Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Photograph display at the Pohnpei Public Library by Ms. Helen Alderson

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A photographic display of 19th and early 20th century items from Pohnpei and Kosrae has been held at the Pohnpei Public Library in Kolonia, Pohnpei. This exhibition focuses on Pohnpeian ceremonial belts (called locally “dohr”) and Kosraean loincloth (“tol”) woven on a loom. The loom weaving was spread from Island Southeast Asia Micronesia in the prehistoric period. The technique, however, was quickly died out after the introduction of European cloth on many islands, including Pohnpei and Kosrae, although it is still practiced on islands in Chuuk and Yap States.
In Pohnpei, dohr were wore by high ranking chiefs, while they were produced by their wives. As for Kosraean tol, you can read early German ethnographic studies (Sarfert, “Kusaie”, 1919) downloadable from: 
Vol. 1: https://web.archive.org/…/cchph.net/portfolio/downloads/Sar…
Vol. 2: https://web.archive.org/…/cchph.net/portfolio/downloads/Sar…
Appendix: https://web.archive.org/…/por…/downloads/SarfertAppendix.pdf
The items in the photographs are part of PhD research conducted by Helen Alderson, a PhD candidate from the Cambridge University (http://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/directory/haa27), who organized the display. Helen conducted archaeological research at Nan Madol for her MA at the Otago University, and has been visiting Pohnpei and Kosrae from early January to early March to conduct her PhD fieldwork, which examines how Pohnpeians and Kosraeans maintained and developed their unique identities in the first century after European contact, particularly by studying women’s identifies through woven cloth.

The display will be held at the library for several weeks before moving to the College of Micronesia National Campus. NGO Pasifika Renaissance has been supporting Helen’s effort and is planning to coordinate her talk on her PhD research at the college next month. Please visit the display!

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