Polysemiotic Communication in Paamese Sand Drawings: A Unique Intangible Cultural Heritage

The practice of sand drawing is a unique form of communication used in a few northern and central islands of Vanuatu that has been recognized as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO in 2008. It consists of tracing complex geometrical patterns with a finger in the sand (see Fig. 1&2), while singing or telling a story. Once it is complete, the sand drawer and the audience engage in a discussion about the theme of the drawing, while pointing to specific parts of it to elaborate or comment on certain aspects. The sand drawer concludes the performance by erasing the pattern.