by Dr. Laurence Goldman

The Haroli cult is no longer widely practiced in its previous form. Young initiates would be told this “source story” (tene te) by those men who instructed them in the requisite knowledge and spells regarding personal fertility. They were known as mambo or igiri aba (father of the boys). I collected several versions of the following myth and while names and places often varied, in essence the theme and sequence of events remained constant.

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’).

*Note: These terms denote both the cult itself and the plants which represent the life-force of the initiate. The occurrence of the term ‘iba’ (water) in three of the above synonyms emphasizes again its purifying and life-giving properties. The possible meanings of the term Haroli itself is an issue which relates to arguments developed in Chapter two. Two possibilities which deserve attention are:

1) haroli – compounded of ha (to stay) + roli (customary mood: ‘used to’). The term would have the force of “those who stay in the bush.”
2) haroli – compounded from haro (acorn) = li (suffix meaning ‘person’). The phallic connotations of ‘acorn’ (haro) are evident in joke forms such as the following: Inaga haro ebere golo ibira hara: Your penis (acorn) is broken off and falling down there.” Thus Haroli in this second sense might signify “The Penis-Men”. In this context, one might interpret the ritualized hair-behavior as a symbolic interaction with genitalia.

The issues are more complex than the presentation I give in Chapter two, and this note should be considered an appendix to that discussion. Two important points related directly to the arguments and need to be stressed. First, the proper noun Haroli is distinguished from the above two terms by tone/stress pronunciation. However, as I contend in Chapter 2, tonal differences between words that appear semantically related need not be critical provided assumptions about tonal genesis in Huli are made clear. Second, the Huli do not in their explanations or rationalizations of Haroli behavior recognize phallicism in the cult. Nevertheless, set against this is the fact that my informants agreed that semen is located in the head, as I state in the first chapter. What kind of argumentative lines thus suggest themselves? In the first instance, that complex of ideas explicated by Leach (1958) might be used to propose the ‘head’ as a phallus, the container of semen, and thus wig/hair as a form of phallic covering. While the data presented in this thesis certainly supports the contention that for the Huli hair represents ‘personal power’, it does not permit inferences to propositions of genital displacement simpliciter. Reductionist arguments that would rely solely on the paired oppositions of long:short hair and unrestrained:restrained sexuality, fail to account for the significance of shape, colour, position and adornment of ‘hair’ in Huli. The Manda (hair/hair-shape) is a collage of iconographical elements all of which need to be explained and related in a more holistic fashion. Whatever other justificatory grounds might be given for the above symbolic interpretation, the linguistic evidence is not conclusive for explanations of origin or persistence. The second line of argument is the one which I have chosen as a focus, and consists of further exploring the related imagery and terminology of ‘har’ in Huli culture. Rather than commencing with a psycho-analytic theory of castration and aggression, I have explored the correlational aspects of ‘cut hair’ and ‘death’, and of Cassowary, man and aggression within the dominant cultural motif of man/bird analogies. In the final analysis, both interpretations may co-exist for the latter more illuminating, I felt it prudent to present the data which might support the phallic interpretations of Haroli.

*Lithocarpus rufo-villosus,fam.Fagaceae

(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)