Monday, June 21, 2010

The Origin of what is now commonly known as the Sweet Potato

For many years, researches and scientists have speculated that ancient Pacific Island voyagers may have reached the shores of South America. Indeed, Arthur Grimble (later Sir Arthur Grimble), in an article in 'National Geographic Magazine' of January 1943, mentions a tradition among the Micronesian people of the Gilbert Islands (now the Republic of Kiribati), that one of their early adventurers reached the shores of the American continent, more than 4,500 miles away.

The stories tell of one Raakau, the greatest of all Gilbertese navigators who reported a land that stretched along the eastern edge of the ocean, to northward without end, and to the southward without end. It was said that this land lies beyond the farthest eastward islands and it was a wall of mountains up against the place where the sun rises, standing over plains full of fertility. There is only one littoral in the Pacific that can be said to fit this description, and that is the western coast of the American continent.

In addition, the late Professor Roland B. Dixon was convinced that the sweet potato reached Polynesia from America by the aid of human hands. He also concluded that the transference of the plant was carried out by Polynesians who had reached the Peruvian coast and had taken the valuable plant back with them to their island home. The Peruvian coast was specified because, in the Kechua dialet of north Peru, the name for the sweet potato is "kumar" and, in the Polynesian name for the plant is "kumara".

In this respect, it is most interesting to see that a paper that recently appeared in the prestigious 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Science' provides the first hard evidence supporting the view that Polynesians did, in fact, sail all the way to the west coast of the American continent, at least a century before the arrival of Columbus.

The key to this breakthrough was chicken bones found in Chile which were radiocarbon dated as approximately 600 years old. DNA testing revealed that the bones carried a rare mutation otherwise only found in chickens from Mele Havea, Tonga, and Fatu-ma-Futi, American Samoa. This evidence clearly indicates a pattern of interaction between Polynesians, long recognized as some of the world's finest sailors and navigators in times preceding Western contact, and South Americans. To put it simply, Polynesians not only made it to America before Columbus, but they apparently introduced the chicken to the continent, as well, with these fowls having a DNA identical to chickens found in Tonga and Tutuila, Samoa.

Another interesting story relating to Polynesian voyagers comes from the study of the chemistry of ancient basalt adzes found in the Tuamotus in the 1930s. Scientists from the University of Queensland, in Australia, have definitely traced one of them to the island of Kahoolawe. The research, published in the Journal 'Science', confirms the view that ancient voyagers came to Hawaii from what is now French Polynesia, and then returned.

Indeed, the early legends from Hawaii recount many voyages to and from Tahiti. In sailing south, the course was maintained by keeping the North Star directly astern. When the North Star sank into the sea, the star Newe was taken as the southern guide and the constellation of Humu was overhead. The last voyager mentioned in Hawaiian traditions was the priest Paao, who arrived from Ra'iatea in about 1275 A.D.

In any event, it is pleasing to see that the modern scientific tools of DNA analysis and chemical testing are confirming so many of the early oral traditions of Pacific Island people. They are also confirming the view that the Polynesians are some of the finest canoe builders, sailors and navigators that the world has ever known.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Pacific Islands Radio - Upgrade to CD Quality FM Stereo 64kbps

Greetings to all our Pacific Islands Radio Listeners!

I am very pleased to be able to share with you all, our many good and loyal listeners worldwide, that the recent upgrade of our beautiful Pacific Islands Radio to CD quality FM Stereo, coming to you all in 64kbps, has greatly enhanced our beautiful Pacific Islands/Oceania music. This has certainly allowed our music, performed by our many very talented artists, to be heard and enjoyed by our worldwide audience to its best advantage.

With our Playlists being constantly arranged and updated, for your listening pleasure, with new and exciting artists (including those talented artists from other islands worldwide), you are all invited to share in this most exciting cutting-edge presentation and enjoyment by logging on or from any of the links and widgets on my Jane Resture's thousands of Web pages within my four Domains: and last but not least:

Wherever you are, I wish you all the very best. Please enjoy!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Aboriginal Art to be placed on display at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing

DOT paintings from the indigenous Papunya community from National Museum of Austalia's successful 2007-08 exhibition are being sent to an exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing. The exhibition, Papunya painting: Out of the Austalian Desert, will be the biggest collection of Australian Art to show in the Chinese capital. The Chinese are quite hungry for knowledge about Australian Aboriginal art and culture.

It is understood that China will reciprocate by sending an exhibition of its own, possibly a recent exhibition of Chinese revolutionary art.

The Aboriginal collection made up of 48 art works and 18 ethnographic objects, tell a story of the Papunya Tula art movement between 1974 and 1981. The movement established Australian indigenous art in the contemporary art world. The artists in this exhibition have become familiar names in the art world and included such big names as Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri.

Detailed information plates, giving the artists' biographies and explaining the symbols of motifs will be translated into mandarin with the aim of enhancing the understanding of indigenous culture. It is worth noting that the Papunya collective formed among indigenous men of the western deserts of Central Australia has become the model for many other indigenous artists collectives.

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Arnhem Land Art could be the World's Oldest

Rock art found in central Arnhem Land could be among the oldest examples of rock painting in the world - if the birds depicted in the painting prove to be what scientists think they are. Rock art specialists suspect that the painting depicted the long-distinct genyomis. The genyomis, a flightless bird which stood three times the height of an emu, was one of the megafauna to become extinct when human began burning the continent for hunting and land-clearing forty thousand years ago.

Indeed, verification of the age of the painting would more than double the potential age of painted rock art in Australia. In this respect, rock once attached to the site of the paintings was yet to be dated, however, it is believed that once completed, this would confirm the species depicted.

The paintings showed a thick, rounded beak, which was characteristic of the genyomis. The painted birds, the largest of which is a metre in height, also feature a crop or a muscular pouch near the throat which forms part of the digestive tract and short, very solid legs.

Certainly, if the image was that of a genyomis, it would date the painting as at least 40,000 years, making it one of the oldest examples of rock art in the world. It was certainly slightly predate some of the oldest reliable rock art of parts of Europe, which go back 30,000 years.

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