Huli Terminology


Man or illness in man caused by menstrual pollution.

Agali Timbuni Homogo
Leading men (big-men) in a clan or phratry who have achieved their status through knowledge of lore, history, clans and individuals, the acquisition of great wealth, and the possession of fine oratory skills. They function as arbiters in clan disputes.


For no reason


Perfect. The name of the boy killed in a dindi gamu rite. See Bayebaye Myth.

A time of darkness caused by the dama and controlled by taboos and rituals wherein silt falls from the sky to either increase garden fertility and usher in an era of plenty or suffocate all forms of life and destroy the world.

Bi Mana
Sacred myths about the origins of dama, gamu, the world, and Huli life which are only chanted in the presence of men.

Bi Te
Folk stories and legends.


Breath or Life Force

A collective term that refers to ghosts, spirits, ancestral founders and deities.


A type of transformative power,  a life form which is sacrificed, often of its own will, to give the abundance of life to humans.

A paid ritual specialist who directs the bachelor cult.

A specially constructed house surrounded by a high fence wherein rituals are performed, and courting parties are held.

Dindi gamu

(Meaning earth spell). The major earth fertility ritual.


Dinini refers both to the souls of the living and the shades of the dead 1


The collective term for all the peoples of the Papuan Plateau, including Etoro, Onabasulu, Kaluli, Tsinali and Petamini

A supernatural power or force that is controlled, manipulated and even possessed by men and women through sets of words and actions designed to affect dama in such a way as to produce an effect on the environment, material objects, oneself and/or another person or persons.

A forested ritual sited centered around a sacred cave wherein fertility rites are performed.

A type of Huli dance wherein two male dancers with specific bodily ornamentation beat their drums as they silently dart back and forth over a six-foot area during fertility rituals.

Bachelor cult that initiates young men into the fullness of Huli manhood in sacred forests over a two-to-three-year period.


A water spirit, or a scruffy pauper


A poor person or pagan


A sacred site dedicated to the ancestor spirit Kebali, or the temple built on such a site

Can be used to refer to a single founding ancestor, or collectively to all the ancestors of the clan. The senior officiant in the kebanda ritual may also be known as Kebali. 2

A ritual specialist who conducts tege pulu rites under the direction of a uriali.

A type of Huli dance wherein two of more separate lines of male and female dancers silently perform a simple jumping step to the beat of drums carried by the male dancers.


Lore or knowledge of sacred myths

A ritual specialist well versed in lore and traditions who chants the ancient myths (bi mana).

A generic term for wigs made from human hair, bark rope, and plant burrs that are only worn by men. The manda hare is a black or red crescent shaped wig worn with the tips of the crescent pointing upwards on ceremonial occasions. The manda tene or everyday wig is an unpainted crescent shaped wig with the points of the wig pointing downwards.


A time of darkness when volcanic ash falls from the sky.

Pelagua or Bakua
A type of Hulli dance performed during fertility rites wherein men dressed in female attire rhythmically move in a circular pattern to the beat of their drums and accompanying chants.

Tayanda Bi
A ritual language akin to the Huli language that is spoken in sacred forests to confuse the dama.

Tege Pulu
A fertility and initiation rite composed of several ritual sequences which are performed over a seven-month period every five to ten years or when deemed necessary by a clan association.

A ritual specialist who, having completed services as a liduali at two or more tege pulu rites, directs the tege pulu rite.

  1. Stephen Frankel. The Huli response to illness. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986., p. 151. []
  2. Stephen Frankel. The Huli response to illness. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986., p. 150. []