The inspiration for the Planet Deep logo comes from a very powerful cultural symbol from the Massim region of Papua New Guinea, in our focal Coral Triangle area.
The Massim region can be found just off the southeastern tip of Papua New Guinea where an ancient trading tradition of exchanging valuable ceremonial bracelets and necklaces continues to this day. This perpetual trade is called ‘kula’ and is the way in which the islanders achieve wealth and reputation, as they obtain the most treasured items, quite literally, in circulation.
The preparation for a kula voyage, even from the carving of the vessels is shrouded in tradition, ritual and magic, all for the purposes of ensuring safe passage and to attract the most coveted artefacts. The adornment of the Kula canoes was a sacred activity restricted to members of certain families.
The prow of a Kula canoe consists of a wavesplitter that quite literally carves a path through the ocean for the canoe, and a splashboard, which prevents water cascading into the canoe as it traverses the waves. The entire prow is made up of intricate carvings, and on the largest of the Kula canoes, ‘Nagega’, there is an extension at the very tip for a separately made finial ‘charm’.
A Charmed Voyage
These charms are an important symbol of the Kula voyages and are said to protect and safeguard the canoe and crew throughout their sometimes treacherous expeditions throughout the Kula Ring. On the northern Massim island of Marua these charms are called “Munkuris”, on the Trobriand Islands they are known as “Skusabo”, and upon approach to another Kula Ring island, an appearance of such a charm would traditionally require an offering from the hosts.
The metaphysical, spiritual and physical creation of the canoes and wavesplitters tipped by a Munkuris or Skusabo, represents the interconnectedness of the ocean and people, their culture, their respect for the oceans.
The ‘kula’ and its perpetual exchange, fostering lifelong relationships and partnerships of hospitality, protection and assistance; the acceptance of the gifts the oceans of this region provide, and the reciprocation of giving back, is everything we represent.
The traditional design, with birds alongside waves being parted – the weightlessness of flight, as the vessel seamlessly parts the waves. We hope for many charmed voyages of our own.
It wasn’t lost on Ben, the irony of this Munkuris being brought back to the west by a US soldier during the second, and most destructive, world war (c.1944), particularly as it was en route home from a trip in the Solomons having been deep diving amongst the wrecks, he came across it.
As humanity continues to wreak havoc and destruction on our oceans and the life within them, what better symbolism for Planet Deep, than this.
“Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands” by Metropolitan Museum of Art provided much of the background information, and is a fascinating read.