Ambae

We were excited to head to Ambae.  Lolowai is the village that is located off the anchorage.  This anchorage was our first time entering a collapsed rim of an inactive volcano.  

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These are the boats in the crater anchorage in Lolowai, Ambae.  Interesting entrance and black sand everywhere

The island was holding a celebration which would include dancing, basket making,  a movement up the chieftain line via a pig kill and much more.  What was most interesting was this festival was being run to make sure the children would remember their heritage.  As in so many parts of the world as the Western World starts to creep in the old ways start to fade.  This island group was making sure that the children would understand these old ways and benefit from the memories of the older islanders.  They were planning to run this type of festival every other year to make sure the information was passed down to the younger generations.

Below are some of the pictures taken at the festival.  If you want to view an individual picture in more detail just click on it.

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Chiefs doing a special dance to keep away the bad spirit.  We had to make no noise in case we angered the spirits

The local kustom village women brought baskets to sell.  These baskets are only made on this island

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We noticed that on this island women were more involved in the festival, including creating and designing dances.  They participated as much as the men - down island that was not the case, most dancing was done by the men

The islanders also organized some demonstrations on how to dry the palm fronds and weave them.  Below are a few pictures of women in the process of weaving and another showing the mats they have woven and now wear.  Mats are given as gifts at births and when a chief moves up the ranks to a higher status.  They are worn, slept on, used to cover tables - basically just like cloth back home.

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On the last day of the festival they performed a special dance for the pig killing ceremony.  Originally this dance was done over 60 years ago when they sacrificed humans instead of pigs when a chief moved up the ranks.  They stopped doing the ceremony because they stopped eating humans.  Recently a village elder starting teaching the steps and the dance is again being performed for these ceremonies.  The village on this island is the only village with the elder knowledge and they are now performing all over Vanuatu and offshore in some cases.  Below are the pig ceremony dance and the generations that are keeping the tradition alive.

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The elder gentlemen on the left told me that he still thinks humans taste better than pigs.  I chose not to ask for more details

 

Here are some of the chiefs that participated in the ceremonies during the festival.  There are many chiefs and levels that they attain throughout their life.  Quite a complex political system.

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We have so many memories of this festival and the people of Ambae.   We truly enjoyed our visit but now we must move on to another island - Maewo and the village of Ansanvari.  See you there.

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