Asian Perspectives, 2014 - Volume 53, Number 2 (Fall)

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    Kua‘āina Kahiko: Life and Land in Ancient Kahikinui, Maui
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2014) Dega, Michael
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    A History of Myanmar since Ancient Times
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2014) Miksic, John N.
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    Securing the Harmony between the High and the Low: Power Animals and Symbols of Political Authority in Ancient Chinese Jades and Bronzes
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2014) Lopes, Rui Oliveira
    For decades scholars have been discussing the meaning, purpose, and function of the various styles of decoration found in jade and bronze objects produced in the period spanning the Neolithic to the Han dynasty. Max Loehr made a significant contribution to this discussion in 1953 when he made the first attempt to understand the nature and sequence of styles of bronze décor from the Anyang period (1300–1038 b.c.), which corresponds to the late Shang dynasty. Since then scholars have been divided by two different points of view. Taking one side are those who concentrate on the iconographical meaning of the figures represented on the surface of jades and bronzes, suggesting that ornaments are correlated with, and an expression of, a preexistent system of beliefs. On the other side are those who consider the nature and evolution of the sequence of designs and styles as an artistic sophistication that must be considered independently of any exterior motivation, such as a system of religious beliefs. This article aims to explore the purpose and meaning of jade and bronze decorations, particularly those representations of real and mythical animals as forms of spiritual and political empowerment. Through the examination of the nature and sequence of iconographic motifs interpreted as archetypal forms, this article demonstrates the existence of distinct moments for the meaning and purpose of jade and bronze ornaments. During the moments when spirituality and the sacred rituals are dominant and overlap political power, the use of jade and bronze objects decorated with power-animals are manifestations of a system of beliefs. On the other hand, during the moments when political power enlists spirituality and sacred rituals as instruments of sovereignty, the designs tend to be more inventive and sophisticated, corresponding to technological improvements. Consequently, iconographic motifs lose their spiritual meaning and purpose to an immanent sense of design within an artistic phenomenon.
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    Archaeological History of a Fijian Island: Moturiki, Lomaiviti Group
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2014) Berrocal, María Cruz ; González, Antonio Uriarte ; Millerstrom, Sidsel ; Rodríguez, Susana Consuegra ; Pérez-Arias, Juana ; Ormeño, Santiago
    Moturiki is one of the high islands in the Lomaiviti Group, central Fiji. In this article we present exhaustive empirical information on archaeological survey and test pit excavations carried out in 2008 and 2010. An interesting archaeological landscape emerged, with 89 archaeological sites found on Moturiki and neighboring islands Yanuca Levu, Leleuvia, and Caqalai. The sites include ring-ditch villages, terraced villages, isolated house mounds (yavus), and burial sites. Results from one of the test pits on the southeast of the island indicate possible landscape changes in the last millennium, since the ancient coastline is currently buried at around 1 m below the surface. This lowland area has therefore received large amounts of sediment from higher areas, a likely result of human activity. We also documented remains from a previously recorded Lapita site in the island. Overall, a shift in the settlement patterns from the coast, to the interior areas, back to the coast, has been documented. This shift, taking place on extremely small islands, can hardly be explained by environmental changes. The article puts together our findings and hypothesis, as well as providing the emphasis of our methodological approach.
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    The Vanuatu “Butterfly Sail”: A Polynesian Oceanic Spritsail in Melanesia
    (University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu), 2014) Di Piazza, Anne
    The butterfly rig, an Oceanic spritsail generally used tacking in a Melanesian world dominated by the shunting Oceanic lateen, is herein examined. The author goes back to original historical and ethnographical sources, particularly those of Layard from central Vanuatu in the early twentieth century, and uses this case to investigate the development of sailing technology in Oceania. It is argued here that although this rig resembles that of the reconstructed Lapita canoe as proposed by archaeologists, the butterfly sail may more convincingly be thought of as an Oceanic spritsail borrowed from Polynesia and adapted to the traditional shunting maneuver. The implications of such a scenario are important for our understanding of design, construction, and performances of ancient canoes. It is probably reasonable to think of Lapita sailors as shunting their lateen rigged outriggers while the Oceanic spritsail and its tacking maneuver were innovated farther east in Polynesia and later in time. In between these two schools of navigation, interaction and borrowing gave birth to a hybrid model: the butterfly sail.