannibal killing finally revealed: The gruesome details of how Rockefeller heir was gutted and cooked by the Asmat tribe of New Guinea. This didn’t happen in the 1860’s but in November 1961...................Also written about in a book called Savage Harvest. No Rockefeller has returned to Asmat nor publicly accepted any other version than Michael drowned.
 
 
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The Basu Suangkus. Wood, clay paint or lime. Kaimo village, Central Asmat. The basu suangkus is a representation of the heads of men killed in battles, for whose death vengeance is sought. It consists of four pieces of cylindrical wood cut from the same tree, carved and then reassembled to form an enormous receptacle. On basu suangkus feast day, it is filled with sago tree worms [larva of the capricorn beetle] which are then divided up amongst the families and eaten according to ritual.
This feast day only takes place in certain villages along the Siretsj in the Casuarines region. Its purpose was to condition the men before they left to head hunt with a view to seeking revenge for the death of persons killed during a previous raid. Today these feasts are celebrated on the occasion of important wild boar hunts. I’m not feeling the need to go and visit these people. Mmm, I think I can pass in Beez but maybe on a guided tour.........perhaps.
 
 
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Something new and tamer. Yes please.
 
 
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Marumarua. Sculpted wood, coloured pigments, shell’s lids, dried vegetables. Tatou town, Papua New Guinea.
 
 
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Symmetrical frieze. Kanieng town, Papua New Guinea
 
 
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Sadly, I couldn’t find a label for this rather different canoe with...........
 
 
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............splendid passengers.
 
 
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I can see you wearing these, and we are going there, to Raja Ampat. Oh dear. They are mourners outfits. Oh dear, dear, dear.
 
 
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Let’s finish with some masks from New Caledonia.
 
 
 
 
 
 
ALL IN ALL VERY DIVERSE AND INTERESTING
                     AMAZING COVERAGE OF THE ISLANDS