During our walking tours of Port Vila, we've come across a number of very unusual wood carvings which we eventually discovered were "Tantam" or "Namangki". A "Tamtam" (aka "Split Drum") originated on the island of Ambrym and was used by the High Chief to bring villagers together on special occasions or to send different messages to neighbouring villages, using the different vibrations of the drum. Messages included notices of deaths, tribal war, feasting ceremonies or announcing the arrival of a High Chief to the village.
"Namangki" is feminine and is used for peace and unity. A "Tamtam" and "Namangki" are used side by side and both carvings are found in every chiefs "Nakamal" (aka "Place of Peace") throughout Vanuatu where "Kava" is drank at night. Strangely enough, though, here in Vanuatu, "Kava" is only permitted to be drunk by men in a formal setting. Woman partake in the privacy of their homes while entertaining friends.
Wood carvings are traditionally a man's domain, but a man is prohibited from carving either a "Tamtam" or a "Namangki" unless he has gained the "Right of Custom". There can be up to six faces on a single "Tamtam" or "Namangki", each associated with a level, where each level requires a separate "Right of Custom", gained in order.
To gain the right, a man first has to find a willing teacher, negotiate a price and then obtain permission from the chief of the teacher's village, following which a custom ceremony takes place. This includes the killing of a pig, supplying fresh "Kai Kai" (aka "Food") and paying the teacher his asking price. This process is repeated for each additional level, thereby providing the number of faces that the carver is allowed to carve.
It is believed that there are only one or two people left in Vanuatu who can carve six faces, a "Right of Custom" that may become extinct.
Aside from an exercise walk today, we've enjoyed a lazy Sunday, in keeping with the local custom. Now for your "bislama" lesson.
"Airport" - "Epot"
"Horse" - "Hos"
"Table" - "Tebol"
"Finger" - "Fingga"
"Barometer" - "Glas blong hariken"
"Unconscious" - "Haf ded"
"Womb" - "Basket blong pikinini"
"Fins" - "Dakdak sus".
"Mi laekem kokonas"
.Log Day 600 Answer: "Keep off the grass!".