by Laurence R. Goldman

Huli emphasis on the communicative nature of talk can be gleaned from their divinatory and prophetic concepts. While it is a field that has been described briefly by Glasse(1965), my discussion is concerned to show how many of the category terms are used figuratively in discourse, and how they are being adapted to meet the needs of modern political rhetoric. As interpretative techniques the Huli make a distinction between what we may gloss as ‘divination’ forms – halaga ( “used to hear (hale: customary mood)”) – and ‘omens’ – manane (a “form of mana”:a sign). The explanation of natural phenomena is subject to both degrees of variability and standardisation. The speech of the Barking Owl (ninox connivens:halengau – literally means to “hear the sound gau”) is often a foreboding of adverse events, as are the movements of the Willy Wagtail (rhipidura 2 leucophrys:piagoli). 1 These two explanatory mediums intersect inasmuch as omens may occur during a divination performance. Table 25 sets out the principal species of each and their main situational characteristics. The Halaga forms a-fare mainly devoted to behavioural strategies associated with illness and do not directly impinge on the pathology of disputes. In what follows, therefore, I restrict discussion to the three types given in g-i. I should at this juncture point out that these are no longer practised and, even in pre-contact times, did not have equal geographic distribution over Huli territory. For example, the postmortem examination of bodies vividly elucidated by Glasse(1968) -Handi Handaga – was never practiced in the Egele – Ialuba area. Precisely the same determinants of death could be elicited from the use of Toro which employed the bones of dead relatives to recall their spirit so ‘ that it could answer questions put to it. It might be resorted to following a death in war(e.g. ref.D.1:341-342) to identify the assailant, or, according to my informants, to locate suitable pigs for stealing. The account given by Glasse (1965:39) is admirable and I do not here intend to duplicate his description. The association between bones and ‘talk’ is interesting, and relates directly to my remarks concerning the idiom of ‘kuni’ in the contexts of kinship and discourse. The divination procedure is concerned to ‘force’ talk from the return ed spirit by poking his bones with the Toro leaves. The Gamu entre a ts the spirit to “make talk (bi langibe) like the birds, shake and move the platform I am holding”. Once identified, a killer might have sorcery worked against him, find himself a target in the next war, or the relatives of the slain man might ‘hire’ someone to carry out their revenge. While the practice has lapsed with enforced burials and mission influence, the performative meaning of the rite is still very much alive both conceptually and verbally. To appear to ‘force’ another to speak in a dispute or other speech context, can figuratively be said to be ‘making Toro’ on him. Referring again to the wailing text cited in Appendix 8:3, we note sequentially how the mother’s death is conceived as a form of ‘trickery’ on her babies(116-136). The impressions she has left behind are tangible, they are visible like the “footprints of the birds”(137-174); her death has left a feeling of tartness or bitterness “like the taste of taro”(175-188).

The lament continues with the line, “Mother, I told you to make a little talk and you said, ‘ Do you want to make Toro Halaga on me?” (199-222). The same idea is expressed in D.9 where Telenge retorts., “You are letting me talk so are you making Toro on me?”(D.9:106-109;179-1~0). This extension of performative meaning characterizes the usages of Tiari (Table 25,1) both in traditional and modern speech patterns. I feel it is important to clarity at the outset the considerable definition of problems encountered in relating my findings to that of Glasse’s data. What I refer to as Tiari is termed tera by Glasse(1965:40-41); the difference is not simply one of orthography or phonetic realisation, it is also semantic. From my discussions in Chapter 3 concerning adages, particularly the forms 2d.(i- and ii) to which the reader should now refer, it is clearly evident that to make a choice between alternatives may be expressed idiomatically as “choosing the hairs for the possum or dog” – very much a case of “splitting hairs”.

Tiari functioned similarly to make a choice between competing accounts of a situation, and this is reflected in the component morphemes tia (possum) + iri (hair) – choosing amongst the hairs of the possum. The second issue, and one that least concerns me, is how we are to anthropologically classify Tiari for it is simultaneously an oath -entreaty to a supernatural agent to witness veracity – and an ordeal – a means of determining ‘guilt / innocence’ by application of dangerous tests. Ignoring this matter for the moment, we should be clear as to exactly what was decided by Tiari rites. My research indicates that it was by no means a common recourse strategy amongst disputants in Ialuba, nor an invariant concomitant of impasse situations. As will become clear later, the Huli do not conceptualise ‘stalemate’ positions, for an occasion of talk, however productive / unproductive it is, exists as a phase of what is understood to be a continuing and enduring debate between the parties. The complexity of the issues involved in any dispute, and the tendency for many of them to be renounced or postponed, is the basis of the rationalisation that I have used as a title to this thesis -talk never dies. For the Huli, impasses are temporary, adjournments of dialogue rather than statements of intractable position. Table 10 reveals that on average most claims are debated on at least 2.2 occasions, marginally higher in cases of bridewealth claims. The case material I collected concerning Tiari indicates a bilateral agreement to be subjected to serious illness – which may afflict any close cognatic kin – should that person be telling lies. For the most part it was resorted to only in serious instances such as pig theft and between people who realised that, on account of their past relationships or nexus of transactions, they would have to interact at some time in the future. The performance of Tiari was considered an extremely dangerous affair, never resorted to lightly. The nature of Huli residence patterns mikes withdrawal or avoidance an easy matter so why then employ Tiari? In many senses it functioned to channel hostility that could not easily, without flagrant breach of kinship or residence norms, be expressed in physical violence. In this regard it perhaps performed the same kind of role that a more formal announcement of abrogated relations, or placement of specific taboos, fulfilled in societies such as the Abelam, Arapesh and Orokava (cf.Goldman 1974:132 for detailed cross-cultural references) – a non-violent public statement of conflict.

While much of the ethnography of Tiari is irretrievable, I am of the opinion that the conception of its decision-making powers did not concern specific statements of fact made during a dispute -i.e. did X do y, say w, or go to k when he said he did – but rather provided an over a perspective and evaluation of an opponent’s a count. The premise of the whole procedure is the hypothetical proposition, “If you are lying (L) then illness (I) will come”. However, as Glasse (1965:41) has rightly noted, the Huli do not conjointly assert if L then I and if I then L. Any illness that develops at whatever time may be attributed by the sick person to other causes, and indeed the case material I collected showed that I no ‘decision’ of the matter was thereby rendered. No compensation ever followed on the instances of Tiari performance that I heard of. While there was a great deal of variation in the former practices of any ritual, such that my observations may need to be qualified for other areas in Huli, I do not interpret the presence of Tiari as a structural concomitant of insufficient “judicial determinations‚Ķweak authority” (Roberts 1965:207-208). The explanation lies rather in situational determinants of the type I have elicited above. The potency of Tiari sense it represents a contrast to incest Gamu. In the latter case the bargain struck with Dama is of the form, “I’m giving you pig, you give me man” – where the Dama are being asked to sanction or prevent the effects of the incest. In Tiari the same statement is used to mean “you deliver me a dead man, or the liar, because l am giving you pig.” The Gamu texts I collected include a recitation of the most dangerous Huli Dama , with a coda of the form, “This man is saying he didn’t steal; I’m giving you pig so you give me man.” Supernatural retribution takes many forms and while this caused much anxiety among the disputants; we may perhaps also state that Tiari expressed “an agreement to disagree”.

As with the term Toro, Tiari could also be used in a figurative sense for any situation that was seen as a “test” of later events to come. In understanding these indigenous idiomatic usages we come closer to appreciating why, and how, they are particularly suitable rhetorical devices for modern Huli politicians. People in Ialuba did not have a good understanding or command of the intricacies of national politics. I worked on the 1978 Koroba by-election which enabled me to observe at first hand how voting was very much in accordance with the concerned. Their manifestos are communicated largely by public speeches in which they present their ‘platform’ (dagia) for health, education, agriculture and “lo na oda” (law and order). The influence and conduct of modern politics is a large subject which I cannot do justice to here. Nevertheless, it is both important and a significant reflection on the arguments I have been developing, that the kind of aesthetics noted for the oppositions of Danda and Damba is carried over to political rhetoric. Issues are presented to people as a choice between Dagia and Dama – the appeal of assonance. The former is a rostrum for sanctioned and beneficial communication, for interaction along the right lines in the same way as Agali Dagia and Wali Dagia, in the traditional context, provided for sanctioned inter-sex behaviour. The latter is the dangerous road where Dama operate. In this regard, Tiari is used to evoke the notion of testing inherent in the modern ritual of “elections”. The election is a Tiari for the way people will stay later on the land. I can perhaps convey the power of this imagery by a brief extract from the political speech given by one of the candidates -Andrew Wabira – to the Ialuba and Egele people on a market day prior to the elections. The first by-election had been declared null and void as Wabira had proved to the authorities that Paiele Elo had “rigged votes” in his favour. A second by-election was called for and Wabira plays on his role in bringing ‘justice’ to the people.

Text: Part of a recorded speech at Egele market May 24th:

“In the election before they all said, ‘You vote for me, you vote for me. ‘Paiele won and I thought that was a good thing. But his campaign wasn’t good, he cheated and I took it to court. I saw three thousand people vote for me in Koroba, their eyes were open and they wanted to vote for me again. If you people open your eyes then I will find some more roads for my talk to go on. I thought of all these people and I wanted to be a Member(House of Assembly) again. I threw my 3000 Kina away(the cost of his campaign to get the first by-election revoked) because I wanted to have this election again. I brought the by-election back, not the white-men (honebi :white administrators) in Koroba, Mendi, Hagen or Moresby. I brought it like a Tiari. These old men here used to do it for stealing pigs, for lying and saying ‘I didn’t do it, I didn’t eat the sweet potatoes’. For the lies they told when they campaigned, I made a war; now we will have the Tiari I said, and then the Tiari came. The election we are having now is the Tiari. What I did before I completed, like men who used to cut the branches and split the wood, I made the fence and the house (i.e. I completed the jobs I set out to do). My mind and my talk are good so now we will let them see Dama and Dagia” 2

The performance of any Gamu or rite may be interrupted by the unexpected presence of fortuitous happenings which may or may not be interpreted as ‘omens’. I collected a great deal of this kind of statement, and indeed dream explanations, but no clear pattern of symbolic transposition emerges from the data. Impending ‘death’ may be heralded by both terrestrial and celestial creatures, or by dreams which include bows, fires, testicles, crying, teeth etc. While it is possible that further research is required to assess the degree of random evaluation, dogs were unequivocably always associated with ‘negative’ import. This is, of course, reflected in the term biangonga (this corrects Glasse’s rendering as piyanguma 1965: 39 ) and seems related to notions of ‘excreta’ discussed previously. Many of the explanations of omens concern references to ‘birds’ talk’, particular sounds indicating direction or foreknowledge of future events. My informants assured me that where an animal was a sign of Dama, they would wait for ‘it to disappear before re-commencing any ritual activity. Gamu that were interrupted in this way would always be recited from the beginning again.

The Huli attach considerable significance to predictions, and there were traditionally certain well-known places in which one awaited predetermined signs that would indicate outcomes of intended actions. The semantic morphology of both the system and nomenclature of manane (‘type of Mana’) suggests that the Huli conceptualize nature as manifesting Mana; man stands in a receptive relation to this order. Within both domains of nature and culture the verbal is, for the Huli, the predominant factor. The communication patterns within the spheres are ideally symmetrical. When the Lesser bird says, “I’m good, I’m good”, he is addressing his remarks to a recipient audience of both man and bird. Some bird speech is simply “gossip”(dide:ref.Table 4:H6), it is not considered dangerous or harmful, but inconsequential. The talk of other birds, however, is meaningful to both man and bird. The abstraction process by which order is conceptually imposed on both domains is selective, but focused and founded on perceived visual and aural parallels. When the relationship that subsists between the domains is stipulated, when the dialogue of man’s interaction with his universe is transcribed, asymmetry emerges. In Huli thought, nature does not reciprocally acknowledge, either in its seen or unseen manifestations, the import of human behaviour; it is passive to man’s aggression. The Huli are conscious of the manner in which they imitate and invoke environmental symbols, often realising their philosophic statements in corporeal representations – e.g. the Manda. This asymmetry in the communicative model runs counter to the normative code of speech reciprocity. It is a facet that perhaps makes intelligible the prevalence and countenance of ‘deceit’ in their interaction with the natural and supernatural. Encounters with Dama are invariably organised around the “trick” (hoge): “Let them think Y is X’. This manifests itself in verbal transpositions – use of ritual vocabulary sets – and non-verbal substitution of ritual objects, or enticement procedures whereby spirits are first lured before being killed or “closed down” (mo damba). Behaviour that is considered inappropriate in human interaction, that is “quarantined” within certain zones, is here sanctioned when directed to the outside; covert behaviour towards Dama is possible because the ramifications cannot be assessed. These are the transcending beliefs that seem to make sense of the cultural emphasis on duplicity. The threat of Dama is not immediately one to man himself, but to his pigs; the actions of Dama are rationalised as “hunger for pigs”. The term Humbirini – Land of spirits – is used in other contexts to express ‘mood and motive’ of people who are envious, jealous or acquisitive. The Huli reaction to the threats posed by Dama, and one that is culturally expected in disputes, is to deny and deprive anatagonists ones talk – it is hidden or changed.

While many of the traditional prelection techniques have lapsed, the fatalistic predilection has survived and the Huli are adapting to introduced forms. The Tobani people rely on a type of trance-mediumship performed by a Dugube man called Gulali (Plates 11-12) 3 The Tobani refer to this practice as togali, and it appears to be related to the Etoro Kesame (cf.Kelly 1976:52). Gulali himself employed this appellation for the spirit which he believed to possess him. He is also called upon to perform a chest healing rite called Hame Hedehi. I have been present at several of the trance sessions and noted that many of the Tobani contingent were addressing questions to the Kesame concerning the on-going land dispute with Koma (ref.D.1).

Gandeba is somewhat different from the above in that it subsumes omens proper as well as conceived parallels or analogies between two or more situations. For example, in D.6 Andira’s mother is reported to have seen “gandeba” (D.6:95-97) in the similarities between the marital conflict of her son and daughter-in-law, and that between Hawi and Tondowa (see Diagram 8). The importance attributed to this predictive insight stemmed from two factors: (1) the prevailing kinship relations between the two couples; and (2) the fact that Hawi had killed Tondowa only two months prior to the case. All the disputants and mediators in D.6 were thus presently engaged in compensation negotiations. The likelihood of replication between Andira and his wife is implicitly fixed upon by Dalu as a source of anxiety to all concerned. In other contexts, such as extreme anger or vituperative between opponents, to make bi wia (rediction) can be interpreted as a form of veiled threat to a person’s life. Several instances occurred during my fieldwork of people seizing seemingly innocuous states of being or events to accuse another of covert behaviour. In most cases these accusations were part of a wider strategy of opposition to that party. In one such instance a wife explained the presence of banana scraps in her fire as a statement, by her husband, of intention to commit murder – a death (fire) of fertility (banana=woman). The action was labelled yobage – symbolic behaviour (ref.Chapter 3). Like many of the other terms we have been considering gandeba is also used figuratively, as well as synonymously for the introduced word witnes (pidgin), where one set of events is said to be the witness gandeba for a future situation. In the context of change I should also mention that to some extent Tiari situations are reflected in the modern resort to “raising hands” in church, as a means of attesting to the veracity of one’s account.

In the second part of this chapter I consider warfare and compensation, and so to conclude the present discussion of self-help mechanisms I shall briefly examine suicide and death. Self-inflicted injuries were not a common form of demonstrating anger at some delict or states of grief. I observed no instances of recourse to this means though occasionally it did occur according to my informants. In its extreme manifestation as suicide one is almost inevitably forced to rely on rationalisations after the event. Amongst New Guinea societies suicide appears to be most common in situations of domestic strife, and is generally accepted as involving some aspect of the states of anger and shame. For the Kuma and Chimbu, suicides indicate a potential structural strain in marriage and divorce where the refusal of the parents to sanction either may contribute to an eventual suicide attempt. The variables that can impinge on any situation are both multiple and complex. People’s perceptions of situational choices, alienation by one or more sets of kin and personality factors all seem, in different degrees, relevant. One has further to assess whether in Huli we are dealing with a combination of roles that are suicidogenic, or whether as certain Highland ethnographers have argued, it is more a failure to fulfil roles, not necessarily perceived as incompatible, that induces suicide.

The terms for suicide in Huli are aenogoda or pu nara, both of which signify “having been eaten by pig’s rope”. Hanging is by far the most common method employed, and informants frequently explained such action as one outcome of processes of ‘anger’ development: “Lembo timbuni bu gubalini ogoria howa iraga haragola dendepe ogoria iraga haragola, o haguene g endebi bialu hale pai holebira, ani biragola pu naradagoni. “The big anger comes from the heart and climbs up to the throat, it makes the head heavy and blocks the ears; when things are like this then one hangs oneself.” Suicide does not evoke moral outrage or indignation; the person who resorts to this course of action is not considered to have perpetrated any offence per se. It is regretted but accepted as an individualistic response to extreme circumstances characterised in some way by ‘deprivation’. I recorded some eleven instances of attempted /completed suicides that had occurred in Ialuba within the lifetimes of my informants; two of these happened during my fieldwork. In 50% of the cases there was some precipitating quarrel between husband and wife. The accounts stressed two factors:(1) the occurrence of physical violence preceding the act; and (2) a conflict of decisions concerning use and deployment of pigs. In all but one of the cases of marital conflict, the wife hanged herself. My material is limited, and certainly a much larger statistical study is required to do justice to the subject.

Nevertheless, the data do appear to suggest a potential source of strain, if even only a conceptual one, in marital relations. The pig stock is regarded as joint property, the husband and wife are a productive unit. Co-wives constitute equivalent but separate pa allel units. This is made explicit in D.4., part 2 concerning a dispute over a pig received from Atabi’s bride-price, “This pig belongs to him (Mamage) and the other wife and you can’t touch on it”(D.4:134-135). Ideally, both the spouses are held responsible for the health and productivity of the pig stock. With respect to the relation of knowledge to this sphere of economic activity, there is a stress on mutual performance of Gamu – it is a complementary process. Production in Huli is articulated by a high degree of labour specification, this is indigenously perceived as immutable(cf.D.4:165-168). The concepts of equal responsibility and shares in the work of pig husbandry are not, however, empirically realised. While I did not collect statistical data on energy expenditures or time allocations, women appeared to spend more time than men looking after pigs, and pens were invariably situated near, or in, their house. All killing, cutting and distribution of pig is the prerogative of males, They are unquestionably dominant in the ‘transactional’ spheres of pig distribution and exchange within social networks. This is counter-balanced, as in other behavioural domains, by the understanding that ‘decision-making’ in the domestic realm – which pig goes where – should ideally be a joint matter between spouses. In this regard women generally place a high value and importance on their labour contribution as well as their claims to a say in decisions. The implementation phase (the ‘public’ zone) is thus separated from the negotiation ( ‘private’ zone) phase.

In respect of the above, husbands may impose their will by use of physical forces such as occurred in these types of suicide. Physical withdrawal by the wife to her mother’s place is easy but does not of itself resolve the problems. Furthermore, given the kind of observations we have made in Chapter four, public expression of the dispute is not culturally expected to produce results. Domestic conflicts are, as I have argued, “quarantined”, referred back. When they are given public airing mediators immediately “sanitize” them by relegating the conflict to the appropriate zone. What is ‘hama’ (refer Fig.7) de facto is made ‘anda’ by an implicit application of the rule of stare decisis et non quieta movere (‘to adhere to the decided and not unsettle the established’ ). In this kind of situation a wife is denied expression of her grievance, all of which tends to aggravate her state of anxiety. The deprivation of opportunity for self-expression perhaps also helps explain the emphasis in the accounts I collated of people who first decorated themselves before committing suicide. This seemed to involve a minimal use of paint and adornment, but can neverteless be interpreted as an assertive statement of both individual personality and aggression. The thrust of my argument for these types of suicide cases in Huli, is that the structural concomitants involve this rigid determination of argument boundaries, the discriminatory procedures outlined in the previous chapter which diminishes ‘choice’ in her personal situation. Generalisation for the field of suicide is dangerous, and while other cases confirmed the ‘domestic’ nature of the strife situation , mother-daughter and female ego sister – some instances involved extreme ‘shame’. In one case a man is reported to have hanged himself following incest with his hanini. It was not the act itself that is held to have forced him to this self-destruction but the insistence of the girl’s parents that he marry her. The two cases that I personally witnessed are contrasting. The first concerned an old
man who seems simply to have got tired of life, and this is the rationalisation made by others. No argument had occurred, indeed he had no living close relatives, and he hanged himself. The second involved an argument between two sisters concerning a pig. Normally no payments are made after a suicide unless people choose to lay blame on others. In this second case a visiting friend was also present during the argument and the parents of the dead girl claimed she had been a contributing factor. We shall see later from D.11 that simply to be in the same place as an accident or argument which leads to violence can automatically make one a focus for blame. In this case no physical violence had been perpetrated, but there was considerable age difference between the sisters, a coercive element that may have been a factor in the younger one’s suicide. In view of the above Huli patterns of suicide would appear to show some contrasts with those described for other Highland systems. I did not hear of any cases arising from parental refusal to sanction marriage/divorce, and this seems to accord with the latitude of freedom permitted to Huli brides. Pressures in this type of situation are relieved in ‘public’ debate; they involve potential transfers of pigs and are thus political. Domestic arguments about pigs may not, without further development of events, transfer zones and thus this avenue for debate is withdrawn.

Following any death, bodies were traditionally placed in one of two types of interment:(1) homa habuabe – a vertical enclosure standing 7ft high from the ground with a dividing platform on which the body rested; and (2) homa ‘mali’ – a coffin suspended by six stilts approximately 9ft high. In some areas one type was more prevalent than another, but following body decomposition the bones would, in the Koroba area, be taken to a high cave (see plate 2). I feel that there is some semantic link between the above mali – always richly decorated in ochres and leaves – and the concept of ‘celebration’ inherent in its tonally distinguished pair-term mali – dance. The bodies are, as it were, presented in death as they are in life. The task of transporting or touching the dead is considered dangerous and special individuals elected to perform this service in recognition of which they received a small pig called Nogo Luari. The bones of dead ancestors should always be safeguarded from pigs or harm and the Huli believe they will suffer sympathetically any harm that befalls these bones. People’s souls are held to depart from the top of the head or underneath the arm journeying to a land called Humbirini. No consistent accounts can be elicited, and indeed no standarised conception exists, concerning Humbirini. Its separation from reality is reflected linguistically by the morph humbi meaning ‘shield’. Once there, spirits interact with Dama who force them to cause illness to descendants; Dama stand at their ‘back’. Sickness is never sent out of pity, sorrow or grief, it is always an expression of either ‘greed’ (humbirini) for pigs, or anger because their living relatives have neglected their bones or burial place. As I have remarked on previously, the spirit is detachable even in life, aimlessly wandering in dreams or temporarily absent causing its owner to display excess behaviour. It is this separability which is the meaning of dinini (spirit:di=flying), rather than any understanding of dead souls as ‘ birds’. Interaction with these ancestral spirits involved deceit rather than appeasement. Traditional rituals like Nogo Hagua Baga (“hitting the pig’s head”) or Depa Paliaga(“making the eye sleep”) were concerned to “shut out” or “blind” the ever-present eye of spirits. Demonstrable mourning in the form of special decoration and wailing was shown only by women and the widowed wife(Wali Galai / Hagari). The latter would recite Gamu to keep the spirit of her husband separate(hangu hangu), and to enjoin it to make friends with other female spirits so that his attention is drawn away from involvement with her. Interestingly, in many of the Galai Gamu texts I collected Humbirini is referred to by place names in Dugube or Levani. This indicates, yet again, the manner in which the “untouchable / reprehensible” is externalised in Huli thought. The people are not without a concept of natural death, but where this is considered premature, explanations are sought elsewhere. The belief system relating to Dama has remained intact despite the nominal adoption of mission religions. Those practitioners who still operate are able to amass consider able wealth in the face of limited choice situations where the pre-contact ritual system has broken down. This was made demonstrably evident to me by the visit of Tainya to Ialuba already alluded to in the last chapter. Perhaps because no Halaga men now operated, people were more ready to attribute misfortune to Dama than previously. What appeared striking was the manner in which people seized the opportunity of his visit to “kill Dama” for events that happened as much as eight months previously. It is evident from the list of his exorcisims below, performed on consecutive days, how varied these types of situation are for:

Degondo (Koma): Continued infection of his son’s foot – 20 Kina +1 pig paid
Landa(Tobani): refer D.7 – 2 pigs
Habo(Koma) :Dama made him attempt adultery – 2pigs
Kolo(Koma) :Dama responsible for sickness of his children – 2 pigs
Ngibe(Koma) :Dama caused his child to drown – 2 pigs
Uguria One(Koma) :followed outcome of dispute against her – 1 pig
Wabia boy :Dama causing Burayu sickness – 30 Kina
Degondo’s Wane(Koma) :Dama responsible for his daughter’s sterility which had culminated in an early divorce – 1 pig

The above may be considered somewhat unique for Huli, a pattern of response engendered by the peculiar nature of Ialuba’s situation the short period of contact hasn’t eradicated the explanatory domain of adverse fortune. Several months after a death, and normally depending on – the amount of pigs available, close relatives would kill between 3 -20 pigs as an expression of ‘grief’; these are known as Nogo Homanego. Generally less pigs are killed for a woman than a man, and more for an a gali ha guene. It is not an oblation to Dama or spirits but serves to emphasize the recognition of close relations between the living kin and the dead person, as well as restating the enduring nature of these ties. All kin or friends are free to donate a pig, though this voluntary aspect of the system is belied by the fact that donations are more often than not an acknowledgment of having received pigs from past Homanego, compensation payments or bride-price. They are given but counted, and one may lay claim later to a return pig in any of the above contexts. The pigs are laid out in a row and a close male relative proceeds to “share out” strips of meat. His speech consists of a repetition of clan or place names associated with the deceased, whereupon representatives come forward to take their share. Everybody who attends in fact receives pig so that no observable structural principles are adhered to other than “everybody should get an equal share”. Some renown attaches to a person who demonstrates his wealth by killing a greater quantity of pigs, and these men are known as agali homago (man(agali)+one(homa). Any influence they can exert derives not from the above, but from their ability to pressure others to accede to demands by claiming early repayment of debts. This is made clear in my discussion of D.10 in the next section.

(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. 324-339.)

  1. The Papuan Frogmouth (podargus papuanus) is believed to attract insects by promising to tell folk-stories during which he retracts his tongue eating them up. This again illustrates the theme of nature’s ‘deceit’. []
  2. Paiele Elo won the subsequent re-election ( 5083 ) gaining nearly all the Duna votes (he is a Duna) while the other three candidates split the Huli votes among themselves: Aruru(3030), Wabira(3266) and Angina(1377). []
  3. Gulali refers to himself as a Kuali. Preliminary word lists taken indicate similarities with the Tinali people to the north. There seems a host of small groups – Agala, Bebe – in the region east and north-east of Ialuba, the language and anthropology of which have yet to be studied. []