Leisure Recreation and the Arts

Typically, adult Timpaus Banggai of both genders say: "Here we are poor and work day and night, no leisure, no recreation, work only. When we do not work, we try to catch some sleep."

Such statements obviously carry some merit because the islanders' days are not divided into scheduled hours of work and leisure. On most days men and women work from dawn to late at night. Because the Timpaus Banggai in general practice a subsistence economy, it makes little sense (to them) to separate domestic work from paid work. However, the islanders do have a need to break the daily monotony of repeated work tasks and occasionally make preparations to celebrate. Although participation in most rituals can hardly be labeled leisure activities, marriages, funerals, thanksgiving rituals, etc. certainly provide some recreational outlet. During ritual celebrations people find time to relax, talk, enjoy good food, and experience communality. Further, dances are arranged as part of some rituals. The most popular dances are joget (e.g., Martin-Schiller, 1984) and modero (Broch, 2002; Robinson, 1993). Neither of them are traditional Banggai celebrations, but most islanders now regard them as integral parts of their cultural traditions. In the old days Banggai dances were accompanied by flute and drum music; battery-powered electric guitars have now replaced traditional instruments. Although one woman was an expert drummer and another enjoyed playing the flute, musicians are men and only they play at public gatherings.

Everyday leisure and recreation are of the slow type. Married women and men stroll along the village path greeting passersby. When youths are walking they are usually in same-gender groups; mixed-gender pairs of unmarried persons, with the exception of siblings, are not seen. When it is dark, strollers are careful not to illuminate anybody with the beam of their flashlights because that is considered extremely rude. Some people bring their youngest children along and visit neighbors to sit down for a chat or to gossip for a while before going to bed. Most villagers end their day before 10 p.m. During the hottest seasons, some men and women, both young and old, walk down to the pier and spend the night there in the open air. They say that they lie down to rest, with many bodies close to each other, to escape from the humid heat indoors.

There is little artistic work among the Timpaus Banggai who do not decorate boats or homes to any noteworthy degree. The exception is ritual objects such as spears and shields dedicated to particular spirits. These objects are often beautifully decorated with pieces of cloth, and even with bits of silver and wood carvings.

A few skilled musicians know how to play bamboo flutes, and some of the older generation are good at writing songs and sing them in their homes. Expression of emotions of love and excessive sorrow is not regarded as proper behavior in public. Singing about one's emotions was part of traditional ritual and is still allowed, but is no longer common.

Two modern ways of relaxing from the daily toil should also be mentioned. Adult men occasionally meet and play soccer at the unleveled village green. Young women usually gather by the field, apparently engaged in small talk, but watch the men from the corners of their eyes. Young boys also play some soccer, but are not allowed to join in the men's rather rough game.

Sometimes crews of commercial fishing boats, which occasionally anchor outside Timpaus village, invite the villagers to a game of volleyball. The islanders always accept the invitation and gather a mixed-gender team. Then the local young women and men, some of whom are quite competent volley players, play the fishermen. These games are popular because they provide a setting where unmarried youths may find a way of getting to know about each other in a culturally acceptable way.

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