Melanesia is a sub-region of Oceania located northeast of Australia and consists of several islands located in the Pacific Ocean. Its area also includes Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, part of France known as New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Melanesia is a subregion because its inhabitants have characteristics that are very similar to each other, but still quite different from the rest of the population around them such as Australia, Polynesia, Micronesia and New Zealand. The name melanesia comes from the Greek language “melas” which means “black”, and the word “those” in translation means “islands”, and together the two words mean “Black Islands”.
The inhabitants of this region are characteristic by the phenotypic characteristic which is very common in the population. They are characterized by their exclusively black skin, but most of them have blond hair. This is due to a special mutation associated with chromosome 9 in which individuals, despite dark skin pigmentation, have blond hair. This mutation also occurs in European Nordics.
Image source: bestfolkmedicine.com
According to their religion, the gods are spirits that communicate with people, but also with objects and nature, depending on their origin and the rituals through which they are called. The religious sphere of the Melanesians was strongly associated with ancestors and spirits who constantly coexisted with living people and manifested themselves through actions on objects or meteorological phenomena. Religion was part of the daily life of the Melanesians, and the actions of the spirits and the magic invoked by the priests served as a contact between the supernatural and the human world. It was in fact the work of the saints who had to know the rituals and have some form of communication between the living and the dead. Since religion and sorcery were related to their tradition, the Melanesians did not distinguish between the two. On the other hand, they did not allow witchcraft, and although the contradiction was that they saw magic as something positive and practical, they still associated witchcraft with death and dark things.
In terms of the language they use, there are two major groups: those whose language is Papuan, the linguistic roots of Papuan and the Oceanic languages, those who share it with Polynesians, Micronesians and Australians.
In terms of the forms of organization for maintaining order, these people created clans that ensure that intimacy comes from an old kinship. So they formed groups that were formed by the father or the mother, and so the order was introduced by kinship and marriages that were necessary to maintain control and hierarchy among the members of society.
From the very beginning of the existence of the Melanesian civilizations, agriculture was the main economic support for survival. Later, pig farming, hunting and fishing also developed. Later they began to use the fruits of the sea as well as the goods they found on land. They later began selling the artifacts they found in their territory, thus becoming commercial intermediaries between that distant territory and distant populations around the world. The items associated with their traditional ceremonies were also of great value to all Melanesians.