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Manit

October 3, 2011
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Bishop’s Museum matt – 1830’s

Okay, what’s Manit? Manit is a national holiday in the Marshall Islands and specifically is a chance to celebrate the culture of the country. The schools are focused on centering their activities that celebrate the arts and culture and include the making of traditional foods, parades and whatever can be supported with their limited budgets. Other activities take place around town and the one main event we joined in on was a celebration of traditional mat making.

There has been a lot of effort put into teaching and learning some of the lost weaving skills. With the support of the Bishop’s  Museum, and associated trust fund, and the work of people from across the Marshall Islands, they have been attempting to understand how the mats were made and working to improve the current standard of workmanship. For the last 6 years there has been a national competition in mat making. The main criteria for judging the mats are: traditional material i.e. pandanus, must be in made in black or white or brown (i.e. no coloured threads), and symmetry i.e. made as square or rectangular as possible.

The culmination of the competition is the exhibition held each year at the Marshall Islands Resort. This year there were approximately 40 mats of varying quality. The judging was conducted during the day and then in the evening there was a silent auction. 100% of the funds raised at the sailing auction went to the individual weaver of each mat. For everyone attending there was a $5 entry fee. We decided to attend and glad we did. It was a great evening providing a chance to not only see all of the mats on display but also a chance to actually handle two mats that were brought in from the Bishop’s Museum and dated back to the early 1800s. Amazingly there were gloves provided and attendees were able to actually handle the mats with gloved hands. They were quite amazing – finely woven, supple and in fine condition.

The silent auction generated a lot of interest. With about 80 people in the room and about an hour in which to bid on a mat there was lots of interest generated. In the end the highest bid received was $260 and the lowest at $60 (this is the mat we bought!). We thought the prices were low for the quality of the mats. In previous years prices for the top mat have gone up close to $500. However, this year both the judges and particiapants were in agreement that this year the quality was the highest and there were more participant weavers than ever. So for Manit that’s great.

So, this is where we say good-bye to Richard and Lee.  We are off tomorrow heading westwards and Richard and Lee

Lee and Connie

are staying behind to do a little more exploring of the Marshall Islands.  We’re not sure where we’ll meet up again but it may

Kazeko, Lee, Tony, Connie and Richard

WordPress – wish I had someone who knew more about this software as can’t seem to format the slideshow so that it doesn’t cover the last two photos in this blog.  Interestingly enough I’m reading a book written by a Cuban blogger called Havanna Real: One Women Fights to Tell the Truth.  It’s story of her experiences blogging using WordPress.  It’s an interesting perspective and an insight into the power of how open the internet is in allowing people in countries like Cuba to finally have a voice.  It’s a quick read and worthwhile to see what one persons life is like who decides not to hide behind the rhetoric and take the risk of speaking out – a brave woman and an innovator.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Admiral Wayno happily stuck in the tropics... permalink
    October 4, 2011 01:13

    Do I detect a hint of sunburn? Go west young barnacles, as its closer to me that ye shall be!

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