This is the last essay inspired by facebook posts from the Marshallese Consulate in Hawaii. It is a mixture of topics that we intend to someday split into separate topics. Many thanks to the Marshallese Consulate to allow us to adapt their posts for Marshallese Manit.
Dried pandanus leaves are used to create material that serve many different functions in Marshallese culture. They were woven into canoe sails, made into mats for burials, creating nieded, mats for sitting and sleeping on, various crafts and many more. Even today dried pandanus leaves serve an important part in Marshallese lives.
Made from pandanus leaves, the nieded was the traditional “dress mat” worn by the Marshallese men and women. The way the nieded was worn depended on the gender. Women typically wore two pieces. One was worn in the front and the other in the back and both were secured with a belt. Men typically wore one piece which was tied to form a loincloth. For certain occasions though, the men might wear a two piece nieded similar to women.
Another very important item in Marshallese culture are woven containers called jeps. There are many different forms and functions of jeps. Some were made for storing items, carrying items, transporting food, storing food, etc. Jeps were woven from coconut palm fronds or pandanus leaves. Today, the forms of jeps that are most popular are purses and small baskets.
Marshallese people traditionally and even today adorn themselves with necklaces. The higher ranking chiefs would have necklaces with shells, coral, bone, turtle shells and an ornament hanging in the center. The commoners necklaces would consist of simple strands of shells.
A traditional sport that Marshallese played was know as anidep. Originally it was played only by men and andiep may have originated in SE Asia where where versions of it were played extensively as early as the 11th century. Players would form a circle and kick the ebbo, a ball made of rolled-up pandanus leaves to each other. The object of andiep is to keep the ebbo in the air using only the feet, all the while keeping in rhythm with the clapping of players and spectators. The last person to keep the ball in the air without letting it drop is declared the winner. This sport has similarities with hacky sack (aka footbag).
- Marshallese Consulate in Hawaii, Face book page. www.facebook.com/rmi.hcg Sept 2018
- Etto n̄an Raan Kein: A Marshall Islands History. by Julianne M. Walsh, Ph.D.; in collaboration with Hilda C. Heine, Ed.D.; with the assistance of Carmen Milne Bigler, Mark Stege. 2012. 526 pp.