Pohnpeian Apology Ceremony

As noted during the recent visit of the Hokule'a and Alingano Maisu, there are things that cannot be bought, cannot be sold, and cannot be owned. There is no way to sufficiently thank someone for sharing these things that cannot be bought, sold, or owned. The author is deeply thankful to the Theres, Spencer, and Samuel families for allowing him to photograph this event. Lighting conditions were difficult, and the nature of the event requires that observers not intrude on the processs. Some images are blurry or grainy, this is as it must be.

Soumaka Nanrohi, Esthak Theres, approaches the home of the Soumas en kousapw Dien, Pehleng, Kitti. The Soumas is the head of a section, Soulik is the title accorded to a section chief. Sections are called kousapw. Soumaka (Soaumaka under the Kitti constitution) is carrying a very special Piper Methysticum plant. Although smaller than those seen at a funeral or kamadipw (festival), the plant is very potent.

Soumaka Nanrohi Esthak Theres

The fundamentals of the sakau ceremony are roughly common across the different occasions in which the ceremony is performed. As per custom, the specific reason Soumaka Nanrohi is presenting sakau will not be announced until nohpwei is performed. The plant is brought in whole, and the branches are cut.

Sakau branch cut

Soumaka is accompanied by his relatives. Both young men and young women in the family are present. Pictured is Nahliwai, the daughter of the Soumas en kousapw Nanrohi.

Maria Spencer Womack

The first cup, pwehl, is offered by Soumaka Nanrohi to Soumas Dien. With the opening of nohpwei, silence falls across the gathering. Only Soumaka speaks, calling out the traditional cups.

Pwehl: Cup of apology to Soumas Dien

Although the official reason for the nohpwei has not been given - as per tradition - the body language makes it clear that the cup is the cup of apology. Soumas Dien accepted the cup, now the cup is offered to his wife Lioualik.

Cup of apology to Lioualik

With the nohpwei complete, Soumaka explains the reason for which we are there.

Esthak explains the reason for the gathering

Delson speaks.

Delson Kapriel

The apology accepted, the boys mingle. The apology binds everyone, peace and respect is restored between the families.

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