Komoro Art and Culture Program

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.

Ally and the other middle school students dancing with the Komoro men and women.

Ally and some of the other middle school students dancing with the Komoro people. Photo courtesy of Dr. Muller.

A Komoro tribesman teaching Kylee how to carve wood. Kylee carved a casssowary (a large, mean, flightless bird native to Papua) on her board.

A Komoro tribesman teaching Kylee how to carve wood. She carved a casssowary (a large, mean, flightless bird native to Papua) on her wooden plaque. Photo courtesy of Dr. Muller.

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

The five states of eating a tombelo: Stage 1 - Picking up a live tomebelo and accepting the dare of eating it.

Stage 1 – Picking up a live tombelo and accepting the dare of eating it. Photo courtesy of Dr. Muller.

Stage 2 - Felling the excitement of the moment!

Stage 2 – Feeling the excitement of the moment! Photo courtesy of Dr. Muller.

Stage 3 - Taking a good look at the wiggling tombelo and having some serious second thoughts.

Stage 3 – Taking a good look at the tombelo and having some serious second thoughts. Photo courtesy of Dr. Muller.

Stage 4 - Getting it close to your mouth and letting it wiggle on your lips.

Stage 4 – Moving the tombelo close to your mouth and letting it wiggle on your lips and tongue. Photo courtesy of Dr. Muller.

Stage 5 - Getting it in your mouth and down your throat as quickly as possible.

Stage 5 – Getting the tombelo in your mouth and down your throat as quickly as possible. Photo courtesy of Dr. Muller.

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.

Herman (the tribesman on the right) cut is left arm and collected blood in a container (about 11/2-2ounces). The blood was mixed with powder and then the pasty mixture was rubbed around the base of the drum. A dry lizard skin was placed on top and secured with stands of bark.

One of the tribesman cut is arm and collected blood (about 2 ounces) in a small container. The blood was mixed with powder and then rubbed around the base of the drum before a dry lizard skin was placed on top and secured with thin stands of bark. Photo courtesy of Dr. Muller.

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.

Dr. Kal Muller, flanked by a Komoro man and a Komoro .

Dr. Kal Muller, surrounded by Komoro people. Photo courtesy of Dr. Muller.

Ally and Kylee with two of the Papuan men who were involved in the drum skinning presentation. The man of the left is Herman, one of Dr. Muller's biggest supporters. The girls are holding the drum, which we were able to purchase, that was used in the presentation

Ally and Kylee with two of the Papuan men who were involved in the drum skinning performance. The man on the right is Herman, the one who collected the blood and completed the drum making process. He is one of Dr. Muller’s biggest supporters. The girls are holding the drum (which we were lucky enough to purchase) that was skinned and finished at the brunch performance .

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4 Responses to Komoro Art and Culture Program

  1. Jenn Toso says:

    Reece and Emme are mesmerized and completely grossed out! Way to go Kylie!

    • Kriste Rose says:

      Hi Toso family!! Good to hear from you! Kylee is an adventurous eater and will try anything once, but grubs and tombelos top it!! Hope everything is going well on your side of the world!

  2. Don Doody says:

    I can’t believe Kyly actually ate that grub! The girl’s expression standing behind her tells it all. UGH!

    Don

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