Saturday 5 November 2022

From On Board: Heritage Expeditions in Melanesia: Noipe's Red Feathered Brides

#expeditioncruising .

Nendo Island Google Map Link

The village of Noipe on the island of Nendo is the last place in the Solomons where the tradition of  'red feather money' is carried on and the village has turned out in force to show us how the rituals are performed. We also visited here in 2015, so some of the faces were familiar. 
Elsewhere in Melanesia, the traditional currencies of shells, animal teeth and beads are used to exchange everything from pigs, land and produce to brides. Here on Noipe the tiny Scarlet Honeyeater, cardinal myzomela. The long red strips, called tevau, comprise tens of thousands of these minute feathers and are worn on the woman's head in a flat coil and can be valued up to A$20k.

The men dance their traditional circular parade, chanting age-old refrains as they prepare to give away the bride with her enormous red feather accoutrements.

Besides the dancing, numerous demonstrations are performed for our edification. Such things as food preparation, cooking, weaving and, of course, the construction of the intricate red feather accessories.

Earlier we had visited a small religious community at Glacier Bay. An incongruous name, I admit, and I haven't been able to connect the icy landforms with this part of the world. It really was just an exploratory stroll through the verdant neighbourhood where a church is under construction and a cloister of blue-robed Anglican monks occupy a tiny island. We also noted that the airstrip is being substantially upgraded near the port of Lata.

The islands are full of surprises, that's for sure.

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