Pareu or pareo is the French Polynesian word for a wraparound skirt worn by many women in the South Pacific Islands. It is related to the sarong. Originally, women wore the pareu, men wore loincloths. Today pareu applies to any piece of cloth worm by either male or female. Pareus are made from some of the most beautify, and colourful materials.
Tie-dye materials are popular in the Polynesian Islands, and I had the pleasure of watching a native woman transform a plain piece of cloth into a colourful one before my eyes. Many pareus are made from tie-dye materials.
The pareu is very versatile and can be worn in several different ways. One of the exotic ladies of Moorea created several outfits when she demonstrated some of the ways this simple rectangular piece of cloth can be worn. The fascinating thing about the creations is that needle and thread and pins were not required.
Anthony Bourdain would probably say that the most interesting thing about roving all over the world is the exotic food—and maybe he should, after all he is a chef; for me it is the people.
The word exotic conjures up vivid images of aura, beauty, culture, colour, and different perspectives. One can employ many adjectives to describe the native people of the Polynesian Islands, but no word is quite fitting as exotic. I found these Islands populated with interesting, exotic women and men.
French Polynesia is composed of 118-130 islands (according to World Atlas and Encyclopedia Britannica) and stretches over more than 2,000 kilometres in the South Pacific Ocean. Divided into five groups of islands, The Society Islands are the most populous, and best known. They include Boro Boro, Moorea, and Tahiti. These islands are part of an overseas territory of France, originally claimed in 1843.
For the women of these islands makeup is unnecessary—eye shadow, lipstick, mascara, base or powder is not required; they are simply, naturally beautiful. But exoticism can pull you in, and we see this with the famous artist, Paul Gauguin. He travelled to Tahiti to discover the primitive and purity in Polynesian life and to get away from modern France.
Spellbound by both the beauty of the islands and the exoticism of the women, Gauguin spent several years there living with and among the Polynesians. Several of his paintings depict partially nude Polynesian women.
Below: This exotic woman of Moorea welcomes us to the Tiki Village Theatre.
Sorry, lady readers, you’ll have to wait for my next Theme Day series to see some equally exotic men! It will be well worth waiting for.
Auric Goldfinger, the villain in one of my favourite James Bond movies—Goldfinger—is obsessed with gold. When he murders Jill Masterson he does so by covering every inch of her body with gold paint. James Bond, always knowledgeable on every subject, explains what had transpired—the pores of the skin, the largest organ in the body, had suffocated.
In every country that you visit you will see someone making a spectacle of him or herself in order to earn a few dollars. I was shopping along the streets of the lovely town of Galway in the western part of Ireland when I came upon an interesting character. Immediately, the picture of Jill Masterson in Goldfinger, sprawled across her hotel bed—dead—flashed across my mind.
On the sidewalk, a man sat in a large make-shift chair like a king sitting on a throne. His face, hands, clothes, and the chair were covered every inch in grey paint. He sat there motionless like a statue, and moved like a robot only when money was placed in his opened container at his feet. I prayed instantly that he had not covered his entire body with paint, but had left a space at the top of his spine for his skin to breathe—according to James Bond, this was the way to avoid skin suffocation.