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Cultural Reflections of the South Pacific - Part 2

18 October 2010 08:09 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Srimal Fernando
New Guinea and the string of islands which surrounds it, have related arts. The music of Papua New Guinea has a long history. Traditional celebrations, which include song, dance, feasting and gift-giving, are called sing-sing. Vibrant and colourful costumes adorn the dancers, while a leader and a chorus sing a staggered approach to the same song, producing a fugue-like effect. Tahiti is the largest island in the windward group of French Polynesia. Tahitian dance Otea, is a traditional dance from Tahiti, where the dancers, standing in several rows, execute different figures. This dance can easily be recognized by its fast hip-shaking, and grass skirts. Tahitian culture includes an oral tradition that include mythology of various gods and beliefs as well as ancient traditions such as tattooing and navigation. The Hawaiian hula and the Tahitian tamuré are probably better known because of its wider publicity for the last 100 years. But the Cook Islands hura is far more sensual and fierce.

The Cook islands are a stunning necklace of islands. Cook Islanders have retained much of their ancient culture. Polynesian identity can be observed in its dance and drama at various events during the year, particularly during Constitutional Celebrations. Cook Islanders share a genuine care for others. Although the islanders are now Christians, the old culture lives on even now with song, and dance. The culture, traditions, arts and crafts are distinct from all other Pacific islands. Nowhere else will you feel so natural at one with the islands' way of life. Among main genres of Cook Islands music and dance are drum dancing (‘ura pa’u), choreographed group dancing (kaparima) to string band music, dance. Dramas (peu tupuna) based on island legends, religious pageants (nuku), formal chants (pe’e), celebratory song/chants (‘ute), and polyphonic choral music (‘imene tapu) or hymns are common.
In the Cook Islands the dancers keep their feet apart, while in Tahiti the feet are together in dancing. Presently Samoan music has adopted guitars and other musical instruments, dance, which relies solely upon the performer's body still requires the performer to retain grace and move their arms and hands in the approved fashion. Initially there were two instruments in use. They are  pate a hollowed out, log drum and the fala, a rolled up mat beaten with sticks.  Siva is the Samoan word for dance, but it also refers to a particular type of dance in which the performer usually stands and enacts an everyday activity. For the siva the performer usually wears a tuiga, a head dress made of feathers and human hair.  Unlike several of the other islanders’ dances the best time to see Samoan dancing is at a fia-fia. Traditional chants, church singing, bamboo and string bands, nose flute, love song and  action dances can be seen during festival.

Kingdom of Tonga comprising 169 islands and stretches over a distance of about 500 miles. Traditional songs, passed down over the generations, are still sung. Tonga have Tongans tunes they are simple, and their lyrics are short. The singing and drumming is a must during traditional dance performances. Traditional music is performed at royal and noble weddings, funerals, and during the traditional ceremony of apology, the lou-ifi. The music of New Caledonia includes a folk music heritage in the Melanesian tradition. In New Caledonia, music is a fundamental element of every traditional ceremony. The range of instruments includes conch shells, rhythm instruments and bamboo flutes. The traditional culture and customs, combined with the friendly welcoming nature of the people South Pacific region has a great deal to offer.

Cultural reflections of the South Pacific - Part 1


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