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Mata Austronesia is a collection of illustrated stories told by Austronesians past and present—an (ethno)graphic novel. Mata, the word for “eye” in numerous Austronesian languages, represents the common origin of the many distinctive Austronesian peoples spread throughout their vast oceanic realm. The tales in this book immerse us in the beauty of this shared heritage, ancestral memory, and cultural legacy.
Millennia before the first Europeans ventured into the Pacific, Austronesian explorers sailing aboard their outrigger and double-hulled voyaging canoes had already found, settled, and succeeded in thriving on thousands of islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. From Madagascar to Rapa Nui, Austronesia is a diverse, complex, and extensive ethnolinguistic region stretching across more than half of the Earth’s saltwater expanse.
This work showcases the abundance of unique identities, histories, ethnicities, cultures, languages, and storytelling traditions among people of Austronesian descent. Modern-day storytellers weave the past and present into a tapestry of tales passed down orally through generations and contextualize the staggering immensity of the cosmos, imparting meaning to visible and invisible realms. Formed over thousands of years, the wisdom of Indigenous Austronesians teaches us vital and contemporarily applicable lessons on living in harmony with each other and our planet.
Mata Austronesia opens fresh avenues of connection and conversation between Austronesian peoples who live on their native islands and in diaspora, who are both unified and long-separated by oceans of time, space, and Western colonial and cartographic impositions. It includes stories from Ka Pae ‘Aina o Hawai‘i, Rapa Nui, Tahiti, Taha‘a, Kanaky (New Caledonia), Guåhan (Guam), Aotearoa (New Zealand), Viti (Fiji), Bali, Sulawesi (Celebes), Bohol (Visayas), Tutuila (American Samoa), Kiritimati (Christmas Island), Banaba (Ocean Island), and Madagasikara (Madagascar). With each hand-painted watercolor brushstroke, Tuki Drake invites friends and family of all heritages to fall in love with our shared ocean world.