CURWOOD: Imagine diving head first from a tall tower with only a vine tied to each ankle to keep you from hitting the ground. For the men on Pentecost Island in the South Pacific, it's just part of growing up. The rite of male initiation and fertility called Naghol takes place each April and May. With the first yam harvest, men begin building bamboo towers up to 60 feet tall. Selected youngsters climb to the top and tie vines to their feet that are cut an exact length based on their height. If all goes well, the diver's head just grazes the ground at the climax of the jump. The men of Pentecost have been land-diving for more than 1,500 years. The custom goes back to the myth of Tamalie, an abusive islander who chased his wife up a tree. She agreed to come down only if Tamalie would dive off with her, but the woman tied vines to her feet, and when they jumped, Tamalie hit the ground and died. In 1987, New Zealander A.J. Hackett brought land diving into the international spotlight when he replaced the vines with elastic cords and plunged off the Eiffel Tower, giving birth to the extreme sport we now call bungee jumping.
CURWOOD: And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanaaaaaaac!
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.