Thursday, 27 March 2008 7:16 PM

Valued Asset, the Guadalcanal Traditional Bowl

Food bowls are favored display decorations in many homes but for locals in the Solomons, the carved creations have significant traditional values.

In Guadalcanal Province, food bowls come in different sizes and shapes and among the many is the "popo".

"This unique medium size bowl is used for a lot of special purpose," John Maeli from Duidui village in the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal told Solomon Times.

Mr. Maeli explained that one example is during big meetings held by chiefs in the communities.

"Women will prepare food and have them nicely put in the 'popo' bowl, to be presented to the chiefs at meeting," he said.

The 'popo' bowl is also used to prepare a pudding known as "ponga".

"Another occasion is a wedding ceremony in the village, the bride must prepare food called 'kilikai' in the popo and present it to her husband as a sign of commitment to be a dutiful wife," Mr. Maeli explained.

He added that food preparation using the popo is only done by women "because traditionally, what men do is wait to eat and it's the women's job to prepare food".

This is however different today with men now helping women to prepare food in the 'popo'.

"In our culture, the wooden bowl 'popo' is family property and it is not to be passed on to other families because this is culturally wrong," Mr. Maeli said.

Put food aside, the 'popo' is also used to make custom medicine, particularly for headaches.

Leaves used for the medicine are collected, placed in the bowl with two hot stones and a little bit of water.

"The person with the headache is required to cover up and steam away the pain by breathing in the aroma," Mr. Maeli explained. "This will surely cure the headache."

Asked if the significance of bowl still stands today, Mr. Maeli said this is only among the elders.

"Sadly, only some young people who are interested in learning the use of the 'popo' understand the value of the bowl," he said.

Mr. Maeli added that it will be sad to see such valued traditional belief disappear in the near future.

###TIME###