Native Place

The Sea

The Land






"The Land"

The Land looks at several aspects that work in combination to make the life of the land in a given land division. As with The Sea, the discussion here will engage both pre-Western and contemporary cultural practices, emphasizing the continuity of culture.

Areas seeks to understand how, within that culture, the land is conceptually divided into different zones. In some cases, particularly high islands, very complex systems of environmental classification may exist. In other cases, the divisions may focus more on cultural factors such as clan ownership. Generally, some sense of the environment in Western scientific terms is also portrayed in this page.

Winds are important to Pacific Islands for a number of reasons: they are essential for sailing, they bring the rain, and the shifting of winds may determine the seasons and the calendar. In some places, winds have personal names, and stories that go with them.

Rain is even more important, as it is the source of fresh water. Different cultures have different ways of describing and classifying rains, and different traditions that go with different types of rains. In some cases, the seasons and the calendar are based on rains rather than winds.

The Forest results from the combination of topography and rainfall. And in many places, respect for the forest is of utmost importance. This page looks at cultural uses and traditions regarding the forest, and may explore particular "forest" resources such as medicinal plants. Hunting and gathering activities—of birds or fruit bats, for example—are also explored.

Water turns our attention specifically to the sources of fresh water, and the traditions and practices involved in its use. While coral islands may not have any surface water bodies such as streams and ponds, larger islands are likely to have these. In either case, water is often the focus of intense cultural traditions. Gathering in water bodies—of eels and shrimp, for example—is also explored.

Planting brings us to the most important land issue of all. Different island cultures have somewhat different crops, and different ways of growing these crops. Food items that are important in one place may be less important in another. But in every case, the traditions regarding agriculture will be of utmost importance.

While this chapter is broken into these separate pages for discussion, it should be emphasized that these factors are all interrelated: location affects the kinds of winds, hence kinds of rainfall, that are found in any location. These in turn strongly affect the types of vegetation that are found here, and how they are differentiated into different forest zones in both traditional and contemporary terminology. Water availability and terrain also affect agriculture. These physical factors manifest culturally in classification systems, names, stories, and how the land has been utilized by its inhabitants.

The next chapter takes a different angle, focusing specifically on "storied places," landmarks left behind by ancient or legendary beings or incidents. For this reason, the chapter is called Footprints.



Arrival |  A Native Place |  The Sea |  The Land |  Footprints |  Visitors |  Memories |  Onwards
Home |  About this Site |  Education |  Our Sponsors |  Contact Us |  Site Map & Index


Copyright 2003, Pacific Worlds & Associates