FestPac: Kanak Life Cycle Etched by New Caledonian Carvers

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On the edge of FestPac village, among fellow carvers from different delegations, Kanak carvers chip away at their own masterpiece.

Guam – As part of FestPac, master carvers from around the pacific chipped away at carvings that represent something from each of their cultures.

 

On the edge of FestPac village, among fellow carvers from different delegations, Kanak carvers chip away at their own masterpiece. 

According to the Kanak carvers, the ceremonial carving, also known as flèche faîtière is a totem shaped carving that’s also represented in the New Caledonian flag.

 

The ceremonial carvings hold the spirit of Kanak ancestors and protect the living from bad spirits. This particular carving shows images of the taro leaf and the yam, two fundamental and sacred elements in Kanak culture.

 

New Caledonian translator/liaison Allan Paita says, “they chose to put on the carvings, the yam and the taro because its part of our culture so in our customary process for weddings or birth or death.”

 

The carving, which will be donated to Guam, depicts the yam cycle, which is also the calendar that the Kanak use. The New Year, or the New Yam, is a time when the yam harvest is complete. On this day the families of the tribes gather to eat the new yam, but not before presenting the harvest to the ancestors.

 

“We follow the yam cycle, no? Like from the plantation to when we pick the yam, so this is our calendar, we follow the yam process of growing,” said Paita.

 

To tie it all in, the carving depicts this cycle, which is also a metaphor for the cycle of life. In Kanak culture the yam represents the man and the taro represent the woman. The cultivation and harvest of the yam holds a sacred significance to the Kanak.