Sailing northwest from Vanuatu, we next visited Tikopia, a small island in the southeast corner of the Solomon Islands that, although it is part of Melanesia, is culturally Polynesian
Sailing northwest from Vanuatu, we next visited the Solomon Islands, which received their independence in 1978 from Great Britain. The nation consists of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania. The country is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of Solomon Islands (currently Queen Elizabeth II) as its head of state. The region saw severe fighting between the Americans and the Japanese during World War II, particularly the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942-1943 (which we visited a few days later).
The beach on the edge of the western shore village of Matautu, Tikopia, Solomon Islands, was very inviting
Tikopia is a small, high island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean that is part of the Solomon Islands, in its furthest southeast region — one of the countries that make up Melanesia, but it is culturally Polynesian. It is thought that a migration of Polynesians to the region took place some time between the 10th century to the mid-13th century.
The villagers (Tikopia, Solomon Islands) set up a market for us with locally made artifacts, particularly carved wood objects and jewelry; it was a pleasure to purchase directly from the artisans – we bought a short spear/dagger from the wood carver in the lower left corner of the photograph
One of the tapa cloth drawings for sale illustrated traditional Tikopean artifacts, Tikopia, Solomon Islands; the design was signed by “Humphrey Curtis, Tikopia Island, Temotu Province, Solomon Islands”
“The island is a remnant of an extinct volcano, and was first sighted by Europeans when Spanish explorer Quiros ventured there in 1606. Lake Te Roto fills the volcanic crater eighty metres deep. The largest village is Matautu on the west coast. There are four chiefs (Te Arikis) on the island, who also have influence on nearby Anuta and Fatutaka Islands. They are the heads of patrilineal clans and were (and are) treated with great respect; visitors have to crawl on hands and knees through the doors of their houses. Each chief has two sets of advisers, one for ritual affairs and one for secular affairs. There remains an intensive system of agriculture, Tikopians practiced strict population control, and tied agricultural and livestock control to population numbers. At the beginning of the seventeenth century all the island’s pigs were slaughtered and fishing substituted as a source of protein because the pigs consumed too much food. Traditional houses on Tikopia were built low to the ground to withstand storms and cyclones and to economise on building materials. Chiefs’ houses have a comfortable living space with the floor covered by dozens of fine mats.” – Solomon Islands Historical Encyclopedia
The artisans were accompanied at the market by their families, Tikopia, Solomon Islands; most islanders spoke English and were extremely friendly and very happy to host a “retail therapy” session for us
A traditional home in Tikopia, Solomon Islands, where the houses are built low to the ground to withstand storms and cyclones and to economize on building materials; cooking is done in communal kitchens, outside of the homes
The inside of the house has a tamped earthen floor covered by many mats woven from local plant materials, Tikopia, Solomon Islands; note that one’s entrance to the house is by crawling through the low “door” on hands and knees and upon exiting, you go “backwards” so your feet are not shown to the people in the house
The local chief gave us a warm welcome and remembered the ship’s visit three years ago when the villagers made many friends among the visitors from our ship, Tikopia, Solomon Islands
We did not learn the significance of the small statue outside of one of the village’s community buildings, Tikopia, Solomon Islands
We hiked an hour each way across the island to the east (and back), passing many fields of manioc (also known as cassava, or yuca) which is grown for its edible root and is a dietary staple on Tikopia, Solomon Islands; note that manioc must be cooked properly to detoxify it before it can be eaten
Our hike took us across the island to a different view of the Pacific Ocean, Tikopia, Solomon Islands; beyond the point is the large volcanic crater that has filled with water and is now large lake – Lake Te Roto