Matariki: time of renewal, time of reflection. Time to think about planting for the new harvest, time to remember the dead. The Maori New Year festival is a movable feast, determined not by the phases of moon or sun, but by the rising of the constellation of the Pleiades above the horizon just before dawn, for the first time after disappearing for their autumn break.
Not surprisingly for a people who navigated the Pacific Ocean a couple of thousand years before any European thought to venture forth beyond the Pillars of Hercules, Polynesians have a sophisticated star lore. It’s the only thing to look at, really, when you’re out on the ocean on a boat! 🙂
The festival is gaining in popularity here in New Zealand, as a midwinter holiday to make up for the absence of a Christmas season during the dark and cold time of the year. And it is no longer strictly a Maori affair: this year’s Matariki celebrations in Wellington include not only the traditional Dawn Ceremony and obligatory Kapa Haka performances, but also astronomical talks, special art gallery showings, and even an Indian cooking class!
Art associated with Matariki is still by and large a New Zealand affair. But one does find the odd evidence that awareness of this festival is wandering overseas: for instance this music track by the band Koan (yes, the Buddhist concept), who apparently are based in Moscow, of all places. Sit back and chill with some funky truly global electronica sounds, while you look at the art!
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