Adorned by Nature

A Review by Sarah Corbett

Publisher ‏ : ‎ At One Communications (1 Jan. 2022)
Author : Wolfgang Grulke
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1916039448
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1916039445

The creative ingenuity of the people of the South Seas is explored and celebrated in this beautiful book. Presented with absolute clarity and packed with stunning images. A wealth of information on these amazing art forms will delight both experts and those new to the subject.

By sharing a mixture of legend, belief and material culture of the indigenous people of the South Seas region, Wolfgang has provided an insight for us to their pre and post contact adornments and the symbolism of these powerful pieces.

The development of styles is evident, with the initial use of natural elements, which are found in the region, gradually being augmented by items which were traded, such as glass beads and sometimes more unusual objects including tin cans and Clocks!

The types and styles of adornments from these amazing islands are shown and described in a manner that welcomes us into a oceanic world, where the power and the beauty of nature is connected to all aspects of daily life.

An understanding of the complex currency and trade system, which evolved around significant heirloom pieces gives us a glimpse into trade of status objects which existed.
I find the feather currency of the Santa Cruz Islands astounding. Taou is an elaborate coil of red bird feathers, and was essential as a part of wedding negotiations, but was also used to trade for food, land and canoes.
Taou feather roll is just one of the wide range of currencies described in this book, each of which is well explored, including origin, construction and the significance of the pieces to those who created them.

Donated copies of this book have been sent to libraries across the region that they showcase. This aspect was particularly appealing to me.

“Before we utter a word, we define ourselves by the way we adapt our appearance. The human drive to adorn describes aspects of self and is a human skill as relevant as spoken language”

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