Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Tsam is one of the Buddhist rituals and its origination and development are inevitably connected with Buddhist devotees and nations. A research recorded that there was a performance of Jakhar tsam in 775, which aimed at subduing local nagas and lords of the land while Guru Rinpoche, a founder of Samya monastery of Tibet and great Niyngma tantric master was visiting India. Some research paper mention that the first tsam was performed in Tibet in 811 which leads to a conclusion that there is a need to further this fact.
In Mongolia, the tsam was introduced at the beginning of the 18th century from India through Tibet. For instance, the first tsam in Mongolia was performed in Erdenezuu Monastery in 1786 and it was prepared and instructed by Tibetan umze (chant leader) of Ikh Khuree, Agramba, Bilegt Nanso and Gelong Sengerapten (fully ordained monk). Nomch Tsorj Lobsangdargye insisted his disciple Argamba Gelong Sengerapten to write a handbook as a reference of tsam performance in Erdenezuu and disciple refused to do so on the ground that he did not attain sufficient knowledge and realizations. However later, the disciple reconsidered his teacher's wish and wrote "The Core of Tsam to subdue common obstacles and destroy enemies of Dharma by Torma (religious object made by barley and butter)" on the base of tsam sutra written by V Dalai Lama Lobsang Gyatso and tsam text of Tashi Lkhumpo.
The word 'Tsam' means a dance of the Buddha (deva) and elements of this dance show as if protectors and deities have physically descended on the Jambudtiva (Southern continent). In general, 'tsam' is a Tibetan word and at present, two meanings of this word are well known. Firstly, it signifies a dance or 'garcham'. Secondly, it is dedon yer med ji cham or subduing negative mental afflictions by emptiness. Although the Buddhist tsam performance could be seen as a dance from artistic point of view, but in depth it is a secret tantric ritual, which has very subtle meaning. It is a religious ritual with a secret meaning and its rules and meaning were studied by knowledgeable Buddhist monks, who reached certain levels of realizations and they performed them by abiding by strict rules. The fact it was a religious ritual could be proved by the custom that the tsam performance was not carried out separately, but was combined with Buddhist chanting and the performance had specific days and places.
As mentioned above, the tsam performance was an important gurim (remedy practice) of Buddhist secret tantra and only well prepared monks carried out gurim by certain requirements and in certain circumstances. For example, the tsam performance was carried out in order to subdue and purify external environment, eradicate diseases, suffering, wars, famine, and hardships and spread auspiciousness. The performing monks had to first qualify by taking exams of rules of the tsam well in advance and they prepared for performance by doing secret tantric meditations.
Performing monks should study Buddhist secret tantric teachings, choga and chakling in depth.
Besides illustrations of protectors, devas and Buddhas and their motions, there is also a subtle meditation on emptiness, which is an inner meditation ritual to abandon all mental afflictions and please local nagas and lords of the land. Another advantage of tsam performance is to help devotees recognize different types of wrathful yidams, choijins and protectors by seeing them and know them well in their next lives especially in intermediate states of rebirths and generate faith to them, so that to take higher rebirth, therefore it has a subtle meaning of Buddhist theory of karma.
Besides pleasing the external environment, the tsam performance also purifies internal environment or mental afflictions of all sentient beings including humans and to lead them to the Buddha's path.
The internal meditation of tsam has a complete nature of Buddhist theory and its external expression also closely connected to its nature.
Although some external forms and motions of tsam seem to resemble shamanistic elements, it is clear from internal nature of tsam meditation that they are completely different.
Two. Mongolian Khuree Tsam
The first tsam of Ikh Khuree of Mongolia was performed in the Year of Iron Sheep of the XIV century or 1811 of Mongolian calendar. This was "Jakhar tsam", which illustrated destruction of iron towns of hell realm soldiers and subduing them by Yamantaka.
The Khuree tsam was performed for the first time by the instructions of Undur Gacheng Lama of IV Bogd invited from Tashi Lkhumpo of Tibet during Saishaalt Yeruult Khaan or in 1811. However, Gacheng Lama did not give sutra of Khuree tsam choreography, due that XII Great Abbot Jidorin Agvanglobsangkhedup of then Khuree wrote "Clarifying Tsam Dance"(gar cham saljed) as a guideline of Khuree tsam in 1836 and it is viewed that the text was equal to original texts written by Tibetan scholars.
Tsams of Tashi Lkhumpo of Tibet, Namgyal Monastery of Lhasa and Ikh Khuree of Khalkha have the same origin, however there are many variations among them. About this it is mentioned in the Agvanglobsangkhedup's text: "Continuity of tsams of Tashi Lkhumpo, Namgyal Monastery and Ikh Khuree is said to the same, however there are many differences such as number, rules of the tsam performance, and many other differences due to the course of time, and sometimes texts of these tsams do not correspond to each other respectively and I refrain myself from writing those again. If one is interested to know more, refer to respective records and numbers of those texts of tsam".
The fact that Khuree tsam was called as summer Jakhar tsam is due to the fact that it was performed in summer seasons extensively. While winter Jakhar tsam did not exceed 9 Shanagas and there was only sor zalakh (burning of all negativities in the fire) in the middle month of winter, therefore winter tsam had a smaller size than of summer's.
Although 21 tsam performers of summer offering jakhar tsam were named as 21 Taras, they were 21 Shanagas. Offering tsam was called as Chogor tsam and it was performed on the 4th of the last month of summer. On the day of tsam, a big thangka of Vajrapani was displayed in the front square of Decheng Galav monastery and in the hour of sheep or between 2pm-3pm, 21 Taras performed tsam. In Tara tsam children aging 13-14 proceed in groups. At the end, White Old Man comes followed by Azar, which signifies the end of short tsam or Offering tsam.
Jakhar tsam or extensive tsam was performed on the 8th and 9th days of the last month of summer. It took place in front of the palace called western palace decorated with images of ten wrathful deities (hangal) and they installed Lyanga under a giant umbrella before the tsam starts. After that, monks recite texts and during that time Shanag chengbo or Chambong performs the tsam without interruption. The Shanag tsam continued for a long time reaching midnight and in some places, it reached the dawn.
In case of days, there was a recitation on the 8th day of the last month of summer and the actual tsam was performed on the next day. In order to do that, chanting of the 9th day of the last month of summer was made one night in advance, followed by tsam performance next day.
Preparation for Khuree tsam recitations starts from the end of the first month of summer and recitations start from the first day of the middle month of summer and it continues upto the 6th day of the last month of summer without interruption. Starting from the 4th day of the last month of summer, preparations of tsam choreography was conducted outside. Costumes of tsam dancers consisted of four items, namely deel with agui sleeves, apron with depiction of powerful animals and long trims at the ends, chest part costume covering two shoulders, chest and back and heavy bone malas attached to chest part. There were 23 groups of mask tsam in succession including Durtod-dakpo in Khuree tsam.
Khuree tsam was bigger, more elaborate in terms of masks, ornaments and handicrafts, rituals and content was more extensive compared to other types of tsam and some researchers concluded that Mongolian tsam was the most "precious" in the world. This distinction is directly connected with the Buddhist scholars and masters of Mongolia and also cultures of certain regions and people. Khuree tsam was performed between 1811-1937 without interruption and during great repression thar took place in Mongolia, it was destroyed like other Buddhist rituals. From 1990-s, democracy was introduced in Mongolia and there was a campaign to revive Mongolian tradition and culture, as a result activities of restoring some ancient temples and forgotten rituals were initiated. There is a great demand for time and funding to revive Buddhist rituals interrupted for over 70 years, and most of all there is a lack of monks who has knowledge to perform those rituals. Nowadays, there is no any obstacles from the side of the state and society and there have been a number of tsam performances in the frame of religious ritual and it is important to organize the events in more expanded forms.
As tsam is a form of secret tantric meditation ritual it is often viewed that is should be kept secret. However, we are not provided with conditions of performing tsam according to the actual secret tantric rules, we believe that it is important to introduce Mongolian tsam, furthermore, Khuree tsam from artistic point of view to the world and organize awareness campaign of it.
In July, 2007, "Goo yertsunts" (Beautiful world) society organized "Khuree tsam-108", although internal meditation was skipped during this performance, externally it was beneficial to help devotees recognize yidams, choijins, protectors and devas and not be afraid of them in their next lives and intermediate states, so to have higher rebirths.
I hope that in the future, there will be a development in the level of internal meditation on emptiness based on the external form in tsam performance.
Three. Tsam of other countries (brief).
Besides Mongolia, tsam dance also developed in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, India and China. Although their forms may differ, they all have same Buddhist meaning.
Tsam of above mentioned countries can be divided according to four traditions of Buddhism in general, namely:
Among them, the tsam was originally created in the Niyngma tradition and it was introduced later in Sakya and Kagyu traditions and at last in Gelukpa tradition. Tsams of the above countries and traditions vary in terms of originations, types, ritual of destroying lyanga, implements, days of tsam performance, durations, preparations, place of performance, deities, dance motions and masks and they all have different characteristics. For example, Mongolian Khuree tsam following Gelukpa tradition has enormous difference from other tsams by characters such as White old man, Khashin Khaan, lords of the four mountains, Lion, crow, Buivee hero, Shijir hero. Also Vajrapani character of Khuree tsam is the most clear distinction of Khuree tsam.
Detailed writing about tsam will require great deal of effort and time and detailed research, therefore, I wrote here in brief. May all be in peace.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
In the thirteenth century, all Mongols thought themselves to be the centre of the universe, a belief that they derived from their Shamanistic religion. A Shamanist worshipped natural things: the sky, the sun, the moon, rivers and mountains, etc. Heaven was both their guide and their consciousness; thus every Shamanist was born free and equal. Chinggis was, like any other Mongol, a Shamanist, and he treated every Mongol equally.
The Mongols, under Chinggis's command, were united to face the challenges of their day. Their strength lay in their unity, and the way in which they deployed their hunting skills and pursued their nomadic economy. Always superb horsemen, their iron discipline, high morale and fine leadership ensured that, as a cavalry force, they were beyond compare. Special attention was paid to the welfare of the soldiers. Chinggis Qahan once said:
'My soldiers are as numerous as forests, and their women could form a large unit within the army. I want to feed them with juicy meat, let them live in beautiful yurts, and let them pasture their livestock on rich soil.'
He was known for his personal concern for his men, and was careful not to drive them beyond the limits of their endurance.
Because the population of Mongolia was so small (some say it was over one million; I am inclined to put it at two million), human life was very precious. One can see from Chinggis's tactics that the Mongols tended to avoid hand-to-hand fighting in order to minimize casualties among their soldiers. If a Mongol soldier was killed due to carelessness, his commander would be punished; if a wounded Mongol soldier was left on the battlefield, his troop leader would be executed on the spot. In December 1241, the Mongols, under Prince Batu (the founder of the Golden Horde), entered Hungary and fought a major battle on the banks of the Sayo River. Because of the delay in sending rafts to the river banks, some twenty Mongol soldiers lost their lives. Prince Batu strongly reprimanded his second-in-command, the famous general Sube'etei (one of the Four Hounds of Chinggis), for the delay, though some say that Sube'etei and his soldiers arrived late only because they were building bridges over the Sayo.
What is clear is that Chinggis cared greatly for his soldiers. With 129,000 Mongol cavalrymen he conducted wars in foreign countries for more than twenty years, his golden rule being that of `mutual loyalty'. Because of the way in which he treated his troops, he was able to maintain fairly constant numbers of men under arms.
Through their network of spies, traders and informers, Chinggis and his generals built up an exceptional understanding of the economic, military, and political conditions of the countries they wanted to attack. It was said that in the mornings, when the air was at its clearest, a Mongol could see for up to four or five miles and hear the sound of hoofs up to twenty miles away. Even in recent times, a horseman could ride from Ulaan-Baatar to Kalgan in nine days - a distance of some 600 miles. In 1221, Chinggis's army rode 130 miles from Bamian to Ghazna, by way of Kabul, in two days. Every man learned to ride from the age of three, and served in the army from the age of fourteen until he was sixty.
Chinggis's Arts of War were based on five key elements: speed, suddenness, ferocity, variety of tactics, and iron discipline.
Marco Polo tells us that a Mongol cavalryman often slept mounted and armed while his gelding grazed, and that he could go ten days without cooking food. On such occasions he lived on ten pounds of dried milk-curd, two litres of kumiss, and a quantity of cured meat. A Mongol soldier had three or four spare geldings, and would not ride a gelding until it had rested for three or four days. The Mongols took their herds of cows and sheep with them when they went on campaigns. If they went short of food, they hunted wild beasts.
In 1211, when Chinggis attacked the Jin territory in northern China, his army comprised about 110,000 Mongol soldiers. In 1219, when the Mongol army moved into Kwarizm territory, the army numbered some 150,000 soldiers (some say only 90,000), but to these he had added many auxiliaries, including Kurds, Turks, Turkomans, and even Chinese. Chinggis Qahan never liked to fight on a second front unless absolutely necessary, preferring instead to concentrate his forces on one front at a time.
Chinggis Qahan's Sixteen Military Tactics:
1) Crow Soldiers and Scattered Stars Tactics (also known as Ocean Waves Tactics)
When facing the enemy, the army would split into small groups consisting of three to five soldiers to avoid being surrounded. When the enemy regrouped, the Mongols too regrouped. They were to appear suddenly, like something dropping from the sky, and disappear like lightning. The attack would be signalled by a shout or the crack of a whip. One hundred cavalrymen could surround one thousand enemy soldiers and one thousand cavalrymen could control a front thirty-three miles long in order to attack the enemy at the right place and the right moment.
2) The Cavalrymen Charge Tactics (also known as Chisel Attack Tactics)
A group of cavalrymen would make a direct charge into the enemy line. If the first charge failed, a second and even third group would attack. No matter how great the opposition, even if they numbered a hundred thousand, they were unable to withstand the charges. Finally, in response to a signal, the Mongol cavalrymen would charge from all directions into the enemy lines in order to destroy their formation.
3) Archers' Tactics
The archers, armed with shields, dismounted from their geldings and shot at the enemy, sometimes using the geldings as shelter. Other archers shot from horseback. (The horses were trained to stop dead in mid-gallop to allow the archer to take aim.) Once the enemy came under fire, their lines would be broken and they would scatter in disorder. At that point, the cavalrymen would attack.
4) Throw-Into-Disorder Tactics
If the enemy was strong on the battlefield or sheltering in a fort, the Mongols would herd oxen and wild horses into the enemy lines to cause confusion.
5) Wearing-Down Tactics
When the enemy stood in a defensive position with spears planted in a row, thus preventing a cavalry charge into the line, the Mongols would withdraw their main forces, leaving only a few small detachments to harass the enemy by shooting arrows into the spear-held line. Due to lack of food, water, and rest, the enemy would eventually have to move. Once the weary forces were on the march, the Mongol army would launch a surprise attack.
6) Confusing and Intimidating
In 1204, Chinggis Qahan ordered his soldiers to set up camp on the Sa'ari Steppe in western Mongolia. Every able?bodied man lit five fires some distance apart, thus scaring the Naimans and enabling Chinggis to defeat them.
When the Mongols encountered numerically superior forces, they often sent troops to stir up dust behind their own lines by means of branches tied to the tails of their horses. On seeing the dust, the enemy often believed that large reinforcements were at hand and fled.
The Mongols also mounted stuffed dummies, small Mongol children, and females on the spare horses to suggest that the army was much bigger than it actually was. This trick was used by the Mongol general Shigi-qutuqu in 1221, when he engaged Jaldin at Biruan between Kabul and Ghazna.
7) Luring into Ambushes
As soon as battle started, the Mongol soldiers would feign retreat, deliberately throwing away gold and silver and other impedimenta. Such tactics were used sparingly - for example, if they could not break into heavily fortified cities or through a strong pass. In 1211, when the Mongols first attacked the Jin territory in northern China, Chinggis Qahan sent Jebe and Guyigu Nek ahead to attack the famous Chabchiyal Pass. The Mongols could not break through this pass because it backed onto mountain cliffs and was strongly fortified. Instead they decided to lure the enemy out by slowly retreating. The Jin army thought that the Mongols had given up, so they chased after them and were surprised, after a certain distance, to see the retreating soldiers suddenly turn to counter-attack. At that moment, the main Mongol army appeared from all sides in a pre-arranged ambush and slaughtered the enemy until their bodies piled up as far as Chibchayal, `like rotten logs'. Jebe stormed the gate of Chibchayal and took the pass.
In May 1222, the Mongol generals Jebe and Sube'etei and 20,000 Mongol cavalrymen pursued the fleeing Kypchaks (or Cumans) from the western side of the Caspian Sea towards the northwest, to Kiev. The Mongols met the joint forces of the Russians and the Cumans, 30,000 men, on the eastern bank of the Dnieper River. Some say that Sube'etei, with only 2,000 Mongol cavalry, lured the Russians and Cumans for nine days towards the small Kalka River that flows into the Sea of Azov, where the main Mongol cavalrymen (numbering 20,000) were waiting. Under the direction of Jebe and Sube'etei, the Mongols attacked the enemy at the end of May and destroyed most of their forces.
8) Arc Formation Tactics
The Mongols would send out two detachments in a wide curve, like the tips of a bow, but with the main forces staying at the centre of the arc, hiding in shady places to await the enemy. These two detachments went ahead to engage the enemy, shooting to infuriate them and lure them to where the main forces were waiting. These two detachments also closed in from the flanks or from behind the enemy. The Mongols called these tactics `bow tactics'. The Cossacks also used these tactics to defeat their enemies.
9) Lightning Attack And Surprise Attack
These two tactics were perhaps the most important of all: lightning attack meant speed, and surprise attack meant suddenness. In 1203, the Mongols attacked Ong Qan, who had erected a golden yurt and was feasting. For three nights and three days, under Chinggis' command, they fought, and in the end Ong Qan and his son fled, though his entire army surrendered. This was an example of Chinggis `surprise attack' tactics.
In 1213, the Mongol army, commanded by Jebe, failed to take the city of Dongchang (Mukden), so they retreated for six days over a distance of some 170 miles. The enemy defending the city thought that the Mongols had given up, but Jebe returned, covering the distance in one night and launching a surprise attack.
10) Outflanking Tactics (a)
When the Mongol cavalrymen could not attack the enemy from the front, they would leave a small detachment to draw the attention of the enemy. Meanwhile the main force went round the back, by way of difficult paths, to attack the enemy from the rear. There are two examples in the History to illustrate these tactics. In 1207, Chinggis Qahan ordered Dorbei-doqshin to attack the Tumet people in the northern part of Mongolia. He left a small detachment on the main road, and ordered his best soldiers to travel along paths made by wild animals. They climbed the highest mountain and then suddenly descended as if from heaven, finishing the enemy while they were feasting.
In 1213, when the Mongol cavalrymen under Chinggis Qahan wanted to take the Chabchiyal Pass, the Jin army fortified the pass and spread iron spikes along the road to the north to prevent the advance of the geldings. The entrance to the pass was also reinforced by an iron gate. Chinggis left a small detachment to shoot at the Jin army, and then took his main army west and back to the southern end of the pass. He captured a place called Nankou, and went on to take the pass.
11) Encircling Tactics
Chinggis used these tactics many times in order to destroy his enemies. The tactics were based on the enemy's strengths and formations. If the enemy openly exposed his flank and rear, and the city defenders were weak, the Mongols would encircle them from all sides. If the enemy deployed their forces by the rivers, exposing two or three flanks, then the Mongols would encircle them from all sides of the riverbank.
In 1221, Chinggis destroyed Jalaldin Mangubirdi, who had deployed his soldiers on the west bank of the Indus, by attacking on two or three sides. Plano Carpini (who was in Mongolia in 1246) records that the Mongols always sent the captured personnel and non-Mongol soldiers in first, led by a few Mongols, to fight the encircled enemy. Only then would the strong regular army appear, as if from nowhere, to reinforce the stronghold, outflank the enemy on both wings, and destroy him.
12) Open-the-End Tactics
If the enemy was very strong and ready to fight to the death, the Mongols would leave a gap in their ranks. In this way, the enemy might think they could see an escape route, scatter, and start to run. At that precise moment, the Mongols would fix upon a suitable place to kill the fleeing enemy.
13) Combining Swords and Arrows
The Mongols avoided hand-to-hand fighting if at all possible, preferring to use bows and arrows, with a range of 200 to 300 yards, to kill the enemy. Plano Carpini records: 'If at all possible, the Mongols never engage in hand-to-hand fighting. They always first use arrows to kill the enemy and their horses. After killing or wounding the enemy and their horses, making them too weak to fight, the Mongols move in to finish them off.'
14) Hot Pursuit Tactics and Dispersing Tactics
If winning, the Mongols would pursue the enemy so that no one escaped alive. If losing, they would disperse in all directions, so that the enemy was unable to catch them.
15) Bush Clump Tactics
These tactics involved dividing the soldiers into many small groups which, although keeping in contact with each other, maintained a low profile as they advanced. Such tactics were also used at night-time, and on dark or cloudy days.
16) Outflanking Tactics (b)
The Mongols faced a march of more than 1,500 miles to their goal in Bukhara and Samarkand. The Khwarazem Shah had deployed his forces along the Syr Darya River. The Mongols divided their forces into four contingents, three of which moved to face the Shah across the Syr Darya. The fourth and largest contingent, commanded by Chinggis himself, turned north and then due west into the Kizil Kum Desert, instead of turning south. There were neither roads nor water in this region. For several months, Chinggis made his way secretly across the desert, while the Shah's forces were being worn out on the battlefront. In March 1218, Chinggis approached Bukhara from more than 400 miles behind enemy lines. This campaign is regarded by military historians as one of the most dramatic outflanking manoeuvres of all times.
Hiri Moale Festival:
25 Toea - The Hiri Claypot
50 Toea - The Hiri Hanenamo
65 Toea - The Hiri Lagatoi
1.00 Kina - The Hiri Sorcerer
SS Hiri Moale Festival 16th September 1999:
1.00 Kina - The Hiri Sorcerer
1.00 Kina - The Hiri Sorcerer
1.00 Kina - The Hiri Sorcerer
This 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) sail westwards during the south-easterly winds known locally as the "Lahara winds". After the trade, they return when the winds changes 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 crewmembers 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.
Preparation for the trip involves:
. Building of double hull canoes called lagatoi's by the menfolk.
. Clay pot making by the women.
Items for Trade:
. Toea (Motuan shell money)
. Sago (Main item) & betel nuts by Gulf villagers - additional items includes logs for the Lagatoi's.
Length of Trips
. May take a week to travel (East Wards)
. May Take 2 to 3 months before returning - due to repair or building of additional hulls to cater for additional cargo.
Also wait for the change in the wind i.e. West Winds
Today the Hiri Festival is a celebration to mark the Hiri trading pilgrimages. It is held annually to coincide with the Independence Day celebration on September 16th.
There is always great joy and celebration upon the successful return of the Lagatois, hence the Hiri Moale - the name given to today's modern day celebrations.
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. Infact 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 just one aspect. Elegance and grace in carrying out duties and during performances is also considered. Approval and appraisal by village elders honours 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. 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.
HIRI HANENAMO - MOTU-KOITABU TRADITIONAL BEAUTY QUEST
One of the great spectacles of the Hiri Moale Festival is the Hiri Hanenamo Quest where selected young women will parade in front of a crowd of spectators, covered in tattoos, swaying their grass skirts and calling out a lagatoi or double-hulled canoe used in the Hiri Trading days.
They will attire only in their finest dancing finery and will be subjected to questioning, judging, marvel, admiration and basically, great attention.
The Hiri Hanenamos who are these beautiful young ladies contesting the Hiri Hanenamo Quest, undoubtedly become a draw card of every festival.
The contest is as old as the festival itself and its inclusion is not because of modern influences. The quest traces it's roots to an age-old Motuan tradition of social ethnics and rules associated with Hiri.
In the days of the sailing Lagatoi, the women's role in ensuring a successful Hiri voyage was just as important as the males who took the trip. Young women together with their mothers and elder female relatives would stay indoors during the length of the trip. They were not allowed to cut or comb their hair, and would learn Motuan customs while their bodies were being tattooed. These young women could only eat vegetables and only with chopsticks known as diniga.
When the lagatois returned the girls were allowed out into the sunshine for the first time in many months. Their skin would be very pale, after a long period of time, in the absence of sunlight and so their bodily tattoos would be quite significant. The young women would wash themselves thoroughly, dress in new grass skirts and take their place in front of all the other women singing hehona (songs) to welcome the lagatoi home.
These social rules require a great deal of personal discipline and so a young village woman who displayed such respect for her traditions was honoured with such a title the Hanenamo.
The addition to this aspect of the Hiri, it also reminds us the importance of women and their role in ensuring a successful trade. Designed into a competition, the Hiri Hanenamo Quest has succeeded in encouraging young women to take an active interest in their traditional history and culture.
The contest usually allows 20 contestants every year. The "Hiri Hanenamo" is the principal title. In addition there are other titles such as; the Hiri Hanenamo Runner-up and the Miss Hetura (means Friendship).
Carried out by a panel of judges chosen at random, the modern Hiri Hanenamo is chosen for her poise and deportment in dance, the care with which her tattoos and clothes have been made, as well as her knowledge of traditional customs.
This is a must see for the first time visitor to Port Moresby during this time of the year.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Some people think Switzerland was the first modern democracy. This is only half of the truth, actually. While people in some cantons and cities could indeed participate in the political process, a majority of Switzerland's inhabitants had no political rights at all until the Swiss Revolution of 1798 eliminated the old structures and replaced them with a centralistic democracy according to the model of the French Revolution (1789). This did, however, not work well and in 1803 Switzerland returned to a federalistic system while keeping up to the revolutionary principles of freedom, equality and solidarity. Six new member cantons (former territories without political rights) were admitted to the new Confederation. In 1815 three cantons returned to Switzerland that had been annexed by France (Napoleon!) after 1798 for strategic reasons.
For centuries, people in Switzerland identified themselves foremost with their canton. During the 19th and 20th centuries, however, industrialization led to an enormous migration inside Switzerland, so that many swiss citizens do not live where their families originated once any longer. When Switzerland's flag was officially introduced in 1848 to mark a new age (modern federal constitution!), there was quite some opposition and many citizens wanted to stay with their cantonal flags.
I have not attempted to count flags in gardens - there are thousands of them all over Switzerland - but according to what I see when walking around in different regions of Switzerland, I would estimate that today more than 90% of the single flagposts in the country will carry Switzerland's national flag, while cantonal and local flags are placed on additional flagposts, if at all.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Omani Costumes for Men:
Stamp Set: The 1989 definitive issue was issued with the stamps depicting Omani costumes. 4 of the 10 stamps show Men’s costumes. The values issued were: 200 Baisa plus ¼, ½ and 1 Rial.
Stamp Set: The stamps depicting Men’s Costumes and priced at 2 Rials.
Type of Stamp: Definitive
Issue Date: 11 November 1989
Denomination: 2 Rial
Colour: Multi-Coloured (6 Colours)
Sheet Size: 210 x 145 mm (quantity: 5000)
Dimensions Stamp: 28 x 41.1 mm
Perforation Stamp: 11 1/4 x 11 3/4
Sheet Size: 50
Design: Mohamed bin Nizam Shah and Mahmoud Roushdy
Description: The 1989 Definitive Issue – Omani Costumes for Men - Souvenir Sheet
Printer: 6-colour photogravure by Helio Courvoisier SA of Switzerland
National Dress - Men
The national dress for Omani men is a simple, ankle-length, collarless gown with long sleeves called the dishdasha. The colour most frequently worn is white, although a variety of other colours such as black, blue, brown and lilac can also be seen. Its main adornment is a tassel (furakha) sewn into the neckline, which can be impregnated with perfume. Underneath the dishdasha, a plain piece of cloth covering the body is worn from the waist down. Omani men may wear a variety of head dresses. The muzzar is a square of finely woven woollen or cotton fabric, wrapped and folded into a turban. Underneath this, the kummar, an intricately embroidered cap, is sometimes worn. The shal, a long strip of cloth acting as a holder for the khanjar (a silver, hand-crafted knife or dagger) may be made from the same material as the muzzar. Alternatively, the holder may be fashioned in the form of a belt made from leather and silver, which is called a sapta. On formal occasions, the dishdasha may be covered by a black or beige cloak, called a bisht. The embroidery edging the cloak is often in silver or gold thread and it is intricate in detail. Some men carry the assa, a stick, which can have practical uses or is simply used as an accessory during formal events. Omani men, on the whole, wear sandals on their feet.
The curved dagger, the khanjar is a distinguishing feature of the Omani personality as well as an important symbol of male elegance. It is traditionally worn at the waist.
The shape of the khanjar is always the same and is characterised by the curve of the blade and by the near right- angle bend of the sheath. Sheaths may vary from simple covers to ornate silver or gold-decorated pieces of great beauty and delicacy. In the
past the silver khanjars were made by melting down Marie Theresa silver coins.
Different types of khan jars are named after the regions in which they are made and vary according to size, shape, type of metal and the overlay. The top of the handle of the most usual khanjar is flat but the "Saidi" type, which takes its name from the Ruling Family, has an ornate cross-shaped top.
However, all possess certain common features and have the same components:
• The hilt may be made of costly rhinocerous horn or substitutes such as sandalwood and marble.
• The blade determines the value of the khanjar according to its strength and quality.
• The sadr, or upper part of the sheath, is decorated with silver engraving,
• The sheath , the most striking part of the khanjar, is worked with silver threads.
Khanjars are supported on belts of locallymade webbing, sometimes interwoven with silver thread or belts of leather covered by finely woven silver wire with handsome silver buckles, and a knife with an ornate handle of silver thread is often stuck into a simple leather pouch behind the sheath.
Khanjars are worn on formal occasions and at feasts and holidays, and almost all Omani men boast one.
Once worn in self-defence, the khanjar is today both a fashion accessory and a prestige item much in demand.
Omani Costumes for Women:
Stamp Set: The 1989 definitive issue was issued with the stamps depicting Omani costumes. 6 of the 10 stamps show Women’s Costumes. The values issued were: 30, 40, 50, 100, 130, 150 Baisa.
Stamp Set : The stamps depicting Women’s Costumes and priced at 700 Baisa
Type of Stamp: Definitive
Issue Date: 26 August 1989
Denomination: 700 Baisa
Colour: Multi-Coloured (6 Colours)
Sheet Size: 210 x 145 mm (Quantity: 10000)
Dimensions Stamp: 28 x 41.1 mm
Perforation Stamp: 11 1/4 x 11 3/4
Sheet Size: 50
Design: Mohamed bin Nizam Shah and Mahmoud Roushdy
Description: The 1989 Definitive Issue – Omani Costumes for Women - Souvenir Sheet
Printer: 6-colour photogravure by Helio Courvoisier SA of Switzerland
National Dress - Women
Omani women have very colourful costumes which vary from region to region. The main components of a woman's outfit comprise of a dress which is worn over trousers (sirwal) and the headdress, called the lihaf.
There are numerous traditional styles of Omani costume seen in Muscat. However, there are three main types which show vibrant colours, embroidery and decorations. One style of costume is rather flowing and resembles that worn by the women of the Interior, while another is decorated with distinctive silver bands. The embroidery on these dresses can take around two months to complete.
Musandam & Al Dhahirah
The jewelery worn by Omani women is fashioned mainly from gold, although the traditional metal was silver. Work is very intricate and elaborate patterns and symbols, even Quranic calligraphy, is engraved into the metal.
Omani women have used natural cosmetics and beauty preparations for centuries and despite the supply of brand name cosmetics sold in department stores and supermarkets, the traditional products are still available at souqs all over the Sultanate.
Kohl, a dark powder used as an eyeliner made mainly from frankincense or the roots of the arvea jevanica, is still used to enhance the eyes and is applied with a small stick made from silver (marwat) or wood. As a 'moisturiser' women grind the seeds of the prunus mahled together with the yellow pigment of the carthamus tincturius flower. Indigo is also used as a 'skin wash'. The indigo is pounded into a powder and rubbed into the skin, to then be rinsed off with the crushed leaves of the becium dhofarense. This beauty treatment leaves the skin smooth and faintly tinged with blue which enhances the natural skin tone and is complemented by the colours contained within the vibrant dresses and scarves. Indigo is also applied to the face in decorative patterns for festivals and celebrations, such as weddings.
Hair is conditioned with oil extracted from the shoo seeds which is said to make the hair shine and delay the signs of greying. A popular shampoo is made from sidr and ipomoea nil leaves.
Many women in Oman paint their hands and feet with henna, particularly before special occasions such as Eid holidays or weddings. Henna comes from the plant of the same name and is extracted by pounding the leaves into a powder which is then mixed with water to form a thick paste. The paste is applied in patterns on the hands and feet, which, when dried, leaves a temporary orange/brown design which fades after around three weeks.
Omani costumes are so varied, colourful and eye-catching, that the Post Office of Oman has produced postage stamps depicting men's and women's outfits from the different regions.
Watermark 4 Swastikas
The stamps depict native German costumes:
3+2 Pfennig -- East Prussia and Merienburg
4+3 Pfennig -- Upper Silesia
5+3 Pfennig -- Wine Grower from Rheinland
6+4 Pfennig -- Lower Saxony
8+4 Pfennig -- Kurmark and Heinersbruck in Spreewald
12+6 Pfennig -- Black Forest
15+10 Pfennig -- Hessen and Marburg
25+15 Pfennig -- Upper Bavaria
30+20 Pfennig -- Friesland and Watt
40+35 Pfennig -- Upper Franconia
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Post of Kosova, business unit of the PTK JSC, on July 6th 2007 at 1300 hours, in the Ethnological Museum of Prishtina, announces the XXV emission of postage stamps titled “Kosovar Costumes”, to be launched on July 7th 2007.
The issue of these postage stamps creatively features the five most specific costumes of Kosovo:
• The postage stamp, of €1 nominal value, features the dress of the shepherd in Rugova. The dress, to include the coat of the shepherd, is made mainly of wool, so as to save the natives from the cold climate in the mountains of Rugova;
• The postage stamp, of €0.70 nominal value, features the ladies’ costume in Drenica region. The costume is made of wool, comprising of a long shirt, vest and shirt fronts. The view of this postage stamp also includes a low round dinning table, which represents the traditional generosity and hospitality of the Kosovars;
• The postage stamp, of €0.50 nominal value, features a part of the “swords dancing”;
• The postage stamp, of €0.30 nominal value, features the characteristic costumes of Prizren region, which comprises of slops, a vest and flossy shirt fronts decorated with gold and silver, and
• The postage stamp, of €0.20 nominal value, features the Serbian ladies’ solemn dress, the elements of which indicate the folklore of Shumadia, such as the shirt, sleeves-tie, etc.
These postage stamps are issued along with a combined philatelic book and the first day cover, which enfold artistic values. This is a worthy presentation of Kosovar costumes, which are an adjunct to the people of Kosovo during the eon of the history.
"Beauty is Nature Coin, must not be hoarded..." (John Milton)
0.10 Centavos - Lourdes, Nicaragua
0.15 Centavos - Halston, New York
0.20 Centavos - Pino Lancetti, Roma
0.35 Centavos - Madame Gres, Paris
0.40 Centavos - Irene Galitzine, Roma
0.80 Centavos - Pedro Rodriguez, Barcelona
1.00 Cordobas - Givenchy, Paris
2.00 Cordobas - Hartnell, Londres
5.00 Cordobas - Balmain, Paris
Capital: Vila on Efate Island.
Location: On more than 30 islands in Melanesia the largest being Espiritu Santo Efate and Malakula.
Area: 12, 200 Sq. km
Official Language: English and Europeans
National Flag: Red over green with a black triangle in the hoist the three parts being divided by fimbriations of black and yellow and in the center of the black triangle a boar tusk overlaid by two crossed fern leaves.
Flag Ratio: 3:5
15 Vanuatuan Vatu - Map of Vanuatu
The flag of Vanuatu is a blend of four colors red, green, black and green. There is a ‘Y' placed horizontally on the national flag of Vanuatu which signifies the chain of islands of the country which are placed in this particular shape. There is a black colored triangle on the hoist side of the black which also consists of the national emblem of Republic of Vanuatu . There is thin yellow line inside the black ‘Y' which represents sunshine and Christianity which is the most practiced religion of Vanuatu. The black color signifies the Melanesian population and the red part symbolizes bloodshed. The green color on the national flag of Vanuatu symbolizes the lush green vegetation and crop growing lands. The conventional symbol of prosperity of the Vanuatu culture is depicted on the national flag in the form of the emblem.
Symbolism of the colours: "The yellow symbolizes sunshine [peace and enlightenment brought by Christianity, fide Talocci]; the green the richness of the islands [all the islands of the archipelago, fide Talocci]. The red is symbolic of blood [blood of sacrificed boars, power of traditions, and men's blood, fide Talocci], and the black is for the Melanesian people [not explained by Talocci]. The Prime Minister requested the inclusion of yellow and black fimbriations to give more prominence to the colour representing the people. The yellow Y-shape denotes the pattern of the islands in the Pacific Ocean."
25 Vanuatuan Vatu - National Emblem
Emblem: "A boar's tusk - the symbol of prosperity worn as a pendant on the islands - crossed by two leaves of the local fern "namele". The leaves are a token of peace, and their 39 fronds represent the 39 members of Vanuatu's legislative assembly." [This description is botanically incorrect, ferns do not have leaves but fronds, therefore it should be: "the fronds are a token of peace, and their 39 divisions represent the 39 members of Vanuatu's legislative assembly."]
The boar's tusk is a symbol of prosperity because (1) pigs are wealth (2) in the latter stages of getting the tusk to grow in a spiral the pig has to be hand fed, and you need status and wealth to have both the pig feeder and the food which are necessary.
The boar's tusk is apparently used as a pendant by the islanders. They remove the boar's upper tusks, which causes the lower tusks to grow in a circle (from National Geographic, December 1970).
"Yumi, Yumi, Yumi" (Bislama: "We, We, We") is the national anthem of Vanuatu. It was written and composed by François Vincent Ayssav (born 1955) and adopted in 1980.
Yumi, Yumi, yumi i glat long talem se
Yumi, yumi, yumi i man blong Vanuatu
God i givim ples ia long yumi,
Yumi glat tumas long hem,
Yumi strong mo yumi fri long hem,
Yumi brata evriwan!
Plante fasin blong bifo i stap,
Plante fasin blong tedei,
Be yumi i olsem wan nomo,
Hemia fasin blong yumi!
Yumi save plante wok i stap,
Long ol aelan blong yumi,
God i helpem yumi evriwan,
Hem i papa blong yumi!
We, we, we are happy to proclaim
We, we, we are the people of Vanuatu
God has given us this land,
We have great cause for rejoicing
We are strong and we are free in this land
We are all brothers
There were many ways before
There are many ways today
But we are all one
Despite our many ways
We work hard on our many islands
God helps us in our work
He is Our Father!
75 Vanuatuan Vatu - Coat of Arms
The Vanuatu coat of arms depicts a Melanesian warrior standing in front of a boar’s tusk. Two leaves are also in the background. The motto "Long God yumi stanap" (We stand with God) is located at the bottom in the Bislama language.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
The People- Montagnards Lao
The term Montagnard means "mountain people" in French and is a carryover from the French colonial period in Vietnam. The term is preferable to the derogatory Vietnamese term moi, meaning "savage." Montagnard is the term, typically shortened to Yard, used by U.S. military personnel in the Central Highlands during the Vietnam War. The Montagnards, who are made up of different tribes, with many overlapping customs, social interactions, and language patterns, typically refer to themselves by their tribal names such as Jarai, Koho, Manong, and Rhade. Since Montagnard is still the most commonly recognized term for these people, it is the term we use in this profile.
Many of the first group of Montagnard refugees in the United States adopted the term Dega as their name instead of Montagnard because of the latter’s colonial associations. Dega comes from the Rhade language and refers to a creation myth in which the first two Montagnards were named De and Ga. One was of Mon-Khmer heritage and the other of Malayo-Polynesian heritage, and all Montagnards are descendants of these first people of the Highlands, according to the myth. In fact, Montagnard languages are traceable to the Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian groups.
A Rhade term was chosen because among the first group of Montagnard refugees in the United States the Rhade were in the majority, and their language had been the lingua franca among the resistance fighters. The initial Montagnard organization formed in the United States in 1987 selected the name Montagnard Dega Association in an effort to establish an identity that was inclusive, independent, and recognizable to the community at large. Some Montagnards in the United States, though certainly not all, continue to identify strongly with the term Dega.
The literature on hilltribes in northern Vietnam and Laos that relies on traditional French sources sometimes refers to these peoples as Montagnard. However, the Montagnards from the Central Highlands of Vietnam should not be confused with hilltribe groups in other regions. The Montagnards from the Central Highlands are ethnically distinct from the Hmong and other hilltribe groups from Laos and from hilltribes from northern Vietnam even though they have similar histories of involvement with the U.S. military during the war in Vietnam and Laos. The Montagnards are also distinct from other ethnic minorities in Vietnam, including the Cham, a Muslim minority, who populate parts of Vietnam and Cambodia, and the Nung, as well as other tribal groups from northern Vietnam. A couple hundred Nung have been resettled as refugees in North Carolina and are developing an association with the Montagnards there though the traditions between the two vary significantly. Some Montagnard tribes have also resided in the jungles of Cambodia near the border of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, the border having been drawn by the French during their occupation.
Before the Vietnam War, the population of the Central Highlands, estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million, was almost exclusively Montagnard. Today, the population is approximately 4 million, of whom about 1 million are Montagnard. Of these, between 229,000 to 400,000 are thought to follow evangelical Protestantism. An additional 150,000 to 200,000 are Roman Catholic. The 30 or so Montagnard tribes in the Central Highlands comprise more than six different ethnic groups drawn primarily from the Malayo-Polynesian and Mon Khmer language families. The main tribes, in order of size, are the Jarai (320,000), Rhade (258,000), Bahnar (181,000), Koho (122,000), Mnong (89,000), and Stieng (66,000). The Rhade and Mnong are also known as the Ed and the Bunong.
As the indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands, the Montagnards are completely different in their culture and language from the mainstream Vietnamese. The Vietnamese arrived much later into what is now Vietnam and came primarily from China in different migratory waves. Primarily lowland rice farmers in the south, the Vietnamese have been much more influenced by outsiders, trade, the French colonization, and industrialization than have the Montagnards. Most Vietnamese are Buddhists, belonging to varying strains of Mahayana Buddhism, although Roman Catholicism and a native religion known as Cao Dai also have large followings. Part of the Vietnamese population, especially in larger towns and cities, maintain Chinese traditions and language. The ethnic Chinese constitute the largest minority in Vietnam.
Physically, the Montagnards are darker skinned than the mainstream Vietnamese and do not have epicanthic folds around their eyes. In general, they are about the same size as the mainstream Vietnamese.