Through the waves to the unknown

Oceania. Thousands of islands spread across the ocean covering a third of the world’s surface. I admit it’s usually as far away from my thoughts as it is in a physical distance.
I got intrigued by those faraway lands after watching Moana (great movie, seriously). I did a bit of internet search but little came out of it. So I forgot about it and just enjoyed the movie for its songs and animation.

Then, I met a friend for some coffee and gossip, and somehow the topic came up again. She said she had a museum card that allowed her to take one person with her to the exhibition Oceania at the Royal Academy of Arts. Such an opportunity, to see an amazing exhibition and don’t pay a penny, doesn’t come often so I jumped at it.
A short guide to the exhibition tells you that Oceania has been inhabited over 30,000 years ago. I can’t imagine how many stories, myths, legends, traditions or beliefs could be created in such a time. That’s why I think the exhibition felt a bit small for me. But I take into account that Oceania has been “discovered” by Europeans only 250 years ago.

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Ocean, sailing and navigating was a strong part of the Islanders culture. Especially the canoes, which were often featured in legends or even creation and death stories. They were often ornamentally carved, like the one in the cover photo of this post.

My regret regarding this exhibition is that they don’t explain much about the belief systems on the islands. I know, I know, it would be an immeasurable amount of work, but after seeing this two-headed dude I want to know what his role in the society and traditions was. And all I got was “Ti’i, God’s image with two heads”. Ok, but who is Ti’i? If you know, let me know.
Farther in the exhibition I found a sword I think that reminded me of Maui’s hook (from Moana).

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I had great fun tracing objects that I recognized or that resembled things showed in the movie. Honestly, watch it before or after seeing the exhibition. Great fun.
What I also learned was that most of the exhibits weren’t stolen from the local people, as it is usually the case. The culture of giving was highly important in the Islanders life. The making of gifts and handing them were full-blown ceremonies.

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At the end of your tour, I recommend spending some time to watch a movie about the meeting between the Europeans and the local people. I didn’t get so much from it but it’s nice to watch and it’s made like the camera was just moving along the coast of an island catching random situations. Not an everyday view.

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Thanks for visiting me and my adventures here! If you’ve seen the exhibition or know any other fascinating things that I shouldn’t miss out, let me know in the comments!
All best,
SW
Bonus: A song from Moana!

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