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Indonesia has thousands of Islands and with the low costs of labour it is ideal for cutlivating pearls. Pearl cultivating is a beautiful proces that relies on good skills and knowledge of Marine Biologie. Everything that fascinates and inspires me, was part of this project about the South Sea Pearls of Indonesia. Like unspoiled nature, marine biology, the relationship between man and nature, the relationship between people SREWTIGM½GPSGEXMSRERHFIX[IIRTISTPISR a global scale. This project about the South Sea Pearl evolved out of a great curiosity and passion for the diversety of human kind and the natural world all over the globe. All the different habitats with their own unique GVIEXYVIW ERH XLI WTIGM½G KVSYTW SJ TISTPI who live in harmony with their environment fascinate me. In my perspective as a person and as a photographer, everything that lives on Earth is connected and constitutes as a whole. All life including the human kind is connected and bond as one. In the world of today things are changing very fast, with the growing world population and the expanding world market, people are more and more connected. Everybody, especially the western world is packed with goodies and suplies from all over the world. Without knowing it people in developing countries are making our clothes, technical devices, toys for our kids, much of the food we consume and also the most exclusive and expensive pearls for the luxury market. The South Sea pearls that are cultivated by Atlas are of the best quality in the world. Only the more wealthy people in the world can afford this natural juwelery.

Robert Verspui.


Tears of the Moon

A portrait behind the most exclusive Pearl in the world, The South Sea Pearl.

Photography by Robert Verspui


Image: google earth


Introduction Human kind has been loving the pearl for thousands of years, In ancient civilizations the creation of a pearl was attributed to divine forces. Like the Ancient Greek belief that pearls were the hardened tears of joy that the goddess of love shook from her eyes as she was born from the sea. According to Arab legends, pearls were formed by oysters who picked up falling teardrops of the moon. The Company Atlas South Sea Pearl, a publicity listed Australian company in pearl cultivation, has been investing in Indonesia pearling projects since 1993. The company is part of a subsidiary company, Cendana Indopearls. At the moment, there are two farm operations in Indonesia; one is located in Bali and the other one in Raja Ampat – West Papua. Atlas South Sea Pearl produces one of the most exclusive pearls you can ½RH8LIJEVQSJ6ENE%QTEXMWPSGEXIHMRSRISJ the most remote, prestine and environmentally diverse regions in the world. The stable water temperatures and calm conditions are ideal for pearl farming. This book contains a real portrait behind these small natural gems. Not only the hard and complex work proces but also life as it is in these remote and beautiful places This photobook ‘ Tears of th moon, shows the relation between people from different worlds. Without knowing about each others existence the pearl connects them. It shows the difference and the universal similarities of people. This can give the viewers of this book a better idea of their own place in the small world of today.


Only 3% of the world pearl production is attributed to South Sea Pearls but these lustrous gems represent over 33% of total pearl value


Penyabangan, North Bali

The farm Penyabangan Site, Singaraja - Bali It is a 3 hours drive north from the capital city of Bali, Denpasar. The farm itself is spread along 2 villages, Penyabangan and Gerokgak. A farm with 1.000.000 oysters completed with several facilities, including: cleaning rafts, hatchery operation, grafting equipments, algae lab, and a jewelry showroom. In total, the farm has approximately 200 employees. 80% of the workers come from the neighborhood and the other 20% come from Java (there is some work that needs special skills and therefore the company opens recruitment outside Bali). For the people who come from outside Bali, the company provides accommodation and the workers are entitled to leave for one month a year, so they can go home either for Christmas or Ramadan. The Balinese do not usually take long holidays as they have many short ceremonies during the year.

Image: google earth


Image:s Archive of Marine Biologist, Aurore Lombart


Raja Ampat, Waigeo, West Papua Alyui Site, Raja Ampat - West Papua This site is situated at the west part of Waigeo Island (one of the 4 main islands in Raja Ampat). There are approximately 400.000 oysters spread around the bay with different groups, sizes, and ages. The company hires around 165 workers to work at sea, and the workforce also includes technicians, carpenters, elecXVMGMERW GSSOW XEMPSVW FSEX GVI[W ½FIV KPEWW GVI[W mechanics, and security guards. In contrast to Bali, the majority of workers that work on the farm in Papua are oustiders. From the 167 employees, 80% of the workers come from other parts of Indonesia like Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Java, Flores, and Ambon. So there are a lot of ethnic groups living together in the camps. There are about 10 ethnics groups at the moment, including: Papuans, Bataknese, Betawi, Sundanese, Javanese, Butonese, Makasarians, Torajans, Timors, and Ambonese. The people that come from the same area tend to stick together, support, and help each other when they have problems with their work, colleague, or family. In general, XLIVIPEXMSRWLMTFIX[IIR[SVOIVWMW½RI8LI]TEVXM cipate in sport activities (e.g. table tennis, soccer, waXIVWOM WRSVOIPMRK W[MQQMRK ERH½WLMRK  8LI]EPWS enjoy to share stories with each other. Even though XLI]QEMRP]PMZIMRLEVQSR]GSR¾MGXWGERRSXFIEZSM HIH8LI QSWX GSQQSR MWWYIW XLEX XVMKKIV GSR¾MGXW between the workers are jealousy, power, and pride. People have the tendency to become more sensitive due to the remoteness of the farm and the colorful range of characters that inhabit it. Furthermore, racism also arises in this environment. Some people have a tendency to judge others on their skin color, hair type, income level, power, and also their ethnic group.

Image: google earth


Raja Ampat is known as the world’s most bioHMZIVWIQEVMRIVIKMSR[MXLQSVIVIGSVHIH½WL coral and mollusk species than anywhere else on the planet. Under water It’s like an explosion of life, thats why the used oyster (Pinctada Mixima) grows fast and produces high quality pearls.


The Kawe (The Indigenous of Papua in Alyui Bay - Raja Ampat) General Info The Indigenous Papuans who live in Alyui Bay are known as The Kawe. According to the traditional leaders in Alyui Bay, The Kawe are the natives of the area. There are two villages where The Kawe live, the Selpele and Salio village. With a total of 500 people, this tribe has ten family groups where four of them are in Selpele (Ayei, Ayelo, Arempele, Daat) and the other six are in Salio (Sumbiaganan, Sumbiapele, Sakai, Sakaipele, Dimalouw, Rampakam). The highest age population is at the age of 0-10yrs, on the other hand only 18% for the age above 40 yrs. Language Ayei is the local language, commonly known as The Kawe language. The use of Ayei is practiced at every age (from children until adult). At home, most of the people use Ayei to speak to their kids, so they have more understanding in Ayei rather than Indonesian. It is observed that the people only use Indonesian at the church and at school. Education The illiteracy is relatively high, it is about 65% (the adults). The young generations have better education as nowadays there are primary schools in their villages. Health There is no indication of malnutrition. The general health seems to be okay. However, the problem of Malaria and AIDS has become a growing threat. There is a lack of education and information in relation to HIV and malaria prevention. The company provides free medical services in order to help the local with better treatment. Still, the traditional way is practiced, because The Kawe believe that their spiritual aspect impacts their health. In this case, most of the time the people will approach 7LEQER½VWXFIJSVIXLI]KSXSXLIRYVWISRWMXI

Religion Local people have always been spiritually orientated, but these believes have been decreasing since Christianity came several decades ago. The people worship the spirit of places and the dead. Housing The majority of The Kawe people have houses QEHISYXSJGSRGVIXI QIXEPVSSJ GIQIRX¾SSV and wall), but there also are traditional houses, where they combine the traditional and concrete materials. One house usually consists of 6 to 7 residents. Economy (trade) 6IIJ½WL - Lobster and clam (VMIHWEPX]½WL - Gardening - Labors at Atlas - Barter


Employment opportunity for The Kawe The company always opens recruitment for the local people (The Kawe), but unfortunately most of them do not take this as an opportunity to seek work experience. At the moment, only 20% of the workers originate from that region. According to the local workers, many local people do not like the job and the salary is too low, for that reason the locals are not interested to work for the company. Moreover, they also feel prejudiced by the Indonesian straight-haired, which makes them uncomfortable to work among them. In conclusion, the locals are very happy with all the physical facilities that the company provides for both villages and about the employment. However they prefer undertaking XLIMVPSGEPEGXMZMXMIW IK½WLMRKKEXLIVMRKERHLYRting). Barter (In Papua) The remoteness of the farm in Papua creates a unique transaction method known as barter. The HI½RMXMSRSJFEVXIVMWXSI\GLERKKSSHWSVWIVZMGIW for other goods or services without using money. So barter replaces money for trading. The Kawe and The Company The locals and the company trade large transactions on a regular basis. They both agree on a set price for the exchange. Most of the time, the locals FVMRKZIKIXEFPIWJVYMXWTMGIWERH½WLMRPEVKIUYERtities (from both villages) and the company gives a GIVXEMRUYERXMX]SJVMGIWYKEV¾SYVIKKGSJJIIERH noodles in return. The Kawe and The Employees If the company’s reserves of food are high, the locals have the possibility to offer a deal with the employees.The employees are pleased with that siXYEXMSRFIGEYWIXLI]GERFY]½WLEXEFIXXIVTVMGI XLEREXXLIQEVOIX9WYEPP]XLI[SVOIVWFY]½WLJSV their families who live in the city (Sorong), so when there is a boat that goes to Sorong, they can send XLI½WLXSXLIMVJEQMPMIW 1SWXSJXLIXMQIXLIPSGEPWI\GLERKIXLI½WLJSVGMKEVIXXIWFYXWSQIXMQIW money is accepted as well.

The Employee and The Employee There are not many goods and services available at the farm. Fortunately, there is a mutual unHIVWXERHMRKFIX[IIRXLI[SVOIVWXSJYP½PPXLIMV needs. Again, cigarettes become one of the most popular goods for exchange. For one pack of cigarette one can get: a tailor job on a zipper; a ½WLMRKVSHTEHHPIQEHIF]XLI'EVTIRXIVWIXG

Facilitation and support created by the company to the communities. - Technology transfers - Sustaining local enterprises - Supporting community events - Encouraging local sports - Scholarship awards - Free medical services - Fuel availability - Free transport to the city - Communication facility using telephone satellite - Community development projects Issues The visitors to Papua, especially the straight-haired Indonesians, have had the tendency not to behave properly with the Papuans. Most of the time the straight-haired Indonesians cannot deal with Papuans and as a result, they may take inappropriate actions. The straight-haired Indonesians tend to show themselves as more important or valuable than the locals. Furthermore, the straight-haired Indonesians also have the tendency to distinguish people on their skin color and hair type (racism).


Tradition In Papua there is a tradition of chewing areca nut or pinang. The traditional leaders of Kawe have been eating pinang for decades. A wide range of old and young people consume it daily. Most of them consume the dried betel nut mixed with betel leaves. Chewing areca nut and betel leaves produces some liquid in the mouth that is usually disposed of by spitting and at the end it creates a bright red tongue. The locals believe that this tradition can make their teeth stronger but unfortunately media has reported that regular chewers of betel leaf and areca nut have a higher risk of damaging gums and acquiring cancer of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus and stomach.


Thanks To: Atlas Company: Joseph Tailor Simon Adams Richard Wright Lita Stassen Jan Jorgensen Philippe Regal Aurore Lombard Colin Trifus Ima Mangiri Cris Brown Karl Pearce Daniel Stassen Cameron Maclean Nicolas Mace Lulu Ermila Dian Desak

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Teachers of St-Joost: Hans Weerleman Jannes Linders Bart Kemps Philiph Monroux Karin Krijgsman Marga Rotteveel Other inspiring people: Reinout van den Bergh Jan Schaerlackens Kari Anderson Lidewy van de Nobelen Special thanks to Lita Stassen who helped me to complete this book. Philippe and Aurore thanks for the hospitality, knowledge, thrust and great joy. All the employees working for Atlas South Sea Pearl Company on the pearl farm in the North of Bali, Penyabangan and in Raja Ampat, Alyui, west Papua, thanks for making me feel welcome and showing me the work, life and laugh on the farm. All the people around me and especially my class that has given me a lot of joy and inspiration through the years of study on the Art Academy St-Joost in Breda.

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Some deeper thoughts on my experiences: Fundamentally we are all the same, all humans experience the same emotions and are driven by the same motivating forces. By showing the people I met my respect and interest for their lives. They made me feel welcome and gave me the chance to become close in a short period of time. I made several travels for photography projects around the globe and found out, that every individual is a unique product of their environment formed by their social structure, culture and ethnic background. Being open minded and eccept that there is not one truth but many ways to handle or look at things in life, makes life much more colorful and interesting. We are all products of our own culture, many of us hold beliefs and truths based on what we have been thaught as kids. Living amongst people with different ideas and ways to look at things, has shown me that I’m also just a product of my environment and social surroundings where I grew up. The huge diversity of mankind is such a beautiful and inspiring subject for me as a person and as a photographer. The way how things work in the world today is complex, interesting and not always fair. The idea that workers in the developing world work for a salary that is, compared to western standard, extremely low. And that everybody in XLI[IWXIVR[SVPHMWFIRI½XMRKJVSQXLMW &YX at the same time it is a different world with different standards. The biggest mistake is to look at it only from a western perspective. Because in this case, a company like Atlas brings a lot of positive change and development in a speci½GEVIE)ZIR[LIRHIZIPSTQIRXMWRSXEP[E]W positive. One thing I saw at the local comunities of the Kawa people in Raja Ampat and other parts of the world, is that development is like a magic word for most people.

All the locals look positive for change from the outside, everybody would like to have a better life standard and escpecially when it is just there to grab it, people from the outside world will bring it to them. Bringing these isolated people like the Kawa, [LSGER½WLKEXLIVERHLYRXIZIV]XLMRKXLI] need in their surrounding environment, in contact to the comforts of the modern world, changes the whole base and structure of there way of living. It changes their lifes radical. Even when the positive change is enough to continue with the good work, it can easely become the beginning of the end of their traditional way of living. This happens on many places all over the world with indigenous groups of traditional living people. There is not much to do about that. In the fast changing world of today, everybody from IZIV]TEVXSJXLI[SVPH[SYPHPMOIXSFIRI½X from progress if that is possible. Change is inIZMXEFPI8LIGSQTPI\MWWYIWXLEXM½RHHYVMRK my journeys, always bring me more doubts and more questions, it change my perspective on the world but at the same time it gives me inspiration and joy to capture these contrasts and continue my path in life as a photographer and as world citizen. Robert Verspui.


First edition august 2010 Texst: Lita Stassen, Robert Verspui. Design: Robert Verspui. Photography: Robert Verspui. Bron extra images: Autore magazine page, 21, 59, 105, 165, 179 Archive Marine Biologist, Aurore Lombard page, 66, 68, 69, Google earth page, 4, 5, 12, 13, 78, 79, 146 4LSXSTVS½PI%XPEW'SQTER] page 186, 187, 188 Production: Blurb.com 'ST]CC www.robertverspui.com


Tears of the moon book