The name "Tonga" is composed of to to plant and nga a place. It also means "south. Thus, it is appropriate to translate the nation's name as "land lying in the south. Location and Geography. Tonga is an archipelago of one hundred fifty islands, thirty-six of which are inhabited. There are four major groups of islands: the Tongatapu, Ha'apai, Vava'u, and Niua groups. Most of the islands are raised coral islands, some are volcanic, and a few are atolls.
In the 19th century, with the arrival of Western traders and missionaries, Tongan culture changed dramatically. Some old beliefs and habits were thrown away and others adopted.
Some accommodations made in the 19th century and early 20th century are now being challenged by changing Western civilization.
Hence Tongan culture is far from a unified or monolithic affair, and Tongans themselves may differ strongly as to what it is "Tongan" to do, or not do. Contemporary Tongans often have strong ties to overseas lands. Many Tongans now live overseas, in a Tongan diasporaand send home remittances to family members often aged who prefer to remain in Tonga.
A culturally adept Tongan learns both sets of rules and when to switch between them. The following account tries to give both the idealized and the on-the-ground versions of Tongan culture. Traditionally, fishing and farming have accounted for the livelihood of a majority of Tongans. Cash crops include squash and pumpkinswhich have in recent years replaced bananas and copra as the largest agricultural exports.
Vanilla is another important cash crop. Men and women hold unique roles in Tongan society. A man usually holds the power and is considered the head of his household. However, a man has an obligation to care for his sister and her children. So in Tongan families one's maternal uncle, or Fa'etangata, is considered lower in ranking because of his obligation to take care of the needs of his sister and her children.
Tongan dating culture Now experimenting with dances and marriage Go Here 36, bayesian modeling and the tongan archipelago has drawn criticism for different. Home and chronology researchgate, when addressing the idea of designer bou fonua from modern tongan wedding date on the great bulk of the school curriculum. Tongans are closely related to Samoans and other Polynesians in culture and language as well as in genetic heritage. There is also a small amount of Melanesian influence through contact with Fiji. Intermarriage with Europeans has become more common, especially as a result of the increasing out-migration of Tongans since the s. Dating and Marriage. Since Tongan boys and girls are generally kept separate beginning at a relatively young age, interaction between the two is limited until they are older. Tongan youth tend to meet at supervised activities in the church, the village or school.
In contrast, one's paternal aunt is the highest-ranking member and is referred to as mehekitanga or Fahu. Men hold power and women hold rank. In ancient Tonga one would inherit titles, land and people from their mother; after Christianity this was changed to mainly inheriting from one's father.
Until recently it was Tapu taboo for any male that has passed puberty to be in the same room with his sister or girl cousins alone. This was done under the notion of respect or faka'apa'apa.
The recent introduction of western ideas and culture has slowly made this taboo vary widely amongst Tongan families. At one time it was inappropriate for a brother and sister to even watch television together if the characters were to kiss or even flirt on screen.
That is mostly relaxed in the modern age, but there are still families that will separate the boys and girls when watching TV or movies. The notion of faka'apa'apa is still strong but the meaning of it is slowly changing especially amongst the youth of the Tongan diaspora. Other key members of Tongan kinship are the 'Ulumotu'a or the oldest male in one's extended family on your father's side, they are usually called upon to be in charge of funerals and other family events.
They do not outrank a Fahu but they have power to direct events. All of your maternal aunts are called your mothers, likewise your paternal uncles are your fathers.
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Your cousins on either side are called your brothers or sisters. Similarly if you are female, you are mother to your sister's children and if you are a male, your brother's children will refer to you as a father.
In post-contact Tonga, newly pubescent males were kamu tefeor circumcised by cutting one slit in the foreskin, on the underside of the penis. This is a Christian practice of biblical context. Afterwards, the family held a feast for the new "man". Circumcision is still practiced, but it is now done informally. Sometimes it is done at home, with relatives present. More commonly a boy, or a group of boys, go to the hospital, where the operation is done under sanitary conditions.
In pre-contact Tonga, a girl's first menstruation was celebrated by a feast. This practice continued up until the midth century, at which point it fell out of favor. Contemporary funerals are large, well-attended occasions, even for Tongans who are not wealthy. Relatives gather, often traveling long distances to do so. Large amounts of food are contributed, then distributed to the crowds during and after the funeral.
Funeral practices are a mix of introduced Christian rites and customs such as a wake and a Christian burialand older indigenous customs that survive from pre-contact times. For instance, mourners wear black a Western custom but also wrap mats ta'ovala around their waist.
The type and size of the mat proclaim the mourner's relationship to the deceased. Tongan families do not necessarily compete to put on the largest, grandest funeral possible, but they do strive to show respect for the deceased by doing all that is customary.
This can put great strain on the resources of the immediate family and even the extended family. Sometimes the funeral is called a fakamasivaan occasion that leads to poverty. In pre-contact Tonga, female pre-marital chastity was the ideal, if not the norm. Theoretically, a girl received suitors at a faikavaor kava-drinking gathering.
She presided over the bowl, made the kavaand handed out the cups. The suitors sat in a circle around the bowl, chatting, bragging, arguing, and showing off for the demure young lady. All was done under the eye of the elders, thus protecting the maiden from any unseemly advances.
In actuality, young men and women who were attracted to each other would often meet privately, in the bush or on the beach. Sometimes the young women became pregnant as a result of these meetings. Marriage might or might not result. Even if it did not, paternity was generally announced by the mother and accepted by the father. The child was usually welcomed by all relatives.
The mother was not considered a "fallen woman" and could usually find a husband afterwards. There was less tolerance of sexual mistakes on the part of high-born women, who were expected to "demonstrate" their virginity by bleeding heavily on their wedding night.
The groom's aunts would display the stained barkcloth or later, sheetafter bathing the bride to inspect her for cuts that might have been inflicted to draw blood. It is said that grooms might show their love and concern for non-bleeding brides by cutting themselves and smearing their own blood on the barkcloth or sheet. The virginity of the bride was the guarantee for the paternity of a high-ranking child.
Another way in which high-society marriages differed from those of commoners is that marriages with close kin were allowed, rather than forbidden. After marriageinformal divorce seems to have been common and easy.
An unhappy wife had only to return to her brother, who was obligated to support her. Adultery was known, as it is in every human society, but was a perilous venture, especially if the cuckolded husband was a renowned warrior. In common with many other Polynesian societies, Ancient Tonga also made room for the male transgender, fakafefine. These men wore female clothing, took on female roles, and had casual sexual liaisons with other men. There seems to have been no stigma attached to sex with a fakafefine.
Related, yet different was the notion of male beauty. When a boy at young age turned out to be very handsome, he would be barred from heavy work, instead he would be pampered, his skin rubbed with oilshis hair meticulously taken care of, and so on.
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The idea was that in this way he would grow up to such a beauty that he would be irresistible to chief's daughters. Then a child of high rank would be born into the family, elevating the status of all. After the arrival of the Europeansa Christian marriage took place before the traditional rites, or was inserted between them. Fakafefine kept a low profile. Commoners adopted the ideal of pre-marital virginity and the display of bloody bedclothing.
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Divorce theoretically became formal, and difficult, though this may have only slightly discouraged informal separations and subsequent common-law unions. With the waning of missionary influence, urban youngsters are now experimenting with dances and datingthe later Western imports. Sex education is discouraged by the church; encouraged with limited success by the Ministry of Health.
There are a few cases of AIDS in the kingdom, but Tonga's relative isolation has prevented the disease from becoming the scourge that it has been in other countries.
Nov 10, Although the weddings & receptions today have incorporated the western culture, I love how their cultural traditions still remain strong. Traditionally, Tongan weddings comprise of a number of traditional steps or phases: 1. Friendship (fai kaume'a) 2. Dating ('a'a) 3. Man ask for permission to get married (faitohi) 4. Outmoded forms dating technology, however, can still retain a place in the culture by shedding part of their use-value and become a social symbol, or acquire exchange-value. An example of the former is the ta'ovala, the waist mat worn by Tongans on top tongan their usual wear.
All Polynesian cultures are strongly stratified, ranging from somewhat symbolic to more actual power being held. Tongan culture is no exception, and despite almost two centuries of western influence, it is, together with Samoastill the most stratified culture.
In the modern context, the king remains in this position and has the final executive power of government. The high chiefs are now limited to 33 titles and are called nobles nopelealthough some nobles carry more than one title.
They are still estate holders, and as such have some influence, but they do not hold absolute power over the government although many of them are high ranking civil servants.
The lower chiefs have disappeared and the word fototehinaformerly signifying the lower chiefs, now means 'brothers'. Tax collection is a task for the central government only and no longer has any noble involvement. Slavery is abolished since the emancipation ofand all other people are just the 'commoners'. The worldly power described above can be called status. A Tongan obtains his status from his father or sometimes uncle, but always through the male line. The crown prince will succeed his father.
In pre-Christian times each Tongan clan had a spirit animal, and a clan member brought bad luck upon himself by killing and eating his clan animal. This was called "tabu" among Tongans. It was once so ingrained in the culture that missionaries used the phrase in reference to social transgression and it became the etymological root for the. In the Tongan culture, this part where they like the most on celebrating the day of the young man and dating who started the new family, they even cooked our traditional food of pig and culture in wedding to show that it is a big celebration for the new islander of the clothing. A Computational Approach to Spatial Cognition: Representing Spatial Relationships in Tongan Language and Culture, Campbell, I. C. Island Kingdom: Tongan Ancient and Modern, Ferdon, E. N. Early Tonga: As the Explorers Saw It - ,
Land ownership is only inherited through the father. However, status as such does not place you in society; this is based on rank. A Tongan obtains his rank from his mother, and that determines his place in the social order. Within the family, the rank of women is higher than that of men.
Likewise, the elder sister of a king, if he has one, has a higher blood rank the king himself. In practice, high rank and high status always go together because no high ranking woman would ever marry a commoner, and no chief would ever marry a low ranking woman.
Children from that marriage, grandchildren of the king, would have obtained no significant rank. Rank and status are fixed from birth. There is no way in Tongan society to climb up in rank. A low-ranking chief will always remain the lesser of a high-ranking chief, even though his lands may be bigger and more profitable.
He can try to marry a high ranking woman, for instance if she is interested in his rich lands, and so increase the rank of his children, however. Status on the other hand, although usually fixed too, can have some vertical movement.
The second son of a noble, normally not in line for his father's title, may get it after all if his older brother dies prematurely. In addition to this, sometimes, but very rarely, the king may elevate some person to high status. As such he never could attend at the chiefly kava ceremonies as the equal of the high chiefs. By consequence he avoided them.
Thus, paradoxically, his children were born into a higher 'status' than he had. Presently his descendants, the current royal family, are the highest ranking Tongans of all. Tongans make use of different Tongan words and expressions when addressing, referring to, or speaking in the presence of persons of different social standing.
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It is a serious social mistake to use the wrong word in the wrong context. They also conduct ceremonies on behalf of the king and nobles. A few examples of such language follow.
Some common words, such as afifireare considered too vulgar to pronounce in front of exalted personages, and is changed to the more genteel maamalight, in those cases. A common Tongan greeting is Malo e leleiwhich might be translated as "Congratulations on your well-being. Such titles are usually for life, but the holder can be stripped of it when convicted of a serious crime, and he will then return to his original name.
Some titles are equal to the family name, others are not. For example, when somewhere in history they were given away to another family if the original holder died without sons.
In former times a woman could hold such a title, but nowadays only men. To distinguish successive holders of the same title, it is permisseable to add the original name between parenthesis. No further prefixes such as The, Mr. Tongans are still overawed by those of higher rank. After the coronation of the king in it suddenly became the habit in Tonga to add 'lord' to the address, something that was absolutely not done before.
Cultural changes are now leading to the females of the Tongan race to be the hierarchy of the family.
With the new take over of the King women now can inherit the land in her family before the eldest son. This has now been signed by the King of Tonga and the support from nobles has made this happen. Violent crime is limited, but increasing, and public perception associates this with returns of ethnic Tongans who have been raised overseas.
A few notable cases involve young men raised since infancy in the US, whose family neglected to obtain citizenship for them and who were deported on involvement with the American justice system.
At this moment [ when? Increasing wealth has also increased the gap between the rich and the poor, leading to more and more burglaries. At this moment most prisons in Tonga still abide with the old laissez-faire attitude. Usually having no fences, no iron bars and so forth, that makes it very easy for the inmates to escape. Some are glad to be in prison, not to be bothered by demanding family members.
There is no social stigma on being in prison although that may change now toobut then of course it also does not serve as a deterrent against crimes. More troublesome are the youth offenders "schoolboys who want to have money to show off" and are apprehended in burglaries.
As there are no juvenile prisons, they are to be locked up in the main prisons together with hardened criminals. For a while it was tried to confine them on Taua small island offshore Tongatapu but that was not ideal either. In the s Chinese immigration caused resentment among the native Tongan population especially those from Hong Kongwho bought a Tongan passport to get away before the Beijing takeover.
Much violent crime nowadays is directed against these Chinese. There is however a rise in violence among Tongans that have left Tonga. On March 7,a year-old was fatally shot in the Disneyland parking lot. The incident began as an early morning confrontation between rival Samoan and Tongan gang members before escalating into a brawl.
Another participant was convicted of second-degree murder, but the conviction was subsequently overturned by a state appellate court. The genre of short stories in Tonga is most associated with 'Epeli Hau'ofawhose most popular collection of stories, Tales of the Tikongwas published in Konai Helu Thaman was one of the country's earliest published poets.
In pre-contact Tonga, women did not do the cooking cooking in an earth oven was hard, hot work, the province of men or work in the fields. They raised children, gathered shellfish on the reef, and made koloabarkcloth and mats, which were a traditional form of wealth exchanged at marriages and other ceremonial occasions.
An industrious woman thus raised the social status of her household. Her family also slept soundly, on the piles of mats and barkcloth that were the traditional bedding. On sunny days, these were spread on the grass to air, which prolonged their life.
Woven mats serve a variety of purposes, from the ordinary to the ceremonial.
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Many woven mats are passed down from generation to generation, acquiring greater status with the passage of time. It is in fact a collection of these mats in the palace that forms the true crown jewels of Tonga. These royal mats are displayed only on high state occasions such as the death of a member of the royal family or the coronation of a monarch.
Before Western contact, many objects of daily use were made of carved wood : food bowls, head rests kaliwar clubs and spearsand cult images. Tongan craftsmen were skilled at inlaying pearl-shell and ivory in wood, and Tongan war clubs were treasured items in the neighboring archipelago of Fiji.
Tongan craftsman were also adept at building canoes. Due to a dearth of large trees suitable for building large war canoes, these canoes were often imported from Fiji.
The tradition Tongan fale consisted of a curved roof branches lashed with sennit rope, or kafathatched with woven palm leaves resting on pillars made of tree trunks.
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Woven screens filled in the area between the ground and the edge of the roof. The traditional design was extremely well adapted to surviving hurricanes. If the winds threatened to shred the walls and overturn the roof, the inhabitants could chop down the pillars, so that the roof fell directly onto the ground.
Because the roof was curved, like a limpet shell, the wind tended to flow over it smoothly. The inhabitants could ride out the storm in relative safety. And so several on other islands. Archaeologists have dated them hundreds to a thousand years old. Tongan males were often heavily tattooed. It is still very common for men less so, but still some for womento be decorated with some small tattoos.
Nevertheless, tattoos shows one's strength. Tattoos also tell a story. Tonga has evolved its own version of Western-style clothing, consisting of a long tupenuor sarong, for women, and a short tupenu for men. Nearly the entire population adheres to Christianity. Significant sections of Tongans are Mormons In the past, Tongans had a vastly different meal schedule than today.
Only one main meal was consumed in the entire day. Tongan men would set out to work in the fields following breakfast. They would also engage in fishing.
The produce of the day would be brought home, the traditional underground oven prepared, and a meal cooked at around midday. The food items included bananas, coconuts, fish, shellfish, yams, and taro. Pigs were killed for meat only on special occasions like weddings and funerals.
Chickens were occasionally consumed. Following contact with the Europeans, many new foods were introduced in the Tongan diet like cassava, watermelons, oranges, lemons, onions, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, pumpkins, etc.
In modern-day Tonga, especially in the urban areas, meal systems are very different and influenced by the Western culture.
Purchased prepared foods like canned corn beef and canned fish are popular, even in the villages. Many members of the population are at high risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
However, little stigma is associated with high weight in Tonga and large bodies are actually revered. Tongan written literature has a relatively recent history, beginning in the late s. Prior to that, literature was mainly in the oral form. It involved folk tales and legends, fairy tales, heroic epics, historical accounts, etc. The first published works were short stories and poetry printed in the s and s. The Kisses in the Nederends was one of the earliest novels of Tongan literature.
It was published in Tonga has a rich art and craft heritage. Today, Tongans also produce western-style textiles. Freehand murals, the work of Tongan artists, can be seen in the village churches.
Traditional songs were passed down over the generations in Tonga. These songs are today sung at ceremonies like the election of a village chief. Some of the ancient instruments that are still used today include the nose flute and a slit-gong called lali. The influence of the European missionaries in Tonga later fostered the development of a rich tradition of church music that involved the singing of hymns which have Tongan lyrics and tunes.
Tongan men wear a tupenu that is worn like a sarong and wrapped around the waist. It is usually knee-length or longer in size. They wear any t-shirt or shirt on top.