Enhancing the sense of community
In Oceania, festivals and rituals have always been used as a way of enhancing people’s sense of community, and continue to do so to this day. Festivals and rituals make a place home.
Festivals in Oceania
In Oceania, the rhythm and routine of daily life – fishing, tending the garden and, nowadays, office work – is occasionally disrupted by spectacular festivities. People travel from far and wide to take part. The preparations – making items for use in the festivities, setting up the festival site and preparing special food – can take weeks, even months sometimes. Music, dances performed in spectacular costumes, and impressive masks celebrate the life of the community and commemorate the dead.
One eyecatcher in the exhibition is a feather headdress from Yule Island (off the south coast of Papua New Guinea). It is more than a hundred years old, and includes feathers from at least eleven different species of bird. The ends of the rattan sticks radiating from the headdress are weighted with shells so they bob graciously back and forth as the person wearing it moves.