by Laurence R. Goldman

While I am in agreement with La Fontaine’s observation that the “perpetuity of the descent group is everywhere assumed in the Higblands (1973:40), it is also the case that symbols of identity and continuity employed do not have equal saliency in indigenous cultural evaluations. 1 For the Huli the concept of Mana occupies an important position in expressions of inter-tribal,inter-group and inter-personal relations. A partial understanding of the meanings of Mana can be gauged from occurrences of the morpheme in such related phrases as mama mamali(ancestors), malu(speech form listing ancestral clan predecessors) and (before, in front of). The most suitable translations of Mana include concepts of knowledge, custom or norm – both verbal and non-verbal manifestations – the inherent validity and status of which derive from association with ancestral behaviour. These are the connotations implicit in explanations of behaviour as “our mana”(iya mana) – the raison d’etre for most forms of social action. In this general sense of ‘tradition’, Mana is capable of a high degree of specification when qualified by descriptive or proper adjectives as in the following: Dama Mana – beliefs and rites pertaining to the supernatural domain; Haroli Mana – practices relating to the bachelor cult, and Nogo Mana – spells and customs of pig-husbandry. An examination of the nature and implications of the many discriminations of Mana is beyond the scope and concern of this thesis. However, data presented in the preceding chapter-concerning Ndi Tingi Mana(concepts and rites of marital intercourse)have sufficed to indicate the content of any form of Mana as a defined(and often sequenced) set of behavioural and verbal practices embodying fundamental symbolic statements of belief. I have chosen in the following discussion to focus on the manner in which Huli verbally express aspects of Mana in contexts of application such as land disputes and child-rearing. This is an orientation which I feel is in accord with indigenous statements of epistemology, and enables one to observe how Mana can function as a symbol of identity and integrity at successive segmentary levels from the tribe to the individual.

Many of the cultural statements about Mana employ stylistic forms typical of the normative expressions previously examined for the kinship domain. The following standard formulation illustrates this point: Bime Mana lole, halime hole, deme de hondole, minime mitangi bule… With the talk the Mana is said, with the ears you will hear it, with the eyes you will see it(i.e. understand / comprehend it), with the mind you will reflect on it…The essential aspects of alliteration and assonance (indicated by underlining), which become somewhat lost in transcription, seem related to the function of such speech genres as educational mediums. Aesthetic elaborations serve as mnemonic forms for expressing, maintaining and inculcating continuity of oral tradition in the society. Furthermore, the text reveals the indigenous estimation ot ‘talk’ (bi) as a means of conveying cultural perpetuity between ancestors and descendants; Mana is expressed in talk and, as the prefacing quotation to this chapter remarks, “talk never dies”. The notion of Mana thus affords the Huli a criteria for self-definition – “ina mama mamali naga mana ogome mo mbiyaore kemagoni: the Mana of our ancestors makes us one”. Differences of knowledge and behaviour at all social levels are rationalized as differences of Mana. It is a concept more general and inclusive than those idioms of unity and incorporation elucidated in Chapter 1; Mana symbolizes the cultural integrity of the Huli in addition to encapsulating a socio-historical explanation of knowledge in the society.

Geographically, the Huli universe is bounded by the Duna (to the north), Enga (north-east) and Dugube peoples. 2 These tribal terms are, however, applied with s ome fluidity, and Tari Huli often refer to Huli of the Koroba sub-district as ‘Duna’, despite the fact that linguistically and culturally they differ from the Duna proper who inhabit the region north from Tanggi to Kopiago. This anomaly is understood by the people of Ialuba who talk of Tari inhabitants as real ‘Huli’ (ref.D.9:401-402), with defined eating habits (ref.D.9:409-411) and as owning more pigs for compensation(ref.D.9:457-458). Cultural variations are expressed in pureremo speech forms and focus directly on the visual manifestations of Mana, particularly styles of decoration and material culture. Images are juxtaposed without the use of verbs and where possible kai (substitute set of eulogistic terms) is employed.

Hulu Gomaiya o m’anda dania / aulai / Hewari Babu/timu ende gili / gulupobe/Hiliyula / gauwa/ nogo ere mame/ hirulaya

The Huli (Hulu Gomaiya is a kai term) with hair bound with rope/decorated with yellow everlasting flowers(helichrysum oracteatum) / with purple everlasting flowers / arrows with decorated shafts / pan pipes / double-stringed musical bow/ jew’s harp / with aprons of pigs-tails / with drum (kai term used) –

Mirila o ayu warabia / dambele atoba pindi baro/ega malungu/tumbudi tangi.

The Duna (Mirila is kai} with their form of axe/with their aprons made of this species of string and bamboo / feathers worn in the hair/string cap

Obena o poromali / herele ibi / dombo puli / ngegoye yandere.

The Enga with this dance style / salt/small cowrie shells / spear made from a Lai tree (Rodonaea viscosa,fam.sapindaceae)

Dugu Yawini o aminemo / ayu aimena / langa bima/digi dobo / biango neria / wabe dalumu nguira / migilini/mandambu / mbulu/ uru abiyene

The Dugube (Dugu Yawini is kai) with their tree oil/form of axe/bow/species of cane / dogs -teeth necklace / bamboo through their nose / hair style / shouting style / killing stick

A further means of expressing recognition of cultural differences is by reference to house construction as in the following formulation: Dugu Yawini -labanda (the Dugube build their houses in the trees with sago fronds; Duna -tawa anda (the Duna make roofs of pandanus (tawa leaves); Obena – gambe anda (the Enga make roofs of pitpit); Huli -dangi anda (the Huli make roofs of kunai (imperata cylindrica) grass. This last stylistic formulation has now incorporated the fact of contact as expressed in Honebi -gaba anda (the white administration have roofs of copper (gaba -Huli version of copper). When uttered in Huli the repetition of ‘anda’ lends a rhythmical lilt to the genre which again indicates that form is as important as content.

These same four societies interrelate for the Huli on a more fundamental level of common origins, the beliefs surrounding which are referred to as Dindi Pongo (the ‘knot of the land’, cf.Goldman 1979). The term signifies both a corpus of myths and a series of land fertility rites(no longer practised) called Dindi Gamu. In many respects the complexity and existence of this sacred stratum of belief is one manifestation of the Huli predilection for explanation in terms of tene (source, origin – an essential characteristic of their forensic system. In essence, Dindi Pongo implies a conceptual and cosmological unity of the Huli universe, an imposition of order expressed in primal myths -an indigenous sociology of knowledge. This conceptual homogeneity is embodied in the Huli’s sacred geography – ritual sites linked by the abodes and travels of ancestors – and in the recognition of those clans and individuals perceived as ‘holding’ (yi) this Mana. At this level of discourse, inter-clan relations are conceived as a compartmentalization of knowledge or ‘talk’. The performance of Dindi Gamu was an occasion for both a sharing and exchange of this knowledge on inter-tribal and inter-clan levels. Those clans commonly considered 3 to be central to Dindi Pongo are dented in pureremo by the construct “x’s son (igini)” in which x is a well known clan predecessor or pair of ancestors; the phrase is used synonymously for the clan name. The following text can be cited by most knowledgeable Huli men and lists the relevant clans – I have inserted the clan names in brackets for identification purposes:

Alu Da iya igini(Dagabua) / Goya Piliya igini(Kobiya) /
Wara Lambilio igini(Ware) / Hiliwa Mugu Himugu igini
(Dugube-Bebe) / Nogo Yabe igini(Bai) / Gai Magare igini
(Yangali)/ Yalidima Aluya i gini(Kokoma) / Gambe Amaiya
igini(Pela) / Uruba Tele igini(Huri) / Mali Mandala igini
(Bari) / Abo Auwira igini(Wenani) /Gubara Goli igini
(Toleni) / Bai Daro igini(Luguni)

The names of those individuals who currently hold their clan Mana are also widely known throughout Huli. They are invariably agnatic (tene) descendants of the above cited ancestors and denoted by the terms agali haguene (man(agali) + head(haguene) -headman), Bi yi(‘holder of the talk’) or Mana yi(‘holder of Mana’). Possession of knowledge and the requisite speech forms used to express it are the necessary and sufficient conditions for leadership in Huli society. In this context agali haguene is a non-competitive status differing in many respects from the ‘achieved’ aspects of the ‘big-man’ complex. Three of these notable men were known personally to me and provided the main body of data concerning Dindi Pongo presented herein. They are Dai (Dagabua clan, Pureni), Irugua (Dugube-Bebe, Ialuba) and Urulu (Kobiya clan, Pureni).The original progenitors of the Huli are collectively referred to as Dama which have male (Hangu Nana) and female (Hana Wali) counterparts duplicating male-female divisions in social organization. These deities are held to co-exist with same-sex spirits(dinini), acting in concert to cause sickness which is the subject of various divination(halaga) techniques. 4 On one level are Dama such as Edepole(‘broken-back’-it has a fossilised manifestation), Dindi Ainya(‘earth-mother’), Heyolbe and Wanelabo (‘two-daughters’), while at the apex of the pantheon are Iba Tiri, Ni and Kebali. I have restricted myself in the following analysis to these latter three Dama since they relate directly to a land dispute cited, in D.1. The primal myth recounting the incestuous relations of Ni and his sister Hana has been set out by Glasse (1965:34). From the blood caused by Hana’s self masturbation against a Hundia tree issued the menstrual poisons Liano and Pogaga (refer Table 2) and Guruibia (eels forbidden food to men). Accounts of the progeny from this union vary but commonly include the following names:

Huli Dama Genealogy

For those clans which trace descent from Ni, the above schema provides the rationale for the use by Tene only of the prefixing name terms Hubi (e.g. Rubi Koma, Rubi Tobani -Ialuba area) and Dali(as in Dali Gopia, Dali Lai, Dali Mandi and Dali Piliba -clans of the Tari sub-district). In many of the mythical accounts of Ni and Hana the Dama Iba Tiri is also stated to have had sexual relations with Hana and to have created the dates(pongo) and roots(pini) for the Huli people by cutting the fingers on her hand while uttering – Hugu dugu pialu, Hagua dugu pialu, Baralamba la donge lalu: Pull out the vaginal secretion, pull out the red ochre (these are both references to the performance of Ndi Tingi rites), prepare the Baralamba plant (this too is considered to have issued from Hana’s blood and is burnt in Ma Hiriya rites – a child-rearing practice described later). These accounts establish why deities as Ni are the object of fertility rituals like Tege and Dindi Gamu. The full import and symbolic significance of such beliefs can be appreciated only by the kind of textual analysis undertaken in Chapter 1. The fecundity of the Ni/Hana union is invoked in Ndi Tingi spells (reference should be made to the cited texts), the Mana of marital relations is believed to have derived from them. The significance of these religious statements suffuses everyday interaction, finding symbolic expression in such speech genres as Gamu. ‘Talk’ is both the medium and symbol of cultural perpetuity as eloquently implied by Pogaye in D.1:23-28; the clan is ‘one mana’ on account of the transmission of knowledge and behaviour. Certain Dama had material representation in stones collectively termed Lidukui (the bones(kui) of Lidu) or Dama Kuni(the bones of Dama). Ni Tangi (‘sun’s hat’ -mortar), Ni Hone and Ni Habane (‘sun’s egg’). These were owned by clan sections and kept in sacred sites known as Lidu Anda. They were previously used in healing rituals and Tege, affording sub-clans a degree of ritual autonomy. The myth of Ni and Hana represents a small part only of Dindi Pongo and is counter-balanced by beliefs concerning the Dama Kebali. There is general consensus in the Koroba area that this deity originated from the Dugube in the west,and that its mythological origins are known only by “Hiliwa Mugu Himugu igini” – i.e. Irugua of Ialuba. This association with Dugube and indeed evidence contained in other myths relating to Duna, points to the conclusion that Dindi Pongo is a collage and an assimilation of myths from varying cultures. These syncretic constituents are bound together conceptually by the Huli predeliction for explanations that locate a “source”(tene) which is not constricted by concerns of specifying historical time at the superstructural level. There is a timeless aspect, temporally and genealogically, to the period of earth’s inhabitation by Dama. Genealogical charters always make a sharp break between Dama and Man (ref.D.1:65-66), reckoning starting only with the latter.

The following text is part of a Kebali myth recounted to me, the continuation of which conforms to the version contained in D.1:259-356 where it is used to validate land rights. Considerable editing is involved in citation of these myths in disputes indicating a division of those portions suitable for ‘private’ and ‘public’ consumption. The following account is significantly omitted from Irugua’s speech in D.1.:

1 The first person on the land was a woman called
Mbidumbi. The land was wet and muddy so she collected
it all in her bag and hung it up to dry. She made
drains in the land and she made the mountains. She
5 bore Dama Kebali and Hiwa. For Kebali and his wife we
say Ome Koma La. Kebali bore all the animals and
he bore the snake(puya) and the cane(gewa) that run
below the ground. Kebali followed on top down there
(i.e. to Tari). Kebali’s daughter was Dangeme who
10 went and married in Pureni. (Informant:Irugua,Ialuba).

An elucidation of the points made in this text is helpful here. Line 1 indicates the importance of woman as progenitor, a cultural motif previously commented upon in Chapter 1. The name Mbidumbi is significantly close to Mt.Mbidu (west of Levani, see Map 1) which forms in Huli cosmology a polar opposite to Mt.Ambua (Tari) on two levels: (1) they represent the places where the sun rises (east) and sets (west), and were ritual sites where Dindi Gamu was performed on account of these associations with Ni (sun); (2) they represent respectively the Dama Kebali and Ni (arnbua is also the term for yellow symbolic of Ni (sun). The opposition of deities Ni and Kebali figures prominently in the political oratory of Irugua(ref.D.1 : 282-285).

Line 2 illustrates the common theme of primal chaos and accounts for the significance attached to drains and specifications of which Dama created them. An example of this is to be found again in the land dispute D.1:128-130. Line 6 reveals the sacred second names (mini mende) for Kebali and his wife. These exist for most Dama and occur in ritual spells or sacred vocabularies used when entering Keba Anda or Lidu Anda ; Ni is frequently referred to as Pini (root) and the deity Heyolabe as Biango (dog). The totemic aspects of the Huli clan system are also hinted at in Line 6. Indeed, those clans who conceive their original progenitor to be an animal – e.g. Pi (Urubungawe -Lorikeet), Kailu (Uru Kamia – Black Palm cockatoo), Muguni (Biango – dog), Yugu(Nogo -pig}, Tani (Yari-cassowary) – would collect the relevant species in times of Dindi Gamu and transport them to Kelote(Pureni) for reasons explained further on.

Lines 7-8 formulate a central tenet of the Dindi Pongo system. The cane is believed to be wrapped around the snake both of which run underground forming a circle beneath Huli territory. Traditional prophecies of impending doom, latent in Dindi Pongo philosophy, stipulate that when the two ends of the snake and cane break apart the death of mankind is imminent. The encompassing and integrative nature of these beliefs seem further reflected in the symbolic associations of cane (gewa) – notions of tying/binding (5.Cf.D.1:384) for a variant form Auwi Pini.

Relations – and snake (puya) – regeneration / rebirth – discussed previously in the context of kinship. Interestingly, both items form part of Huli adornment, cane belts encircle the waist while snake-skin bands (heda) are worn around the forehead. 5 It may be – and this is conjecture and hypothesis – that some relation exists between the domain of personal-decoration and cosmological beliefs.

Lines 8-9 refer to the travels of Kebali which are marked in Huli and by ritual sites called Keba Anda. 6 In the Koroba area these are invariably limestone caves, forbidden to women and children, which are ‘kept’ by ritual experts possessing the requisite spells and rites. The particular tracks along which Kebali travelled are known as Kebe Haria or Habua Pu, sites where certain child-birth rituals were performed until very recently. In this regard both Ni and Kebali represent a mythical procreative model, a template of fertility which is invoked and re-created in social reproductive activities as sexual intercourse and child-birth. The names of these tracks are encoded, as with so many features of Dindi Pongo, in pureremo forms like the following: Puya Gewa la (snake and cane)/Bai Goba Balimu la (rotten wood of the Bai (castano sis acuminatissima, fam.Fagaceae) tree and Balimu plant Biango Borere la dog & marsupial-cat: (dasyurus albopunctatus)/Auwa Gauwa la(track in Ialuba)/ Hagalabo Tegelabo la (track in Wabia)/Agapia Kirabo la (Lake Kopiago in Duna). On one levei they are regarded as variant names for Kebali, while on another level they represent a spatial and geographical link between points of ritual significance in Buli, Duna and Dugube – an empirical manifestation of cosmological unity.

Lines 9-10 indicate that the continuation of this primal myth is to be found in Pureni where the Dagabua clan is alone considered to know the origins of the Huli people. The accounts I received from various Dagabua men, especially the headman Dai, reiterate aspects of primal chaos on earth where land and mountains were continually shaking'(kili kulu). The first inhabitant on Huli territory was a woman called Dangi Tene (recognised as a variant of Dangeme), the daughter of Kebali. She ate only the wild species of foods – Tumbu (taro), Pili (sugar-cane) Garua(banana) and Hima (sweet-potato species). This period is referred to as Ma Naga (time of Taro) or Ira Goba Naga (time of rotten wood) and is indigenously understood to re-date the introduction of sweet-potato proper and domesticated varieties of the above. These foods were cooked by the heat from Dangi Tene’s genitals and during Dindi Gamu Dagabua agnates ritually recreate her existence on earth. The historical accuracy of the concept Ma Naga suggests that the sweet-potato arrived in this region after any ethnic differentiation. Indeed, in order to claim historical precedence and validate land claims, considerable significance can be attached in land disputes to who gave the first sweet-potato vines to whom. An illustration of the political and economic repercussions of this issue can be found in D.1:92,141-143,231-233. The chronological division of ‘wild’ and ‘domesticated’ subsistence inherent in the above account, provides a symbolic dimension invoked in child-birth and child-rearing rites. Ma Naga was a period of strength, aggressive self-assertion and primal fertility, invoked in Gamu to imbue these characteristics into children. The genesis narrative recounts how Dangi Tene had four children who radiated out from the centre Kelote to found the Huli, Obena (IpiliPaiela), Duna and Dugube peoples. In some versions the father of these children is conceived to be Iba Tiri, while in other narratives Dangi Tene married a man called Hela. This is believed to explain the frequently used appellations Hela Huli, Hela Obena, Hela Duna and Hela Dugube – a linguistic codification of common origins.

The extent to which the site called Kelote represents the focal ritual point for Huli is similarly reflected in the relevant reference idioms: dindi hanuni (the middle land), dindi pini (the root of the land), Waya Humbi (the shield) and Ira Kelo (tree support -support of the universe, kelo as in Kelote). From this metaphorical tree, four roots (pini) are believed to extend out to Huli, Duna, Obena and Dugube shielding the snake and cane and binding the earth together. This centripetal tendency in the cosmos is manifested in the further tenet that the major rivers of these four societies – Tagari (Huli), Baro Wainya (Obena), Iba Ainya (Dugube) and Honowaga (Duna) – have their confluence in a tree known as Ira Bale (sp.elmerrillia). The waters are cleaned by Iba Tiri and bound with cane (gewa) where they rise up to the mythical place in the sky Dalu yeli and fall as rain – Daluyeli pu tara (the people in Daluyeli are urinating). The status and importance attached to Kelote (and the owners of the site, Dagabua clan) was also reflected in the previous ritual buildings that existed there, e.g. Kebe Anda, Depe Halebe Ia, Ogo Anda, Gelage Anda (see Goldman 1979) – they were both larger than their satellite equivalents and considered more central. Following excessively dry seasons or natural disasters like earthquakes, a complex set of land fertility rites would be performed throughout Huli, each clan recreating and invoking aspects of its own origin myth. At a particular stage in these rites clan representatives would converge on Kelote for a further and grander ritual performance, including Dugube and Duna. As a system of economic re-distribution (those clans involved in Dindi Pongo would exchange pigs and shells as payment for performance of fertility rites) Dindi Gamu is not particularly remarkable. 7 More significant is the manner in which it served to integrate clans in a schema whose conceptual homogeneity seems atypical of Highland societies.

To unravel the complexity of Dindi Pongo would require a research project of singular devotion. Many other dominant myths have been dovetailed into and superimposed upon those outlined above. In each case elements of these Mana forms are encoded in pureremo which signify those clans who hold the knowledge. The myth of Baya Baya, referred to by Glasse (1965:46}, is
normally prefaced, or has a coda, exemplifying this last point:

Abua Auwira igini / Koroba Koli igini / Bai Daro
igini / Bai Hanagali igini(all clan names held
responsible for the death of a small boy}

In the case of the Duna there is evidence to suggest that some reciprocal acknowledgement of common origins exists. The Huli account of a pig and lady from Duna, known as Nogo Para Tambugua and Memeleme respectively, parallels a Duna myth cited in Appendix 3. The pig gave birrh to the Huli clans Korawi, Koraiya and Muguaiya (Koroba area), eventually settling in Pureni in a Lake called Tambugua. The Duna appear to have similar notions of Dama ‘tracks’ – Auwi and Hambu – which all lead to GeloGili (Kelote). Myths of this pig have been inextricably intertwined with beliefs about other minor Huli deities like Guruwali (second name for Edepole), but the important fecund associations are again invoked in Huli child-rearing practices explained later in this chapter. Figure 4 summarily sets out the salient beliefs and rites of Dindi Pongo which relate specifically to Kelote and to the concepts of Dindi gini (making the land ‘right’), Dindi Bebe (making the land ‘straight’) and Kebe Hagama/Haiya (the ‘clearing’ of Kebali’s place).

A recapitulation of some of the themes associated with Dindi Pongo seems important here. As an explanation of the social origin of knowledge and as a cosmology, the system reveals an extraordinary balance and unity both conceptually and geographically. This is manifested in the radiation of roots (pini) along all four compass directions, the opposition of Mt. Ambua and Mt. Mbidu and the convergence at the centre point (Kelote) of major rivers. Kelote is a focal site in this sacred geography and medial between earth and sky – a metaphorical tree (i.e. Ira Kelo -‘support’) bridging celestial and terrestial domains. Within this encompassing framework other linked major shrines are recognised – e.g. Bebenete(Tari) – where sections of the Dindi Gamu rites were performed. The system extends down to the clan and sub-clan levels who owned satellite Kebe Anda or Ogo Anda (conical shaped ritual building) connected by Kebali’s tracks and the circumferential snake and cane. An ordered structure of major and minor sacred shrines contrasting with the chaos of original Huli land. The system is a further manifestation of the general notion Mana, which both integrates and functions to assert integrity at successive segmentary levels, and ultimately to the level of the individual, who as possessor of specialist spells and knowledge, is also considered a ‘Mana yi'(holder of Mana). To reiterate a previous remark, there is a conception of social relations at all levels as constituted by ‘talk’, a distributive model which I later argue is employed in the settlement of disputes. Within this ‘science’, I have tried to stress the manner in which the verbalisation of ideas is central to processes of transmission and perpetuation of knowledge. While detailed acquaintance with the content of each primal myth is known only by the associated clans – the private dimension of Dindi Pongo – the existence of both is culturally encoded in pureremo(genre form) which are ‘publicly’ assimilated. Three further texts serve to make this point:

Mogorowada puni – Mo’o biamiya
(In Mogorowa swamp(Mogra Fugua we will meet)
Daliwane puni – Dai lamiya
TTn Daliwane swamp(Koroba) wewill run}
Iba Haiya puni – Hjiya lamiya
(In Haiya swamp(Hiwanda, Tari we will scatter)
Halunamu lani – Namu lamiya
(In Halunamu we will sink it into the ground)
Abe Bebetene – Bebene biamiya
(In Bebenete(Tari) we will make the land straight)

The stylistic constituents are a cluster of sequenced phonological similarities between toponyms (the initial phrases) and the verbal terms (secondary phrases) – they may bear no etymological interrelation to each other. The format is structured by the recognition of the aesthetic – alliterative and assonant – potential in the phonemic correspondences between terms juxtaposed. To indicate that linguistic form and thematic content are linked, and that this relation is critical to retention and transmission of knowledge, is not particularly remarkable or novel. However, it is an aspect that is not always detailed by ethnographers of myth in the New Guinea Highlands. If one accepts that we are, in the above context, dealing with ideology in some form or other, then it is incumbent on us to make explicit how ideas are expressed as well as communicated. The component verbs of the text cited all refer to particular ritual actions, concerned with Dindi Pongo, that were previously performed at the respective sites. The text simply encapsulates part of the complex of ideas relating to order in ‘the Huli’ universe. It is not a spell or part of the rites themselves; it -exists at the level of what is general knowledge – a tangible representation of their philosophy. We can now begin to comprehend how the Huli conceptualize and relate to behaviour through the medium of pureremo. What is familiar, standardized or expected in the culture is encoded by such speech genres. The structural format is throughout a contiguous placing of key terms, concepts or names; the whole process of formation seems regulated by a repertoire of aesthetic devices or conventions. From the data thus far presented, it is perhaps evident that this form of cultural representation permeates all domains of social action. In kinship, obligations towards Aba and Hanini are reflected in the appropriate pureremo, and these are used (as I later show in Chapter 4) to regulate interaction in disputes. The manner in which the norm is expressed is here as equally important as the nature of the norm itself.

Tribal or clan interrelations are expressed through the medium of talk, and talk itself may also be spoken of in the context of pureremo. Leadership in Huli is to a large extent control over oratorical forms which figure in Damba Bi (ref.Table 5) that assert comprehension and possession of Mana. In the example, cited in Appendix 9, made to me by Gurubugu (Gangaro’s father) we can see how Lines 1-7 make reference to Kelote, thus exhibiting his understanding of Dindi Pongo. The coda (Lines 49-68) essentially reiterates ideas set out in the pureremo forms given at the beginning of this chapter. They identify the Huli as people of a certain ‘decorative mode’ – common knowledge – but in a format which clearly distinguishes Gurubugu as an agali haguene. This connection between sacred sites, a geographical unification of the Huli universe -is similarly expressed in the following text (widely known) which outlines how simultaneous burning fires were lit at the poles of the ‘world’ for Dindi Gamu, and their smoke would come out (tagira) at opposite ritual grounds:

Mbidubani, gabi tugu de lolebira; Bebali Euni t agira pole
(At Mt. Mbidu the Gabi plant is burnt; smoke comes out at
Bebali Puni(Dugube))
Bebali Puni balimu de lolebira; Kelote tagira pole
(At Bebali Puni the balimu plant is burnt; it comes out at
Kelote ira gelo de lolebira; Bebenete tagira pole
(At Kelote the gelo tree is burnt; it comes to Bebenete)
Bebenete bai de lolebira; Mbidubani tagira pole
(At Bebenete the bai (fam.fagaceae) tree is burnt; it comes
out at Mt. Mbidu)

This rigorous manner of realising in speech the unity of their cosmos typifies even inter-clan relations. Particular Huli clans are thus associated with specific ritual tasks involving the cutting of certain trees:

Kokoma clan will cut the Hangabo tree / Padiame will
cut Nguai Mano tree/Kiame(Tobani) will cut Harege /
Huri will cut Dewane(all of these would be carried and
placed in two ritual houses at Kelote called Depe/
Halebe(cf.Goldman 1979))

In D.1 the political importance of owning these specific rites comes to the fore as clans attempt to establish their ritual status and, by implication, validate tenure of land. While cessation of Dindi Gamu has made it difficult to discern fact from fiction, the realm of land disputes permits us to pass from theory to praxis. The system of Dindi Pongo is being perpetuated in new contexts especially at the tribal level. An awareness of economic development and rich mineral deposits in the Star Mountains has engendered a new movement among Huli for an autonomous province within the Southern Highlands Province. Those particular individuals who ‘hold’ (yi) their clan Mana concerning Dindi Pongo are gaining a newfound reputation divorced from the previous ritual context. They are being urged to actively support a move for a ‘Hela’ province composed of Huli, Duna, Dugube and Ipili-Paiela, a cause in which their control of knowledge can validate these supposed common origins and (by implication) Huli rights to rich mineral deposits in the Western Province. This development has renewed the political currency of Dindi Porigo, an extension of the traditional role of myth in land disputes to which I now turn my attention.

(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., p. 65-81.)

  1. It is linguistically cognate with the Duna term mana (Modjeska 1977:164) and is most probably a compound of ma( from before)+( noun specifier: cf: Appendix 1, note 2). []
  2. different cultures along the north-western ridge of the Strickland river extending south to Bosavi. It includes Tinali, Agala, Pogaiya, Kora and Kuali. The linguistic map of these tribes to the immediate north-west of Huli is still ill-defined so that which Dugube is being referred to depends on geographical stance. []
  3. The status accorded to these clans derives from their
    a s sociation with certain focal ritual sites(e.g. Kelote, cf.Goldman 1979) and assumed descent from particular Dama (original inhabitants). On account of this they own particular origin myths and rites of relevance to the previous enactment of Dindi Gamu. []
  4. Similarly, male spirits are collectively termed Depa, and female spirits Pali Wali in the Koroba area []
  5. .A fuller account is contained in Goldman 1979. []
  6. In this context the body is kept whole and integral by cane, while the snake-skin band might signify an attempt to achieve immortality as in the spell texts cited in Chapter 1. The same kind of imitative process typifies decoration involving Bird of Paradise feathers where more explicit statements are made about the relations between man and nature. []
  7. My researches indicate that Dindi Gamu on this large scale -occurred perhaps once every 25 years (average). []