When turmeric and marriage meet
14 October 2018 | Luaniua, Ontong Java, Malaita Province, Solomon Islands
On Ontong Java and adjoining Nakamanu atoll (30 miles to the north and is actually part of PNG) the people are Polynesian in origin and some customs that are both fascinating and unusual. Turmeric is grown, but not for food colouring or flavouring but for kustom reasons – skin colouring and dying of accessories such as headdresses. The photo is of the bride-to-be waiting patiently whilst the bride price is paid to her family. All her visible skin is stained by rich and varied shades of turmeric. In this area the bride price is paid in bolts of highly coloured fabric and we were shocked to see the number. Some women approaching the leaf house where the bride-to-be awaited and they had perhaps eight bolts of fabric under their arms. We were surprised to hear that the total number of bolts could easily exceed 200. Unlike some other provinces (e.g. Malaita) the payment of bride price did not transfer “ownership” of the bride to the husband. In this area, a bride's family still has influence over the bride and she can still do whatever she wants.
To the untrained western eye her contemplative posture could be mistaken for boredom.....