Thursday, 26 September 2013

CFP francs

Today I bought some money for French Polynesia and the notes are so pretty. The CFP franc (called the franc in everyday use) is the currency used in French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna. The initials CFP stand for Change Franc Pacifique (“French Pacific Exchange”). These 1000 franc notes have on the front right a decorative woman with the title of Le Directeur. Her hair falls in waves around her shoulders and behind an ear are a mass of white flowers. A necklace of these then morphs into a garment of red leafy like petals. To the left of the director is the side view of what seems to be a colonial women as the watermark in a white otherwise featureless circle. Underneath are the words Le Directeur General (but of what period and whom I have no idea) Next to the circle is a trio of high palm trees behind which is a traditional hut with further palms and mountains in the distance. With the exception of various squares containing numbers most of the remainder of this side of the large note is covered in symbolic floral icons in a decorative white and pinky orange pattern. On the reverse, a couple of deers, a westernised white washed church, another style of indigenous house, two white birds and a pair of totem like poles indicating wooden carvings. Various forms of vegetation give a back drop to these features. The decorative fill on this side of the note is a similar pinky orange colour but this time it consists of geometric shapes. This configuration made me think of the specialised tattooing that I expect to see - apparently the Marquesas in its history has had some extraordinarily wonderful (although early explorers said they were barbaric and savage)tattoos typically across the face as well as the body. Certainly Herman Melville's book 'Typee' (discussed in an earlier blog posting) gave lots of precise details about the tattoo lines going across eyelids, etc. This all makes me question what I might do if confronted with the opportunity to get a face tattoo (do I hear an intake of breath somewhere). I recall after a visit to Cornwall a few years ago, where I was able to get a temporary tattoo of a panther which stayed long and large on my arm for days - people edged away a little when I went to the opera with arms exposed. I suspect I am only brave enough for the temporary not the permanent markers. Back to the notes; trusty Google tells me 'All banknotes are strictly identical from New Caledonia to French Polynesia. One side of the banknotes shows landscapes or historical figures of French Polynesia, while the other side of the banknotes shows landscapes or historical figures of New Caledonia." And now I have discovered the 1000 CFP note has a Tahitian Woman with Hibiscus Flowers on the front side,and the Local Animals and Mission Church are at Vao, Isle of Pines for the reverse. This is the image of the front side:

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