From its inauguration a week ago, more than 2,200 persons have attended the exhibition Moana at the National Museum of Anthropology
(MNA) that gathers a collection never seen before in Mexico, which accounts for the ritual life at the islands of Oceania.
The heap displayed at the Temporary Exhibitions Hall shows how these islands are not isolated at all: the exchange processes between them are complex, manifesting the world developed between sea and land.
The show organized by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), open until June 30th 2010, is integrated by 268 pieces from one of the richest zones in the world, which includes Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
Pieces date from late 18th and up to middle 20th centuries, most of them from the heaps of the Field Museum Chicago and the National Museum of Cultures, in Mexico. Peabody Essex and de Young Museums also lent items for this show.
Among the most representative objects exhibited are the ceremonial oars, or hoe, with elaborated geometric motives carved. The treatment given to the wood transmitted the mana or vital force of the artist to them. These pieces have become part of the crafts created to be sold to visitors since 19th century.
Other remarkable example of ritual exchange objects are the shell belts, common at Caroline Islands and Kiribati Archipelago. The different modes of fixing together different pieces, using strings and knots stand out.
Mana, or personal power, both generator and destructor, is an attribute that can be contained in objects. The owners or the creators force can be enclosed in crafts such as womans accessories: in Marquesas Islands, earrings, for instance, concentrate important subjects of Oceanic art, such as sacredness and the persons lineage.
Maces, or totokia, were only used by powerful men. The handle used to have carved symbols similar to tattoos, giving the weapon a ritual character.
Playfully learning about the Sea Cultures
The exhibition is complemented by 2 ludic stations where children and adults can learn more about Oceanic cultures. Prints, postcards, stamps, interactive photographs and books help people to learn attractive aspects of this culture such as the meaning and use of tattoos.
Every Saturday between 11:00 and 13:00 hours, at the educational area of the museum, workshops focused on creation of strings, spirit boards and canoe decoration take place, as long as the exhibition is open.
Moana: Cultures of the Pacific Islands is open to public until June 30th 2010, Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00 hours at the National Museum of Anthropology. Admission fee is 51 MXP.