Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

The rhythmic music for the Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu, was provided by about a half dozen men who performed in the center of the outdoor performance area und

The rhythmic music for the Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu, was provided by about a half dozen men who performed in the center of the outdoor performance area under a “tabernacle” of palm fronds beating wooden sticks on boards on the ground

 

Once a year the people of Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu, hold a traditional ceremonial dance that celebrates the coming of age of its boys.  [See our previous blog post for an introduction to “Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu“.]  For a week in advance of the ceremony, the boys go off to a private part of the island to construct their head dresses that aren’t seen by anyone until the ceremonial dance.  The head dresses are burned after the performance to protect the boys from any spirits that may be in them.  The islanders knew in advance of our planned visit and postponed the dance from its traditional date to wait for our arrival day for the performance – we all felt very honored when we learned this!

 

A village elder led the procession of boys from the edge of the clearing into the performance area, dancing around the “drummers” pictured in the previous photograph; Ceremonial Danc

A village elder led the procession of boys from the edge of the clearing into the performance area, dancing around the “drummers” pictured in the previous photograph; Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

 

At the beginning of the dance, the boys_ faces were hidden behind green leaf fans, but they proudly introduced their individually hand crafted, colorful head dresses, Ceremonial Dance

At the beginning of the dance, the boys’ faces were hidden behind green leaf fans, but they proudly introduced their individually hand crafted, colorful head dresses, Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

 

The boys were joined by a group of village women dancers, who also entered the performance area with their faces hidden behind green leaf fans, Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Isl

The boys were joined by a group of village women dancers, who also entered the performance area with their faces hidden behind green leaf fans, Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

 

A close up of the women dancers with their fans lowered, later in the dance; Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

A close up of the women dancers with their fans lowered, later in the dance; Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

 

A look at the women dancers_ feet and ankle “bracelets”, Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

A look at the women dancers’ feet and ankle “bracelets”, Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

 

Each of the boys_ head dresses was individually crafted, Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

Each of the boys’ head dresses was individually crafted, Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

 

A close up of the boys_ head dresses, Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

A close up of the boys’ head dresses, Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

 

A portrait of the musicians after the Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

A portrait of the musicians after the Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

 

Two of the musicians lingered a moment with me for their portrait, Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

Two of the musicians lingered a moment with me for their portrait, Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

 

5 thoughts on “Ceremonial Dance on Loh Island, Torres Islands, Vanuatu

  1. Incredible! What an experience and what beauty! Your photos are fantastic and capture some of the flavor of the event. The people llook similar to the natives of Australia. I read that English is the “official” language as the islands are under the protection of the U.S. (whatever that means these days) — so most of these people speak English?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, most of the people, esp. the younger ones (30-35 and younger) speak reasonable English. That’s the primary language in the schools. The country’s 3 languages are Bislama (a pigden sort of English that unites all the islands, given that there are 100s of languages on the islands), French and English. English is primary over French. (The country was originally a protectorate of France & England, known as the New Hebrides).

      Don’t know about the U.S. role — the country achieved independence in 1978.

      Like

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