Tongan women

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Tongan women

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Both Tongan men and women are attractive, but many of the men are simply gorgeous. One powerful hand of a Tongan man on my arm would send shivers down my spine as I realized any one of these Tongan men could lift me off the ground with one hand.

We were in the land of giants! The drums beat rhythmically, and bare-chested , with grass skirts barely covering their privates, the men shout and stomp and jab their spears toward the audience.

Pacific Islanders Rugby Team War dances…. They prefer beefy solid bodies. Bear-size, one might say, yet still graceful and poised. For my money, these are the sexiest men in the world , but then….

Beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder. Subscribe to Blog via Email Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

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Similar to Fijian culture, cowry shells hanging throughout the interior mark the royal nature of the palace. The roof is thatched with sugar cane leaves.

Both the interior and exterior of the building are decorated with braided coconut fiber — kafa or sennit lashings, fine reed walls, Tongan ngatu or bark cloth, and intricately woven mats.

Cultural tradition also requires that dried coconut leaves be placed on the floors and then covered with finely woven mats which add extra softness and comfort.

Ranking chiefs sit on the elevated platform while the lower section is for commoners. The seed closest to the edge receives 6 points while the other seeds receive one.

The game is played in the Fale Faka-Kolo to protect the mats, which are made with a finer weave than everyday household mats. For centuries it has been a common tradition and is still often used today as a ceremonial drink before the start of important meetings and functions.

Kava is made from the dried root of the piper methysticum plant, which is a member of the pepper family.

Reports that it is mildly narcotic or intoxicating are not correct in reference to traditional, plain kava; although the beverage has a slight numbing effect, which is why it has been used in Europe and other places in pill form as a stress-reducing agent.

A recent scare that such kava pills could cause liver damage resulted from pharmaceutical companies including other parts of the plant in the mix, whereas Polynesians have only used the roots for centuries.

Polynesian men would pull the root and branches from the ground and wash the dirt off, scrape off the outer skin and allow the plant to thoroughly dry out.

In most cases a portion of the root would be ground up with the appropriate stone pounders until it is roughly in powder form.

Special carved wooden bowls, such as the ones displayed at the Polynesian Cultural Center, would be used to mix the kava with water.

To obtain the clearest liquid possible, a strainer made from the tangled fibers of wild hibiscus bark is used to filter the particles.

The strainer is squeezed dry and shaken outside to remove any unwanted particles. The process is repeated until the kava is ready to be served in a half-coconut shell cup.

Medicinally, Tongans would use kava as a headache remedy, to alleviate pulmonary pains, to treat diseases such as gonorrhea, blackwater fever, tuberculosis, leprosy, cancer, asthma, stomach upsets and insomnia.

Kava also helps fight contagions to minimize the risks of infections. Due to the ceremonial importance of kava, there are several important myths related to it, one of which goes like this: One day the king of Tonga went fishing with his men.

They did not catch anything and were hungry. They stopped at an island where a couple and their daughter named Kava lived. The girl had leprosy. Because there was a famine in the land and there was nothing for the king and his men to eat, Kava suggested to her parents that they kill and bake her for the king and his party.

After feasting and then discovering this sacrifice, the king was deeply moved. They did so and two plants grew on the grave: a kava plant grew from the head and sugar cane grew from the feet.

One day a Tongan hero by the name of Loau came to the island and the couple told him all that had happened. Loau told them to take the two plants to the king, who would instruct them what to do with the kava…which is how the kava ceremony came to Tonga.

Keeping the myth in mind, we can now understand that kava symbolizes sacrifice, diplomacy, and renewal to the Tongans.

Kava was willing to die to save her parents from the needs and demands of the king. Her body represents its use as a medium for making peace.

It is interesting to note that in Tonga today, the kava ceremony represents the best way to bring together families and groups in times of contention.

In Tongan protocol, a formal kava ceremony can be utilized as an opportunity for Tongans to forgive, save face, and re-establish respect.

When kava is first tasted, it is bitter; but soon the effects of the roots bring calmness, which also represents renewal. Tongans recognize the importance of kava: It is a tradition which the Tongans, from royalty to commoners, appreciate and practice knowledgeably and respectfully.

Emergence of the Nation. The Tongan creation myth describes how the islands were fished from the ocean by Maui, one of the three major gods.

Another myth explains how 'Aho'eitu became the first Tu'i Tonga king. He was the son of a human female and the god Tangaloa.

Human and divine at the same time, the Tu'i Tonga was the embodiment of the Tongan people, and this is still a powerful metaphor.

Tongans were fierce warriors and skilled navigators whose outrigger canoes could carry up to two hundred people.

For centuries they exercised political and cultural influence over several neighboring islands. By the time of the first European contact in late s and early s, the empire had collapsed, and the authority of the Tu'i Tonga was restricted mostly to the religious realm.

National Identity. King George Tupou I, the first king of modern Tonga, introduced the constitution in after unifying the four island groups. He had previously converted to Christianity and opportunistically waged expansionist wars from Ha'apai to Vava'u and then to Tongatapu.

Christian principles characterize the constitution, which very likely was prepared under the influence of Wesleyan Tonga missionaries.

George Tupou I transformed Tonga into a modern state, abolishing slavery and the absolute power of chiefs. Since the last Tu'i Tonga had no official heir, as the head of the other two royal lines, King George became the only king of Tonga.

The constitution recognizes only his royal line. In , the British granted Tonga's request for protectorate status.

In , all powers were restored to the Tongan monarchy. The British protectorate shielded Tonga from other colonizing powers.

A spirit of independence and pride was nurtured during the long reign of Queen Salote — , who led the nation into the twentieth century, paying special attention to preserving its heritage.

Because of her vision, Tongan culture is an integral part of the school curriculum. Students learn Tongan history, traditional poetry, music, and dancing, along with wood carving, mat weaving, and bark cloth making.

The first European visitors spoke of a population scattered throughout a densely cultivated land. Now Tongans are concentrated in villages and small towns.

Most villages lie around an empty area, called mala'e , that is used for social gatherings and games. A traditional house stands on a raised platform of stones and sand.

It is oval in shape with a thatched roof and walls of woven palm tree panels. The toilet and the kitchen are in separate huts.

Contemporary houses are usually bigger and made of timber with corrugated iron roofs. Little furniture is used. The simplicity of house architecture contrasts with the monumentality of earlier royal buildings and tombs.

The royal tombs are layered pyramidal structures built of massive stone slabs. The huge Ha'amonga trilithon, made of two stone columns topped with a notched column, was built around C.

One hypothesis suggests that it was the door to the royal compound, and another that it was used for astronomical purposes.

These monuments bear witness to the power of the Tu'i Tonga. They also indicate the sophisticated stone-cutting technology and skills of the ancient craftsmen.

Food in Daily Life. Both in villages and in the main towns, food is the occasion for a family gathering only at the end of the day.

Otherwise, food is consumed freely at any time. The basic staples are root crops like taro accompanied by fried or roasted meat or fish.

Taro leaves are one of the various green vegetables used together with a variety of tropical fruits like bananas, pineapples, and mangoes.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. The ritual of kava drinking characterizes both formal and daily events. Kava is prepared by grinding dried roots and mixing the powder with water in a ceremonial bowl.

It is nonalcoholic but slightly narcotic. People sit cross-legged in an elliptical pattern whose long axis is headed by the bowl on one side and by the highest-ranked participant on the other.

The preparation and serving of the drink are done by a young woman, usually but not always the only female participant, or by male specialists.

The The royal palace in Nukualofa. Tonga is a constitutional monarchy. Kava clubs are found in the towns, and kava drinking gatherings take place almost daily in the villages.

Basic Economy. The economy centers on agriculture and fishing. Major exports are vanilla, fish, handicrafts, and pumpkins grown for export to Japan.

King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV has modernized the country's economy. Based largely on foreign aid from New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and the European Community and on imports, this process has created a widespread presence of Western products.

The agricultural base of the economy remains. The tourist industry is growing, and revenues from Tongans working abroad are one of the largest sources of income.

Typical agricultural produce are root crops such as taro, tapioca, sweet potatoes, and yams. Coconuts, bananas, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, watermelons, peanuts, and vegetables are grown.

Pigs and fowl are abundant and free ranging. Cows, sheep, and goats also are present. Intensive shellfishing is conducted along the shores, and there is an abundant fish supply.

Royal visits and funerals call for the preparation of large amounts of food. Roasted piglets are laid in the center of a pola tray made of woven palm tree leaves.

Root crops, meats, and shellfish prepared in the 'umu underground oven are added and garnished with fresh fruits, decorative flowers, ribbons, and balloons.

In villages, food is consumed while one sits on a mat; in towns, tables are used. Land Tenure and Property.

All land is owned by the king, the nobles, and the government. Foreigners cannot own land by constitutional decree. Owners have the right to sublet land to people who pay a tribute, traditionally food.

Every citizen above age 16 is entitled to lease eight and a quarter acres of land from the government for a small sum, but the growing population and its concentration in the capital make it increasingly difficult to exercise this right.

Classes and Castes. Traditional society had at its top the ha'a tu'i kings , followed by the hou'eiki chiefs , ha'a matapule talking chiefs , kau mu'a would-be talking chiefs , and kau tu'a commoners.

All titles were heritable and followed the male line of descent almost exclusively. This hierarchical social structure is still essentially in place.

Tribute to the chiefs was paid twice a year. Agricultural produce and gifts such as butchered animals, bark cloth, and mats were formally offered to the Tu'i Tonga and, through him, to the gods in an elaborate ceremony called 'inasi.

The king now visits all the major islands at least once a year on the occasion of the Royal Agriculture Show. The gift giving and formalities at the show closely resemble those of the 'inasi.

The constitution eliminated the title of chief and introduced the title of nopele noble , which was given to thirty-three traditional chiefs.

Only nobles and the king are now entitled to own and distribute land. An increasingly market-oriented economy and an expanding bureaucracy have recently added a middle class that runs the gamut from commoners to chiefs.

Newly acquired wealth, however, does not easily overcome social barriers rooted in history. Often claims to higher social status are established by claiming kinship to holders of aristocratic titles.

The Kingdom of Tonga is a constitutional monarchy. The constitution prescribes a legislative assembly with twenty members representing the thirty-three nobles and twenty members elected as people's representatives.

In , both groups were reduced to nine each. Twelve other members are appointed by the king: ten Cabinet members including the prime minister, who is also the governor of Tongatapu, and the governors of Ha'apai and Vava'u.

In the election, six of the people's representatives belonged to the new Pro-Democracy Movement that in became the Democratic Party founded by 'Akilisi Pohiva.

The kingdom is divided into districts, each headed by a district officer. Every three years, each village elects a town officer who represents the government and holds village meetings fono where government regulations are made known.

Every villager above 16 years of age is entitled to attend. People do not take part in the decision-making process but show approval or dissent through their implementation of the instructions.

Every citizen is entitled to free primary education, a plot of land at age 16, and free medical care. Hospitals, dispensaries, and pharmacies are distributed over the territory.

Smaller government clinics are present in some villages in the outer islands. To support the modernization of the country, in the Tongan Development Bank was established.

Financed by the World Bank and contributions from New Zealand and Australia, it provides low-interest loans for entrepreneurs.

Foreigners who want to invest in the country need a Tongan partner for any economic venture. The U. Peace Corps, the Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, and development organizations connected with the British, New Zealand, and Australian governments are among the active aid agencies.

They work in the fields of education, health, agriculture, and entrepreneurship. Division of Labor by Gender. The introduction of wage labor in twentieth century privileged men, altering an equilibrium between genders that had lasted for centuries.

Cash is now an element of wealth, and wage-earning men have easier access to it. However, the old egalitarian attitude toward the two sexes has not been altered by economic and technological changes.

In contemporary offices, shops, and banks, working women are prominent. In villages, most men take care of the land or tend animals.

Women weave mats and make bark cloth. Both women and men actively participate in parenting. Food preparation is shared between the male and female members of a family.

The preparation of the 'umu underground oven , now restricted to Sundays and special occasions, is an almost exclusive male activity.

Older children help with activities and household chores. The Relative Status of Women and Men. The hierarchical system's emphasis on the higher status of females guarantees an equal role in society for females and males in spite of the fact that men usually inherit titles and land.

There are no explicit rules for marriage, and couples are formed through reciprocal free choice. Pronounced social stratification discourages marriages between people of vastly different social status.

Divorce is legal and not uncommon. During a wedding, the two kainga involved exchange mats, bark cloth, and food.

On the day of the ceremony, the bride and groom "wear their wealth. Tonga has an almost universal rate of literacy. Kin Groups. Kinship ties are of paramount importance.

The two major kin groups are famili family and kainga extended family. The 'ulumotu'a head of the family presides over this group.

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