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Rom Dance Photo Gallery

Written by Cathy Siegismund
September 2003

The Rom dance is only done on Ambrym Island. The dance is performed in August for the Ni-Vanuatu, but it will be given to tourists for a fee. We were the only tourists at Vanla village the day we saw the Rom Dance. The dance includes about six of the important village men and chiefs who only wear nambas (penis sheaths) and stand stomping, beating small hand held drums, and singing in the center of the nasara. They are surrounded by about eight Rom dancers who are in elaborate costumes including tall painted masks and huge capes of banana leaves. They hold conical shaped carvings that represent the weapons used to kill people. The meaning of the Rom dance seems a little murky, but we gathered that the dancers represent  spirits. There is much tabu about the Rom costume. It is said that if anyone is caught seeing a Rom costume being made, they must pay a fine of a pig to the chief and then are whipped with stinging plants. After the Rom custom is used in the Ni-Vanuatu ceremony in August, the costumes are then burned in case any of the spirit's power remains in the costume.

Nasara at Vanla



Rom Dance


Rom dancers posing by the large tamtams at the edge of the nasara


Tamtams and stone sculptures lined the edge of the nasara


Village and kastom chiefs who were in the Rom dance

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