Tamale, the crazy wife beating jumper of Pentecost Island

Legend has it that perhaps hundreds of years ago (or more), nobody knows for certain, a village man named Tamale on Pentecost island used to beat his wife. He beat her enough that she used to run away from him but, alas, Tamale would always go and bring her back. One day, presumably after Tamale beat her, she ran away again and hid high up in a tree. Tamale came to get her and stood at the bottom of the tree shouting up to her that if she came down she would only get beaten a little bit, but if he had to come up to get her she would be very sorry. She refused to come down and tamale went up the tree to get her, but as he reached for her she jumped from the tree. The jump didn’t kill her though and tamale was so angry that she ran from him and so shocked that she survived he wanted to prove he to could jump as well, so he did, and he died. He didn’t realize that his wife had tricked him and put Liana vines around her ankles to break her fall.

To this day, during the harvest of the Yams, the men of Pentecost Island perform the N’Gol ritual, or “Land Dive” to show all women they will not be tricked again, and to ensure a fertile earth for the Yams of course. Boy’s as young as 8 years old have even made the jump.

It did not seem very much like bungee jumping to me, and it looked to like one of the jumpers hit the ground before his “vines” went tight and he bounced about 5 feet up into the air. He survived mind you.

I put a quick video clip of a couple jumps in my box. You can download it free if you want to see from the address at the bottom of this article. The quality isn’t great because it was so high overcast and bright that the contrast kind of sucks, but you can see the second jumper DEFINATLY hit the ground and bounce before his vine goes tight. It’s only 1.9 megs so it’s a fast download.

You can hear someone laughing in the background, I assure you it is not me or my adventure team for the day (Graham and Heather came with me to see the leapers) we were more stunned than entertained. You can see in the pictures here the tower they build.

The whole jumping thing seems just a little crazy to me. They build this rickety looking tower, and tie plants around their ankles and jump. Of all the jumpers I saw today all of them walked away in pain. I mean, honestly, just because something has been done for centuries doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Maybe they SHOULD consider building a bungee tower and using some bungee themselves? Keep the ritual intact and save some broken bones? Heck, they could even charge the tourists then to take part in the ritual to remember Tamale, the crazy wife beating jumper of Pentecost Island. Anyway, if you ever get out Pentecost Island way in April and May be sure to go see the N’gol ritual. I don’t think there are many places in the world where people are still this crazy.

Free video download at: http://www.box.net/public/s6s4e5ducx
1 Response
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