Monday, August 24, 2009


Maui is a small island with many climates and many types of trees, especially in parks and formal gardens. We saw eucalyptus trees, tropical fruit trees, native silver sword (not quite tree-sized), exotic proteus trees, palms, banyan trees and many others. The bark, branches, and leaves all make fascinating patterns.


Well, a bull frog sittin' on a lily pad
Looking up at the sky
The lily pad broke and the frog fell in
He got water all in his eye...ball

Friday, August 21, 2009

Iao State Park

These photos were taken by Tom, Evelyn, Mae, and Len with various cameras.

Next to the park, which includes the remnants of the largest pre-European village on Maui, is a garden commemorating immigrant communities:

Alice loved the bridges in the Japanese garden:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tikis in the Kula Botanical Garden

On Maui

Things I've seen in Maui -- pictures later:
  • Snorkeling yesterday at Ulua beach, I saw an eagle ray at the edge of the reef, and chased it into deep water so I was surrounded by very deep blue -- visibility was not very good. I also saw an octopus, swimming between small coral heads. They swim with their legs stretched all in one direction. When he landed on a coral, his legs would spread around him, and he'd change color from dark brown to sandy color, making him harder to see if you hadn't been following him.
  • At the snorkel site just before LaPerouse Bay, we saw big fish, especially yellow tang which are oddly absent from the other places we have snorkeled. I saw an eel swimming between two holes. At Kamaole Sands beach across from our condo, we saw a snowflake eel.
  • Just walking in the waves near our condo, I saw a really big turtle. It looked like a rock. Then it moved.
  • We went to two botanical gardens: the Garden of Eden on the Hana road, and the Kula Botanical Garden up at around 2000 feet on Haleakala. They are in different climate zones, though both tropical. Both of them have beautiful lily ponds.
  • The Garden of Eden has views of a sort of hill at the bottom of a water course, and on the high end of the stream, of a waterfall that falls into a still pond. It has many tropical food plants such as a cashew tree. It was raining a little as we walked.
  • The Kula garden has various rock formations and alongside it is a now-dry rocky water course around 100 yards across. In some man-made ponds among these rocks are captive birds including two African crowned cranes and a pair of NeNes. Some Painted Eucalyptus trees display incredible multi-colored bark. It's in a much drier area, so the plants are different -- the paths are more formal between gardens of irises, covered growing places for orchids, and a Koi pond in dammed area of a natural stream, down in a deep place that seems very tropical. Huge philodendrons grow as well as vines and palm trees.
  • Further up the mountain on a different day, we again walked in the woods quite near the entrance to Haleakala National Park, and watched the little native birds (a'apane, i'iwi...) and saw two NeNes fly. We went to the start of the Shifting Sands trail that goes into the erosion crater and past the more recent volcanic cones.
  • For the first time ever, we drove all the way around the north side of the island. The road is very narrow, but has been paved all the way (since we last tried) and is quite spectacular. There are some recent gated developments of fancy homes and ranches, and some old-time villages where ordinary people -- maybe of native stock -- live.
  • At the Iao Needle, the park was closed because of rock falls on the access road and other storm stuff from a hurricane that fizzled. Therefore, we walked in and up to the viewpoint. Walking the road allows one to appreciate the really bizarre landscape with very craggy hills covered with jungle, very new with deep vertical lines where the mountain sides seem all folded and strange. We also saw the garden commemorating various immigrant groups to Hawaii: Japanese, Philipino, Korean.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Garden of Eden

On the way down the east coast of Maui is a private botanical garden called "The Garden of Eden." Vistas across a narrow valley and down to the sea are quite beautiful. A few statues, water lily ponds, and many tropical trees make for a pleasant walk.

After visiting the garden, we watched some surfers and had lunch at a place in Paia called Milagros, and shopped at a boutique (of the hippy Paia variety) called Alice in Hulaland.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Lavender Farm

We visited the beautiful lavender farm on the slope of the volcano. French lavender, provencal lavender and other varieties grow in long colorful rows. We visited a workshop where three women were making lavender wreaths. We drank lavender lemonade, ate lavender shortbread, and bought lavender lip balm. The owner collects beautiful sculptures, including many buddhist sculptures. Oddly, people put flowers in their hands or put coins all over them, including between their toes.

Miriam and Alice did a "treasure hunt" by locating stamps hidden in the garden and stamping a paper with 10 of them.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Linguists of Ghana -- Links

I have looked for more information about the linguists and their staffs (which I wrote about here: Linguists in the tribes of Ghana.) I haven't really started to look for books yet, but I did some web surfing.

I found one web page by an anthropologist, Phil Bartle, who lived in Ghana. He wrote about the word linguist and the linguist's role:
In Akan, the word "okyeame" means something much more than "linguist" (as it is usually translated). The linguist is a spokesperson, ambassador, diplomat, interpreter, confidant, advisor and assistant to an elder or chief... In court, all prayers are in the form of libations, pouring of palm wine or schnapps on the ground to the gods and ancestors, and they are always done by linguists or individuals acting the role of linguists. As the person of the chief is sacred, possessed by matrilineal ancestors, members of the public cannot speak directly to the chief, and the linguist must be used as an intermediary. Very often, if frank expressions are used, the okyeame puts them into more polite and less offensive language. The elders in a chief’s court are sometimes said to be speaking the "language of the dead," which sometimes mean they speak using traditional proverbs, and may hide their deliberations from the public who are unlikely to know what those proverbs can imply.
This page has the most complete description of these tribal rituals and activities that I have found.

Additional interesting web pages:
  • From the Metropolitan Museum of Art: a gold-covered staff showing two men and a spider web: "This staff is surmounted by two human figures flanking a large web, with a spider positioned at its center. The finial refers to the saying, 'No one goes to the house of the spider Ananse to teach him wisdom.' Ananse the spider, who brought wisdom and taught weaving to the Akan, is the originator of folk tales and proverbs and is thus linked to linguists. Here, Ananse is the ultimate repository of erudition, as is the linguist at an Akan court, neither of whom should be challenged in that domain."
  • From Hamill Gallery: a page with photos of former and current linguist staffs for sale.
  • From the Art Institute of Chicago: A page with some historic information: in particular, the fact that the illustration of proverbs on linguist staffs originated in the 1920s. The staff depicted on this page illustrates "The hen knows when it is dawn, but leaves it to the rooster to announce." Explanation: "While on one level it is a reference to relations between men and women, the saying held an even deeper meaning for the Asante: the contrast of the decision-making power of a chief (the rooster) with the wisdom of the elders (the hen) and the need for linguists’ diplomacy in mediating between the two."
  • From the Brooklyn Museum: staff whose finial shows a cat and mouse: "a reference to the proverb, 'It is only a foolish mouse that tries to get into the cat's bag.' In other words, it is a foolish person who dares to meddle in the king's business."

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Picasso echoes African masks

Portrait of Manuel Pallares, 1909, Detroit Institute of Arts
From Seated Woman, 1960

Fang Masks

Also at the Detroit Institute of Arts: two masks from the Fang people. We have one Fang mask.

I wrote about it here: Our African Masks

Linguists in the tribes of Ghana

At the Detroit Institute of Arts today, I was very happy to find exactly what I was looking for. The artifact in the case is called a linguist staff, shown with a large reproduction of a 1979 photo of a group of Akan royal linguists from Ghana (above). Each one is holding his linguist staff. These linguist staffs are around 6 feet tall and topped with a gold-leaf or silver-leaf covered wood carving representing a proverb that characterizes the man who carries the staff.

Before going to the museum, I was reading about the linguists of Ghana, who represent the tribal leaders and speak for them. I originally heard of these high tribal officials in the documentation of an artwork by artist Osei Bonsu in the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Looking for information on the web, I found the website of the Ghana Institute of Architects (GIA). It includes a fascinating explanation of tribal linguists and their function by Prof. Ablade Glover, College of Arts Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana). He writes:
"It is the linguist who puts the chief's whispers into poetic and eloquent language. He is not only a mo[u]th-piece as he is wrongly described today but rather and ambassador and a very useful and prominent courtier. Indeed a chief's fame, to a great extend, depends upon the wisdom and eloquence of his linguist."

Prof. Ablade Glover also gives a list of the proverbs that are found on linguist staffs. I think the staff in the DIA (above) represents the proverb "A HEN STEPPING OVER HER CHICKS: A hen steps on her chicks not to hurt them but to prevent them from being trampled upon by some one else which might be harmful."

The art work in the University museum (at right) represents the proverb: "A HAND HOLDING AN EGG: Power is like an egg, when held too tightly it might break, or falls and breaks when held loosely. A successful ruler must be both firm and sympathetic." This carving is not on a linguist staff, but the documentation refers to a staff in the Houston museum with the same theme.

I found this all so fascinating that I wrote to Arnold Zwicky, an author at my favorite blog, Language Log, and he posted a link to
Prof. Ablade Glover's page here: Staff linguist.

Baule Art

We went to the Detroit Institute of Arts today, with a goal of seeing more African art. The museum has a wonderful African collection, which is organized by themes such as masquerades, coming-of-age ceremonies, birth, marriage, death, and religion. I've been trying to learn the artistic viewpoint of the individual tribes.

The Baule people of the Ivory Coast seem to me to have a coherent vision in their art -- at least, what I've been able to see. The mask on the left is said to be used in ceremonies to represent the female ideal of beauty. (Documentation at the DIA is infuriatingly vague and childish, so that's all I got from the label.)

The dark-colored statue is a baboon figure. "When harassed by a bush or forest spirit, a person asks a diviner to commission a baboon sculpture like this one," says the label. "The figure becomes a temporary home for the spirit. The flexed knees represent the spirit's constant plea for offerings and ritual attention. If satisfied, the spirit could bring wealth and prosperity to the owner."

The next two items are a sword hilt and a gold-leaf fly whisk handle, also Baule.