The spirit of the Komoro people enveloped the local community last month with its annual art and culture program. The fervent sound of handcrafted wooden drums penetrated the air, while artisans, with painted torsos and feathered headdresses, manipulated primitive tools to create unique works of art. A collection of authenticated carvings made by village artificers, including life-sized totems, sago bowls, spears, drums, and shields, were displayed for people to admire and purchase.
The visiting tribesmen spent most of their time at MZS and YPJ where they educated the young students on their way of life. Through storytelling, dance, music, and art, the students learned about the unconventional culture that surrounds them. A culture that is slowly changing, but still trying to hold on to its rich ancestral roots.
The climax of the program took place at the Lupe Lelah Club during Sunday brunch. Performers entertained the crowd with traditional drumming and dancing, while women, dressed in thick grass skirts and plaited tops, pressed sago palm shavings through crude wooden screens to make an edible paste. When brunch was served, traditional food (including the sago paste, grubs and tombelos) was offered to anyone brave enough to test their culinary limits.
A video of Kylee eating a sago grub:
The 5 Stages of Eating a Tombelo
After the last tombelo was eaten, people settled back down in their seats to watch the much-anticipated drum skinning performance. Human skin was broken, blood was collected and a drum was skinned. After twenty-minutes of drying in the hot sun, the drum was brought back in for its maiden performance.
The two-week event was an impressive exhibition of Komoro heritage and culture. Presented by Dr. Kal Muller, French language enthusiast turned self-taught anthropologist turned art dealer extraordinaire, the program was designed to keep the Komoro woodcarving tradition from dying out. With his hard work and determination, it’s flourishing.