(Yap, Micronesia) A group of master craftsman on Yap are using cultural skills and traditional designs to create trophies for winning athletes in that Micronesian State’s sports tournament.
The Fifth Annual Yap Games opened to a large crowd in mid-July at the Yap Sports Complex Gymnasium. Nearly 900 athletes, representing 10 municipalities across Yap, are competing in a dozen separate sports. Among the most popular are basketball, soccer and wrestling, according to Paul Lane, Director of Yap's Sports Council.
Organizers have partnered with Waa’gey, a group organizing efforts of local carvers, to developed distinctive traditionally inspired trophies. These symbols of reward and recognition are modeled after the “Carolina Proa,” a complex all wood outrigger canoe design perfected -and made famous- by Micronesians
A complete canoe model decorated with red and black paint is for gold medalists. Those painted black and naturally varnished are for silver and bronze winners respectively.
Waa’gey is a community-based organization that uses traditional skills to confront the social, economic and environmental challenges faced by the people of Micronesia's most remote outer islands. The group pursues preservation of native technologies and arts both to protect our distinctive Island identity, and to solve specific problems relating to import dependency, urbanization, climate change, and unemployment.
Among the carvers directing work on these unique trophies are Carlos Yarofaireg, Henry Mailuw, Johnny Retiglur, and Larry Raigetal, all of Lamotrek Atoll.