Ancient Chamorro Society 4


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For this chapter, we’re going to be exploring Ancient Chamorro clothing. This is a very small chapter due to the lack of decisive evidence detailing what Chamorros wore and why they wore it. We’ll be going over the function of their clothes (i.e. fashion, protection, status), the different ways that men and women dressed, and ornamentation—this means the way they accessorized.

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Clothing has two very basic functions. One is to act as a form of protection, both from the elements and from things that can harm us. The other is to reflect cultural values. Even in the modern era, where clothing can be worn simply to be fashionable or to express a mood, we follow cultural cues when it comes to clothes. We pay attention to what’s popular, and culture often lets us know what’s popular by stocking the shelves of clothing stores with the latest fad. Culture can affect clothing in small and big ways. For example, a lot of modern Chamorros choose to accessorize with a sinahi in order to connect with their culture. Contrariwise, some Muslim women wear a full body covering called a burqa. Because the climate here is temperate, you don’t need the same amount of protective clothing to survive as you might in a place like the Yukon Territory. This may be why ancient Chamorros did not adopt very modest fashion values. The climate allowed them to wear little and be comfortable,

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The tunas was colored orange with mango’ (turmeric) root, it had an 18-inch tassel made from pokse ‘ .

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Tunas may have been “lovesticks”, but just because a neighboring islands used them in this way doesn’t mean the Ancient Chamorros did. The cultural evidence is important, but because these people lived separated from each other, its important to remember that they probably developed different customs. Banners were also attached to Tunas and used in festivals.

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Just like modern people, Ancient Chamorros did not wear their hair in the same way all the time.

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Sinahi, guinahan, Chuukese lovestick

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Chapter 4: Clothing From GPL’s Chamorro Customs

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Main Ideas The Function of Ancient Chamorro’s Clothes Men’s Dress Women’s Dress Ornamentation

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Clothing Clothing has two major functions: protection and culture. The environment of the Marianas is comfortable. It doesn’t require a lot of heavy, protective garments. Ancient Chamorros were not too modest. They didn’t mind showing skin. Sanctions: the means by which a society enforces its mores and folkways.

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Vocabulary Sanctions: the means by which a society enforces its mores and folkways Batya: pandanus hat Pokse’: the bark fiber of the pagu tree, used to make rope, tassels and clothing Ngufa’ guafak: a sleeveless pandanus mat vest. Tunas: a long stick decorated with distinctive geometric carvings, colored orange, and topped with an 18-inch long tassel. It was carried by bachelors. Mango’: turmeric or ginger used for cooking or for coloring; Curcuma domestica.

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Vocabulary Eskabeche: fried fish cooked with vegetables Afok: quicklime, the white powder chewed with betel nut. Guinahan famagu’on: child’s wealth, an almost priceless piece of ancient Chamorro shell money. Tifi: a small, triangular apron worn by women. Gunot: the fiber found on coconut trees where leaves sprout from the trunk. Daddek: tiny coconut without meat or water.

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Vocabulary Marmars: a crown of flowers; Carolinian. Lukao hugua: a tortoise-shell disk (approximately ¾ inch in diameter) necklace used as money. Guini: a tortoise-shell disk (approximately 3/8 inch in diameter) necklace used as money. Alas: shell money Maku dadu: a polished tortoise-shell plaque worn as an apron by a wealthy woman

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Vocabulary Prehistory: period before written records Puka: a naturally formed shell disk with a hole in the center, used to make necklaces. Literally, “hole” in Polynesian languages. Ha’iguas: coconut shell.

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Environmental Protection Batya: pandanus hats worn by ancient Chamorros to protect them from the sun and rain. Ancient Chamorros usually went barefoot, except when reef walking, when they wore palm leaf sandals. Coconut oil was used to protect skin from the elements. Pieces of gourds could be used as skull caps.

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Men’s Dress Most historical European accounts agree that ancient Chamorro men went naked (excluding accessories like hats) Folkloric evidence: the legend of Maria del Camarin -a fisherman could not pick up a statue of Mary unless he was dressed Bias perspective: these records were written by outsiders, so its possible they were exaggerating -when the Spanish wrote about Native Americans, they also exaggerated by saying they went completely naked.

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Men’s Dress contd. In other parts of Micronesia, men wrapped pokse’ (Pagu fibers) around their waste and between their legs. Because men on neighboring islands did this, it’s likely that ancient Chamorro men did as well. When ancient Chamorro men would do fishing or do battle, they would wear a ngufa’ guafak (sleeveless pandanus vest)

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Accessories Tunas: a long stick decorated with distinct geometric carvings Only bachelors carried a tunas Men also carried sticks in the neighboring Truk (Chuuk) islands. -they would carve distinct symbols on the stick and make sure the girl they liked saw it. -they would poke the girl with the stick while she was sleeping. If the girl liked the guy, she answer. If not, she would push the stick away. Ancient Chamorro men could have used their tunas in the same way, or they could have used it as walking stick, to swat insects, or to fight.

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Accessories contd. Ancient Chamorro men had many different hairstyles -1521: men wore their hair long -1526: men reportedly wore their hair to their waists -1565: men bleached their hair yellow with afok (quicklime). They then either wore their hair loose or tied it up in two knots.

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Men’s hairstyle could have indicated caste -according to Sanvitores, chamorri shaved their heads leaving only a small topknot. Guinahan famagu’on: ornament worn by men, awarded for saving a child’s life.

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Women’s Dress Ancient Chamorro women wore a triangular apron called a tifi, or they wore a skirt of grass/leaves suspended from a belt. The tifi may have been made from gunot (fiber found on coconut trees when leaves sprout from the trunk). Fray Juan Pobre de Zamora (a Catholic Spanish Missionary) wrote that by the age of 8 to 10, girls wore leaves or a plate of turtle shell. On special occasions, women wore grass skirts with a pandanus belt strung with daddek (baby coconuts). Some women wore waistbands of shell money.

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Accessories Marmars: wreaths of flowers worn in the hair Guini: a tortoise-shell disc (approx. 3/8 inch in diameter) worn as a necklace Lukao hugua: a tortoise-shell disc (approx. ¾ inch in diameter) worn as a necklace Maku dudu: a tortoise-shell plaque worn as an apron, tied around the hips; worn by rich women. Women sometimes wore pendants on their foreheads made of tortoise-shells, beads, or flowers. Red spondylus shell: the most prized shell ornament for women (may be extinct on Guam and in Marianas)

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Accessories contd. Spondylus shell necklaces are made in New Guinea. They pound the shell into pieces with a rock, and the pieces are rubbed on a stone block until they’re smooth and level. The ancient Chamorros could have made their necklaces in the same way. Women’s hairstyles also changed over time. -1521: Magellan said women wore their hair long (almost to the ground) -1565: Legazpi said women bleached their hair yellow -1668: Sanvitores said women bleached their hair white and that they tied it into a bun. High caste women supposedly tied their hair into two buns.

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Decorative Dress Prehistory: period of history when there are no written accounts. Because we have no written accounts of earlier periods of history, we don’t know for sure what ancient Chamorros wore before the Spanish. Archaeologists sometimes find ornaments not recorded by the Spanish that help us learn about ancient Chamorros in prehistory -puka-shell necklaces: found by archaeologists on Guam, these necklaces are made with the end of cone snail shells. -Ancient Chamorros carved designs into shell pendants and into pottery Dental decorations: ancient Chamorros would chew pugua’ (betel nut), pupulu (pepper leaf), and afok (quicklime) in order to stain their teeth. When their teeth were dark enough, they would etch marks onto them. Ha’iguas: a coconut shell used to store afok.

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Summary Archaeology, folklore, linguistics, and Spanish accounts help us understand how the ancient Chamorros probably dressed. However, we may never know for sure how much of those accounts are true. Looking at neighboring islands’ accounts can be very helpful. Shells were used in a lot of ornamentation. Just like modern people, ancient Chamorros probably changed what they wore and how they wore it from time to time.