Culture of Kiribati


Culture of Kiribati

Contemporary Kiribati culture is centered around the family, the church and the sea. Its relative isolation Kiribati has allowed "traditional values" and skills to be maintained.

Contents

Dueling

Kiribati has a history of contrived and ritualized duels. The armor was made of thickly woven sennet, a kind of coconut fiber. The duelists wore helmets made of blowfish remains. The helmets were resilient and, due to the structure of blowfish, covered with many points, which had the ability of damaging weapons. The weapons resembled broadswords with a serrated edge created with many shark teeth. The duels were performed mostly for the purpose of settling disputes and maintaining honor. The practicality of the duels is debatable. Due to the difficulty of moving in this armor, falling over and becoming unable to get back up was common enough that duel assistants were required.

Kiribati traditional martial arts

Kiribati has been known for its traditional martial arts which were kept within the secrets of several families for generations. The Kiribati arts of fighting as opposed to Asian martial arts are not often mentioned or even advertised to be known by the general public. Though, there may be some noticeable parallels in principle to that of Asian martial arts, they are merely really different. For instance, generally, there is no kicking as in Karate kicks or Kung Fu kicks, and speed is more important than power. The list of these traditional martial arts is as follows(this is not a complete list): Nabakai, Nakara, Ruabou, Tabiang, Taborara, Tebania, Temata-aua, Te Rawarawanimon, Terotauea.

The essence of Kiribati traditional martial arts is the magical power of the spirits of the ancestral warriors. All these martial arts skills share one thing in common. That is, they came from an ancestral spirit.

"Nabakai" is a martial art from the island of Abaiang originated from the person named Nabakai. Nabakai was a member of the crab clan called "Tabukaokao". The three ancestral female spirits of this clan "Nei Tenaotarai", "Nei Temwanai" and "Nei Tereiatabuki" which usually believed to manifest themselves with a female crab came to him and taught him the fighting art.

"Te Rawarawanimon" was believed to be originated from "Nei Tereiatabuki" but various versions of oral tradition illustrated that it came from another ancestral spirit manifested by a soldier fish "te mon". "Nabakai" and "Te Rawarawanimon" show similar resemblance of techniques except that "Nabakai" usually works with one hand and basically uses only one stance while "Te Rawarawanimon" works with two hands and has 5 different stances. "Te Rawarawanimon" is a martial art from the island of North Tarawa.

"Tabiang" is a martial art from the island of Abemama. It is called "Tabiang" because it belongs to every member of the village called Tabiang on Abemama island. It uses speed and accuracy to take over an opponent. The common formula used in this form of martial art is "you give me one punch I give you four punches". It was originated from an ancestral spirit called "Terengerenge" commonly known in other versions of oral traditions as "Teraka". He became manifested by a person called "Karotu-te-buai" from Abemama island and this was the birth of "Tabiang". According to oral traditions, this ancestral spirit traveled to Asia and was a source of origin for what is now known as "karate", a reverse written form of the name "Teraka". The "Tabiang" martial art was believed to be the reason behind the failure of the traditional warriors "Kaitu" and "Uakeia" to conquer the Kingdom of Abemama. Oral traditions state that "Kaitu" and Uakeia" conquered the whole of the southern Gilbert islands and most of the northern Gilberts but retreated when they battled on Abemama.

"Nakara" and "Ruabou" were originated from the island of Niutao in the Ellice Islands(now called Tuvalu). Oral traditions stated that "Nakara" and "Ruabou" were adopted from the styles of "Lupe" in Niutao who derived his martial arts from his ancestral spirit. The basics of "Nakara" and "Ruabou" work mainly on wrestling techniques. "Ruabou" applies more of wrestling and hand combat combination while "Nakara" mainly develops focus on wrestling techniques as a common saying in Kiribati states "when fighting a "Nakara" expert, never come in close contact with him." The two forms of martial arts are practiced throughout the southern Gilbert islands but originally began on the islands of Tamana and Arorae.

Music

Kiribati folk music is generally based around chanting or other forms of vocalizing, accompanied by body percussion. Public performances in modern Kiribati are generally performed by a seated chorus, accompanied by a guitar. However, during formal performances of the standing dance (Te Kaimatoa) or the hip dance (Te Buki) a wooden box is used as a percussion instrument. This box is constructed so as to give a hollow and reverberating tone when struck simultaneously by a chorus of men sitting around it. Traditional songs are often love-themed, but there are also competitive, religious, children's, patriotic, war and wedding songs [1]. There are also stick dances (which accompany legends and semi-historical stories [2]). These stick dances or 'tirere' (pronounced seerere) are only performed during major festivals.

Dance

The uniqueness of Kiribati when compared with other forms of Pacific Island dance is its emphasis on the outstretched arms of the dancer and the sudden birdlike movement of the head. The Frigate bird (Fregata minor) on the Kiribati flag refers to this bird-like style of Kiribati dancing. Most dances are in the standing or sitting position with movement limited and staggered. Smiling whilst dancing as seen in the modern Hawaiian Hula is generally considered vulgar within the context of Kiribati dancing. This is due to its origin of not being solely as a form of entertainment but as a form of storytelling and a display of the skill, beauty and endurance of the dancer.

Literature

There have been few published I-Kiribati literary writers. Teresia Teaiwa stands out as one of the most notable.[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Country profile: Kiribati", The Guardian, April 22, 2009

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