مرکزی صفحہ Oceania Kwoma Culture: Report on Field Work in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea

Kwoma Culture: Report on Field Work in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea

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جلد:
9
زبان:
english
رسالہ:
Oceania
DOI:
10.2307/40327711
Date:
December, 1938
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Oceania Publications, University of Sydney

Kwoma Culture: Report on Field Work in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea
Author(s): John W. M. Whiting and Stephen W. Reed
Reviewed work(s):
Source: Oceania, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Dec., 1938), pp. 170-216
Published by: Oceania Publications, University of Sydney
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KWOMA CULTURE
REPORT ON FIELD WORK IN THE MANDATEDTERRITORY OF
NEW GUINEA

By John W. M. Whitingand Stephen W. Reed
HPHE reportwhichfollows
is a preliminary
surveyoftheinformation
*
Kwoma1people of the
gatheredamongthe mountain-dwelling
of
Mandated
Territory New Guinea,during
Upper Sepik River,
I936-I937-2
1" Kwoma" is the genericnameof the foursub-tribes
sharinga common
"mountain
cultureand language. In theirown speechit means
(kwo" men"
as distinguished
from" kwalama
mountain
wa=man
or
;
(" rivermen"),
men)
"
and nokwama"(''swamp men"). Behrmannand Roesickehave writtenthe
des Sepik,Berlin1922; and Zeitschrift
namekuome. (Vide Im Stromgebiet
für
Ethnologie,
1914,pp. 515-6.)
2Ourobjectin undertaking
thisresearch
was to collectfactualmaterial
and to
culture. The
observeat firsthandthe sociallif; eof a stillfunctioning
primitive
SchoolofYale University
totheGraduate
ofourfindings
weretobe presented
results
forthedegreeofDoctorofPhilosophy.
as partialfulfilment
oftherequirements
We tookup residence
28,1936. Houseswere
amongtheKwomaon September
builtforus bymembers
sub-tribe
on theirownland. It wasfrom
oftheHongwam
knownas Waskukthatthebulkofourinformation
themodern
sectionofHongwam
was drawn(videp. 173). We visitedtheotherKwomasub-tribes,
and
however,
hadinformants
from
themtocheckourmaterial. Mr.Whiting
remained
onlocation
untilMay1, 1937,exceptforshortvisitsto neighbouring
continuously
villages. Mr.
ReedlefttheKwomaon February
in
17,1937,to pursuea studyofculture-contact
oftheTerritory.We sailedfromRabaulforAmerica
theEuropeansettlements
on
May 22, 1937.
We takethisopportunity
to expressourgratitude
to all whohavehelpedus,
fromthe inception
of our plansthrough
theircarrying
out. At Yale University
Dr. RichardThurnwald,
Dr. Hortense
andthefaculty
oftheDepartPowdermaker,
mentof Sociology
gaveus valuableadviceand lenttheirapprovalto ourproject.
In Australia
wereceivedinvaluable
assistance
fromDr. Ian Hogbinduring
thebrief
of
final
our
for
the
field.
aredeeplygrateful
We
forhisfriendly
period
preparations
in ourwork. Ourthanksgo alsoto Mr.EricRobinson
interest
helpand continued
ofSydney,
former
on theSepikRiver,foraid in thefinal
Assistant
DistrictOfficer
choiceofa tribeto study. We are furthermore
National
obligedto theAustralian
ResearchCouncilforthe loan of equipment.In New Guineawe owe a debt of
to theAdministration
oftheMandatedTerritory.Mr.E. W. P. Chinnery,
gratitude
[Footnotecontinuedon nextPage.]

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KWOMA CULTURE

171

The Environment.

latitude40 12' S.
The Kwomadwellin thePeilunguaMountains,
New Guinea.
and longitude142040' E., Sepik District,north-east
than
less
mountain
small
This
twentysquare
system,covering
miles,is situatedjustnorthoftheSepikRiverat a pointtwohundred
rivermilesfromits mouth. The rangeis bounded
and sixty-five
on the east,southand westby the curlingSepikand by quiescent
courses. On the
ox-bowlakes whichtestifyto the river'sformer
an expanseof sago swamp
milesstretches
northforten or fifteen
all
but
whoseoozy bottommakes travel
impossibleexceptwhen
the riversinksto its lowestlevel (Plate Ia).
The mountainsthemselvesconsistof a seriesof shortridges
thegeneralcontourofa letterS.
eastandwestand following
running
Above the swampthe terrainbecomesextremely
rugged,and the
precipitousslopes are denselyforested.Level clearingsof more
thana fewhundredsquareyardsare not to be found. The native
tracksfollowthe ridgesas a ruleexceptwhentheyzigzagalmost
up and downthe mountainsides to sago patch,market
vertically
place, or gardens. AmbuntiMountain,1520 feetabove sea level,
is thehighestpeak in thisrange. The remaining
peaksare 200 feet
to 800 feet.
are found
The hamletclustersof theseveralKwomasub-tribes
on thelowerridgesand slopesofthePeilunguaRange,mainlyto the
northaway fromthe Sepik River. Dispositionof the dwellings
ratherthan any preconceived
followsthe dictatesof topography
are builtin clustersin thevicinityof theceremonial
plan. Houses
"
or housetamberan,"3
sib-house,
bymenwhobelongto thesamesib.
offootnote2.]
[Continuation

ofDistrictServicesand NativeAffairs,
Director
kindlyplacedat ourdisposalthe
to himand to hisstaffforfacilitating
ofhisDepartment.We aregrateful
services
our
oftheirhomes. Wewishtoexpress
tous thehospitality
ourworkandextending
us accessto
thanksalso to thelateMr.H. D. Eve, ofOil SearchLtd.,forgranting
are we
his uniquenoteson tribesof thenorthern
Sepikwatershed.In particular
the
favours
for
Assistant
Medical
at
C.
Mr.
M.
Ambunti,
to
many
Mann,
obliged
received
duringtheentireperiodofourstay.
3This is the Melanesian-pidgin
termformen'shouse. Its widespreaduse
literature.
has earnedforit a placein ethnographic
theTerritory
throughout
D

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172

KWOMA CULTURE

Thereare no suchseasonalclimaticchangesas are experienced
in variousislandsof the Territory.4Few days pass withouta fall
of rain,usuallyin the afternoon
or duringthe night,and all-day
The extreme
stormswith high winds occur not infrequently.
Fahrenheit
of thetemperature
were690at daybreakand
recordings
at
at thesehourswere710
2
The
p.m.
averagetemperatures
920
and 870. Humidityis excessive throughoutthe year. Earth
tremors
occursporadically
butarenotstrong
enoughtoleveldwellings
or inducedangerouslandslides.
The regionabounds in the typicalfaunaeof New Guinea.
"
"
Cassowaries,
wild-fowl,
ducks,heron, goura- and rock-pigeons,
hornbills,
cockatoos,and manyspeciesof smallerbirdsare to be
seenon everyhand. The onlylargemammalof importance
is the
wild pig. Crocodilesfindtheirway into the surrounding
swamps
whentheriverrisesbutareseldomtakenby thesenatives.Wallabies
are reportedto have disappearedin recentyears. The opposum,
is stillfound. Fruitbatsor " flying
however,
foxes,"lizards,snakes,
and insects,includingmosquitoesin painfulquantities,add to the
variety.
The Natives.
The Kwoma are sturdilybuilt,havingdeep chestsand wellmuscledlegs.6 (Plate IIa and Hb.) The Kwoma male averages
5 feet4 inchesin height. He is dolicho-to mesocephalic
(71-7 to
has
83-6,average77-4),
frizzyhair,a widenose,and mediumthick
In
skin
colour
he
varies
fromlightto darkbrown,the most
lips.
commonshade being chocolate. The so-called " Papuan" or
4 The
overflows
its
periodsof highand low water,whenthe Sepik respectively
banks and sinksto expose richmud flats,correspondto the " rainy" and " dry"
seasons of the coast. These seasons,of fundamentalimportanceto the economyof
the rivervillages,have littlesignificance
forthe Kwoma (videG. Bateson, " Social
Structureof the Iatmul People of the Sepik River," Oceania,Vol. II, March1932
pp. 248.51.
5 The contrastin
physiquebetweenthe Kwoma and theirnearestneighbours
dwellingon the banks of the Sepik, the Yambon, is striking,especiallybetween
theirwomen. Kwoma women,who spend muchof theirtimetoilingup and down
steep paths burdenedwithheavy loads, are buxom in comparisonwiththe canoeusing Yambon.

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KWOMA CULTURE

173

Semiticnose-form
as do noseswitha depressed
appearsas frequently
root. Straightbridges,withmoderately
broad alse,however,are
the mostcommon.
The groupswhichcomprise
theKwomapeople,althoughunited
by a singlelanguage,a commonculture,and economicand marriage
as follows:
ties,are dividedintofoursub-tribes
Native Name.
..
Hongwam
..
Koriyasi
..
Urumbanj
Tangwishamp . .

..
..
..
..

Name appearingon Maps and in
Village Book.6
Waskuk-Bangus
Chissaraman(Shasherman)
Urumbans(Urunbanji)
..
Tangunjambi(Taunjambi) . .

Population
374
116
108
circa 300

to
weretakenfromVillageBooks corrected
Populationfigures
December1936. The uncertaintyas to the precise figurefor
to deal with
arisesfromthe refusalof thissub-tribe
Tangwishamp
to the
or
in
desert
officials
government
Europeans general; they
bushin a bodyat theapproachof a patrol.
Various tribes,speakingotherdialectsand havingdifferent
cultures,surroundthe Kwoma. On the Sepik near Ambunti,the
station,are the villagesof Avatip,Malu,and Yambon
government
that of the Iatmulpeopleof the
whosecommoncultureresembles
MiddleSepik Riveras muchas it does that of the Kwoma. Five
miles above Yambon, still on the river,is Brugnuwi,whose
inhabitants
are an immigrant
groupwho splitofffromthe Iatmul
spura fewmilesaboveBrugnuwi
villageofJapandai. Ona mountain
are situatedthe hamletclustersof Yessan (Yasyin),Naiuri,and
Maio. Two generations
ago theYasyindwelton thesouth-western
of
the
slopes
PeilunguaRange,butweredrivenawayby theKwoma
with the
and Yambon. Culturallythey show more similarities
Kwomathando any oftheothersurrounding
tribes. To thenorth
and weston thefarther
side of theswampbelt dwelltheAmikiand
Sowal tribes,and on risinggrounda few miles east of Kwoma
are a halfdozenhouseholds
knownas Yelagu. In populaterritory
« Map of Sepik District,compiledby the Departmentof Lancteand Mines,
Rabaul, October1935. Skdch Map of Portionof theSepik District,Sydney,1935,
Oil Search Ltd. GeologicalSurvey.

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KWOMA CULTURE

174

tionthesecommunities
rangefrom374 forthe WaskukBangusto
odd
for
the
dialectsaredistinguishable
;
thirty
Yelagu. Six different
in
theseare understood
the
various
tribes.
only partby
CultureContact.

One of the reasonsforour choiceof the Kwomacommunities
as the locale forour worklay in the fact that theirculturewas
littlechangeduringthebriefperiodin
reportedto have undergone
whichtheyhave experienced
whitecontact. We foundthisto be
to thecultureof the
true,althoughtheirintroduction
substantially
whiteman has run a singularly
violentcourse.
The firstEuropeansto visitthe Kwomaweremembersof the
Behrmannexpeditionof 1912-1913. The Kwoma killeda native
attachedto thisenterprise
fortherapeofoneoftheirwomenfolk
and
a punitiveexpeditionwhichkilledone of
broughtuponthemselves
theirmen.7 In 1928,whenthefirst
patrolofthepresent
government
visitedthesepeople,two of theirnativepolicewerekilledby the
in thiscasewasmuch
Hongwamforthesamecrime. The retaliation
moresevere,and a heavytolloflifewas exacted. Atleastseventeen
Hongwammenand womenwereshotby thepatrol.8 The restfled
to thebushand had severalweeksofprecarious
existence
before
they
daredreturnand make theirpeace. One resultof thisaffairwas
the splitting
of the Hongwamtribeinto two groups,renamed(by
the government)
Waskukand Bangus. This was at the requestof
the peoplewho werecalled Bangusbecausetheyhad had no part
in the murderof the police.
Soon afterthisraid the need fornativelabourwhichfollowed
thediscovery
of extensivegoldfields
in theMorobeDistrictbrought
recruiters
intothisunexploited
area. The Kwomaknewofrecruiting
fromtheYambon,Maluand Avatippeople,butwereslowin signing
7Behrmann
accountofthisaffair
inhisIm Stromgebiet
desSepik,
givesa lengthy
Berlin1922,pp. 254 ff. He was one of the threeEuropeanswhoconducted
the
wassubstantiated
oneofwhom
punitive
expedition.His report
byourinformants,
was the younghusbandof the violatedwoman.
8Genealogies
anddirectquestioning
whodiedat this
gaveus a listofseventeen
time. Otherestimates,
by nativesand whites,runas highas thirty.The official
government
reportis said to list eight.

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KWOMA CULTURE

175

on. The firstgroupto go was composedof six Hongwamyouths.
Oldermenofthetribewerereluctant
to let morebe recruited
before
the firstgroup's three-year
termwas completedand they had
returned
home. The otherKwoma tribesalso sent a fewrecruits
heldout fortwoyearslongerthanthe
each,althoughTangwishamp
rest. Recruitingadded to the tribes'wealth,especiallyin such
tradegoods as plane-iron
blades,knives,and axes. The returned
of theworldoutsidewhichgave
labourersbroughtback knowledge
thatof the oldermen. As yet there
themprestigebut diminished
to settledowninto
have beenno labourerswho have not returned
the ordinaryroutine. One periodof contractlabour is deemed
love
sufficient
by the majoritymainlybecauseof theirdeep-rooted
of theirownmountainhomesamongrelativesand friends.At the
presenttimeless thanthirtyKwomayouthsare employedon white
plantationsand in the goldfields.
have soughtgreenerfields,or
Up to the present,missionaries
to
which
in
a
more
level
terrain,
pursuetheirendeavours. A
possibly
CatholiccatechistofYambonhas beendetailedto conducta weekly
lesson among the Hongwambut they have shown themselves
to him(heis a youthoflittlenoteevenin hisownvillage)
indifferent
and to his feebleattemptsto gain theirear.
a halfday's journeyaway,standsas
The " kiap"9 at Ambunti,
of the greatforcewhichis reorienting
the embodiment
aboriginal
interon head-hunting,
culture thegovernment.The prohibitions
Kwoma
the
known
to
well
are
and
tribalfighting, sorcery
although
notalwaysadheredto. In 1932a Hongwampartyofhead-hunters
"
raided a small Koriasi hamlet. Three " finish-timeHongwam
labourersearnedthe rightto wear homicidalinsigniaon thisraid.
an enquirywas made
learnedof thisaffair,
Whenthe government
actionwas
but no further
and theHongwamwereseverelylectured,
taken. Althoughthe Kwoma professto have given up these
among
practices,in actualitytheystillseek victimssurreptitiously
the
as
been
visited
not
tribeswhichhave
patrols.
government
yetby
9 Melanesian-pidgin
title of governmentofficialsin the Departmentof District
Servicesand Native Affairs.

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176

KWOMA CULTURE

toholditsswayovernativethinking.
continues
Sorcery
Younger
when
men,
sorceryanxietyis at a highpitch,claimthattheywish
wouldhuntout the black magiciansin theirown
the government
tribesand put an end to the practice,but fearof theireldersand
the positivevalue of sorceryas a meansof social controlinhibit
themfromdoingthis.
have been appointedin each of the Kwoma
Villageofficials
tribesandinvestedwith" hats"10as signsofoffice.Since,however,
in thisculture,
theindividuals
whowearthe
is non-existent
chiefship
hatshaveno authority
basedon nativeinstitutions.Thesemenare
forassembling
thevillagerswhenpatrolor medical
heldresponsible
maketheirperiodicvisits. Theirlack of
of thegovernment
officers
authority
appearsmostapparentat suchtimes. Familiesat workin
theirdistantgardensrefuseto attend. Hard workis a virtuewith
these people,and anythingout of the ordinarywhichinterferes
withit, suchas a government
patrol,is resented.
SincetheperiodinwhichtheKwomahavebeen" undercontrol"
has beenso short,thegovernment
as yetdoesnotmakethempay a
headtax. Theycountthisas no blessing,
and standready
however,
to pay theten shillingtollas do themembersof the rivervillages.
theattainment
ofa stagein sophistication
Payingthetax represents
will
when
from
remove
them
thecategoryof " bush
which,
reached,
kanaka."11
The servicesofthegovernment
as judgeand arbitrator
in native
are
known
but
invoked.
The
talk
of
quarrels
rarely
people
taking
cases to Ambuntiforarbitration,
but the majorityare settledin
the traditionalmanner. In two instancesduringour residence
Kwoma tribessoughtto enlistthe government's
aid to redress
had
other
In
tribes.
each
case, however,
grievancesthey
against
whattheydesiredwas the forceof armsof a government
patrolto
augmenttheirown fighting
strengthand to sanctionhomicide.
The government,
needlessto say,didnotcomplywiththeserequests.
10Peaked hats are
giventhemto wear as insigniaof office.
11
termof derisionforuncouthbush natives.
Melanesian-pidgin

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KWOMA CULTURE

177

Health.

better
The generalhealthof the Kwomapeopleis considerably
thantheaveragefortheSepikRivertribes. Malariaand frambœsia
diseaseshave
but no infectious
are theprincipal
causesofmorbidity,
been reported,
and statisticsshowan excessof birthsoverdeaths.
to the
submitwillingly
The people,exceptforthe Tangwishamp,
of the annualmedicalpatrol. They
and inoculations
medications
ill orwoundedto thegovernto sendtheirseriously
however,
refuse,
to treatthemas best
mentnativehospitalat Ambunti,preferring
theycan in the settlement.12
Language.

The Kwomalanguageis non-Melanesian.Althoughthisstatemustbe donein thelanguagesof
menttellsverylittle,moreresearch
New Guinea before a more precise classificationis possible.
Kwomaspeechis characterized
by thenasalizationand
Phonetically,
and a rathersimplevowelschemewith
palatizationof consonants,
than a phonemicvariant. The ideal
rather
a
voicing positional
is cvcvCV. Nouns are invariable. They are not
syllabification
inflected
accordingto gender,mood,or number. Verbshave four
tenses: long past, recentpast, present,and future. Personal
betweensingular,dual, and
pronounsare elaboratedto distinguish
plural; betweenfirst,second,and thirdpersons; and between
masculineand feminine
genderin thesecondand thirdpersons,but
formsof bothwordsand sentencesare
not in thefirst. Shortened
commonin ordinaryspeech.
twoauxiliarymeansof
constitute
Shoutingand gong-signalling
whichare adaptationsto the scatteredsituationof
communication
thehamlets. Wheredistancesby air are so muchshorterthanthe
12Our workwas bothhinderedand helpedby the heritageof the Kwoma's
withthe whites
theirbloodyfirstencounters
contactwithcivilization.Although
fora longtimewe weresuspected
smallresidueofhostility,
havelefta surprisingly
ofbeinggovernment
agentssenttospyonthem. Ontheotherhand,theyoungmen
in assisting
wereinvaluable
learnedat thegoldfields,
whospokeMelanesian-pidgin,
Crudeas thismedium
is,it offered
us withthènativelanguageand as informants.
We spenta considerable
information.
meansof collecting
to us an indispensable
of our timein learningthe nativelanguage,but couldneverdepend
proportion
case materials.Mr.Whiting's
ofit in recording
on ourknowledge
longer
entirely
conversations.
enabledhimto joinin ordinary
periodofresidence

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178

KWOMA CULTURE

languagewithitslongvoicedvowelsserves
pathsthespecialshouting
to save time and energy. The hollowedwooden gongs convey
of deathand ceremonials
messagesand announcements
stereotyped
we madecontinued
efforts
to underoverlongdistances. Although
and learntherhythm
oftheircodewe succeeded
standtheprinciples
of
the
few
in recording
very
signals.13
individuals
Theuseofgongsignalsto sendmessagesto particular
Each
sib
its own
of
has
allied
with
the
is closely
system kinship.
of the
call signaland an individualis designatedby a combination
of
his
mother's
the
with
that
sib,
paternal
signalforhis father'ssib
sib signal being sounded first. Althoughthis systemdoes not
betweensiblings,the identityof the senderand the
differentiate
in thisrespect.
contentof the messageusuallypreventambiguity
aids oftheKwoma- theyhaveno writing
The onlymnemonic
are simpledevicessuchas theknottedstring,to markoffa certain
numberofdays,and incisionson thehandleofa spearto recordthe
numberof pigs whichit has killed.
Food Supplies.
thesolaryearis such
oftheclimatethroughout
The uniformity
ofthesepeopleknowno
activities
thatthepredominantly
agricultural
and harvested
at anyand
seasons. Gardensareplanted,cultivated,
all timesoftheyear. The pithofthesagopalmfurnishes
thestaple
are
of
ceremonial
food,althoughyams
importance.Sago
greater
mealwillkeepfora periodofweeks,but itspreparation
is an almost
Men
and
women
in
of
chore.
share
the
task
this
daily
preparing
food. The man usuallyfellsthe palm and scrapesoffthe bark,
althoughwomenare allowedto do thiswork. The nextstepin the
process,shavingoffthe pith with an adze-liketool, fallsto the
woman. Then the man takes the pulp, puts it in a trough,and
kneads it in water. A coconutfibrestrainerretainsthe woody
18That the principleon whichthe code is based is not
verballyconceptualized
seems clear fromthe fact that the natives could not explain them. Furthermore
childrenare not taughthow to signalbut pickup the techniquemessageby message
througha processof repeatedlyhearingparticularsignalsand associatingthe signal
as a wholewithits meaning. A noticeablecorrelationexistsbetweenthe age of an
individualand the numberof messageswhichhe can understandor beat out.

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KWOMA CULTURE

179

material,allowingthe milkyjuice to run into a containerbelow.
Afterthefinewhiteflourhas collectedon thebottomofthiscontainer
worka
The wateris pouredoff. In the courseof a longmorning's
of
man and womancan produceupwardsof fifty
this
meal,
pounds
fortheirownneedsforthreeor fourdays. This lumpis
sufficient
wrappedby thewomanin palm spathes,placedin hervoluminous
netbag,and carriedup fromtheswampto thefamilydwelling. A
of the sexes in the
the participation
complexof beliefsconcerning
the
productionof sago specificallyforbidswomen performing
the
if
women
wash
is
that
pithit
process. It believed
washing-out
willbe unfitto eat,but thistaboois ignoredifthemenare too busy
to help.14
Less time is spentin the cultivationof the secondaryfood
- not
product,the yam,but manymoreprecautionsare observed
forceswhich
onlyto producefinercrops,but to placatesupernatural
The
nativesdismay affectthe tribethroughits yam gardens.
varietiesof yam, and each
tinguishmorethan a dozen different
of the
gardencontainsenoughkinds to satisfythe preferences
familyand to insurevarietyin the diet.
Agriculture.

techniquesof the Kwoma,the
Simpleas are the agricultural
people take pridein theirgardensand what theyproduce. The
ofitssupplysharpens
offoodandtheeverpresent
problem
importance
a garden
theireyesto questionsofsoil,sun,and rain. In preparing
mountainon
the
forest
from
the
thick
a
to
clear
thefirst
is
space
step
communal
side. For a gardenof any size, thisis a task requiring
aid. Earlyon an appointedday theworkgroupdepartsforthesite
of the futuregarden. Olderboys and youngmenclimbthe larger
treesand lop offtheendsof all branchesuntiltheystanddenuded.
Old men and childrenhack down saplingsand gatherthe fallen
branchesinto small piles. Women clear away the underbrush,
14In theAvatip-Malu-Yambon
which
cultureno suchbeliefsare held concerning
sex should carryout the various steps in preparingsago. In cases observedthe
rôleof the sexes was just the reverseof that amongstthe Kwoma. No fearsof evil
effectswere expressed.

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i8o

KWOMA CULTURE

gatherleavesand rubbish,and helpto pile up thebranches. After
the sun has parchedthe brushand piles of branchesthe gardener
burnsthem. The dank" bush" is nowa sunnygardenplotready
forplanting.
The nextstepis thepreparation
oftheground. Menand boys
down
hill
the
earth
intotinyroundterraces. In
prizeup
working
thecentreofeach terracea holeis left. Womenfollowand place a
seed yam beside each of the mounds.
The act of placingthe seed in the groundis a matterof great
forthisdetermines
howwelltheyamswillgrowand how
importance,
edibletheywillbe. Hencepatternedrulesexistwhichgovernthis
activity. Onlymenof the higheststatus- membersof nokwi,the
rankinggradeoftheyamcult- mayplantyams. The yamplanter
mustalso conform
to certainritesand observespecialtaboos. On
the day beforeplantinghe is feda specialsoup preparedby other
itis believed,
nokwimembers
ofhissib, Thisdishhasspecialpowers,
whichwouldkillwomenor childrenwho tastedit. Fromthe end
theplantermay
ofthismealuntilthetimewhenplantingis finished
neithereat nor drink. Untilthe yam shootsappearhe mustnot
chew areca nut and may smokeonlyby holdingthe cigarettein
tweezersafteranotherhas rolledit forhim.
The Kwoma conceptsabout human blood are intimately
associatedwithyam culture. This complexofbeliefsis one of the
centralconfigurations
of the culture. Brieflystated,the Kwoma
idea is that growthand health are broughtabout throughthe
periodicrenewalofblood,whereassicknessand mortalillscan result
fromhavingbad or unregenerate
blood in the system. When a
manplantsyamshisbloodis thought
to go downintothefoodwhich
he is planting. Thus fora man to eat the fruitsof his ownlabour
wouldbe tantamountto consuming
his own blood,an unhealthy
To
obviate
this
the
proceeding.
danger plantercalls on a friendor
relativeto planta portionofhis garden. He willeat produceonly
fromthissection. In returnforthisservicethe ownersets aside,
plants,and cultivatesa similararea forthemanwhohas aidedhim.
Othersectionsof thegardenare markedoffforthe owner'sspouse
and olderchildren. If a man's youngerbrothers
or brother'ssons

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KWOMACULTURE

i8i

helpin thegardening
process,eachwillhavea sectionallottedto him.
on thegroundend to endserveas markers.
of
bamboo
laid
Lengths
Untiltheharvestaboutfivemonthslater,thegardenneedslittle
attention.The womenkeepit clearofweedsand themenprovide
stringers
up whichthe vinescan climb. Childrendo not help in
eithertask. Whentheyamsare ripethewholefamilyco-operates
inharvesting
thecrop. Mendigouttheyamsandwomencarrythem
in theirnetbagsto thesmallyamstoragehousesnearthedwellings.
binsserveto keeptheyamsoffthedamp
In thestorehouse
sago-bark
groundand also to separatethe produceof each memberof the
family. This obviatesthe dangerof a man's eatinghis own yams
and permitsthe individualto makegiftsor paymentsfromhis or
her own store.
The Kwoma raise othervegetableswithmuchless formality.
A fewtaroareplantedalongwiththeyams,butnotnecessarily
by a
memberof nokwi. Even womenand childrenmay plant them.
Seeds of tobacco and a leaf-plantresemblingspinachare sown
broadcastoverthe garden. Rain washesthesetinyseeds intothe
soilso thattheysproutin profusion
amongtheyamhills. Anyone
may plant these,althoughtobaccoplantedby womenis thought
to be milderthan that sowed by men. (The Kwoma like their
tobaccostrong.) The seedlingsof severalvarietiesof bananasand
plantainsare plantedbetweenthe hillsof a growingyam garden.
togrow
thesefruittreescontinue
After
theyamshavebeenharvested
andbearfora fewyears,untiltheyarechokedoutbytheunderbrush.
Near his dwellingthe nativeplantsa fewbreadfruit,
coconut,
and areca palm trees. Several otherspeciesof usefultreesand
shrubsare also set out nearat hand.
Gardensare usuallyclearedfar enoughfromthe hamletsto
preventtheirbeing uprootedby domesticatedpigs. Owing to
shiftsin thelocationof hamlets,somegardensmaybe as muchas
inwhichcasetemporary
twohours'walkdistantfromthehabitations,
are usuallyerected. These spare
sheltersor unwalledbush-houses
thepeoplelongdailytripsduringperiodsofactivityin theirgardens.

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i82

KWOMA CULTURE

Hunting.

Once a monthor morefrequently
theadultmalelays asidehis
diggingstickor othertoolsin favourof his huntingspear. Among
althougha cassowarywill
game animalsthe wild pig is preferred,
huntis an excitingadventure.
serveas a substitute.A successful
killnativehunters,
Sincewildboarsoftenmutilateand sometimes
theproper
theyare heldin considerable
respect. Porkis considered
foodformen; cassowary
forwomenandchildren.
fleshis morefitting
Wild pigs are most frequently
huntedon moonlitnights,usually
frombehindblindsmadeofsago fronds. The animalsare luredby
bait of sago pith. Whena pig is directly
in frontof theblindthe
hunterrisesand thrustshis spearpointintoits side,aimingat the
heart. An alternatemethodemploysdogs to " round" the prey
and bringit to bay. Pitfallsare also dug in pathsfrequented
by
the animal. Cassowariesare spearedeitherfromblindsor while
sittingontheirnests,andarealsopursuedwithtraineddogs. Smaller
birdsareshotwithbowand arrow,butthisis morea sportforyouths
than a seriousaspect of hunting. Opossum,lizards,and snakes
witha handy
maybe shotwithbowand arroworsimplydespatched
stick or stone.
The native ideologyconcerningblood plays a determinate
in
rôle thehunting
complex. A man'sbloodis said to enterintothe
birdoranimalwhichhe kills. Justas withyamsofhisownplanting
the huntercannoteat of his own kill. He mustpartitionit as is
mostsuitingat thetime. He eitherdistributes
thefleshamonghis
relativesin consonancewithhis kinshipobligations,
uses it as the
de
resistance
for
a
communal
work
it to a cult
feast,contributes
piece
of
the
or
in
donates
it
a
feast
to
enhance
his
sib,
ceremony
goodwill
statusin the community.
Fish filla notunimportant
place in Kwomadiet. The women,
usinghoopnets,catcha fewin thecreeksand rivuletsat thebase of
the mountains. Most of the supply,however,comesby way of
natives. The riverfish,being
exchangewith the river-dwelling
serve
as
a
relish
to
theirotherfoodsratherthan as an
small,
dish.
independent

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KWOMACULTURE

183

DomesticAnimals.

cats and hens the only
Aside froma fewrecentlyintroduced
householdanimalsof the Kwomaare dogsand pigs. The dogsare
in shape and
beastswhichresemblea terrier
scrawnydun-coloured
and
them.
Women
The
nativesalternately
size.
feed,beat,
pet
for theirdogs by gentlybitingtheirnoses.
show theiraffection
theirpets,butmenconsider
fondle
suchbehaviour
Boysandgirlsalso
as beneaththeirdignity. They thinkof dogs ratherin termsof
theirhuntingability. Male dogs are sometimescastratedand a
designedto make
magicalleafis placedin thewound- a procedure
themgoodhunters. Theirears are alwaysclippedto sharppoints,
and theirtails are dockedforthe same purpose.15Althoughthe
a delicacy,the Kwomanevereats a dog
fleshof dogsis considered
of
his own household.
a
to
member
belonging
but tamed
Boarsare castratedto preventthemfromwandering,
sowslitteraftercontactwithbushpigs. Pigs are also capturedin
or on a tether,thusbeingconthebushand raisedin confinement
ditionedto returnto the dwellingfortheirfood. Care of pigs is
woman'swork; everyeveningtheyare calledto thedwellingto be
fed. As is also thecase withdogs,eachpigis givena personalname
to in kinshiptermsas thechildofits owner.
and is referred
MaterialCultureand Sexual Division ofLabour.

arecarriedonby theKwoma
activities
Mostofthetechnological
and
is notrestricted
ofartefacts,
men. Manufacture
tools, ornaments
oftribal
to anyguildor group; all menhave a working
knowledge
craftsalthoughsomeindividualsare moreskilledthanothers. The
fromthefellingof treesto the
Kwomaman does all thewoodwork,
crudecarvingof the finished
product. He fashionsthe handlesof
theknee-shaped
adze, themostusefulof theKwoma'stools,makes
and
paddles to stir the
spears,seats, head-rests,
fighting
hunting
sago gruel,diggingsticks,and hollowsout logs of manysizes to
producethe slit-gongs.From a pithy,balsa-likewood he carves
elaboratehair ornamentsand small animalfiguresto be used as
16A current
is to feedthem
thatdogsbecomegoodhunters
methodofensuring
from
a European.
be procured
cansomehow
ifa cartridge
a fewgrainsofgunpowder

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i84

KWOMA CULTURE

in the " housetamberan." The
dance objectsduringceremonials
ofthehumanheadand fullfigure,
esoteric
carvingofrepresentations
objectsto be viewedonlybyinitiatedmales,is theworkofparticular
men of the nokwicult,thisspecialization
beingbased on religious
grounds. The man worksin fibresto make armbandsand netted
combs
pendantsto whichshellsare attached. He manufactures
frombamboo sectionsor by sewinga numberof woodentines
the
together. From the femursof cassowariesand human-beings
menfashiondaggerson whichgeometric
designsare incised. They
makenettingneedlesfromtheleg-bonesof birdsand bats,and file
boars'tusksto a sharpedgeto serveas scrapingand gravingtools.
Beforethe introduction
ofironbladesthemangrounddownstones
whichservedas thecutting
edgeinadzes. Themenalsomakethelarger
coil
methodand hardening
themin a fireof dried
pots,usingthe
on a frameto dryin the
leaves. Theystretch
skinsofthecassowary
and
into
oval
fashion
them
shields.
sun
Theycut out needlelight
sharpbamboopointsfortheirhuntingspears. Withvegetableand
mineralpaintsthemencolourthecarvedor inciseddesignson lime
on pots,and especiallyon ceremonial
vesselsand dance
containers,
objects.
It is the men who build the house (Plate IIIb), firstmaking
in situ a full-sizedmodel in bamboo. They cut the timbersof
lengthsdetermined
by the model,haul or carrythemto the site,
setup theposts,fittheridgepole
andplatesintothenotcheduprights,
lash rafters
withlawyer-vine
and rattan,makeand fastenthesagopalm shingles,and enclosean innerroomby walls of sago bark.
The finisheddwellingis a gable-roofed
in
structure,
rectangular
groundplanwithan earthfloor. In sizeit is approximately
twentyfivefeetin lengthby tenfeetin widthand standstenfeethighat the
ridgepole. The roofdescendsto withinthreefeetof thegroundat
theeaves. Bark-slabwallsenclosethereartwo-thirds
ofthehouse.
Accessto thisdim sleepingroomis gainedby a smallrectangular
"
"
openingin its frontwall. This door is closedby slabs of bark
inserted
a frameandlashedin placewhenever
theoccupants
through
retireforthenightor leave thehousewithoutsomeoneto guardit.
The remaining
thirdof thehouse,a sortof porch,servesas living-,
and
work-room.
An abbreviatedsemi-hexagonal
roofis
dining-,

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KWOMA CULTURE

185

usuallyadded across the frontend of the house to protectthe
occupantsfromslantingrain.
are storagehouses
The onlyotherstructures
ofanyimportance
"
foryams and the "house tamberans
(Plates IIIa, IVb). The
the
ofthedwellings,
lacking,however,
yamhousesare smallreplicas
"
"
exhibit
no
of
The
house
tamberans
principles
porch thelatter.
but do notresemblethem
notfoundin thedwellings
ofconstruction
in shape. Theyconsistsimplyofa gableroofwhichis cutbackfrom
on bothendsas it descendsto theeaves. The overall
theridgepole
lengthon theridgepoleis muchgreaterthanthelengthof theroof
at the eaves, whichare only threefeetabove the ground. The
"
" housetamberans
feet
varyin size. The largestis seventy-five
in length,has its ridgepolesupportedon fourlargeuprightsthirty
feethigh,and measurestwentyfeetbetweenthe shortuprights
and fifteen
feet
whichcarrytheplates; thesmallestis forty,
fifteen,
dimensions.These structures
in the corresponding
respectively
have no walls,norare thegableendsenclosedexceptforparticular
ceremonials.Woodengongslyinghorizontally
along the sides,a
slabbench,and a fewcrudestoolscompletea listoftheirfurnishings.
activitiesand
Althoughthewoman'ssharein thetechnological
householddutiesis less spectacularin its resulting
products,it is
in theco-operative
no lessimportant
economy. She is thecarrierof
all burdensexcept heavy logs and the carcasses of pigs and
cassowaries.Each day findsher fillingher huge net bag with
firewoodand carryingwaterto the dwellingin ten-footbamboo
containers.The womanalso does the cooking,althoughmenmay
assistor even preparea wholemeal forthemselves.She prepares
it
sago by addingboilingwaterto a pot of sago meal and stirring
with
out
a
twisted
when
is
untilit has a jelly-like
portion
consistency
two sticks and wrapped in green leaves to cool and harden.
shemaybake cakesofdampenedsago mealon broken
Alternatively
shardsoverthefire. She preparessoupsfromvaryingcombinations
of availablefoods: yams,taro,spinach,bananas,plantains,meat,
and fish. She also roastsyams,taro,bananas,and piecesof pork,
and theeggs
as wellas snakes,lizards,crabs,grubs,birds,breadfruit,
of wild fowl,eitheron a frameof greenwood over the fireor by
on thefire.
thefoodin freshleavesand placingit directly
wrapping

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i86

KWOMA CULTURE

Outsidethedailyroundofactivitiesthewomanspendsmuchof
hertimein makingcordwhichsherollson herthighfromthefibres
orsmaller
ofan innerbark. Withthisshenetslargebagsforherself
stitchcommonto
ones forhermale relativesusingthe figure-eight
New Guinea. Mostof the bags she decoratesby rubbingportions
ofthecordwithjuicesofblue or redberriesor withclay. Another
ofthesmallcooking-pots
occasionalpursuitis themanufacture
used
in the household.
mealin themid-afternoon.
The Kwomaeat theirprincipal
The
mixed
with
fish
wholefamilypartakesof soup followed
or,
by sago
In
meat.
the
after
and
at
sunset,
earlymorning,
occasionally,
just
the day individualsmay have a roasted
randomhoursthroughout
or banana accordingto theirdesires. Areca or
breadfruit,
yam,
" betel" nutis chewed
andolderchildren
bymen,women,
throughout
the day. Men and boys smokecigarettesrolledin driedbanana
thatit is bad etiquetteforwomen
leaf,butthereseemsto be a feeling
to smoke thoughmanyof the youngerones do.
Beforetradematchesbecameavailableto thesepeople,firewas
was thisnecessary,
by thefire-plough.Seldom,however,
generated
in
sincethefire thehouseholdwas rarelyallowedto go out. When
a manwalksabroadin thebushhe usuallycarriesa glowinglength
of punkywood,swinging
in his hand. This will burnforseveral
hours. The nativeavoids goingabroad at nightexcepton bright
moonlitnights. If foranyreasonthisis necessary
he lightshisway
witha blazingtorchofbamboo.
Men,women,and childrenwearno formof clothingand even
their everydayornamentsare few16(Plate IIb). Both sexes
wearplaitedarmand legbands. Trade-beadnecklacesare wornby
men,women,and childrenbut usuallyonly on festiveoccasions.
Indeedit takes an important
social eventto bringforthall of the
and
bone
shell, feather,paint,
regalia with which individuals,
especiallythe males,bedeck themselves.Certainornamentsand
16Contactwith river
people and the ideas introducedby Kwoma youngmen
who have returnedfromperiodsof indentureto Europeanshave spreadthe pattern
"
"
of wearinga laplap or waistcloth. Those who affectthisclothing,however,are
still a decided minority.

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KWOMA CULTURE

187

methodsoffacepaintingaresignsofstatusand can be wornonlyby
carried
particulargroupsof males. The net bag is so commonly
by menand womenthatit mightalmostpass as an articleofdress.
The smallerbags ofthemenare wornunderthearmwiththestrap
overthe shoulder
; women'sbags hangdowntheirbackswiththe
strapacrosstheforehead.Whenemptythelatterextenddownat
leastas faras thecalfof theleg.
Manytaskswhichare initiatedby individualssuch as housea largelog fora
building,clearinga largegarden,or transporting
gongcall formorehands than the individualfamilycan muster
makeshis needforhelp
(Plate Vb). The sponsorof the enterprise
knownand sets a day forthe enterprise.His relativeswithinthe
fromothersibs comprisea workgroupforany such
sib and friends
undertaking.The sponsorof the projectgivesa feastat the comoftheobligations.
hisrepayment
pletionoftheworkwhichsignifies
whoissues
He mustholdhimself
readyto serveanyother,however,
a similarcall forassistance. A festiveatmosphere
pervadesthese
communalworkgroups,reducingthe drudgeryof the workand
makingthemenjoyableoccasions. Chantiesaresungby theworkers
in manual
theirefforts
orcommend
whilea crowdgathersto criticize
labourand in song. A typicalsongthatis sungduringone of the
is as follows. A leadersings
finalstagesin housebuilding,
roofing,
a shortverseand thenthe restjoin in a chorus.
"
Lay the shingleson the roof
a-o-wa

Lash themtight
a-o-wa

Heavy rainswill come
a-o-wa

Make the roofproofagainstthe rain
a-o-wa

Build it well

a-o-wa a-ao-o-o-o."

as
theleaderis freeto improvise
themelodyis stereotyped
Although
as he has breathor ideas.
long
B

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KWOMA CULTURE

i88

Trade.
tribes
Althoughthe Kwomacarryon tradewithneighbouring
not
to
be
in
with
other
are
this
tribes
respect
compared
many
they
of theTerritory.17
Theirprincipaleconomicrelationsare withthe
Yambonswho supplythemwithfishin exchangeforthe Kwoma
surplusof sago meal (Plate Ib). These marketswhichare held
everythreeto fivedaysare conductedby thewomen. Armedmen
ofeachtribeusedto accompany
theirwomenfolk
toprevent
treachery
or raids fromambushby headhunters
fromothertribes,but the
Pax Britannicahas obviatedthisnecessity.
At longerintervalsriverpeoplesseek the Kwoma to procure
pigs or large quantitiesof sago in preparationforspecial feasts.
Theseproductsare paid forin sea-shellswhichhave passedthrough
manyhands on theirway up the Sepik River (Plate I Va). The
shellsmaybe smallpiercedand strungnassa,or clamshells,ground
to crescentshape or leftplain. All, however,have definite
values
Kwoma
both
in
terms
of theirown goods and in the coin
to the
of
the
Mandated
currency
Territory.
Daily Life.
In his ownterritory
the Kwomais a greatwalker. He strides
alongwitha rolling
gaitwhichseemspeculiarly
adaptedto thegreasy
track,forhe rarelyloses his footingeven on the steepestpaths.
Nativesfromthe flatfenlandsof the Sepik althoughin apparent
healthhave greatdifficulty
in keepingup withthepace set by the
Kwoma on theirhomeground. Our own efforts
to negotiatethe
Kwoma trailsfurnished
the nativeswith amusementfor several
weeks. The Kwoma seldom visits outside his own tribe and
nevergoes beyondthosetribeswhichimmediately
surroundhim.
does
he
know
about
the
numerous
Onlyby hearsay
peopleswho
"
17VideH. I.
Hogbin, TradingExpeditionsin NorthernNew Guinea,"
Oceania,
Vol. V, June 1935, pp. 375"4<>7forWogeo Island ; also W. Ross, " Ethnological
Noteson MountHagen Tribes,"Anthropos,
Bd. XXXI, 1936,pp. 341-63on theMogei
of centralNew Guinea.

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KWOMA CULTURE

189

dwellon theplainsnorthofthesago swampor ofthosewholive at
any distanceup or downthe Sepik River.18
Ceremoniesat plantingand harvest,at the crises of the
forwararetheoutstanding
events
individual's
life,andinpreparation
in Kwoma society,but the principalpastimeis gossiping.This
or apart.
goeson at all timesamongall agesand bothsexestogether
fordiscussion.Sorcery,
Thereis nevera dearthof subject-matter
and
crime,a huntingexpedition,a projectedfestival,gardening,
sexual affairsall are discussed,or an old storymay be related
losingnoneofits flavourforthenativesin its retelling.
apparently
the Kwoma may be
to our own social conventions
According
formof
calledpolite. Whentheymeettheyalwaysuse a patterned
of
address.
remarks
terms
and
the
Any
kinship
appropriate
greeting
madein a grouparealwaysprefaced
by sinabwa,thepoliteexclamation. This expression,
denotingconcernforanother'swelfare,is
also used if one shouldstumbleon thepath or hurtoneselfin any
way.
Whena man meetsa male friendor relativewhomhe has not
hisnetbag at thelatter'sfeetand tries
seenfora longtimehe throws
to preventtheotherfromdoingthe same thing. The otherperson
him. The
thenpicksup thebag,handsit to theownerand embraces
with
embrace
firm
in
a
minutes
for
several
stand
two
interspersed
numerous
pats on theback and rubbingoftheirlimegourdson each
cheeks.
other's
Art.
The Kwoma are not lackingin an urgeto artisticexpression
althoughitsresultsfallbelowthemoreelaborateworkoftheMiddle
and Lower Sepik peoples. The carved geometricdesigns and
formalizedhuman faces with which they decoratelime gourds,
thepaintedwoodenrepresentations
spears,andbonedaggers,
pottery,
and
carvedfaceson theendsofthe
the
and
heads
ofhuman
figures,
18The firstattemptsat canoe-buildingare now being made by the Kwomato carrysago forsale to thegovernwithoutgreatsuccess. Theyare used primarily
ofthesetribesis beingbrokendownby
mentstationat Ambunti. The provincialism
such means.

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igo

KWOMA CULTURE

are vigorousbut crudewhenplacedbesidesimilarobjects
slit-gongs
us
let
from,
say, Kanduanumor Kaup.
withtheirmusicandthedance. Beatingofthewooden
Similarly
to bothsingingand
the
basic musicalaccompaniment
forms
gongs
dancing. Severalof theseare beatenat the same time,each by a
man witha shortwoodenstickin eitherhand. A steadybeat is
keptup by all withthelefthandwhiletherightis struckaccording
and in a fixedorder. Each gonggivesoffa
to the chosenrhythm
tonewhichmakespossiblemanydifferent
different
of
combinations
tonessimplyby alteringthe orderin whichthe gongsare struck.
are effectively
of a gongorchestra
verbalizedwhereas
The rhythms
of
the
have
no
other
way expressing gongsignalthanby tapping
they
themout. An examplewill showwhat is meantby a verbalized
rhythm.A cassowarybirdcallingher chicksis describedthusin
speechsounds:
" Kura kura kura kura
gadang gading gadang gading
kura kura kura kura . . . etc."

to thegongorchestra
kurarepresents
Whenthisis transposed
both
the
in
unison
of
all
strikers
; ga denotesall of
playersbeating gongs
the leftstrikers
thatlow-toned
;
together dangsignifies
descending
the
and
with
are
stands
struck
forthehigher
rightstriker, ding
gongs
tonedgongsbeingstruckby the right.
Bambooflutesthreeto fivefeetin lengthare blownin pairsat
occasions. The longerinstruments
are calledmale,the
ceremonial
shorter
female. Each has a rangeof threeor fournotes. Theyare
and are blownonlyby thefullyinitiatedin an
ofa sacredcharacter
male
one
gathering.Tunes are playedby alternation,
exclusively
playersoundinga note,thenthe other,in rapidsuccession.
Anotherinstrument,
played only duringceremoniesof the
water
nokwisociety,is the
of
gongwhichprovidesthebasicrhythm
the nokwidance. It consistsof a large hollowedlog whichis
suspendedbottomup in a deeppitpartiallyfilledwithwaterso that
its sides are just underthe surface. A platform
is builtoverthe
centreto supportthe two men who wieldthe heavypole striker.
is used by thesepeoplein ceremonies
The bull-roarer
of the lower

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KWOMA CULTURE

191

ofbambooaretoyswhichanyone
ordersoftheyamcult. Jew's-harps
may use.
fortheireffects
Kwomamusicand songdependon monotony
ratherthanintricate
phrasingor appealingmelodies. Althoughthe
their
big men knowmanysongsand variationsin gongrhythms
which
made
not
New
are
do
fundamental
up or
vary.
songs
patterns
of their
theproperty
tribesare considered
stolenfromneighbouring
introducers.
Kwomadancingis a not muchelaboratedformof expression.
"
"
Usuallyonly the men dance, alwaysin a house tamberan or
behindfencesin a clearingadjacentto it so as to be away fromthe
eyesofwomenand children.19The mendancein a slowlymoving
of thebody.
circleusinga shuffling
by a twisting
stepaccompanied
a netbag is heldabove thehead to accentuatethebody
Sometimes
walk. However,
thestepis simplya shuffling
torsionand sometimes
in abandoned
of
the
arms
or
the
air
in
no
is
there
outflinging
leaping
round
movements.The dance continuesin its counter-clockwise
exciteof
increase
of
or
lift
a
with
forhours
tempo
hardlyperceptible
orrestfromtimeto time
ment. Individualsdropoutfora cigarette
a
unitat any one time.
as
dances
entire
so thatthe
grouprarely
Store of Knowledge.

thehabitsof
The nativehas an extensiveknowledge
concerning
of
of
animalsand thephases growth plants. Especially,he knows
totheiredibility. Kwomavocabulary
themaccording
howtoclassify
names
of
with
is replete
fish,
grasses,shrubs,trees,insects,reptiles,
he leaves much to be
birds,and animals. As a mathematician
to anynumberabove fivewithoutslowly
desired. He seldomrefers
and toes. Anynumberabove twentyis
countingit out on fingers
"
"
as
to
many/'or verymany." His knowledge
simplyreferred
is likewiserudimentary
and geologicalphenomena
ofmeteorological
The
lunar
beliefs.
and overlaidwithsupernatural
cycleis recognized
method
thebasisofonlya rudeandrelatively
butforms
unimportant
names.
individual
not
The
are
stars
time.
of recording
given
19Duringthe age-gradeceremonieswomenare said to dance- see below.

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192

KWOMA CULTURE

naturalphenomenaare regularlyexplainedin
Extraordinary
termsof daimons.20These spirits,whose malevolencebringson
windand rain,are thoughtto be hugeinvisiblemonsters
usuallyin
theformofa serpentorcrocodile. Theirdwelling
are
places isolated
rocks,deep chasms,or largetreesin themiddleof a patchof sago.
The nativestreadlightlyin the vicinityof thesespotsforfearof
angeringthe indwellingspirits. However,if they see a storm
approaching
theymutterspellsin whichtheynameall thedaimons
in a deepholeto die so thattheycan
and wishthemtiedand thrown
no longercausewindand rain. Specialdaimonsareheldresponsible
for other natural phenomena. Earth tremorsare caused by
Kumbundumwho dwellsin the swampto the northwheneverhe
yam hillswithhis greatdiggingstick.
priesopen his subterranean
Anothergreatdaimon,a serpent,causes the rainbowby chewing
betel and spittingout the juice in a huge arc acrossthe sky. A
is said to dwellin the swamp
greatcrocodilecalled Kurumbukwas
betweenHongwamandTangwishamp
territory
keepinggreatswarms
ofmosquitoes
in hisbelly. Whenever
he openshismouththeregion
is filledwiththesepests. The Kwomaspeak to himthroughtheir
onesib afteranother,
which
slit-gongs
beatingout an angryrhythm,
this
monster
to
tells
his
mouth
shut.21
fearlessly
keep
As theaboveinstanceshowstheKwomaarenotboweddownby
fearof thesedaimons; in cultactivitiestheytreatthemcavalierly.
The mentellwomenand theuninitiated
youthsthatthesoundsof
and thegreatwatergongare made
bull-roarers,
gongs,sacredflutes,
daimons.
the
women
and youthspretendto believe,
by
Although
suchsounds.
theyactuallyknowthatmenare producing
Dreamsare regardedas visitationsduringsleep of the ghosts
of deceased membersof the tribe. Nightmares
resultfromthe
attemptoftheghostto stealone'ssoul. A personmayalso become
and be forcedto do things
possessedby a ghostduringconsciousness
20Cf.M. Mead," MarsalaiCult
AmongtheArapesh,"Oceania,Vol. IV, September
We have used the term" daimon" to correspondto her use of
I933*
37-53.
PP" marsalai."
21The Kwoma neithermake nor
buy the large reed sleeping-baskets,
peculiar
to theIatmuland otherpeopleson theSepikRiver,to protectthemfromthemosquito
fromthesepestsalmostas muchas theirriverneighbours.
plague thoughtheysuffer

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KWOMA CULTURE

193

whichhe or she does not intend. Thereis a termforpersonswho
to our
habituallyact in an unexpectedmannerwhichcorresponds
conceptof insanity. A Yelagu who killedhis wifein a fitof rage
to by thistermand
and tooksanctuaryat Hongwamwas referred
gave someevidenceofbeingactuallypsychotic.
AnatomicalBeliefs.

The Kwoma's knowledgeof anatomyis largelygained from
pigs and otheranimals. He has a workingknowledge
butchering
ofthedigestive
system. The heartmakesa manstrongand controls
his breathing
; if it stops beatinghe dies. Blood is everywhere
areregarded
as a network
the
presentunder skin. Veinsand arteries
the
of cords whichties the body together.Kidneysstrengthen
to
the
stomach
which
is
connected
back; and thebladder,
by tubes,
are assignedto
storesliquiduntilurination.No specialfunctions
"
lungs and testicles. These organsare said in pidginto stop
nothing."22
ofwoman'sbloodand
is believedto be a combination
The foetus
frequentinjectionsof male sperm. They know that the infant
developsin thewomb,but are vaguein theirideas of thelengthof
is rationalizedin accordance
the gestationperiod. Menstruation
withtheirbeliefsaboutbloodand growth. Womenare thoughtto
be providedwitha naturalmechanismforpurgingthemselvesof
bad blood. A womanremainsin the house duringher periodof
menses,allowingtheblood to flowon to a pieceofbarkwhichshe
carriesout intothe bush and emptiesfromtimeto time. During
herperiodall adultmalesof thehouseholdmustabsentthemselves
and spendtheirnightsin the house of a relative.
theirhealthand strength
The menbelievethatto preserve
they,
too, mustpurgethemselves
similarly.At periodicintervalsthey
go to a streamwheretheymakelightincisionsin theglans.) The
so that
watercarriesthebad bloodout ofthetribalterritory
flowing
thereis no dangerofits returnto theirsystems.
22We neglectedto followup the questionraised hereas to how the beliefthat
"
the testicles" stop nothing is alignedwiththe practiceof castrationof household
animals.

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194

KWOMA CULTURE

The Yam Cult.
Thereexistsin each Kwoma tribea seriesof social groupings
withthe growthand
which,because of theirintimateconnection
harvestoftheyams,we have calledtheyamcult. Thereare three
sectionsin this cult knownas yenatna,minjatna,and nokwi. All
adult
personsbelongtoyenamaorminjamabut onlytheoutstanding
in eitheryenamaor
males are membersof nokwi. Membership
the boys'
minjamais by choice. Adults,however,may influence
desireto keep the balance fairlyequal withintheirsib. Women
in these two sections. A young
have an auxiliarymembership
girlchoosesher sectionof her own freewill,but her membership
functions
onlyin conversation.It giveshera chanceto participate
herself
and to identify
in the discussionof futurecult ceremonies
withone sectionas againsttheother. Whenshe marries,
however,
fromherhusband'ssection. The membershetakeshermembership
her
is
more
to
ship
important heraftermarriageforit determines
extra-marital
liaisonsto some extent.
Whena boy(usuallybytheage often)has decidedwhichsection
he willjoin,he is takenintothebushby youngmenand shownthe
sacredflutes. Afterbeingwarnedthat theyare neverto be seen
in theirplaying. He is thenready
by womenhe receivesinstruction
ofhissectionofthecult. Beforebeing
to attendthenextceremony
"
led intothe housetamberan" wherethe dance is beingheld,he
in thecentre.
is warnednotto lookup tooquicklyat thefetish-stand
are verysacred; it is not
The carvedheads and othercult figures
that a novicebecomeawareof themall at once.
fitting
As theyounginitiateenters,a bakedyamis thrustintohishand
and voicespull out all stops.
whilethe gongs,flutes,bull-roarers,
His sponsorleads himfora fewcircuitsofthedance- in thesimple
- and then leaves him to himself.
step whichhe alreadyknows
His inductionis over.
Whentheboygrowsolderhe is allowedto becomean associate
memberof the othersection. He must simplybe an acceptable
individualwhocan supplya pig fora feastas entrancefee. There-

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KWOMA CULTURE

195

ofeachofthelowersectionsin the
afterhe can attendthefestivities
cult.28
in
of membership
Our information
the prerequisites
regarding
thenokwigroup,thehighestsectionoftheyamcult,is notcomplete.
It is clear,however,thatonlythe important
big menof the tribe,
thosewhohave killedan enemyand broughthomea trophyhead,
and whoare strongand fearlessin standingup fortheirrights,are
held
allowedto enterthismostselectcircle. The nokwiceremony,
aftertheharvestoftheyams,is themostsacredfestivalofthetribe.
Property.

Propertyin land is said to belongto the tribe,the sib, or an
is used.
individualaccordingto whichof threeframesof reference
from
land
in
an individual's
The tribeas a wholeguarantees
property
of othertribes; sib membersuniteto protecttheir
encroachments
from
trespassby othersibs; but it devolveson theowner
holdings
to protecthis claimfromhis sib-mates. Withinthe sib, a
himself
or he may sharean undividedplot
man may own land privately,
witha brotheror sib-mate. If jointownersquarrelovertheuse of
individualmaybe calledin to dividetheirland
land a disinterested
into privatelyowned sections. Women and childrenhave the
and fathers.
to theirhusbands,brothers,
ofland belonging
usufruct
They may own trees,but not houses.
All otherpropertyis personal. Tools, weapons,ornaments,
woodengongs,and eventhe sib-housesare regardedas the private
theirconstruction.
ofthosewhohavemadethemorinitiated
property
Whena mandieshiseldestsontakeschargeofthepersonalproperty,
and parallelcousins. He
it equallyamonghisownbrothers
dividing
himself
keepsmostof the shellobjectsso as to repayhis mother's
brotherforthefoodhe has receivedfromthelatter. Whena man
dies withoutsons his personalpropertyand land is apportioned
and theirchildren.A man'swife,though
amonghislivingbrothers
fromherdeceased
to livein hishouse,inherits
shecontinues
nothing
23This dual systemof ceremonialgroupsrecallsthe functionsof the matrilineal
moietysystemsfoundalongwithpatrilinealclans in someotherNew Guineacultures
(notablyWogeo and Iatmul). Kinshipand descentplay no part, however,in the
Kwoma system.

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KWOMA CULTURE

196

receivea shareof his property
in treesand
husband,but daughters
of the produceof any gardenshe may have planted.
Initiation.
In this unstratified
societyno individualis bornwithstatus.
Pubescentboys are initiatedinto the firstof a seriesof fourageare heldat intervals
gradeswhichconferstatus. Theseceremonies
ofthreeto fiveyearsandareforeachofthefourgrades. Onlyaftera
in fouroftheseceremonies,
in eachaccording
grouphas participated
to be adults.
to its particularrules,are its members
acknowledged
and giverecognition
is to foster
The purposeoftheseceremonies
the
men.
of
tribe's
to thegrowth
Blood-letting
by slashing
young
the tonguesand penes of the boys is thoughtto assistin growth
alsoincludes:
to theirideology. The ritualoftheseaffairs
according
the adoptionof an initiateby a ceremonial
father,of anothersib,
adornment
the
of the firstgradeof
the
who performs operations
;
ofbamboo;
wovenbelts,andphallocrypts
initiatesin shellnecklaces,
a
of
five
for
months
seclusionof the youngestgroup
period
during
whichtimetheyavoid womenand undergoa fewtrials; and the
and
bestowingon each of the age-gradesof particularornaments
cicatrizeddesignson breastand chestwhichtheymaywearhenceforthas signsof theirposition(Plate Va).
The firststage of the initiatorycycle is deemedthe most
if we may judge fromthe taboos surrounding
it. The
important,
of youthsare attendedby the
danceswhichmarkthe investiture
womenand are occasionsof ceremonial
licence. Duringthe dance
womengive small tokensto men of theirchoicesignifying
their
desireforsexual intercourse.Womenmay not have intercourse
withboysoftheyoungest
butbeyondthisrestriction
age-grade,
only
incestrulesapply.
Social Advancement.

Outsidethe formalsystemof receivingstatusthe adult male
and win the admiration
and
may achievea positionof importance
of
the
in
other
respect
society
ways. By approachingin his
demeanourand behaviourwhatis regardedas the ideal patternof
manhooda manmaybecome" big" in a socialsense. The criteria

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KWOMA CULTURE

197

list
by whicha manis judgedare manyand varied. The following
of acts and attributes
are measuresof a man'sposition: capturing
manytrophyheads,beingaccomplishedon gongs,flutes,and in
song,being an energeticdancer,a fearlesshunter,and a skilled
and havingmorethanone wife. Especially,theman
wood-carver,
to gainprestige. He muststandup for
mustbe hardand truculent
his ownrightswhenevertheyare threatened.Thereis onlyscorn
foran easy-going
or retiring
individual.24Rarelywillany one man
excelin aU these,but to have anystatusa manmustbe able to do
all thesethingsat least passablyand someof themwell.
Education of Children.

The childreceivesverylittletrainingforthe firstthreeyears
of hislife. He is caredforprimarily
by his motherwhoholdshim
and
her
the
in
sleepswithhimat night.
lap during day
constantly
himfromsorcery
and outgroup
The father
aggression.The
protects
and now and againrelievesthemother
co-wifedoes thehousework
whichtheconstantcareofherchildentails. Older
ofthemonotony
are
called
upon to help the motherby fetching
thingsfor
siblings
her and assistingwiththe housework.
Practicallythe only disciplinethe child receivesduringthis
periodis againstsmearingand eatinghis faeces. He is prevented
fromdoingthisby physicalforceand is evenpunishedforit if he
ofdisgustduring
thefacialexpression
themotherexhibiting
persists,
as it is thefirstfoodtaboo
is important
theprocess. Thisdiscipline
and seemsto underlielater disgustreactions.
Whenthechildcanwalkandtalkhebeginsto takeresponsibility
as an individualand thesocialization
processbeginsin earnest. It
is at thistimethathis weaningtakesplace. His mothertellshim
84This
attitudeis especiallynoticeableduringquarrelsamong
chip-on-shoulder
themselves,and also in theirrelationswith Europeans, but it runs throughthe
entireculture. It is interestingin this regardto comparethe Kwoma with the
threetribesof the Sepik Districtstudied by Dr. Mead in Sex and Temperament,
New York, 1935. In the several classicallydenned aspects of culture,save for
warfareand head-hunting,
the Kwoma resemblethe Arapesh-speaking
people more
orTchambuli.Yet theideal patternofbehaviour
closelythaneithertheMundugumor
of the Kwoma gives no impressionof being " soft," or " feminine,"as Arapesh
cultureis phrased.

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198

KWOMA CULTURE

thathe mayno longersuckat herbreastfora daimonhas nowtaken
possessionofit. She sometimes
putsa leechon herbreastto make
thefablemorevivid,or smearshernipplewiththestickysap ofthe
breadfruit
to preventthe milkfromflowing.
The cleanlinesstrainingof the childalso beginsat thistime.
The motherundertakes
thisby tellingthe childthatadultsdo not
or urinatein thehouse,but neara certaintreeselectedfor
defaecate
the purpose. She leads the childthereand helpshimuntilhe can
informants
say"thata mothernever
manageby himself.Although
"
punishesherchildduringthe house-trainingprocess,thisis not
always the case, forwe have seen harassedmothersscold "their
- not,however,
untiltheyare old
children
forlaxityin thisregard
know
to
better."
enough
Sexual taboos,imposedearlyin the child'slife,underliethe
on marriageand philandering.A boy mustnot
later restrictions
in thepresenceofhissisters,
in
an
have erection public,particularly
whowillbeat his peniswitha stickif theyobserveit. A childof
his genitalsis told to stop, since the
eithersex caughtfingering
sexual
memberbelongsto its futurespouse. The mostimportant
this
is
at
the
at
time
restriction
imposed
againstlooking
genitals
a sexualadvance;
ofa personoftheoppositesex. Thisis considered
it is therefore
shamefulto thuslook at a womanof the household
and dangerousand impoliteto stareat a non-relative.
At theage ofsix orseventhechildbeginsto be taughteconomic
and fetching
firewood
waterforthe girl,
responsibilities,
gathering
and running
errandsand helpingat odd jobs fortheboy. Children
are severelyscoldedand oftenspanked25
whentheydo not fulfil
theirresponsibilities
in theseregards.
Fromthe timehe can talk,his parentsand siblingsinculcate
a desireforprestige. Whenhe is naughtyhe is scathingly
called
" little
"a
and
when
he
a
does
deed
he
is
called
child,"
praiseworthy
togrowth
bigman." He is toldthattherenewalofbloodis necessary
and secretlyscrapeshis penisin orderto promoteit. He is not
forcedintothevariousinitiation
ceremonies
butentersthem
directly
26This is done
by beatingthe childbetweenthe shoulderbladeswiththe flatof
the hand.

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KWOMA CULTURE

199

of his ownfreewill.The social value of goingthroughthe ritesis
than the fearof them.
in mostcases stronger
Kinship.
formthe
ofone'sowngeneration
Distinctions
betweenmembers
basis of the Kwomakinshipsystem. Whenthe sex of thespeaker
are
is thesameas thatofthepersonspokento onlyage distinctions
withthesameterm
made. Thus a manaddresseshis olderbrother
thata womanappliesto heroldersister,andhe addresseshisyounger
brother
by thesametermwithwhicha womanaddressesheryounger
fromthatof
sister. When,however,the sex of the speakerdiffers
is made. Thusa mancalls
thepersonspokento,no age distinction
thegreeting
all hissistersby onetermandtheyreturn
bya reciprocal
are extendedto parallelcousins,thesame
term. Thesedistinctions
in thiscase,
termapplyingto themas to siblings. Age distinctions
arenotdetermined
however,
by theactualage ofthespeakerbutby
fall
the relativeage of commonancestralsiblings. Cross-cousins
to the sex or relative
whichhave no reference
intothreecategories
all
thechildren
of the
These
of
the
are, (1)
categories
speaker.
age
father'ssister,(2) the sons of the mother'sbrother,and (3) the
daughtersof the mother'sbrother.
A child is easily able to classifythe people of his parents'
forhe has a set of termswhichparallelthosehis father
generation,
usesin speakingto his bloodrelativesand thosehis motheruses to
addressher blood relatives. He dividesthe people of his grand- maternal
andpaternalrelatives,
intotwogroups
parents'generation
underone term.
and classesall ancestorsabove thislevel together,
A personaddressesindividualson the firstdescendinglevel, i.e.
of his children,
thoseof the generation
by termswhichdistinguish
their
betweenthemin the same mannerby whichhe differentiates
he
that
calls
children
of
his
own
older
his
siblings,except
parents,
and younger
siblingsof thesamesex by a singleterm. Individuals
of his grandof the seconddescending
level,i.e. of the generation
are calledby a singleterm,exceptfora specialsetofnames
children,
to
applied personsin the mother'sbrother'sline.
A new set of termsappearsin each generation,
exceptforthe
linesof themother'sbrotherand the father'ssister. The termfor

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200

KWOMA CULTURE

mother'sbrotheris applied to mother'sbrother'sson, mother's
son'sson,and so on downthemaleline. The sisterofthe
brother's
in anygeneration,
is calledmother
;
personcalledmother'sbrother,
from
the
also
each
term
is
found
in
this
generation
consequently
called
motherin any
of
a
and
since
the
son
down
;
person
parental
in each
occurs
term
brother
or
this
also
called
is
sister,
generation
fromEgo down. Father'ssister'schildand sister'schild
generation
are calledby a singleterm,so hereagain the termsappearin each
generationfromthat of Ego down.
is a list of the Waskukkin terms. The nearest
The following
Englishequivalentofthenativetermis givenfirst.
1. Greatgrandparent
(Walunk)= Anyoneabove thegrandparental
generation.
2. Paternalgrandparent
(Yeyi)=Father's parents,father'sfather's
and
wives.
their
siblings
3. Maternalgrandparent
(^4c)=Mother'sparents,mother'sfather's
siblingsand theirwives.
4. Father (Efi)=Father, mother'shusband,friend'sfather.
mother'sbrother'sdaughter,mother's
5. Mother(Awe)=i/Loiher,
son'sson'sdaughter,
mother's
brother's
son'sdaughter,
brother's
ceremonialfather'swife,friend'smother.
- Father'solderbrother,father'sfather's
6. Elder uncle (Afilaka)
olderbrother's
son,mother'soldersister'shusband,etc.
= Father'solderbrother'swife,father's
7. Elder aunt (Nawelaka)
father'solderbrother'sson's wife,mother'soldersister.
=Father's youngerbrother,father's
8. Younger uncle (Amwe)
father'syoungerbrother'sson, etc. Mother'syoungersister,
spousesof the preceding.
9. Maternaluncle (Mem)= Mother'sbrother,mother'sbrother's
son's son's
son,mother'sbrother'sson's son,mother'sbrother's
son, etc. Wife's mother'sbrother,wife'smother'sbrother's
son, etc.
10. Aunt-in-law
uncle'swife.
(TFö/w)=Maternal
=
11. Paternalaunt (Yaka) Father'ssister,father'ssister'shusband,
husband'ssister(?).

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201

12. Elder sibling(Laka)=(i/Lsnspeaking): Olderbrother,father's
olderbrother'sson,father'sfather'solderbrother'sson's son,26
mother'soldersister'sson, wife'solderbrother,friend'solder
olderson,thewivesofthepreceding.
father's
ceremonial
brother,
(Woman speaking): Older sister, father'solder brother's
daughter,father'sfather'solder brother'sson's daughter,26
husband'soldersister,friend's
mother'soldersister'sdaughter,
of
oldersister,husbands thepreceding.
13. Youngersibling(Kutnwé)=(Manspeaking): Youngerbrother,
father's younger brother'sson, father's father's younger
mother's
sister'sson,wife'syounger
son'sson,26
brother's
younger
brother's
mother's
brother,
daughter'sson, friend'syounger
brother,ceremonialfather'syoungerson, the wives of the
younger
preceding. (Womanspeaking): Youngersister,father's
brother'sdaughter,father'sfather'syoungerbrother'sson's
mother'syoungersister's daughter,husband's
daughter,26
friend's
youngersister,mother'sbrother'sdaughter'sdaughter,
of
the
husbands
the
sister,
preceding.
younger
Brother
(Mendala)=(Womanspeaking): Brother,elderuncle's
14.
son, youngeruncle'sson, mother'sson, friend'sbrother.
15. Sister(Mowe)=(Manspeaking): Sister,elderuncle'sdaughter,
youngeruncle's daughter,mother'sdaughter,friend'ssister,
father'sdaughter.
ceremonial
16. Child (Yikafa)=Child, elder sibling'schild,youngersibling's
child,friend'schild.
=Son, elderbrother'sson, youngerbrother's
17. Son (Holiyikafa)
son, friend'sson.
18. Daughter(Mima yikafa)^Daughter, elderbrother'sdaughter,
youngerbrother'sdaughter,friend'sdaughter.
19. Nephew (Ruwe)=(Man speaking): Sister's child, paternal
aunt's child,spousesof the above.
20. Grandchild
(Nyenja)=Child's child,nephew'schild.
21. Parent-in-law(Atokw)
=Spouse's parents, spouse's parents'
siblings.
16This processis extendedto commonancestralsiblingsin the male line.

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202

KWOMA CULTURE

22. Husband (Ma) =Husband, any male.
23. Wife(Mima)= Wife,any female.
= Wife'ssister.
(Numbeli)
24. Sister-in-law
=Daughter's husband.
25. Son-in-law(Ninjokw)
26. Daughter-in-law
(Narem)-Son's wife.
Child-in-law
speaking): Wife's sister's child.
(i\fefo')=(Man
27.
(Womanspeaking): Brother'schild.
: One who has been cicatrizedat the same
28. Friend(Naramboy)
the same age who will
timeas Ego, anyoneof approximately
establish
to
this
relationship.(Man speaking): Father's
agree
friend'sson. (Womanspeaking): Mother'sfriend'sdaughter.
29. Ceremonialfather(Hant efi)=One who operateson boy at
age-gradeceremony.
in directaddress,reference
to
Kinshiptermsare usedprimarily
individualsbeing usuallyby personalname. More importantis
an individual'ssocialrole. Two rules
of determining
theirfunction
(2) sorceryis
applyto all relatives,(1) sex relationsare prohibited,
modes
of
but
there
are
behaviour
associated
outlawed;
manyspecial
withparticularterms. Siblingrelationsare, perhaps,nuclear. A
dutyin his lifeis to protecthis sister.
boy findsthatan important
and sexualadvancesof
He mustdefendheragainsttheaggressions
in
He
be
fearless
for
must
others.
standing
up herhonourandsafety.
foodforherand helpherin tasks
He mustdo hisshareofproviding
for
between
thesexes. Even aftershe goes
call
which
co-operation
to helpand protecther,seeing
to livewithherhusband,he continues
her
thatsheis notmistreated
husband.
Whenthebride-price
is
by
a
he
receives
share
as
for
to
compensation havinghelped protect
paid
her,and thisdutybecomesless important.All duringhermarried
he continues
to giveherfoodandhelphereconomically
life,however,
her
husband
with
taskswhichdemandco-operative
effort.
by aiding
A boymustnevermakesexualadvancestowardhissister,but he is
allowedto make obsceneremarksand gesturesto her.
The boy also has certainobligationstowardhis eldersibling
and youngersibling. He is taughtthathe is reallyone withthem.
Throughlifehe is readyto workforthem,cometo theiraid in a
becausetheirwell-being
is
fight,and supportthemin an argument
also his. He shouldnotharmthembecausein so doinghe is hurting

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KWOMA CULTURE.

PLATE I

across the Peilungua Mountains,habitatof the Kwoma people.
A. View north-west
is Hongwamterritory,
and thatbeyondis inhabitedbythe
The ridgein theforeground
Urumbanjand Tangwishampsub-tribes.Sago swamps approachthe verybase of
themountains.
B. Hongwamand Yambonwomenexchanging
lumps of sago meal and riverfish at
theirbi-weekly
market. They have no special tradefriendships,and simplyselect
whattheyconsiderthe bestgoods offered.

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KWOMA CULTURE.

PLATE III

"
"
A. Rumbiman house tamberan (Hongwamsub-tribe).Ceremonialhouses are
visiblein the right
builtin clearingsapartfromthedwellinghouses. (The structure
hand corneris a government
rest-house.)
B. Kwoma housefromtherear,showingwalls and gablesenclosingthesleeping-room.
The bundlescontainsacredwoodendance-objects.

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KWOMA CULTURE.

PLATE V

A. ThreeKwomayouthsofHongwam. Theoneontherightshowsthebreastscarification
receivedduring initiationceremonies.
one of themen in hautmga tree-trunk
B. A work-group
up to the house
assisting
" where
it will be made into a woodengong.
tamberan

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KWOMA CULTURE

203

himself.He treatseldersiblingand youngersiblingin muchthe
sameway excepthe moreoftenaids his eldersiblingand demands
help fromhis youngersibling. Likewisehe protectshis younger
by his eldersibling.
siblingand is protected
andfather
A boy'srelation
tohismother
is,as wouldbe expected,
a dependent
one,but in returnforbeingcaredforhe has
essentially
certaindutiesto perform.As soon as he passes frominfancyto
run
he is expectedto helphismotherwiththehousework,
childhood
for
which
either
set
him.
and do littletasks
forhisfather
errands
may
As he gets olderhe beginsto co-operatewithhis fatherin more
work,and whenhe reachesadulthoodhe becomesone of
important
callshiselderuncle,younger
hisparents'protectors.He sometimes
"
This termtypifieshis
father."
uncle,and paternalaunt small
relationto them. He helpsthemand is dependenton themin a
like mannerbut in a lesserdegree.
His maternalunclecalls fortha newresponse. He is someone
sincefromhisgardensand sagoplotstheboycan
ofspecialinterest,
almostat will. He onlyhas to tellthisrelativewhathe
helphimself
he mustpayhis
has taken,butat thetimeoftheage-grade
ceremony
maternaluncle a large amountof shell moneyforthesebenefits
received.
His marriagebringsa new groupof peopleinto relationwith
him. His wifehe mustprotectand providewithfood. Her family
mustbe respected. He fearsthemfortheyare stillherprotectors,
forhavingcaredforhis
and he mustpay themwitha bride-price
to adulthood. He mayask economichelpofher
wifefrominfancy
of it, he must
but if theyare injuredin the performance
brothers,
themwitha paymentofshellmoney.28He also paysa
compensate
smallamountofshellmoneyto herrelativeswhenshediesin return
forall theyhave done forher.
Adulthoodalso bringshimintonewrelationsto children. He
guardsthemagainstharm and ministersto theirwants. He is
and punishesthemwhentheydo
fortheirmoraltraining
responsible
wrong. He guardshis sonsbecausetheywillhelp himwithcom18If a manis injuredhelpinghis ownsib-mateshe cannotdemandcompensation
because it is just as much his own work as it is theirs.
F

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204

KWOMA CULTURE

munaltasksand he sees thathisdaughter
growsup to be attractive
and desirable,particularly
thatshe is not too promiscuous,
forthen
fora job welldone. Nephewsare
he can demanda highbride-price
ofhissisters,so theyshouldbe treatedin a veryspecial
thechildren
way. He must give themanythingtheyask for,food fromhis
gardens,or therightto takeflourfromhissagopatches. He should
nowand then. He keepstab on what
also makethemlittlepresents
and
have
return
taken,however, sees thattheymakesufficient
they
forit at the age-gradeceremony.
a havenof safetyand a place ofgossipin
Friend'shousesoffer
a sib wherean individualhas no relatives. Fear ofsorcery
prevents
in thehomeof a non-relative,
himfromfeelingcomfortable
so it is
to
some
in
each
district
of
convenient
have
thesib
place
resting
very
fearoftreachery.A man
wherehecansmokeandchewbetelwithout
in each hamletin
triesto establisha friendrelationship
therefore
An
a
individualmayask kinsmanofanother
whichhe has no kin.
stufiforhim. A friend
is also expectedto comply
sibto stealsorcery
anothervaluablefunction.
withsucha requestand thusfulfils
and the patterning
There are but few otherrelationships
of
theseis loose and unimportant.Old folksoon die and a man is
When these
lucky to live long enoughto have grandchildren.
do obtaina mantreatstheformer
relations
muchas he doesa parent
and the latteras a child.
Thereare a fewspecialaffinalterms.
Muchofthebehaviour
fromthe
expectedofa girlcanbe inferred
above. She repayshersib relativesforprotecting
herby carrying
burdensforthem,weedingtheirgardens,and cookingtheirmeals.
Shemustworkhardforherhusbandaftersheis married. Sheshould
be amiabletowardsa co-wifeand do hershareof the workwhich
fallsto them. She is moreresponsible
in caringforinfants. To
otherrelativesshebehavesin muchthesamewaythata boy does.
It shouldnot be supposedthat the modes describedabove
strictlypatternbehaviour. They merelyreflectan idealogical
framework
withinwhichoperatethe antagonisms
and friendships
whichspringup and subsidein the day by day contactsbetween
actualpeople. The intensity
ofan individual'sgiveand takevaries
the
several
peoplehe maycallbythesameterm. For
greatlyamong

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KWOMA CULTURE

205

instance,a person'sbehaviourtowardhis motherresemblesbut
vaguelyhis" relation"to his mother'sbrother's
daughter,
yethe calls
themboth mother and thesameculturalformula
appliesto both.
fall
His ownsisterand hismother's
brother's
daughter "intothesame
but he is quickto distinguish
betweenhis sistertrue"
category,
" if he desiresher
and his " sisternothing
sexually,the sanction
in thelattercase. Rôlesdetermined
by kinshipare
beingnegligible
in reference
to thosepeoplewithwhoma personhas
mostimportant
variesfromhisownhousehold
mostcontact. Thisintimacy
through
to
of the
mother's
other
members
hamlet,sib, clan,
sib,
simply
sub-tribe.
In anotherveryimportant
sensethesekinrôlesare not actual
ofbehaviour,
foran individualcan breakanyrelationdeterminants
an
announcement
to thiseffect.From thistime
ship by making
on the two are simplyindependentindividualsand all mutual
are cancelled,thoughtheystilluse thesamekintermsto
obligations
addressone another. The bars againstsorceryare let down and
neitherfeelstheother'shouseis anylongera sanctuary. If theone
whobreaksthe relationis in debt to the otherhe runsthe riskof
or physicalviolence.
retaliationby sorcery,vituperation,
Social Grouping.

ofKwomacultureoffers
a goodexample
The socialorganization
ofaboriginal
New Guineasociety. Whilethehistory
ofthefluidity
of thispeoplecan hardlybe deterof removalsand amalgamations
minedwithany degreeofaccuracy,internalevidencein theculture
of recentsocialchanges.
givestestimony
The Hongwam(Waskuk-Bangus)sub-tribe,for example,is
distinct
ethnicgroupswhichfunction
composedofthreetraditionally
as patrilinealsibs.29 Each of theseis associatedin legendwitha
29Sib is hereused as " a groupof unilinearly
relatedpersonsof traditional,but
"
as " a group of unilinearlyrelated
not traceable,commondescent ; a lineage
"
"
personswho trace actual commondescent ; a clan as a group consistingof
relatedmalesor females,plus theirspousesand youngchildrenand minus
unilinearly
but do not form
theirmigrantsiblingsofoppositesex, whoresidein one community
a singlehousehold." Vide G. P. Murdocket al, Outlineof CulturalMaterials,New
Haven 1938, pp. 4021, 4022, 4033.

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2o6

KWOMA CULTURE

particulartotem. The Wanyipeople,who werethe firstto settle
the PeilunguaRange, have the pig as totem; the Hayatnakwo,
whofollowed
after,thinkthemselves
closelyrelatedto a great
shortly
and
fish-hawk
the
who
arrived
;
Tug,
ago,
only fourgenerations
claimthesago palmas theirtotem. Manyothertotemsare recognizedalthoughtheyare subsidiaryto the principalsnamedabove.
- animals,birds,reptiles,
Theseare ofall sorts
fish,trees,plants,and
In
two
sibs claimthe same
of
human
some
cases
the
body.
parts
totem. Thereare no tabooson eitherkillingor eatinganyofthese
objects. Thereis verylittleof the sacredassociatedwiththem,
or as motifsforthe
althoughtheymay serveas sib-shibboleths,
of the ridgepoleson the " house tamberans."
ornamentation
These sibs are theoretically
exogamous,forbeliefsabout the
the
blood
are basic conceptsin the social
of
necessity renewing
to be
desirableforthebride-price
organization.It is also considered
are
no
another
of
sib.
There
members
however,
preferences,
paidby
thebride.
as to whichof theothertwosibsshouldfurnish
areoflessimportance
socialand ethnicgroupings
Theseprimary
thanthe severalsub-sibsof whichtheyare composed.
functionally
eachofwhichis associatedwitha " house
thesub-sibs,
Furthermore,
tamberan,"are dividedintolineages. Kinshipand marriageability
on a basisofthelineage,to a lesserextentby
are reckoned
primarily
the sub-sibties,and onlyvaguelyby the sib.
and thestructure
The brokenterrainofthecountry
ofthesocial
preventthe Kwomafromhavingany real villages. The
groupings
intosmallhamletswherein
are
residemembers
of
dwellings clustered
a singlelineageand theirspouses. Severalofthesehamletscomprise
theclan-community
whichis thelocalizedcounterpart
ofthesub-sib,
"
its focalpointbeingthe housetamberan." The clan-community
consistsof all themalesof thesub-sib,theunmarried
girls,and the
womenwho have marriedmen of thisgroup.
A man,his wifeor wives,and theirchildren,
real or adopted,
are the usual occupantsof a singledwelling. Adultbrothersand
theirfamilies
sharea house,iftheydo nothave separate
sometimes
withina hamlet. Not infrequently
a marriedsonlivesin
dwellings
his father'shousependingconstruction
of one of his own.

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KWOMA CULTURE

207

Theeldestmalein a household
has themostauthority,
ordinarily
but he mustexhibitqualitiesofleadershipin orderto maintainhis
and thereis nothing
ofthegroup
to preventothermembers
position,
an
over
control.
in family
Women
do
have
voice
taking
important
of
matters,but in finalanalysisthe man's spearsare testimonials
his ultimateauthority.Furthermore,
the patrilocalmarriagerules
removewives fromthe immediatecircleof theirblood relatives,
whilethemenare surrounded
by theirs.
Government
and Law.

The Kwomatendency
towardsindividualism
is carriedoverinto
and social control. Thereis no chiefship,
the fieldof government
formalcouncilof elders,or any otherfixedgoverning
body. Each
personprimarilyis expectedto look afterhis own rights. If
or actually
challenge,
imposeduponin any way he mayvituperate,
come to blows with his offender.He threatenssorceryto force
for
or mayevenuse thisformofretaliation
paymentofretribution,
disputesare settled
vengeance. Mostminorquarrelsand property
in
kind.
in
or
or
retaliation
by payment goods shell, by
wherea
Onlyin casesofseriousoffences
againstlifeorproperty,
where
or
or
unknown
a
crimehas beencommitted
by person persons
a governing
the wholetribeis involved,does anythingresembling
" council." If a
involvedin
is
hamlet
the
single
body appear
such an affairits membersmeet in a dwellingor the " house
" to
more
concerns
tamberan
expresstheiropinions. Whenan affair
thanone hamlet,or even in a seriouscase involvinga singleclan,
is announced
thecouncilis largerand moreformal. The conference
on woodengongsso thatanyinitiatedmaleofthetribemayattend.
All who are presentmay give an opinion,althoughyoungermen
rarelyspeakexceptto presentfactualevidence. Whena mantakes
the floorhe stands,stampsthe ground,and brandishesa spear.
He speaksin a loud voice and challengesanyoneto gainsayhim.
If two men presentconflicting
reportstheymay standfacingone
cocks. Each attemptsto be bolderand more
anotherlikefighting
is not
in
aggressive bearingthantheother,forthemanwhoflinches
believed. If the assemblyagreesthat a man has been guiltyof a
major offencethey throwthe weightof theiropinionwith the

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KWOMA CULTURE

2o8

plaintiff.If a manappearsto meritdeaththeyholdtheguiltyparty
whiletheplaintiff
witha spear.80
runshimthrough
The death penalty,however,is rarelyinvoked. If a person
has committed
a seriouscrimehe wouldmorelikelythannot have
tribe. He wouldremainonlyif he had
escapedto a neighbouring
In
a unanimous
the
latter
case
decisionoftheassembly
supporters.
necessarybeforesuch a penaltycan be carriedout would be
difficult
to achieveand mightresultonlyin a brawl. Arson,theftof
sorcerymaterial,murder,and rape are punishableby death,the
on thespotifa personis caughtinflagrante
;
penaltybeinginflicted
"
otherwise
the council" willbe summoned. " Councils" are most
forsorcery.
convenedto discoverthe personresponsible
frequently
Such assembliesare the mostprotracted,
for,as" the nativesthemand neverreach
selves admit,they are mostly" talk nothing
decisions. They are always well attended,however,
satisfactory
forabsenceis one oftheindications
his
ofguilt. If a mandiscovers
wifecommitting
or a sisteror daughter
adultery,
beingpromiscuous,
he beats her. He deals withthe co-respondent
him
by sorcerizing
or by seducingone of his femalerelativesin retaliation.
Homicide.

Beforea Kwoma male is consideredto have achievedman's
estatehe mustkilla person,decapitatethebody,and bringbackthe
head as proof. This act entitleshimto painthis faceblackand to
weartheplumeof a birdof paradisein his hairas signsofhis new
status. He also becomeseligibleformembership
in thenokwicult.
If he shouldbeathiswife,shecan no longertaunthimbysayingthat
he daresto fightwithwomenonly(eventhoughfemalesmayhave
been amonghis victims).

30Inter-tribal
disputes concerningland problems,paymentfor an abducted
murderfollowthe same pattern. They are not
girl,or weregeldfora head-hunting
broughtto the council stage, however,until a considerabletime has elapsed and
passionshave cooled. The men of the two tribes,armedwithspearsand daggers,
meetat an appointedneutralspot. They draw up in lines facingone anotherfrom
whichspokesmenadvance in turnto presenttheirtribes'cases. They give force
to theirpoints by thwackinga flat board on the ground. Oftentwo courageous
spokesmenwill meet,and standingclose to one anotherwith chestsout and eyes
flashing,will jab theirbone daggersover each other'sshoulders. Here, also, it is
importantto be brave and not to flinch.

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KWOMA CULTURE

209

as practisedby the Kwoma, is carriedon by
Head-hunting,
raidingpartiescomposedofmenfromtheseveraltribes. Afterthe
soup eaten,thepartysets out to
plansare made and a ceremonial
attacksomedistantand unprotected
groupfromwhomtherewill
be less fearof retaliation.On reachingthe selectedhamletthe
raiderssilentlysurrounda dwellingand crouchwiththeirspecial
spearspoised. The attack takes place just at dawn
man-killing
whena leaderrushesthe house. If thereare novicesin the party
menwhohave alreadysecuredheadsstandaside to let themmake
theirkills. As theoccupantsofthehouserushoutin terror
theyare
felledby the spearsof the raiders. Otherhousesare searchedfor
the
possiblevictimsfortheobjectoftheattackersis to exterminate
hamlet. No oneis sparedonaccountofageorsex,butonlytheheads
of adult male victimsare carriedhome.
thehead
Each killerentershisownhamletin triumph
carrying
dance
around
the
then
ear.
The
successful
warriors
ofa victimbyits
" house tamberan." The entire
soon gathersat that
community
of
a
celebration
victory. On thefollowing
spotto begin night-long
daytheheadsareburiedinmudtobe leftuntilthefleshdisintegrates.
forthe
and paintedand serveas decoration
are thensun-dried
They
" housetamberan."31
Relationsbetweenthe Sexes.

ordecorum
Atfirst
glanceonewouldhardlysuspectthatmodesty
rôlein the lives of the nakedKwoma. Yet
playedany important
betweenthe
and elaborateconventions
for
strict
such they do,
in place of clothing. A person
sexes are followedwhichfunction
at
look
or
mustneverstare
directly anyoneoftheoppositesex save
a directsexualadvance.
hisorherspouse,forto do suchis considered
whenseatednear
in
directions
face
women
Menand
opposite
always
one another. Whenmenand womenmeeton thepaththewoman
steps aside and standswithher back to the path untilthe man
passes. Onlyaftertheyhave passedand are facingaway fromone
31Skullswerenotbuiltup withclaybeforebeingpaintedaftertheartisticmanner
of the Middle Sepik tribes.
of the practiceof headhunting,trophy
outlawing
Followingthe government's
"
heads are no longerseen in the house tamberans."

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210

KWOMA CULTURE

he
anotherdo theyspeak. Whena manvisitsthehouseofa friend
mustkeep his gaze fixedon the grounduntilhe has takena seat
facingawayfromthewomenpresent. Greatcaremustbe exercised
by a manwholivesin thesamehouseas his marriedbrother. He
mustkeephiseyesavertedwhenever
he has anything
to do withhis
brother's
wife. On thewoman'spart,shemustalwayssitwithlegs
eitherstraight
in front
ofherorbentup to oneside. Fora
together,
manto have an erectionin publicis a veryshameful
thingand was
neverobservedby us.
The Kwomastandardsof morality
like thosein manyanother
cultureare higherin theorythan in actual practice. Despitethe
on sexual behaviour,which are given lip-servicein
restrictions
kinshipbehaviourpatterns,thereis great freedom.Except for
incestanysex conquestwhichcanbe madeis fairgame.32Thuspreand extra-marital
are common. The unmarried
affairs
girlhas more
in
that
bothher
due to thefact
difficultygainingsexualsatisfaction
fathersand brothershave an economicinterestin her chastity,
whereasthe marriedwomanhas to cope onlywithher husband's
jealousy.
Allsexualadvancesaresupposedto be instituted
by thewoman.
Thisgiveshera realpowerand createsa curioussituation. If a man
takestheinitiativeand thewomanis unwilling
she maycall on her
relativesclaimingrape. On the otherhand,if theman whomshe
selectsis notso inclinedshemayalso bringthesamechargeagainst
himout of spiteand be believedby herrelatives. Men'sstrength
is thusrecognized,
buttheyareforced
to playa passiverôleaccording
to culturalpatterning.
Birth.
A womanmaypreventconception,
it is believed,by repetition
of a magicformula. Abortion,however,is said to be unknown.
If a childis unwantedit is killedat birthunlesssomeonewishesto
is alwayspractisedwithmonstrosities,
one of
adoptit. Infanticide
32
intercourse
is not allowedbetweenany two peoplewho address
Theoretically
each otherby kinshipterms; in practicetheprohibition
extendsonlyovermembers
of the immediatefamily.

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KWOMA CULTURE

211

a set of twins,and usuallyin the case of illegitimacy.Multiple
birthshave been veryrareaccordingto our oldestinformants.
Womenof the clan and sometimesher own motherassist a
womanat childbirth.Menmaynotbe present. For a monthafter
the childis bornits fatherobservescertaintaboosto promoteits
onlyby
healthygrowth. He doesnotchewbetel,scratcheshimself
held in tweezers.33
meansof a stick,and smokescigarettes
A childcommonly
receivestwonames. Its parentsgiveit the
nameofoneoftheirowndeceasedelderuncles. A secondnamemay
be givenit by anyoneofthesamesex uponthepaymentofa small
is used. At aboutfiveyears
gift. Onlyone ofthenames,however,
ofage thechild'snoseand earsare piercedby somemanoftheclan
otherthanits fatherso that ornaments
may be wornin laterlife.
No ceremonyattendsthis operation. Duringearlypubertyboth
sexes are cicatrized,the girlswith an elaboratecirculardesign
about the navel (Plate IIa), and the boyswitha pair of crescents
in herparents'
aboveeachnipple. The girlis cutwithoutceremony
houseby a malememberofhermother'ssib. Youthsare operated
on in groupsin theseclusionofthe" housetamberan." If a youth
has beenbetrothed
duringhis childhoodthemanwhois to become
holds him while the incisionsare made. This
his father-in-law
whichexistsevenafterdeath
createsthe specialfriendrelationship
whencertainbonesof theirskeletonshave been distributed
among
the survivors.
Marriage.

Kwomaparentsmay betroththeirchildrenduringthe latters'
or,
infancyor earlychildhood. This may occurwithina sub-tribe
of
in
lessfrequently,
be arranged
different
sub-tribes.
bypairs parents
The betrothalis not final,however,forthe ultimatedecisionrests
withtheprincipals
in thematch,thebetrothed
pair. As in sexual
heretoo thewomantakestheinitiative.
relationsof theunmarried,
and theirparents
If a youngcoupledecidethattheywantto marry,
88Our information
concerningthe solelyfemaleaspects of the cultureis very
and menand boys eitherprofessed
scanty. We had no adequate femaleinformants
or else refusedto discussthemas beneaththeirdignity.
ignoranceofwomanlyaffairs,

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212

KWOMA CULTURE

are willing,the girlgoes to live at the houseof the boy's parents.
Here she remainsforseveralmonthswhereherwifelypropensities
maybe observedbeforethefinaldecisionis made.
If the girl decidesthat her prospectivehusbandwill not be
she may simplyreturnto her own home. The boy's
satisfactory
parents,however,cannotsendheraway if she is not acceptableto
them,buttheycan makelifeso unpleasantforherthatshewillleave
of herown accord. The boy's willin the matteris exercisedonly
throughhis parents.
Duringthe trialperiodthe betrothedcoupleare supposedto
fromhavingsexualintercourse
refrain
; ifthegirlbecomespregnant
married.
be
must
they
The weddingis accomplished
trickery
by a pieceof formalized
have gonewellduring
withoutany attendantceremony.If affairs
thepreliminary
period,and themarriageseemsadvisable,theboy's
brideto cook an extrapot of
motherone day tellsthe prospective
soup and to boil moresago gruel. Up to this timethe girlhas
and forwomenofthefamily. Boysmayeat
cookedonlyforherself
foodcookedby younggirlsonlyif thelatterare his sisters. When
homeon thisday hismotherhandshimfoodwhich
theboy returns
she apparentlyhas cookedas usual. He is allowedto consumea
goodpartofit beforebeingtoldthathisfiancéehas preparedit. At
he hastensto spitoutwhathe is eatingsaying,what
thisinformation
that the foodis dreadfully
he has not noticedheretofore,
cooked.
what
the
eaten
has
cooked
the
Nevertheless,
by having
girl
couple
becomeman and wife. The boy has yet to pay his wife'sfamily
thebride-price.Even thoughhis sib-matesassisthimit maytake
severalyearsbeforetheboycan amasssufficient
shellmoneyto fulfil
hisobligations.Paymentis madein a lumpsumand is theoccasion
of a day of feastingand celebration
forthe familiesinvolved.
A manmayhaveas manywivesas he can afford,
butonlya few
old
folk
have
more
than
two.
Co-wivessharethe same
wealthy
and
of
are
status.
dwelling
equal
A womancan divorceherhusbandsimplyby leavinghimand
to herparentalhome. A man,however,
in theorycannot
returning
divorcehis wife. His onlyrecourseis to makeit so uncomfortable
foran unwantedspousethatsheleaveshimofherownaccord. If a

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KWOMA CULTURE

213

the
womanleaves her husbandafterhe has paid the bride-price
lattermustbe compensated
in shellmoneyby herfamilyor hernew
husband. Widows are commonlytaken as wife by one of the
brothersof the deceased husband. No ceremonyor property
marksthis new relationship.If she wishesto marry
transaction
relativesmustreceivea brideprice.
outsideof the clan,heraffinal
has beenpaid herfamily
If a wifedies shortlyafterherbride-price
is expectedto provideanotherwifegratisor fora verylow figure.
Sorcery.

The beliefin sorceryas the cause of all serioussicknessand
death,whichis so prevalentamongNew Guineasocieties,is not
lackingamongthe Kwoma. No hard and fastline can be drawn
to sorcery,
betweenthoseillnessesor accidentswhichare attributed
or
and lessercomplaintswhichare regardedas natural due to an
a particular
ofbad blood. Circumstances
accumulation
surrounding
If
several
the natives'reactions.
case, however,determine
people
die withina shorttimesorceryis suspected; fearand concernfor
ofthenatives.
in thethoughts
theirownsafetyare thenuppermost
the senseof dangerfromthis direction
Whenliferunssmoothly,
is lulled.
takenfor
boils,and ulcersare ordinarily
Fevers,stomach-aches,
herbal
and
native
and
treated
preparations.
by phlebotomy
granted
to the
But eventhesemaladies,if severeor chronic,are attributed
harm.
of
desirous
someone
of
causing
magicalpractices
is suspectedtheonlytreatment
Whensorcery
bywhichitmaybe
is to discoverand stop the individualpractisingit.
counteracted
a sib-matebeatsout
If a personliesill on accountofallegedsorcery
on a woodengongwhichsays," So-and-sois sickan announcement
all sorcerymustcease- all safe relationswithpeopleof othersibs
- we will discoverthe
are brokenuntil theirinnocenceis proved
and retaliate." Menofthesameand othersibsthengather
sorcerer
with the household
to show theirinnocenceand to commiserate
whichhas beenattacked. In somecases a manadmitsthathe has
but statesthathe was doingit at thebehest
beenpractising
sorcery,
of someoneelse withoutknowingthe identityof the victim. If,

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214

KWOMA CULTURE

however,thepreliminary
meetingproducesno evidence,thecase is
takenup by a long-winded
assemblyof the men.
manner. A Kwomawho
Sorceryis carriedout in thefollowing
wishesto bringharm or death to anotherfirstsecuressorcery
whichhas been in
material(i.e. exuviae,foodscraps,or something
directcontactwiththe person)fromthe intendedvictim. Unless
he will
himself
he has a knowledge
ofthepropertechniqueofsorcery
a
to
do
the
latter
fee
to
and
the
a
noted
sorcerer
job. The
go
pay
sorcererretiresto a secludedspot withthe sorcerymaterialand a
special,narrow-necked,
clay pot. The pot withthematerialsin it
is placedon a fireand allowedto becomeveryhot. Cold wateris
thenpouredin, causinga burstof steam. The sorcerymaterial
mustdisappearcompletely
to bringdeath to the victim; if some
will
latter
remain
the
merelybecomeverysick.
scraps
butonlya fewoftheolder
Anyonemaytryhishandat sorcery,
forthebestresults.
menare thought
to havetherequisiteknowledge
the
Not onlyis the sorceryritualitselfdangerousforthe sorcerer,
of
his
into
a
of
material
life,
jeopardy