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Cultures from Oceania

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Maori Culture photos
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Cultures in Oceania reflect the native people groups in Oceania, including, Australian Aboriginals, Polynesians, Melanesians, and Micronesians.

Among Australian Aboriginals, there is a large number of tribal divisions and language groups, and, corresponding to this, a wide variety of diversity exists within cultural practices. There are many similarities however. Aboriginal art is unique and is the most internationally recognizable form of Australian art. In music, the didgeridoo is commonly considered the national instrument of Australian Aborigines, and it is claimed to be the world's oldest wind instrument. Walkabout in Aboriginal culture refers to a belief that an adolescence Aboriginal would undergo a six month journey living in the outback for six months.

Polynesians were tribal societies with a history of war. They were known for their navigation skills and boats (waka) are still important today. Music and dance is unique. Famous dances include the Haka from the New Zealand Maori and the Hula performed by Hawaiian dancers. Tattoos are an important expression in Polynesian cultures.

Melanesian languages belong to the Austronesian group. Customs include kava drinking and tattooing. Melanesians used the bow and arrow for hunting which was almost non-existent in Polynesia. Head-hunting was common in some Melanesian groups.

Micronesians have a rich oral history and a unique musical heritage. Micronesian societies are made up of clan groupings, with descent usually traced through the mother. The head clan on each island can trace its lineage back to the island's original settlers. Before the arrival of paper currency, most Micronesians traded with beads, shells and clams.

Australia and New Zealand (Australasia) which is the bulk of Oceania has a predominate western culture. This gives Oceania a unique blend of smaller and older cultures existing among a modern culture similar to North America and Europe.


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