Huli Haroli Myth

by Stephen Frankel 1

A young man living alone in the forest has received mysterious nightly help with a new garden. He waits by the track to see who is responsible, and ambushes the last girl in a long line of women. The girl changes through many forms in his grasp but he holds on. A girl again, she takes him and hides him in the house where she lives with her parents, brothers and sisters. He plays beautiful music on a mouth harp she has given him, and is discovered. He wants to take the girl home with him, and her parents agree to this). Her parents, brothers and sisters wrapped the girl up in a bundle and gave her to him. They said, ‘You must put this bundle in a place in the deep forest, a secret place forbidden to others, and build a high fence around it. You must look after it, keep it with you all the time, and carry it wherever you go.’

He went back to his own home. He was beautifully dressed, and looked very fine. He saw a big tree with a hollow in it. He thought that there was likely to be a possum in it, so he rushed off with his bow to catch it, leaving his bag on the ground. He climbed the tree, but found that the possum had gone. When he returned, where he had left his bag he found a fine girl, laughing and digging in the garden. He said to her, ‘This is a place for bachelors only (ibagiyanda), how is it that you have come?’ She did not answer, but carried on laughing and working. ‘Did you not see the huge fence I have built around this place? No women come here, how is it that you have come?’ Again she did not answer, but laughed and carried on digging. He became angry, took his bow, and shot her. She said, ‘I told you to look after the bundle well, and you left it alone. Now you have shot me. Quickly, go and fetch some bamboos, some with marks on them, and some without.’ He went to fetch his bag. He saw that there was a hole in it, and the bundle had gone. Before it had been heavy, but now it was light. When he had fetched the two sorts of bamboo, she said, ‘Come quickly. Pull out this arrow, and then my blood will flow. Put the good blood (daramabi bayale) into the bamboo with marks. The bad and dirty blood (daramabi awe ko dodohe), put that in the bamboo with no marks.’ She said, ‘Take that dark blood in the bamboo with no marks, and bury it in that swamp.’ He did what she said. ‘The blood in the bamboos with marks, take that, bind it in bark-cloth, and hide it in the ibagiyanda for the bachelors to see ibagiya with (ibagiya hondole ngelabe).’ He took those bamboos to the forest and hid them. When he came back, she said ‘I will stay here. You must cut many strong trees, and make a fence around me.’ This he did, and she told him to go to his house for seven days, and on the eighth to come and look at the bamboos.

He did as he was told, and on the eighth day he came back. When he looked inside the fence that he had made, he found many kinds of magic plant growing there. From her body above her waist, all the ibagiya plants had grown. From her body below her waist all the magic plants that are good for pigs had grown.

Huli Haroli Myth as given by Goldman: 2

There were two girls from Bebogo called Pandime and Pandana. The former was the youngest of the two. There was also a young bachelor who left his gardens and pigs to go the father of these girls. The old man asked him, “Boy, where have you been?” The boy replied, “I am coming to stay with you.” After some time the boy eventually informed the father that he was returning home to his garden and pigs. The old man remarked, “You want to go but I have nothing to give you!” The boy told him that he should give him something and at last the father gave him a pig. “I don’t want this pig give me another.” The old man gave him cowrie shells (dange) but the boy refused these. “Can I give you my eldest daughter?” asked the man. Again the boy refused. The father then wrapped his youngest daughter into a parcel and gave it to the boy with these words: “Carry this parcel in your bag, it is my gubalini (dearest thing). Don’t lose this thing, don’t leave it on the ground, don’t undo it and don’t take it out. When you go to the garden, carry it with you; when you make house, cook food, chop wood or sleep, have it with you at all times.” The boy then returned home with the parcel. One day he went to the bush and saw his pigs. They had been digging up his gardens and eating his sweet-potatoes. He threw down the bag and went to get his bow and arrows. He chased the pigs back to the garden where he had left the bag. As he arrived he saw a young girl sitting on his bag. “What is this? You have jumped over my bag and sat on it. Where you are sitting I left my bag so is it there?” She didn’t move or answer and he shot the girl with a Kopi arrow. The girl then spoke, “What my father told you not to do, you have done. Now you have shot me. Cut some bamboo and fetch my blood and then plant it in the mud with a fence around it.”

We say from the blood of this woman is Haroli*, Andaya Wiliaba, Iba Giya, Iba Wiliaba, Iba Dagia. We say Hibu ti (small crystal carried by the initiates) is her bone, the Wiliaba plant her lung and heart, the Tia Telengau plant her vaginal blood. When we plant these in Haroli we say ‘Taga Taga'(‘shame shame’).

  1. Stephen Frankel. The Huli response to illness. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986., p. 99 []
  2. (An extract from Talk Never Dies: An Analysis of Disputes Among the Huli. A thesis submitted by Laurence R. Goldman for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University College, London. February, 1982., pp. 445-446) []