Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hail to the chief

We had a party to wrap up the work out at Aoa, good times! I woke up to the sudden stop of a pig squeal, there’s really only one thing that means time! I heard the guys say they’d try to find a size 2 pig. A size 2 is the usual party size and sizes go up to ten or so. Tens are usually saved for big big events like major funerals, church stuff etc. Well it was bigger than a size 2, seemed like a size bajillion but it was probably only a 4. Funny when you start to see animals by their culturally defined sizes, which shows a relative indication of the owner’s wealth/prestige potential.

We cooked the pig in an Samoan oven called an Umu. It’s hard to get the Umu just right even though it’s a pretty simple idea. Heat up a bunch of cobbles with a fire, spread the stones out and put food in, cover with stones and seal with a blanket of breadfruit leaves, then upside down banana leaves, then big taro leaves. The cooking time ranges from 45 minutes to a couple hours depending on what’s in there (i.e. breadfruit Vs. a whole pterodactyl). Anyway, once the pterodactyl is crispy, you uncover the tasty treats and carve it up with a machete or whatever sharp object is’s a samoan thing I guess.

We find old earth ovens while doing archaeological excavations too. The oldest one I’ve excavated dates to about 2,400 years old. It was up in the mountains on the west end of the island. The silly thing looked just like the one we made the other day. Funny how perfectly adapted technology remains constant across millennia.

I was made honorary chief of Falefu Village for the day! how cool is that! My first decree was for all the real chiefs to sit so I could take a picture. The physical expression of the situation is rather latent unless you are familiar with the matai (samoan chief system). Everyone in the meeting house has a specific post at which they sit. can’t change posts because the view is better over there. The Paramount chief sits at the center post of one end, the honored guest or next in rank, usually the village minister sits at the opposite end so they are in eye contact. The lower matai sit along the long edge of the meeting house. So, in the picture below you can see the high chief sitting along the long side of the house with the rest of the chiefs. In this way he has made a fun day of things and gave me the best seat in the house per se. We had a lot of fun.

hail to the chief...or just chill and eat

that pig was so hot, breadfruit leaves do not make good hotpads

uncovering the umu

Good morning Danny

hanging out in the shade

1 comment:

  1. Awesome,Dan. Beautiful pigtures.
    You had described the meeting houses, but I had no idea how open and pretty they could be.