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Title: Argonauts of the Western Pacific - An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the - Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea
Author: Malinowski, Bronislaw
Language: English
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                          An Account of Native
                        Enterprise and Adventure
                        in the Archipelagoes of
                         Melanesian New Guinea

                          Bronislaw Malinowski
                     PH.D. (Cracow), D.Sc. (London)

                             With a Preface
                Sir James George, Frazer, F.B.A., F.R.S.

             With 5 Maps, 65 Illustrations, and 2 Figures,
                 London: George Routledge & Sons, Ltd.
                      New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.

                         my friend and teacher
                    Professor C. G. Seligman, F.R.S.


By Sir James G. Frazer

My esteemed friend, Dr. B. Malinowski has asked me to write a preface
to his book, and I willingly comply with his request, though I can
hardly think that any words of mine will add to the value of the
remarkable record of anthropological research which he has given us
in this volume. My observations, such as they are, will deal partly
with the writer's method and partly with the matter of his book.

In regard to method, Dr. Malinowski has done his work, as it appears
to me, under the best conditions and in the manner calculated to
secure the best possible results. Both by theoretical training and
by practical experience he was well equipped for the task which he
undertook. Of his theoretical training he had given proof in his
learned and thoughtful treatise on the family among the aborigines
of Australia [1]; of his practical experience he had produced no
less satisfactory evidence in his account of the natives of Mailu
in New Guinea, based on a residence of six months among them. [2]
In the Trobriand Islands, to the east of New Guinea, to which he
next turned his attention, Dr. Malinowski lived as a native among
the natives for many months together, watching them daily at work
and at play, conversing with them in their own tongue, and deriving
all his information from the surest sources--personal observation
and statements made to him directly by the natives in their own
language without the intervention of an interpreter. In this way he
has accumulated a large mass of materials, of high scientific value,
bearing on the social, religious, and economic or industrial life
of the Trobriand Islanders. These he hopes and intends to publish
hereafter in full; meantime he has given us in the present volume a
preliminary study of an interesting and peculiar feature in Trobriand
society, the remarkable system of exchange, only in part economic or
commercial, which the islanders maintain among themselves and with
the inhabitants of neighbouring islands.

Little reflection is needed to convince us of the fundamental
importance of economic forces at all stages of man's career from the
humblest to the highest. After all, the human species is part of the
animal creation, and as such, like the rest of the animals, it reposes
on a material foundation; on which a higher life, intellectual, moral,
social, may be built, but without which no such superstructure is
possible. That material foundation, consisting in the necessity of food
and of a certain degree of warmth and shelter from the elements, forms
the economic or industrial basis and prime condition of human life. If
anthropologists have hitherto unduly neglected it, we may suppose that
it was rather because they were attracted to the higher side of man's
nature than because they deliberately ignored and undervalued the
importance and indeed necessity of the lower. In excuse for their
neglect we may also remember that anthropology is still a young
science, and that the multitude of problems which await the student
cannot all be attacked at once, but must be grappled with one by
one. Be that as it may, Dr. Malinowski has done well to emphasise the
great significance of primitive economics by singling out the notable
exchange system of the Trobriand Islanders for special consideration.

Further, he has wisely refused to limit himself to a mere description
of the processes of the exchange, and has set himself to penetrate
the motives which underlie it and the feelings which it excites in
the minds of the natives. It appears to be sometimes held that pure
sociology should confine itself to the description of acts and should
leave the problems of motives and feelings to psychology. Doubtless
it is true that the analysis of motives and feelings is logically
distinguishable from the description of acts, and that it falls,
strictly speaking, within the sphere of psychology; but in practice
an act has no meaning for an observer unless he knows or infers the
thoughts and emotions of the agent; hence to describe a series of
acts, without any reference to the state of mind of the agent, would
not answer the purpose of sociology, the aim of which is not merely
to register but to understand the actions of men in society. Thus
sociology cannot fulfil its task without calling in at every turn
the aid of psychology.

It is characteristic of Dr. Malinowski's method that he takes full
account of the complexity of human nature. He sees man, so to say, in
the round and not in the flat. He remembers that man is a creature of
emotion at least as much as of reason, and he is constantly at pains
to discover the emotional as well as the rational basis of human
action. The man of science, like the man of letters, is too apt to
view mankind only in the abstract, selecting for his consideration
a single side of our complex and many-sided being. Of this one-sided
treatment Molière is a conspicuous example among great writers. All his
characters are seen only in the flat: one of them is a miser, another
a hypocrite, another a coxcomb, and soon; but not one of them is a
man. All are dummies dressed up to look very like human beings; but
the likeness is only on the surface, all within is hollow and empty,
because truth to nature has been sacrificed to literary effect. Very
different is the presentation of human nature in the greater artists,
such as Cervantes and Shakespeare: their characters are solid, being
drawn not from one side only but from many. No doubt in science a
certain abstractness of treatment is not merely legitimate, but
necessary, since science is nothing but knowledge raised to the
highest power, and all knowledge implies a process of abstraction
and generalisation: even the recognition of an individual whom we see
every day is only possible as the result of an abstract idea of him
formed by generalisation from his appearances in the past. Thus the
science of man is forced to abstract certain aspects of human nature
and to consider them apart from the concrete reality; or rather it
falls into a number of sciences, each of which considers a single part
of man's complex organism, it may be the physical, the intellectual,
the moral, or the social side of his being; and the general conclusions
which it draws will present a more or less incomplete picture of man
as a whole, because the lines which compose it are necessarily but
a few picked out of a multitude.

In the present treatise Dr. Malinowski is mainly concerned with what
at first sight might seem a purely economic activity of the Trobriand
Islanders; but, with his usual width of outlook and fineness of
perception, he is careful to point out that the curious circulation of
valuables, which takes place between the inhabitants of the Trobriand
and other islands, while it is accompanied by ordinary trade, is by no
means itself a purely commercial transaction; he shows that it is not
based on a simple calculation of utility, of profit and loss, but that
it satisfies emotional and æsthetic needs of a higher order than the
mere gratification of animal wants. This leads Dr. Malinowski to pass
some severe strictures on the conception of the Primitive Economic Man
as a kind of bogey who, it appears, still haunts economic text-books
and even extends his blighting influence to the minds of certain
anthropologists. Rigged out in cast-off garments of Mr. Jeremy Bentham
and Mr. Gradgrind, this horrible phantom is apparently actuated by no
other motive than that of filthy lucre, which he pursues relentlessly,
on Spencerian principles, along the line of least resistance. If
such a dismal fiction is really regarded by serious inquirers as
having any counterpart in savage society, and not simply as a useful
abstraction, Dr. Malinowski's account of the Kula in this book should
help to lay the phantom by the heels; for he proves that the trade in
useful objects, which forms part of the Kula system, is in the minds
of the natives entirely subordinate in importance to the exchange
of other objects, which serve no utilitarian purpose whatever. In
its combination of commercial enterprise, social organisation,
mythical background, and magical ritual, to say nothing of the wide
geographical range of its operations, this singular institution appears
to have no exact parallel in the existing anthropological record; but
its discoverer, Dr. Malinowski, may very well be right in surmising
that it is probably a type of institution of which analogous, if not
precisely similar, instances will hereafter be brought to light by
further research among savage and barbarous peoples.

Not the least interesting and instructive feature of the Kula, as it
is described for us by Dr. Malinowski, is the extremely important part
which magic is seen to play in the institution. From his description
it appears that in the minds of the natives the performance of magical
rites and the utterance of magical words are indispensable for the
success of the enterprise in all its phases, from the felling of
the trees out of which the canoes are to be hollowed, down to the
moment when, the expedition successfully accomplished, the argosy
with its precious cargo is about to start on its homeward voyage. And
incidentally we learn that magical ceremonies and spells are deemed
no less necessary for the cultivation of gardens and for success in
fishing, the two forms of industrial enterprise which furnish the
islanders with their principal means of support; hence the garden
magician, whose business it is to promote the growth of the garden
produce by his hocus-pocus, is one of the most important men in the
village, ranking next after the chief and the sorcerer. In short,
magic is believed to be an absolutely essential adjunct of every
industrial undertaking, being just as requisite for its success
as the mechanical operations involved in it, such as the caulking,
painting and launching of a canoe, the planting of a garden, and the
setting of a fish-trap. "A belief in magic," says Dr. Malinowski,
"is one of the main psychological forces which allow for organisation
and systematisation of economic effort in the Trobriands."

This valuable account of magic as a factor of fundamental economic
importance for the welfare and indeed for the very existence of the
community should suffice to dispel the erroneous view that magic,
as opposed to religion, is in its nature essentially maleficent and
anti-social, being always used by an individual for the promotion of
his own selfish ends and the injury of his enemies, quite regardless
of its effect on the common weal. No doubt magic may be so employed,
and has in fact probably been so employed, in every part of the
world; in the Trobriand Islands themselves it is believed to
be similarly practised for nefarious purposes by sorcerers, who
inspire the natives with the deepest dread and the most constant
concern. But in itself magic is neither beneficent nor maleficent;
it is simply an imaginary power of controlling the forces of nature,
and this control may be exercised by the magician for good or evil,
for the benefit or injury of individuals and of the community. In
this respect, magic is exactly on the same footing with the sciences,
of which it is the bastard sister. They, too, in themselves, are
neither good nor evil, though they become the source of one or other
according to their application. It would be absurd, for example,
to stigmatise pharmacy as antisocial, because a knowledge of the
properties of drugs is often employed to destroy men as well as to
heal them. It is equally absurd to neglect the beneficent application
of magic and to single out its maleficent use as the characteristic
property by which to define it. The processes of nature, over which
science exercises a real and magic an imaginary control, are not
affected by the moral disposition, the good or bad intention, of the
individual who uses his knowledge to set them in motion. The action
of drugs on the human body is precisely the same whether they are
administered by a physician or by a poisoner. Nature and her handmaid
Science are neither friendly nor hostile to morality; they are simply
indifferent to it and equally ready to do the bidding of the saint
and of the sinner, provided only that he gives them the proper word
of command. If the guns are well loaded and well aimed, the fire
of the battery will be equally destructive, whether the gunners are
patriots fighting in defence of their country or invaders waging a
war of unjust aggression. The fallacy of differentiating a science
or an art according to its application and the moral intention of the
agent is obvious enough with regard to pharmacy and artillery; it is
equally real, though to many people apparently it is less obvious,
with regard to magic.

The immense influence wielded by magic over the whole life and thought
of the Trobriand Islanders is perhaps the feature of Dr. Malinowski's
book which makes the most abiding impression on the mind of the
reader. He tells us that "magic, the attempt of man to govern the
forces of nature directly by means of a special lore, is all-pervading
and all-important in the Trobriands"; it is "interwoven into all the
many industrial and communal activities"; "all the data which have
been so far mustered disclose the extreme importance of magic in the
Kula. But if it were a question of treating of any other aspect of the
tribal life of these natives, it would also be found that, whenever
they approach any concern of vital importance, they summon magic to
their aid. It can be said without exaggeration that magic, according
to their ideas, governs human destinies; that it supplies man with the
power of mastering the forces of nature; and that it is his weapon and
armour against the many dangers which crowd in upon him on every side."

Thus in the view of the Trobriand Islanders, magic is a power of
supreme importance either for good or evil; it can make or mar the life
of man; it can sustain and protect the individual and the community,
or it can injure and destroy them. Compared to this universal and
deep-rooted conviction, the belief in the existence of the spirits of
the dead would seem to exercise but little influence on the life of
these people. Contrary to the general attitude of savages towards the
souls of the departed, they are reported to be almost completely devoid
of any fear of ghosts. They believe, indeed, that the ghosts return
to their villages once a year to partake of the great annual feast;
but "in general the spirits do not influence human beings very much,
for better or worse"; "there is nothing of the mutual interaction,
of the intimate collaboration between man and spirit which are the
essence of religious cult." This conspicuous predominance of magic
over religion, at least over the worship of the dead, is a very notable
feature in the culture of a people so comparatively high in the scale
of savagery as the Trobriand Islanders. It furnishes a fresh proof
of the extraordinary strength and tenacity of the hold which this
world-wide delusion has had, and still has, upon the human mind.

We shall doubtless learn much as to the relation of magic and religion
among the Trobrianders from the full report of Dr. Malinowski's
researches in the islands. From the patient observation which he has
devoted to a single institution, and from the wealth of details with
which he has illustrated it, we may judge of the extent and value
of the larger work which he has in preparation. It promises to be
one of the completest and most scientific accounts ever given of a
savage people.

J. G. Frazer.

The Temple, London.
7th March, 1922.


By the Author

Ethnology is in the sadly ludicrous, not to say tragic, position,
that at the very moment when it begins to put its workshop in order, to
forge its proper tools, to start ready for work on its appointed task,
the material of its study melts away with hopeless rapidity. Just now,
when the methods and aims of scientific field ethnology have taken
shape, when men fully trained for the work have begun to travel into
savage countries and study their inhabitants--these die away under
our very eyes.

The research which has been done on native races by men of academic
training has proved beyond doubt and cavil that scientific, methodic
inquiry can give us results far more abundant and of better quality
than those of even the best amateur's work. Most, though not all, of
the modern scientific accounts have opened up quite new and unexpected
aspects of tribal life. They have given us, in clear outline, the
picture of social institutions often surprisingly vast and complex;
they have brought before us the vision of the native as he is, in
his religious and magical beliefs and practices. They have allowed
us to penetrate into his mind far more deeply than we have ever done
before. From this new material, scientifically hall-marked, students
of comparative Ethnology have already drawn some very important
conclusions on the origin of human customs, beliefs and institutions;
on the history of cultures, and their spread and contact; on the laws
of human behaviour in society, and of the human mind.

The hope of gaining a new vision of savage humanity through the labours
of scientific specialists opens out like a mirage, vanishing almost
as soon as perceived. For though at present, there is still a large
number of native communities available for scientific study, within
a generation or two, they or their cultures will have practically
disappeared. The need for energetic work is urgent, and the time
is short. Nor, alas, up to the present, has any adequate interest
been taken by the public in these studies. The number of workers is
small, the encouragement they receive scanty. I feel therefore no
need to justify an ethnological contribution which is the result of
specialised research in the field.

In this volume I give an account of one phase of savage life only, in
describing certain forms of inter-tribal, trading relations among the
natives of New Guinea. This account has been culled, as a preliminary
monograph, from Ethnographic material, covering the whole extent of
the tribal culture of one district. One of the first conditions of
acceptable Ethnographic work certainly is that it should deal with
the totality of all social, cultural and psychological aspects of the
community, for they are so interwoven that not one can be understood
without taking into consideration all the others. The reader of this
monograph will clearly see that, though its main theme is economic--for
it deals with commercial enterprise, exchange and trade--constant
reference has to be made to social organisation, the power of magic,
to mythology and folklore, and indeed to all other aspects as well
as the main one.

The geographical area of which the book treats is limited to the
Archipelagoes lying off the eastern end of New Guinea. Even within
this, the main field of research was in one district, that of the
Trobriand Islands. This, however, has been studied minutely. I have
lived in that one archipelago for about two years, in the course
of three expeditions to New Guinea, during which time I naturally
acquired a thorough knowledge of the language. I did my work entirely
alone, living for the greater part of the time right in the villages. I
therefore had constantly the daily life of the natives before my eyes,
while accidental, dramatic occurrences, deaths, quarrels, village
brawls, public and ceremonial events, could not escape my notice.

In the present state of Ethnography, when so much has still to be
done in paving the way for forthcoming research and in fixing its
scope, each new contribution ought to justify its appearance in
several Points. It ought to show some advance in method; it ought
to push research beyond its previous limits in depth, in width, or
in both; finally, it ought to endeavour to present its results in a
manner exact, but not dry. The specialist interested in method, in
reading this work, will find set out in the Introduction, Divisions
II-IX and in Chapter XVIII, the exposition of my points of view and
efforts in this direction. The reader who is concerned with results,
rather than with the way of obtaining them, will find in Chapters
IV to XXI a consecutive narrative of the Kula expeditions, and the
various associated customs and beliefs. The student who is interested,
not only in the narrative, but in the ethnographic background for it,
and a clear definition of the institution, will find the first in
Chapters I and II, and the latter in Chapter III.

To Mr. Robert Mond I tender my sincerest thanks. It is to his generous
endowment that I owe the possibility of carrying on for several years
the research of which the present volume is a partial result. To
Mr. Atlee Hunt, C.M.G., Secretary of the Home and Territories
Department of the Commonwealth of Australia, I am indebted for the
financial assistance of the Department, and also for much help given
on the spot. In the Trobriands, I was immensely helped in my work
by Mr. B. Hancock, pearl trader, to whom I am grateful not only for
assistance and services, but for many acts of friendship.

Much of the argument in this book has been greatly improved by
the criticism given me by my friend, Mr. Paul Khuner, of Vienna,
an expert in the practical affairs of modern industry and a highly
competent thinker on economic matters. Professor L. T. Hobhouse has
kindly read the proofs and given me valuable advice on several points.

Sir James Frazer, by writing his Preface, has enhanced the value of
this volume beyond its merit and it is not only a great honour and
advantage for me to be introduced by him, but also a special pleasure,
for my first love for ethnology is associated with the reading of the
"Golden Bough," then in its second edition.

Last, not least, I wish to mention Professor C. G. Seligman, to whom
this book is dedicated. The initiative of my expedition was given by
him and I owe him more than I can express for the encouragement and
scientific counsel which he has so generously given me during the
progress of my work in New Guinea.

B. M.

El Boquin,
Icod de los Vinos,
April, 1921.


It is in the nature of the research, that an Ethnographer has to rely
upon the assistance of others to an extent much greater than is the
case with other scientific workers. I have therefore to express in
this special place my obligations to the many who have helped me. As
said in the Preface, financially I owe most to Mr. Robert Mond, who
made my work possible by bestowing on me the Robert Mond Travelling
Scholarship (University of London) of £250 per annum for five years
(for 1914 and for 1917-1920). I was substantially helped by a grant
of £250 from the Home and Territories Department of Australia,
obtained by the good offices of Mr. Atlee Hunt, C.M.G. The London
School of Economics awarded me the Constance Hutchinson Scholarship
of £100 yearly for two years, 1915-1916. Professor Seligman, to
whom in this, as in other matters I owe so much, besides helping
me in obtaining all the other grants, gave himself £100 towards the
cost of the expedition and equipped me with a camera, a phonograph,
anthropometric instruments and other paraphernalia of ethnographic
work. I went out to Australia with the British Association for the
Advancement of Science in 1914, as a guest, and at the expense,
of the Commonwealth Government of Australia.

It may be interesting for intending field-workers to observe
that I carried out my ethnographic research for six years--1914 to
1920--making three expeditions to the field of my work, and devoting
the intervals between expeditions to the working out of my material and
to the study of special literature, on little more than £250 a year. I
defrayed out of this, not only all the expenses of travel and research,
such as fares, wages to native servants, payments of interpreters, but
I was also able to collect a fair amount of ethnographic specimens,
of which part has been presented to the Melbourne Museum as the
Robert Mond Collection. This would not have been possible for me,
had I not received much help from residents in New Guinea. My friend,
Mr. B. Hancock, of Gusaweta, Trobriand Islands, allowed me to use his
house and store as base for my gear and provisions; he lent me his
cutter on various occasions and provided me with a home, where I could
always repair in need or sickness. He helped me in my photographic
work, and gave me a good number of his own photographic plates,
of which several are reproduced in this book (Plates XI, XXXVII,
and L-LII).

Other pearl traders and buyers of the Trobriands were also very kind
to me, especially M. and Mme. Raphael Brudo, of Paris, Messrs. C. and
G. Auerbach, and the late Mr. Mick George, all of whom helped me in
various ways and extended to me their kind hospitality.

In my interim studies in Melbourne, I received much help from the
staff of the excellent Public Library of Victoria, for which I have to
thank the Librarian, Mr. E. La Touche Armstrong, my friend Mr. E. Pitt,
Mr. Cooke and others.

Two maps and two plates are reproduced by kind permission of Professor
Seligman from his "Melanesians of British New Guinea." I have to thank
the Editor of Man (Captain T. A. Joyce) for his permission to use
here again the plates which were previously published in that paper.

Mr. William Swan Stallybrass, Senior Managing Director of
Messrs. Geo. Routledge & Sons, Ltd., has spared no trouble in meeting
all my wishes as to scientific details in the publication of this book,
for which I wish to express my sincere thanks.


The native names and words in this book are written according to
the simple rules, recommended by the Royal Geographical Society
and the Royal Anthropological Institute. That is, the vowels are to
be pronounced as in Italian and the consonants as in English. This
spelling suits the sounds of the Melanesian languages of New Guinea
sufficiently well. The apostrophe placed between two vowels indicates
that they should be pronounced separately and not merged into a
diphthong. The accent is almost always on the penultimate, rarely on
the anti-penultimate. All the syllables must be pronounced clearly
and distinctly.


Preface by Sir James Frazer                                         vii

Foreword by the Author                                               xv

Introduction: The Subject, Method and Scope of This Enquiry

    I--Sailing, and trading in the South Seas; the Kula. II--Method
    in Ethnography. III--Starting field work. Some perplexing
    difficulties. Three conditions of success. IV--Life in a
    tent among the natives. Mechanism of "getting in touch" with
    them. V--Active methods of research. Order and consistency
    in savage cultures. Methodological consequences of this
    truth. VI--Formulating the principles of tribal constitution
    and of the anatomy of culture. Method of inference from
    statistic accumulation of concrete data. Uses of synoptic
    charts. VII--Presentation of the intimate touches of native
    life; of types of behaviour. Method of systematic fixing of
    impressions; of detailed, consecutive records. Importance
    of personal participation in native life. VIII--Recording of
    stereotyped manners of thinking and feeling. Corpus inscriptionum
    Kiriwiniensium. IX--Summary of argument. The native's vision of
    his world                                                         1

I The Country and Inhabitants of the Kula District

    I--Racial divisions in Eastern New Guinea. Seligman's
    classification. The Kula natives. II--Sub-divisions of the Kula
    district. III--Scenery at the Eastern end of New Guinea. Villages
    of the S. Massim; their customs and social institutions. IV--The
    d'Entrecasteaux Archipelago. The tribes of Dobu. The mythological
    associations of their country. Some of their customs and
    institutions. Sorcery. A vision on Sarubwoyna beach. V--Sailing
    North. The Amphlett Group. Savage monopolists                    27

II The Natives of the Trobriand Islands

    I--Arrival in the coral Islands. First impression of
    the native. Some significant appearances and their deeper
    meaning. II--Position of women; their life and conduct before
    and after marriage. III--Further exploration in the villages. A
    cross country walk. Gardens and gardening. IV--The native's
    working power; their motives and incentives to work. Magic and
    work. A digression on Primitive Economics. V--Chieftainship:
    power through wealth; a plutocratic community. List of the various
    provinces and political divisions in the Trobriands. VI--Totemism,
    the solidarity of clans and the bonds of kinship. VII--Spirits of
    the dead. The overweening importance of magic. Black magic. The
    prowling sorcerers and the flying witches. The malevolent visitors
    from the South, and epidemics. VIII--The Eastern neighbours of
    the Trobrianders. The remaining districts of the Kula            49

III The Essentials of the Kula

    I--A concise definition of the Kula. II--Its economic
    character. III--The articles exchanged; the conception of
    vaygu'a. IV--The main rules and aspects of the Kula: the
    sociological aspect (partnership); direction of movement; nature
    of Kula ownership; the differential and integral effect of these
    rules. V--The act of exchange; its regulations; the light it throws
    on the acquisitive and "communistic" tendencies of the natives;
    its concrete outlines; the sollicitory gifts. VI--The associated
    activities and the secondary aspects of the Kula: construction
    of canoes; subsidiary trade--their true relation to the Kula;
    the ceremonial, mythology and magic associated with the Kula; the
    mortuary taboos and distributions, in their relation to the Kula 81

IV Canoes and Sailing

    I--The value and importance of a canoe to a native. Its
    appearance, the impressions and emotions it arouses in those
    who use or own it. The atmosphere of romance which surrounds
    it for the native. II--Analysis of its construction, in
    relation to its function. The three types of canoes in
    the Trobriand Islands. III--V--Sociology of a large canoe
    (masawa). III--(A)--Social organisation of labour in constructing
    a canoe; the division of functions; the magical regulation of
    work. IV--(B)--Sociology of canoe ownership; the toli-relationship;
    the toliwaga, "master" or "owner" of a canoe; the four privileges
    and functions of a toliwaga. V--(C)--The social division of
    functions in manning and sailing a canoe. Statistical data about
    the Trobriand shipping                                          105

V The Ceremonial Building of a Waga

    I--Construction of canoes as part of the Kula proceedings. Magic
    and mythology. The preparatory and the ceremonial stage of
    construction. II--The first stage: expelling the wood-sprite
    Tokway; transport of the log; the hollowing-out of the log and
    the associated magic. III--The second stage: the inaugural rite
    of Kula magic; the native at grips with problems of construction;
    the wayugo creeper; the magical spell uttered over it; caulking;
    the three magical exorcisms. IV--Some general remarks about the two
    stages of canoe-building and the concomitant magic. Bulubwalata
    (evil magic) of canoes. The ornamental prow-boards. The Dobuan
    and the Muruwan types of overseas canoe                         124

VI Launching of a Canoe and Ceremonial Visiting--Tribal Economics in
the Trobriands

    I--The procedure and magic at launching. The trial run
    (tasasoria). Account of the launching and tasasoria seen on the
    beach of Kualukuba. Reflections on the decay of customs under
    European influence. II--Digression on the sociology of work:
    organisation of labour; forms of communal labour; payment for
    work. III--The custom of ceremonial visiting (kabigidoya);
    local trade, done on such expeditions. IV--VII--Digression
    on gifts, payments, and exchange. IV--Attitude of the native
    towards wealth. Desire of display. Enhancement of social
    prestige through wealth. The motives of accumulating food
    stuffs. The vilamalya (magic of plenty). The handling of
    yams. Psychology of eating. Value of manufactured goods,
    psychologically analysed. V--Motives for exchange. Giving, as
    satisfaction of vanity and as display of power. Fallacy of the
    "economically isolated individual" or "household." Absence of
    gain in exchange. VI--Exchange of gifts and barter. List of gifts,
    payments and commercial transactions: 1. Pure gifts; 2. customary
    payments, repaid irregularly and without strict equivalents;
    3. payments for services rendered; 4. gifts returned in strictly
    equivalent form; 5. exchange of material goods against privileges,
    titles and non-material possessions; 6. ceremonial barter with
    deferred payment; 7. trade pure and simple. VII--Economic duties
    corresponding to various social ties; table of eight classes
    of social relationship, characterised by definite economic
    obligations                                                     146

VII The Departure of an Overseas Expedition

    Scene laid in Sinaketa. The local chiefs. Stir in the village.
    The social differentiation of the sailing party. Magical rites,
    associated with the preparing and loading of a canoe. The
    sulumwoya rite. The magical bundle (lilava). The compartments
    of a canoe and the gebobo spell. Farewells on the beach         195

VIII The First Halt of the Fleet on Muwa

    I--The definition of an uvalaku (ceremonial, competitive
    expedition). II--The sagali (ceremonial distribution) on
    Muwa. III--The magic of sailing                                 207

IX Sailing on the Sea-arm of Pilolu

    I--The landscape. Mythological geography of the regions
    beyond. II--Sailing: the winds; navigation; technique of
    sailing a canoe and its dangers. III--The customs and taboos
    of sailing. Privileged position of certain sub-clans. IV--The
    beliefs in dreadful monsters lurking in the sea                 219

X The Story of Shipwreck

    I--The flying witches, mulukwausi or yoyova: essentials of
    the belief; initiation and education of a yoyova (witch);
    secrecy surrounding this condition; manner of practising this
    witch-craft; actual cases. II--The flying witches at sea and
    in ship-wreck. Other dangerous agents. The kayga'u magic; its
    modes of operation. III--Account of the preparatory rites of
    kayga'u. Some incantations quoted. IV--The story of ship-wreck
    and rescue. V--The spell of the rescuing giant fish. The myth
    and the magical formula of Tokulubwaydoga.                      237

XI In the Amphletts--Sociology of the Kula

    I--Arrival in Gumasila. Example of a Kula conversation.
    Trobrianders on long visits in the Amphletts. II--Sociology of
    the Kula: 1. sociological limitations to participation in the
    Kula; 2. relation of partnership; 3. entering the Kula
    relationship; 4. participation of women in the Kula. III--The
    Natives of the Amphletts: their industries and trade; pottery;
    importing the clay; technology of pot-making; commercial
    relations with the surrounding districts. IV--Drift of
    migrations and cultural influences in this province             267

XII In Tewara and Sanaroa--Mythology of the Kula

    I--Sailing under the lee of Koytabu. The cannibals of the
    unexplored jungle. Trobriand traditions and legends about
    them. The history and song of Gumagabu. II--Myths and reality:
    significance imparted to landscape by myth; line of distinction
    between the mythical and the actual occurrences; magical
    power and mythical atmosphere; the three strata of Trobriand
    myths. III--V--The myths of the Kula. III--Survey of Kula mythology
    and its geographical distribution. The story of Gere'u of Muyuwa
    (Woodlark Island). The two stories of Tokosikuna of Digumenu and
    Gumasila. IV--The Kudayuri myth of the flying canoe. Commentary
    and analysis of this myth. Association between the canoe and the
    flying witches. Mythology and the Lukuba clan. V--The myth of
    Kasabwaybwayreta and the necklace Gumakarakedakeda. Comparison of
    these stories. VI--Sociological analysis of the myths. influence
    of the Kula myths upon native outlook; myth and custom. VII--The
    relation between myth and actuality restated. VIII--The story,
    the natural monuments and the religious ceremonial of the
    mythical personalities Atu'a'ine, Aturamo'a and their sister
    Sinatemubadiye'i. Other rocks of similar traditional nature     290

XIII On the Beach of Sarubwoyna

    I--The halt on the Beach. The beauty magic. Some incantations
    quoted. The spell of the ta'uya (conch shell). II--The magical
    onset on the Koya. Psychological analysis of this magic.
    III--The Gwara (taboo) and the Ka'ubana'i spell                 334

XIV The Kula in Dobu--Technicalities of the Exchange

    I--Reception in Dobu. II--The main transactions of the Kula and
    the subsidiary gifts and exchanges: some general reflections on
    the driving force of the Kula; regulations of the main transaction
    vaga (opening gift) and yotile (return gift); the sollicitory gifts
    (pokala, kwaypolu, kaributu, korotomna); intermediary gifts (basi)
    and final clinching gift (kudu); the other articles sometimes
    exchanged in the main transaction of the Kula (doga, samakupa,
    beku); commercial honour and ethics of the Kula. III--The Kula
    proceedings in Dobu: wooing the partner; kwoygapani magic;
    the subsidiary trade; roamings of the Boyowans in the Dobu
    district                                                        350

XV The Journey Home--The Fishing and Working of the Kaloma Shell

    I--Visits made on the return trip. Some articles acquired. II--The
    spondylus shell fishing in Sanaroa lagoon and in home waters: its
    general character and magic; the Kaloma myth; consecutive account
    of the technicalities, ceremonial and magic of the diving for the
    shell. III--Technology, economics and sociology of the production
    of the discs and necklaces from the shell. IV--Tanarere, display
    of the haul. Arrival of the party home to Sinaketa              366

XVI The Return Visit of the Dobuans to Sinaketa

    I--The uvalaku (ceremonial expedition) from Dobu to Southern
    Boyowa: the preparations in Dobu and Sanaroa; preparations in
    Gumasila; the excitement, the spreading and convergence of news;
    arrival of the Dobuan fleet in Nabwageta. II--Preparations
    in Sinaketa for the reception of the visiting party. The
    Dobuans arrive. The scene at Kaykuyawa point. The ceremonial
    reception. Speeches and gifts. The three days' sojourn of the
    Dobuans in Sinaketa. Manner of living. Exchange of gifts and
    barter. III--Return home. Results shown at the tanarere     376

XVII Magic and the Kula

    I--The subject matter of Boyowan magic. Its association with
    all the vital activities and with the unaccountable aspects of
    reality. II--V--The native conception of magic. II--The methods of
    arriving at its knowledge. III--Native views about the original
    sources of magic. Its primeval character. Inadmissibility
    to the native of spontaneous generation in magic. Magic a
    power of man and not a force of nature. Magic and myth and
    their super-normal atmosphere. IV--The magical acts: spell
    and rite; relation between these two factors; spells uttered
    directly without a concomitant rite; spells accompanied by
    simple rite of impregnation; spells accompanied by a rite of
    transference; spells accompanied by offerings and invocations;
    summary of this survey. V--Place where magic is stored in
    the human anatomy. VI--Condition of the performer. Taboos
    and observances. Sociological position. Actual descent and
    magical filiation. VII--Definition of systematic magic. The
    "systems" of canoe magic and Kula magic. VIII--Supernormal or
    supernatural character of magic; emotional reaction of the natives
    to certain forms of magic; the kariyala (magical portent); rôle of
    ancestral spirits; native terminology. IX--Ceremonial setting of
    magic. X--Institution of taboo, supported by magic. Kaytubutabu
    and kaytapaku. XI--Purchase of certain forms of magic. Payments
    for magical services. XII--Brief summary                        392

XVIII The Power of Words in Magic--Some Linguistic Data

    I--Study of linguistic data in magic to throw light on native
    ideas about the power of words. II--The text of the wayugo spell
    with literal translation. III--Linguistic analysis of its u'ula
    (exordium). IV--Vocal technique of reciting a spell. Analysis
    of the tapwana (main part) and dogina (final part). V--The text
    of the Sulumwoya spell and its analysis. VI--XII--Linguistic
    data referring to the other spells mentioned in this volume and
    some general inferences. VI--The tokway spell and the opening
    phrases of the canoe spells. VII--The tapwana (main parts)
    of the canoe spells. VIII--The end parts (dogina) of these
    spells. IX--The u'ula of the mwasila spells. X--The tapwana and
    the dogina of these spells. XI--The kayga'u spells. XII--Summary
    of the results of this linguistic survey. XIII--Substances
    used in these magical rites. XIV--XVIII--Analysis of some
    non-magical linguistic texts, to illustrate ethnographic
    method and native way of thinking. XIV--General remarks about
    certain aspects of method. XV--Text No. 1, its literal and free
    translation. XVI--Commentary. XVII--Texts No. 2 and 3 translated
    and commented upon                                              428

XIX The Inland Kula

    I--To'uluwa, the chief of Kiriwina, on a visit in Sinaketa. The
    decay of his power. Some melancholy reflections about the folly
    of destroying the native order of things and of undermining
    native authority as now prevailing. II--The division into "Kula
    communities;" the three types of Kula, with respect to this
    division. The overseas Kula. III--The inland Kula between two "Kula
    communities" and within such a unit. IV--The "Kula communities"
    in Boyowa (Trobriand Islands)                                   464

XX Expeditions Between Kiriwina and Kitava

    I, II--Account of an expedition from Kiriwina to Kitava. I--Fixing
    dates and preparing districts. II--Preliminaries of the
    journey. Departure from Kaulukuba Beach. Sailing. Analogies and
    differences between these expeditions and those of the Sinaketans
    to Dobu. Entering the village. The youlawada custom. Sojourn in
    Kitava and return. III--The So'i (mortuary feast) in the Eastern
    district (Kitava to Muyuwa) and its association with the Kula   478

XXI The Remaining Branches and Offshoots of the Kula

    I--Rapid survey of the routes between Woodlark Island (Murua
    or Muyuwa) and the Engineer group and between this latter
    and Dobu. II--The ordinary trade carried on between these
    communities. III--An offshoot of the Kula; trading expeditions
    between the Western Trobriand (Kavataria and Kayleula)
    and the Western d'Entrecasteaux. IV--Production of mwali
    (armshells). V--Some other offshoots and leakages of the Kula
    ring. Entry of the Kula vaygu'a into the Ring.                  494

XXII The Meaning of the Kula                                        509

Index                                                               519


              A ceremonial act of the kula                 Frontispiece

    Plate                                                   Facing page

    I         The ethnographer's tent on the beach of
              Nu'agasi                                                6
    II        The chief's lisiga (personal hut) in Omarakana          6
    III       Street of Kasana'i (in Kiriwina, Trobriand
              Island)                                                 7
    IV        Scene in Yourawotu (Trobriands)                         7
    V         Scenes on the beach of Silosilo (Southern
              Massim district)                                       33
    VI        Village scenes during a so'i feast                     37
    VII       In the Amphletts                                       46
    VIII      Group of natives in the village of Tukwa'ukwa          48
    IX        Men of rank from Kiriwina                              49
    X         Fishermen from Teyava                                  49
    XI        A typical nakubukwabuya (unmarried woman)              52
    XII       Boyowan girls                                          53
    XIII      Kaydebu dance                                          56
    XIV       Dancers in full decoration                             57
    XV        A family group                                         72
    XVI       Armshells                                              80
    XVII      Two men wearing armshells                              81
    XVIII     Two necklaces, made of red spondylus discs             88
    XIX       Two women adorned with necklaces                       89
    XX        A Kula gathering on the beach of Sinaketa              98
    XXI       A masawa canoe                                        106
    XXII      Putting a canoe into its hangar                       106
    XXIII     Canoe under sail                                      107
    XXIV      The fishing canoe (kalipoulo)                         112
    XXV       The dug-out in the village                            124
    XXVI      Carving a tabuyo                                      125
    XXVII     Construction of a waga                                138
    XXVIII    Sail making                                           139
    XXIX      Rolls of dried pandanus leaf                          139
    XXX       Launching of a canoe                                  148
    XXXI      The tasasoria on the beach of Kaulukuba               148
    XXXII     A chief's yam-house in Kasana'i                       149
    XXXIII    Filling a yam-house in Yalumugwa                      149
    XXIV      Display of pigs and yams at a distribution
              (sagali)                                              170
    XXXV      Communal cooking of mona (taro dumplings)             170
    XXXVI     Scene in the wasi (ceremonial exchange of
              vegetables for fish)                                  171
    XXXVII    Vava, direct barter of vegetables for fish            171
    XXXVIII   Koutau'ya, one of the chiefs of Sinaketa              196
    XXXIX     A loaded canoe                                        197
    XL        A waga sailing on a Kula expedition                   224
    XLI       The rigging of a canoe                                225
    XLII      Scenery in the Amphletts                              268
    XLIII     Landing in the main village of Gumasila               269
    XLIV      Technology of pot-making (I)                          284
    XLV       Technology of pot-making (II)                         285
    XLVI      Fine specimens of Amphlett pots                       288
    XLVII     A canoe in Gumasila loading pots                      289
    XLVIII    A Kula fleet halting to perform the final
              rites of mwasila                                      334
    XLIX      The beauty magic of the mwasila                       335
    L (A)     Working the kaloma shell (I)                          370
    L (B)     working the kaloma shell (II)                         371
    LI        Working the kaloma shell (III)                        372
    LII       Working the kaloma shell (IV)                         373
    LIII      On the beach of Nabwageta                             376
    LIV       The Dobuan canoes pulled up on Sinaketa beach         388
    LV        Some canoes moored on the shallow lagoon near
              the shore                                             388
    LVI       Dobuan visitors in Sinaketa                           389
    LVII      A magical spell associated with pregnancy             406
    LVIII     A rite of war magic                                   406
    LIX       A rite of garden magic                                407
    LX        Armshells brought from Kitava                         470
    LXI       Bringing in a soulava                                 471
    LXII      Offering the soulava                                  471
    LXIII     Ceremonial destruction during a so'i feast            486
    LXIV      Nagega canoe                                          496
    LXV       A corpse covered with valuables                       512


    I        Eastern New Guinea                                  xxxiii
    II       Racial distribution in Eastern New Guinea               26
    III      The Kula district                                       30
    IV       The Trobriand archipelago                               50
    V        The Kula ring                                           82


    I        Chronological list of Kula events witnessed by
             the writer                                              16
    II       Time-table of the uvalaku expedition, Dobu to
             Sinaketa, 1918                                         381
    III      Table of Kula magic and of the corresponding
             activities                                         415-418


    I        Diagram of canoe stability and construction            109
    II       Diagrammatic sections of canoes                        111



The coastal populations of the South Sea Islands, with very few
exceptions, are, or were before their extinction, expert navigators
and traders. Several of them had evolved excellent types of large
sea-going canoes, and used to embark in them on distant trade
expeditions or raids of war and conquest. The Papuo-Melanesians,
who inhabit the coast and the out-lying islands of New Guinea,
are no exception to this rule. In general they are daring sailors,
industrious manufacturers, and keen traders. The manufacturing centres
of important articles, such as pottery, stone implements, canoes, fine
baskets, valued ornaments, are localised in several places, according
to the skill of the inhabitants, their inherited tribal tradition,
and special facilities offered by the district; thence they are traded
over wide areas, sometimes travelling more than hundreds of miles.

Definite forms of exchange along definite trade routes are to be found
established between the various tribes. A most remarkable form of
intertribal trade is that obtaining between the Motu of Port Moresby
and the tribes of the Papuan Gulf. The Motu sail for hundreds of miles
in heavy, unwieldy canoes, called lakatoi, which are provided with the
characteristic crab-claw sails. They bring pottery and shell ornaments,
in olden days, stone blades, to Gulf Papuans, from whom they obtain
in exchange sago and the heavy dug-outs, which are used afterwards
by the Motu for the construction of their lakatoi canoes. [3]

Further East, on the South coast, there lives the industrious,
sea-faring population of the Mailu, who link the East End of New
Guinea with the central coast tribes by means of annual trading
expeditions. [4] Finally, the natives of the islands and archipelagoes,
scattered around the East End, are in constant trading relations with
one another. We possess in Professor Seligman's book an excellent
description of the subject, especially of the nearer trades routes
between the various islands inhabited by the Southern Massim. [5]
There exists, however, another, a very extensive and highly complex
trading system, embracing with its ramifications, not only the islands
near the East End, but also the Louisiades, Woodlark Island, the
Trobriand Archipelago, and the d'Entrecasteaux group; it penetrates
into the mainland of New Guinea, and exerts an indirect influence over
several outlying districts, such as Rossel Island, and some parts of
the Northern and Southern coast of New Guinea. This trading system,
the Kula, is the subject I am setting out to describe in this volume,
and it will be seen that it is an economic phenomenon of considerable
theoretical importance. It looms paramount in the tribal life of
those natives who live within its circuit, and its importance is
fully realised by the tribesmen themselves, whose ideas, ambitions,
desires and vanities are very much bound up with the Kula.


Before proceeding to the account of the Kula, it will be well to
give a description of the methods used in the collecting of the
ethnographic material. The results of scientific research in any branch
of learning ought to be presented in a manner absolutely candid and
above board. No one would dream of making an experimental contribution
to physical or chemical science, without giving a detailed account
of all the arrangements of the experiments; an exact description
of the apparatus used; of the manner in which the observations were
conducted; of their number; of the length of time devoted to them,
and of the degree of approximation with which each measurement was
made. In less exact sciences, as in biology or geology, this cannot
be done as rigorously, but every student will do his best to bring
home to the reader all the conditions in which the experiment or the
observations were made. In Ethnography, where a candid account of such
data is perhaps even more necessary, it has unfortunately in the past
not always been supplied with sufficient generosity, and many writers
do not ply the full searchlight of methodic sincerity, as they move
among their facts and produce them before us out of complete obscurity.

It would be easy to quote works of high repute, and with a scientific
hall-mark on them, in which wholesale generalisations are laid down
before us, and we are not informed at all by what actual experiences
the writers have reached their conclusion. No special chapter or
paragraph is devoted to describing to us the conditions under which
observations were made and information collected. I consider that
only such ethnographic sources are of unquestionable scientific
value, in which we can clearly draw the line between, on the one
hand, the results of direct observation and of native statements
and interpretations, and on the other, the inferences of the author,
based on his common sense and psychological insight. [6] Indeed, Some
such survey, as that contained in the table, given below (Div. VI of
this chapter) ought to be forthcoming, so that at a glance the reader
could estimate with precision the degree of the writer's personal
acquaintance with the facts which he describes, and form an idea
under what conditions information had been obtained from the natives.

Again, in historical science, no one could expect to be seriously
treated if he made any mystery of his sources and spoke of the past
as if he knew it by divination. In Ethnography, the writer is his own
chronicler and the historian at the same time, while his sources are no
doubt easily accessible, but also supremely elusive and complex; they
are not embodied in fixed, material documents, but in the behaviour
and in the memory of living men. In Ethnography, the distance is
often enormous between the brute material of information--as it is
presented to the student in his own observations, in native statement,
in the kaleidoscope of tribal life--and the final authoritative
presentation of the results. The Ethnographer has to traverse this
distance in the laborious years between the moment when he sets foot
upon a native beach, and makes his first attempts to get into touch
with the natives, and the time when he writes down the final version
of his results. A brief outline of an Ethnographer's tribulations,
as lived through by myself, may throw more light on the question,
than any long abstract discussion could do.


Imagine yourself suddenly set down surrounded by all your gear,
alone on a tropical beach close to a native village, while the launch
or dinghy which has brought you sails away out of sight. Since you
take up your abode in the compound of some neighbouring white man,
trader or missionary, you have nothing to do, but to start at once
on your ethnographic work. Imagine further that you are a beginner,
without previous experience, with nothing to guide you and no one to
help you. For the white man is temporarily absent, or else unable or
unwilling to waste any of his time on you. This exactly describes my
first initiation into field work on the south coast of New Guinea. I
well remember the long visits I paid to the villages during the first
weeks; the feeling of hopelessness and despair after many obstinate
but futile attempts had entirely failed to bring me into real touch
with the natives, or supply me with any material. I had periods of
despondency, when I buried myself in the reading of novels, as a man
might take to drink in a fit of tropical depression and boredom.

Imagine yourself then, making your first entry into the village, alone
or in company with your white cicerone. Some natives flock round you,
especially if they smell tobacco. Others, the more dignified and
elderly, remain seated where they are. Your white companion has his
routine way of treating the natives, and he neither understands, nor is
very much concerned with the manner in which you, as an ethnographer,
will have to approach them. The first visit leaves you with a hopeful
feeling that when you return alone, things will be easier. Such was
my hope at least.

I came back duly, and soon gathered an audience around me. A few
compliments in pidgin-English on both sides, some tobacco changing
hands, induced an atmosphere of mutual amiability. I tried then to
proceed to business. First, to begin with subjects which might arouse
no suspicion, I started to "do" technology. A few natives were engaged
in manufacturing some object or other. It was easy to look at it and
obtain the names of the tools, and even some technical expressions
about the proceedings, but there the matter ended. It must be borne
in mind that pidgin-English is a very imperfect instrument for
expressing one's ideas, and that before one gets a good training in
framing questions and understanding answers one has the uncomfortable
feeling that free communication in it with the natives will never be
attained; and I was quite unable to enter into any more detailed or
explicit conversation with them at first. I knew well that the best
remedy for this was to collect concrete data, and accordingly I took
a village census, wrote down genealogies, drew up plans and collected
the terms of kinship. But all this remained dead material, which led no
further into the understanding of real native mentality or behaviour,
since I could neither procure a good native interpretation of any of
these items, nor get what could be called the hang of tribal life. As
to obtaining their ideas about religion, and magic, their beliefs in
sorcery and spirits, nothing was forthcoming except a few superficial
items of folk-lore, mangled by being forced into pidgin-English.

Information which I received from some white residents in the district,
valuable as it was in itself, was more discouraging than anything else
with regard to my own work. Here were men who had lived for years
in the place with constant opportunities of observing the natives
and communicating with them, and who yet hardly knew one thing about
them really well. How could I therefore in a few months or a year,
hope to overtake and go beyond them? Moreover, the manner in which
my white informants spoke about the natives and put their views was,
naturally, that of untrained minds, unaccustomed to formulate their
thoughts with any degree of consistency and precision. And they
were for the most part, naturally enough, full of the biassed and
pre-judged opinions inevitable in the average practical man, whether
administrator, missionary, or trader; yet so strongly repulsive to
a mind striving after the objective, scientific view of things. The
habit of treating with a self-satisfied frivolity what is really
serious to the ethnographer; the cheap rating of what to him is a
scientific treasure, that is to say, the native's cultural and mental
peculiarities and independence--these features, so well known in the
inferior amateur's writing, I found in the tone of the majority of
white residents. [7]

Indeed, in my first piece of Ethnographic research on the South coast,
it was not until I was alone in the district that I began to make
some headway; and, at any rate, I found out where lay the secret of
effective field-work. What is then this ethnographer's magic, by which
he is able to evoke the real spirit of the natives, the true picture
of tribal life? As usual, success can only be obtained by a patient
and systematic application of a number of rules of common sense and
well-known scientific principles, and not by the discovery of any
marvellous short-cut leading to the desired results without effort
or trouble. The principles of method can be grouped under three
main headings; first of all, naturally, the student must possess
real scientific aims, and know the values and criteria of modern
ethnography. Secondly, he ought to put himself in good conditions of
work, that is, in the main, to live without other white men, right
among the natives. Finally, he has to apply a number of special
methods of collecting, manipulating and fixing his evidence. A few
words must be said about these three foundation stones of fieldwork,
beginning with the second as the most elementary.


Proper conditions for ethnographic work. These, as said, consist
mainly in cutting oneself off from the company of other white men,
and remaining in as close contact with the natives as possible,
which really can only be achieved by camping right in their villages
(see Plates I and II). It is very nice to have a base in a white man's
compound for the stores, and to know there is a refuge there in times
of sickness and surfeit of native. But it must be far enough away
not to become a permanent milieu in which you live and from which
you emerge at fixed hours only to "do the village." It should not
even be near enough to fly to at any moment for recreation. For the
native is not the natural companion for a white man, and after you
have been working with him for several hours, seeing how he does his
gardens, or letting him tell you items of folk-lore, or discussing
his customs, you will naturally hanker after the company of your own
kind. But if you are alone in a village beyond reach of this, you go
for a solitary walk for an hour or so, return again and then quite
naturally seek out the natives' society, this time as a relief from
loneliness, just as you would any other companionship. And by means
of this natural intercourse, you learn to know him, and you become
familiar with his customs and beliefs far better than when he is a
paid, and often bored, informant.

There is all the difference between a sporadic plunging into the
company of natives, and being really in contact with them. What does
this latter mean? On the Ethnographer's side, it means that his life
in the village, which at first is a strange, sometimes unpleasant,
sometimes intensely interesting adventure, soon adopts quite a natural
course very much in harmony with his surroundings.

Soon after I had established myself in Omarakana (Trobriand Islands),
I began to take part, in a way, in the village life, to look forward
to the important or festive events, to take personal interest in the
gossip and the developments of the small village occurrences; to wake
up every morning to a day, presenting itself to me more or less as
it does to the native. I would get out from under my mosquito net,
to find around me the village life beginning to stir, or the people
well advanced in their working day according to the hour and also to
the season, for they get up and begin their labours early or late,
as work presses. As I went on my morning walk through the village, I
could see intimate details of family life, of toilet, cooking, taking
of meals; I could see the arrangements for the day's work, people
starting on their errands, or groups of men and women busy at some
manufacturing tasks (see Plate III). Quarrels, jokes, family scenes,
events usually trivial, sometimes dramatic but always significant,
formed the atmosphere of my daily life, as well as of theirs. It
must be remembered that as the natives saw me constantly every day,
they ceased to be interested or alarmed, or made self-conscious by
my presence, and I ceased to be a disturbing element in the tribal
life which I was to study, altering it by my very approach, as
always happens with a new-comer to every savage community. In fact,
as they knew that I would thrust my nose into everything, even where
a well-mannered native would not dream of intruding, they finished
by regarding me as part and parcel of their life, a necessary evil
or nuisance, mitigated by donations of tobacco.

Later on in the day, whatever happened was within easy reach, and
there was no possibility of its escaping my notice. Alarms about the
sorcerer's approach in the evening, one or two big, really important
quarrels and rifts within the community, cases of illness, attempted
cures and deaths, magical rites which had to be performed, all these I
had not to pursue, fearful of missing them, but they took place under
my very eyes, at my own doorstep, so to speak (see Plate IV). And it
must be emphasised whenever anything dramatic or important occurs it is
essential to investigate it at the very moment of happening, because
the natives cannot but talk about it, are too excited to be reticent,
and too interested to be mentally lazy in supplying details. Also,
over and over again, I committed breaches of etiquette, which the
natives, familiar enough with me, were not slow in pointing out. I
had to learn how to behave, and to a certain extent, I acquired "the
feeling" for native good and bad manners. With this, and with the
capacity of enjoying their company and sharing some of their games
and amusements, I began to feel that I was indeed in touch with the
natives, and this is certainly the preliminary condition of being
able to carry on successful field work.


But the Ethnographer has not only to spread his nets in the right
place, and wait for what will fall into them. He must be an active
huntsman, and drive his quarry into them and follow it up to its most
inaccessible lairs. And that leads us to the more active methods of
pursuing ethnographic evidence. It has been mentioned at the end of
Division III that the Ethnographer has to be inspired by the knowledge
of the most modern results of scientific study, by its principles
and aims. I shall not enlarge upon this subject, except by way of one
remark, to avoid the possibility of misunderstanding. Good training
in theory, and acquaintance with its latest results, is not identical
with being burdened with "preconceived ideas." If a man sets out on an
expedition, determined to prove certain hypotheses, if he is incapable
of changing his views constantly and casting them off ungrudgingly
under the pressure of evidence, needless to say his work will be
worthless. But the more problems he brings with him into the field,
the more he is in the habit of moulding his theories according to
facts, and of seeing facts in their bearing upon theory, the better
he is equipped for the work. Preconceived ideas are pernicious in any
scientific work, but foreshadowed problems are the main endowment of
a scientific thinker, and these problems are first revealed to the
observer by his theoretical studies.

In Ethnology the early efforts of Bastian, Tylor, Morgan, the German
Völkerpsychologen have remoulded the older crude information of
travellers, missionaries, etc., and have shown us the importance
of applying deeper conceptions and discarding crude and misleading
ones. [8]

The concept of animism superseded that of "fetichism" or
"devil-worship," both meaningless terms. The understanding of
the classificatory systems of relationship paved the way for the
brilliant, modern researches on native sociology in the field-work of
the Cambridge school. The psychological analysis of the German thinkers
has brought forth an abundant crop of most valuable information in
the results obtained by the recent German expeditions to Africa,
South America and the Pacific, while the theoretical works of Frazer,
Durkheim and others have already, and will no doubt still for a long
time inspire field workers and lead them to new results. The field
worker relies entirely upon inspiration from theory. Of course he may
be also a theoretical thinker and worker, and there he can draw on
himself for stimulus. But the two functions are separate, and in actual
research they have to be separated both in time and conditions of work.

As always happens when scientific interest turns towards and begins
to labour on a field so far only prospected by the curiosity of
amateurs, Ethnology has introduced law and order into what seemed
chaotic and freakish. It has transformed for us the sensational, wild
and unaccountable world of "savages" into a number of well ordered
communities, governed by law, behaving and thinking according to
consistent principles. The word "savage," whatever association it
might have had originally, connotes ideas of boundless liberty, of
irregularity, of something extremely and extraordinarily quaint. In
popular thinking, we imagine that the natives live on the bosom of
Nature, more or less as they can and like, the prey of irregular,
phantasmagoric beliefs and apprehensions. Modern science, on the
contrary, shows that their social institutions have a very definite
organisation, that they are governed by authority, law and order
in their public and personal relations, while the latter are,
besides, under the control of extremely complex ties of kinship
and clanship. Indeed, we see them entangled in a mesh of duties,
functions and privileges which correspond to an elaborate tribal,
communal and kinship organisation (see Plate IV). Their beliefs and
practices do not by any means lack consistency of a certain type,
and their knowledge of the outer world is sufficient to guide them
in many of their strenuous enterprises and activities. Their artistic
productions again lack neither meaning nor beauty.

It is a very far cry from the famous answer given long ago by a
representative authority who, asked, what are the manners and customs
of the natives, answered, "Customs none, manners beastly," to the
position of the modern Ethnographer! This latter, with his tables
of kinship terms, genealogies, maps, plans and diagrams, proves an
extensive and big organisation, shows the constitution of the tribe,
of the clan, of the family; and he gives us a picture of the natives
subjected to a strict code of behaviour and good manners, to which
in comparison the life at the Court of Versailles or Escurial was
free and easy. [9]

Thus the first and basic ideal of ethnographic field-work is to
give a clear and firm outline of the social constitution, and
disentangle the laws and regularities of all cultural phenomena
from the irrelevances. The firm skeleton of the tribal life has
to be first ascertained. This ideal imposes in the first place the
fundamental obligation of giving a complete survey of the phenomena,
and not of picking out the sensational, the singular, still less
the funny and quaint. The time when we could tolerate accounts
presenting us the native as a distorted, childish caricature of
a human being are gone. This picture is false, and like many other
falsehoods, it has been killed by Science. The field Ethnographer has
seriously and soberly to cover the full extent of the phenomena in
each aspect of tribal culture studied, making no difference between
What is commonplace, or drab, or ordinary, and what strikes him as
astonishing and out-of-the-way. At the same time, the whole area of
tribal culture in all its aspects has to be gone over in research. The
consistency, the law and order which obtain within each aspect make
also for joining them into one coherent whole.

An Ethnographer who sets out to study only religion, or only
technology, or only social organisation cuts out an artificial field
for inquiry, and he will be seriously handicapped in his work.


Having settled this very general rule, let us descend to more detailed
consideration of method. The Ethnographer has in the field, according
to what has just been said, the duty before him of drawing up all
the rules and regularities of tribal life; all that is permanent
and fixed; of giving an anatomy of their culture, of depicting the
constitution of their society. But these things, though crystallised
and set, are nowhere formulated. There is no written or explicitly
expressed code of laws, and their whole tribal tradition, the whole
structure of their society, are embodied in the most elusive of all
materials; the human being. But not even in human mind or memory are
these laws to be found definitely formulated. The natives obey the
forces and commands of the tribal code, but they do not comprehend
them; exactly as they obey their instincts and their impulses, but
could not lay down a single law of psychology. The regularities in
native institutions are an automatic result of the interaction of
the mental forces of tradition, and of the material conditions of
environment. Exactly as a humble member of any modern institution,
whether it be the state, or the church, or the army, is of it and
in it, but has no vision of the resulting integral action of the
whole, still less could furnish any account of its organisation,
so it would be futile to attempt questioning a native in abstract,
sociological terms. The difference is that, in our society, every
institution has its intelligent members, its historians, and its
archives and documents, whereas in a native society there are none
of these. After this is realised an expedient has to be found to
overcome this difficulty. This expedient for an Ethnographer consists
in collecting concrete data of evidence, and drawing the general
inferences for himself. This seems obvious on the face of it, but was
not found out or at least practised in Ethnography till field work was
taken up by men of science. Moreover, in giving it practical effect,
it is neither easy to devise the concrete applications of this method,
nor to carry them out systematically and consistently.

Though we cannot ask a native about abstract, general rules, we can
always enquire how a given case would be treated. Thus for instance,
in asking how they would treat crime, or punish it, it would be vain
to put to a native a sweeping question such as, "How do you treat
and punish a criminal?" for even words could not be found to express
it in native, or in pidgin. But an imaginary case, or still better,
a real occurrence, will stimulate a native to express his opinion and
to supply plentiful information. A real case indeed will start the
natives on a wave of discussion, evoke expressions of indignation,
show them taking sides--all of which talk will probably contain a
wealth of definite views, of moral censures, as well as reveal the
social mechanism set in motion by the crime committed. From there,
it will be easy to lead them on to speak of other similar cases,
to remember other actual occurrences or to discuss them in all their
implications and aspects. From this material, which ought to cover
the widest possible range of facts, the inference is obtained by
simple induction. The scientific treatment differs from that of good
common sense, first in that a student will extend the completeness and
minuteness of survey much further and in a pedantically systematic and
methodical manner; and secondly, in that the scientifically trained
mind, will push the inquiry along really relevant lines, and towards
aims possessing real importance. Indeed, the object of scientific
training is to provide the empirical investigator with a mental chart,
in accordance with which he can take his bearings and lay his course.

To return to our example, a number of definite cases discussed will
reveal to the Ethnographer the social machinery for punishment. This
is one part, one aspect of tribal authority. Imagine further that
by a similar method of inference from definite data, he arrives at
understanding leadership in war, in economic enterprise, in tribal
festivities--there he has at once all the data necessary to answer
the questions about tribal government and social authority. In actual
field work, the comparison of such data, the attempt to piece them
together, will often reveal rifts and gaps in the information which
lead on to further investigations.

From my own experience, I can say that, very often, a problem seemed
settled, everything fixed and clear, till I began to write down a
short preliminary sketch of my results. And only then, did I see the
enormous deficiencies, which would show me where lay new problems,
and lead me on to new work. In fact, I spent a few months between my
first and second expeditions, and over a year between that and the
subsequent one, in going over all my material, and making parts of
it almost ready for publication each time, though each time I knew I
would have to re-write it. Such cross-fertilisation of constructive
work and observation, I found most valuable, and I do not think I
could have made real headway without it. I give this bit of my own
history merely to show that what has been said so far is not only an
empty programme, but the result of personal experience. In this volume,
the description is given of a big institution connected with ever so
many associated activities, and presenting many aspects. To anyone who
reflects on the subject, it will be clear that the information about
a phenomenon of such high complexity and of so many ramifications,
could not be obtained with any degree of exactitude and completeness,
without a constant interplay of constructive attempts and empirical
checking. In fact, I have written up an outline of the Kula institution
at least half a dozen times while in the field and in the intervals
between my expeditions. Each time, new problems and difficulties
presented themselves.

The collecting of concrete data over a wide range of facts is thus one
of the main points of field method. The obligation is not to enumerate
a few examples only, but to exhaust as far as possible all the cases
within reach; and, on this search for cases, the investigator will
score most whose mental chart is clearest. But, whenever the material
of the search allows it, this mental chart ought to be transformed
into a real one; it ought to materialise into a diagram, a plan,
an exhaustive, synoptic table of cases. Long since, in all tolerably
good modern books on natives, we expect to find a full list or table
of kinship terms, which includes all the data relative to it, and
does not just pick out a few strange and anomalous relationships
or expressions. In the investigation of kinship, the following up
of one relation after another in concrete cases leads naturally to
the construction of genealogical tables. Practised already by the
best early writers, such as Munzinger, and, if I remember rightly,
Kubary, this method has been developed to its fullest extent in the
works of Dr. Rivers. Again, studying the concrete data of economic
transactions, in order to trace the history of a valuable object, and
to gauge the nature of its circulation, the principle of completeness
and thoroughness would lead to construct tables of transactions,
such as we find in the work of Professor Seligman. [10] It is in
following Professor Seligman's example in this matter that I was able
to settle certain of the more difficult and detailed rules of the
Kula. The method of reducing information, if possible, into charts
or synoptic tables ought to be extended to the study of practically
all aspects of native life. All types of economic transactions may
be studied by following up connected, actual cases, and putting them
into a synoptic chart; again, a table ought to be drawn up of all the
gifts and presents customary in a given society, a table including the
sociological, ceremonial, and economic definition of every item. Also,
systems of magic, connected series of ceremonies, types of legal acts,
all could be charted, allowing each entry to be synoptically defined
under a number of headings. Besides this, of course, the genealogical
census of every community, studied more in detail, extensive maps,
plans and diagrams, illustrating ownership in garden land, hunting
and fishing privileges, etc., serve as the more fundamental documents
of ethnographic research.

A genealogy is nothing else but a synoptic chart of a number of
connected relations of kinship. Its value as an instrument of research
consists in that it allows the investigator to put questions which
he formulates to himself in abstracto, but can put concretely to
the native informant. As a document, its value consists in that it
gives a number of authenticated data, presented in their natural
grouping. A synoptic chart of magic fulfils the same function. As
an instrument of research, I have used it in order to ascertain,
for instance, the ideas about the nature of magical power. With a
chart before me, I could easily and conveniently go over one item
after the other, and note down the relevant practices and beliefs
contained in each of them. The answer to my abstract problem could
then be obtained by drawing a general inference from all the cases,
and the procedure is illustrated in Chapters XVII and XVIII. [11] I
cannot enter further into the discussion of this question, which would
need further distinctions, such as between a chart of concrete, actual
data, such as is a genealogy, and a chart summarising the outlines
of a custom or belief, as a chart of a magical system would be.

Returning once more to the question of methodological candour,
discussed previously in Division II I wish to point out here, that
the procedure of concrete and tabularised presentation of data ought
to be applied first to the Ethnographer's own credentials. That
is, an Ethnographer, who wishes to be trusted, must show clearly
and concisely, in a tabularised form, which are his own direct
observations, and which the indirect information that form the bases
of his account. The Table on the next page will serve as an example
of this procedure and help the reader of this book to form an idea
of the trustworthiness of any statement he is specially anxious to
check. With the help of this Table and the many references scattered
throughout the text, as to how, under what circumstances, and with what
degree of accuracy I arrived at a given item of knowledge, there will,
I hope remain no obscurity whatever as to the sources of the book.


First Expedition, August, 1914-March, 1915.

    March, 1915. In the village of Dikoyas (Woodlark Island) a few
    ceremonial offerings seen. Preliminary information obtained.

Second Expedition, May, 1915-May, 1916.

    June, 1915. A Kabigidoya visit arrives from Vakuta to Kiriwina. Its
    anchoring at Kavataria witnessed and the men seen at Omarakana,
    where information collected.

    July, 1915. Several parties from Kitava land on the beach of
    Kaulukuba. The men examined in Omarakana. Much information
    collected in that period.

    September, 1915. Unsuccessful attempt to sail to Kitava with
    To'uluwa, the chief of Omarakana.

    October-November, 1915. Departure noticed of three expeditions
    from Kiriwina to Kitava. Each time To'uluwa brings home a haul
    of mwali (armshells).

    November, 1915-March, 1916. Preparations for a big
    overseas expedition from Kiriwina to the Marshall Bennett
    Islands. Construction of a canoe; renovating of another;
    sail making in Omarakana; launching; tasasoria on the beach of
    Kaulukuba. At the same time, information is being obtained about
    these and the associated subjects. Some magical texts of canoe
    building and Kula magic obtained.

Third Expedition, October, 1917-October, 1918.

    November, 1917-December, 1917. Inland Kula; some data obtained
    in Tukwaukwa.

    December-February, 1918. Parties from Kitava arrive in
    Wawela. Collection of information about the yoyova. Magic and
    spells of Kaygau obtained.

    March, 1918. Preparations in Sanaroa; preparations in the
    Amphletts; the Dobuan fleet arrives in the Amphletts. The uvalaku
    expedition from Dobu followed to Boyowa.

    April, 1918. Their arrival; their reception in Sinaketa; the
    Kula transactions; the big intertribal gathering. Some magical
    formulæ obtained.

    May, 1918. Party from Kitava seen in Vakuta.

    June, July, 1918. Information about Kula magic and customs
    checked and amplified in Omarakana, especially with regard to
    its Eastern branches.

    August, September, 1918. Magical texts obtained in Sinaketa.

    October, 1918. Information obtained from a number of natives in
    Dobu and Southern Massim district (examined in Samarai).

To summarise the first, cardinal point of method, I may say each
phenomenon ought to be studied through the broadest range possible of
its concrete manifestations; each studied by an exhaustive survey of
detailed examples. If possible, the results ought to be embodied into
some sort of synoptic chart, both to be used as an instrument of study,
and to be presented as an ethnological document. With the help of
such documents and such study of actualities the clear outline of the
framework of the natives' culture in the widest sense of the word, and
the constitution of their society, can be presented. This method could
be called the method of statistic documentation by concrete evidence.


Needless to add, in this respect, the scientific field-work is far
above even the best amateur productions. There is, however, one point
in which the latter often excel. This is, in the presentation of
intimate touches of native life, in bringing home to us these aspects
of it with which one is made familiar only through being in close
contact with the natives, one way or the other, for a long period of
time. In certain results of scientific work--especially that which has
been called "survey work"--we are given an excellent skeleton, so to
speak, of the tribal constitution, but it lacks flesh and blood. We
learn much about the framework of their society, but within it,
we cannot perceive or imagine the realities of human life, the even
flow of everyday events, the occasional ripples of excitement over a
feast, or ceremony, or some singular occurrence. In working out the
rules and regularities of native custom, and in obtaining a precise
formula for them from the collection of data and native statements,
we find that this very precision is foreign to real life, which
never adheres rigidly to any rules. It must be supplemented by the
observation of the manner in which a given custom is carried out,
of the behaviour of the natives in obeying the rules so exactly
formulated by the ethnographer, of the very exceptions which in
sociological phenomena almost always occur.

If all the conclusions are solely based on the statements of
informants, or deduced from objective documents, it is of course
impossible to supplement them in actually observed data of real
behaviour. And that is the reason why certain works of amateur
residents of long standing, such as educated traders and planters,
medical men and officials, and last, not least, of the few intelligent
and unbiassed missionaries to whom Ethnography owes so much, this is
the reason why these works surpass in plasticity and in vividness most
of the purely scientific accounts. But if the specialised field-worker
can adopt the conditions of living described above, he is in a far
better position to be really in touch with the natives than any other
white resident. For none of them lives right in a native village,
except for very short periods, and everyone has his own business,
which takes up a considerable part of his time. Moreover, if, like a
trader or a missionary or an official he enters into active relations
with the native, if he has to transform or influence or make use of
him, this makes a real, unbiassed, impartial observation impossible,
and precludes all-round sincerity, at least in the case of the
missionaries and officials.

Living in the village with no other business but to follow native life,
one sees the customs, ceremonies and transactions over and over again,
one has examples of their beliefs as they are actually lived through,
and the full body and blood of actual native life fills out soon the
skeleton of abstract constructions. That is the reason why, working
under such conditions as previously described, the Ethnographer is
enabled to add something essential to the bare outline of tribal
constitution, and to supplement it by all the details of behaviour,
setting and small incident. He is able in each case to state whether
an act is public or private; how a public assembly behaves, and
what it looks like; he can judge whether an event is ordinary or an
exciting and singular one; whether natives bring to it a great deal
of sincere and earnest spirit, or perform it in fun; whether they do
it in a perfunctory manner, or with zeal and deliberation.

In other words, there is a series of phenomena of great importance
which cannot possibly be recorded by questioning or computing
documents, but have to be observed in their full actuality. Let us
call them the imponderabilia of actual life. Here belong such things
as the routine of a man's working day, the details of his care of
the body, of the manner of taking food and preparing it; the tone of
conversational and social life around the village fires, the existence
of strong friendships or hostilities, and of passing sympathies and
dislikes between people; the subtle yet unmistakable manner in which
personal vanities and ambitions are reflected in the behaviour of
the individual and in the emotional reactions of those who surround
him. All these facts can and ought to be scientifically formulated and
recorded, but it is necessary that this be done, not by a superficial
registration of details, as is usually done by untrained observers,
but with an effort at penetrating the mental attitude expressed in
them. And that is the reason why the work of scientifically trained
observers, once seriously applied to the study of this aspect, will,
I believe, yield results of surpassing value. So far, it has been
done only by amateurs, and therefore done, on the whole, indifferently.

Indeed, if we remember that these imponderable yet all important facts
of actual life are part of the real substance of the social fabric,
that in them are spun the innumerable threads which keep together
the family, the clan, the village community, the tribe--their
significance becomes clear. The more crystallised bonds of social
grouping, such as the definite ritual, the economic and legal duties,
the obligations, the ceremonial gifts and formal marks of regard,
though equally important for the student, are certainly felt less
strongly by the individual who has to fulfil them. Applying this to
ourselves, we all know that "family life" means for us, first and
foremost, the atmosphere of home, all the innumerable small acts and
attentions in which are expressed the affection, the mutual interest,
the little preferences, and the little antipathies which constitute
intimacy. That we may inherit from this person, that we shall have to
walk after the hearse of the other, though sociologically these facts
belong to the definition of "family" and "family life," in personal
perspective of what family truly is to us, they normally stand very
much in the background.

Exactly the same applies to a native community, and if the Ethnographer
wants to bring their real life home to his readers, he must on no
account neglect this. Neither aspect, the intimate, as little as
the legal, ought to be glossed over. Yet as a rule in ethnographic
accounts we have not both but either the one or the other--and, so
far, the intimate one has hardly ever been properly treated. In all
social relations besides the family ties, even those between mere
tribesmen and, beyond that, between hostile or friendly members of
different tribes, meeting on any sort of social business, there is
this intimate side, expressed by the typical details of intercourse,
the tone of their behaviour in the presence of one another. This
side is different from the definite, crystalised legal frame of the
relationship, and it has to be studied and stated in its own right.

In the same way, in studying the conspicuous acts of tribal life,
such as ceremonies, rites, festivities, etc., the details and tone of
behaviour ought to be given, besides the bare outline of events. The
importance of this may be exemplified by one instance. Much has
been said and written about survival. Yet the survival character
of an act is expressed in nothing as well as in the concomitant
behaviour, in the way in which it is carried out. Take any example
from our own culture, whether it be the pomp and pageantry of a
state ceremony, or a picturesque custom kept up by street urchins,
its "outline" will not tell you whether the rite flourishes still
with full vigour in the hearts of those who perform it or assist at
the performance or whether they regard it as almost a dead thing,
kept alive for tradition's sake. But observe and fix the data of
their behaviour, and at once the degree of vitality of the act will
become clear. There is no doubt, from all points of sociological,
or psychological analysis, and in any question of theory, the manner
and type of behaviour observed in the performance of an act is of the
highest importance. Indeed behaviour is a fact, a relevant fact, and
one that can be recorded. And foolish indeed and short-sighted would
be the man of science who would pass by a whole class of phenomena,
ready to be garnered, and leave them to waste, even though he did
not see at the moment to what theoretical use they might be put!

As to the actual method of observing and recording in field-work
these imponderabilia of actual life and of typical behaviour, there
is no doubt that the personal equation of the observer comes in here
more prominently, than in the collection of crystalised, ethnographic
data. But here also the main endeavour must be to let facts speak for
themselves. If in making a daily round of the village, certain small
incidents, characteristic forms of taking food, of conversing, of
doing work (see for instance Plate III) are found occurring over and
over again, they should be noted down at once. It is also important
that this work of collecting and fixing impressions should begin
early in the course of working out a district. Because certain subtle
peculiarities, which make an impression as long as they are novel,
cease to be noticed as soon as they become familiar. Others again can
only be perceived with a better knowledge of the local conditions. An
ethnographic diary, carried on systematically throughout the course
of one's work in a district would be the ideal instrument for this
sort of study. And if, side by side with the normal and typical,
the ethnographer carefully notes the slight, or the more pronounced
deviations from it, he will be able to indicate the two extremes
within which the normal moves.

In observing ceremonies or other tribal events, such, for instance as
the scene depicted in Plate IV, it is necessary, not only to note down
those occurrences and details which are prescribed by tradition and
custom to be the essential course of the act, but also the Ethnographer
ought to record carefully and precisely, one after the other, the
actions of the actors and of the spectators. Forgetting for a moment
that he knows and understands the structure of this ceremony, the
main dogmatic ideas underlying it, he might try to find himself only
in the midst of an assembly of human-beings, who behave seriously or
jocularly, with earnest concentration or with bored frivolity, who
are either in the same mood as he finds them every day, or else are
screwed up to a high pitch of excitement, and so on and so on. With his
attention constantly directed to this aspect of tribal life, with the
constant endeavour to fix it, to express it in terms of actual fact,
a good deal of reliable and expressive material finds its way into
his notes. He will be able to "set" the act into its proper place in
tribal life, that is to show whether it is exceptional or commonplace,
one in which the natives behave ordinarily, or one in which their
whole behaviour is transformed. And he will also be able to bring
all this home to his readers in a clear, convincing manner.

Again, in this type of work, it is good for the Ethnographer sometimes
to put aside camera, note book and pencil, and to join in himself
in what is going on. He can take part in the natives' games, he can
follow them on their visits and walks, sit down and listen and share
in their conversations. I am not certain if this is equally easy
for everyone--perhaps the Slavonic nature is more plastic and more
naturally savage than that of Western Europeans--but though the degree
of success varies, the attempt is possible for everyone. Out of such
plunges into the life of the natives--and I made them frequently not
only for study's sake but because everyone needs human company--I
have carried away a distinct feeling that their behaviour, their
manner of being, in all sorts of tribal transactions, became more
transparent and easily understandable than it had been before. All
these methodological remarks, the reader will find again illustrated
in the following chapters.


Finally, let us pass to the third and last aim of scientific
field-work, to the last type of phenomenon which ought to be recorded
in order to give a full and adequate picture of native culture. Besides
the firm outline of tribal constitution and crystallised cultural
items which form the skeleton, besides the data of daily life and
ordinary behaviour, which are, so to speak, its flesh and blood,
there is still to be recorded the spirit--the natives' views and
opinions and utterances. For, in every act of tribal life, there is,
first, the routine prescribed by custom and tradition, then there
is the manner in which it is carried out, and lastly there is the
commentary to it, contained in the natives' mind. A man who submits
to various customary obligations, who follows a traditional course
of action, does it impelled by certain motives, to the accompaniment
of certain feelings, guided by certain ideas. These ideas, feelings,
and impulses are moulded and conditioned by the culture in which
we find them, and are therefore an ethnic peculiarity of the given
society. An attempt must be made therefore, to study and record them.

But is this possible? Are these subjective states not too elusive and
shapeless? And, even granted that people usually do feel or think
or experience certain psychological states in association with the
performance of customary acts, the majority of them surely are not
able to formulate these states, to put them into words. This latter
point must certainly be granted, and it is perhaps the real Gordian
knot in the study of the facts of social psychology. Without trying to
cut or untie this knot, that is to solve the problem theoretically,
or to enter further into the field of general methodology, I shall
make directly for the question of practical means to overcome some
of the difficulties involved.

First of all, it has to be laid down that we have to study here
stereotyped manners of thinking and feeling. As sociologists, we
are not interested in what A or B may feel qua individuals, in the
accidental course of their own personal experiences--we are interested
only in what they feel and think qua members of a given community. Now
in this capacity, their mental states receive a certain stamp, become
stereotyped by the institutions in which they live, by the influence
of tradition and folk-lore, by the very vehicle of thought, that is
by language. The social and cultural environment in which they move
forces them to think and feel in a definite manner. Thus, a man who
lives in a polyandrous community cannot experience the same feelings
of jealousy, as a strict monogynist, though he might have the elements
of them. A man who lives within the sphere of the Kula cannot become
permanently and sentimentally attached to certain of his possessions,
in spite of the fact that he values them most of all. These examples
are crude, but better ones will be found in the text of this book.

So, the third commandment of field-work runs: Find out the typical
ways of thinking and feeling, corresponding to the institutions and
culture of a given community, and formulate the results in the most
convincing manner. What will be the method of procedure? The best
ethnographical writers--here again the Cambridge school with Haddon,
Rivers, and Seligman rank first among English Ethnographers--have
always tried to quote verbatim statements of crucial importance. They
also adduce terms of native classification; sociological, psychological
and industrial termini technici, and have rendered the verbal contour
of native thought as precisely as possible. One step further in this
line can be made by the Ethnographer, who acquires a knowledge of
the native language and can use it as an instrument of inquiry. In
working in the Kiriwinian language, I found still some difficulty in
writing down the statement directly in translation which at first I
used to do in the act of taking notes. The translation often robbed
the text of all its significant characteristics--rubbed off all its
points--so that gradually I was led to note down certain important
phrases just as they were spoken, in the native tongue. As my knowledge
of the language progressed, I put down more and more in Kiriwinian,
till at last I found myself writing exclusively in that language,
rapidly taking notes, word for word, of each statement. No sooner had
I arrived at this point, than I recognised that I was thus acquiring
at the same time an abundant linguistic material, and a series of
ethnographic documents which ought to be reproduced as I had fixed
them, besides being utilised in the writing up of my account. [12]
This corpus inscriptionum Kiriwiniensium can be utilised, not only
by myself, but by all those who, through their better penetration
and ability of interpreting them, may find points which escape my
attention, very much as the other corpora form the basis for the
various interpretations of ancient and prehistoric cultures; only,
these ethnographic inscriptions are all decipherable and clear,
have been almost all translated fully and unambiguously, and have
been provided with native cross-commentaries or scholia obtained from
living sources.

No more need be said on this subject here, as later on a whole chapter
(Chapter XVIII) is devoted to it, and to its exemplification by several
native texts. The Corpus will of course be published separately at
a later date.


Our considerations thus indicate that the goal of ethnographic
field-work must be approached through three avenues:

1. The organisation of the tribe, and the anatomy of its culture
must be recorded in firm, clear outline. The method of concrete,
statistical documentation is the means through which such an outline
has to be given.

2. Within this frame, the imponderabilia of actual life, and the
type of behaviour have to be filled in. They have to be collected
through minute, detailed observations, in the form of some sort of
ethnographic diary, made possible by close contact with native life.

3. A collection of ethnographic statements, characteristic narratives,
typical utterances, items of folk-lore and magical formulæ has to be
given as a corpus inscriptionum, as documents of native mentality.

These three lines of approach lead to the final goal, of which an
Ethnographer should never lose sight. This goal is, briefly, to grasp
the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realise his vision
of his world. We have to study man, and we must study what concerns
him most intimately, that is, the hold which life has on him. In
each culture, the values are slightly different; people aspire after
different aims, follow different impulses, yearn after a different
form of happiness. In each culture, we find different institutions
in which man pursues his life-interest, different customs by which he
satisfies his aspirations, different codes of law and morality which
reward his virtues or punish his defections. To study the institutions,
customs, and codes or to study the behaviour and mentality without the
subjective desire of feeling by what these people live, of realising
the substance of their happiness--is, in my opinion, to miss the
greatest reward which we can hope to obtain from the study of man.

These generalities the reader will find illustrated in the following
chapters. We shall see there the savage striving to satisfy certain
aspirations, to attain his type of value, to follow his line of
social ambition. We shall see him led on to perilous and difficult
enterprises by a tradition of magical and heroical exploits, shall
see him following the lure of his own romance. Perhaps as we read
the account of these remote customs there may emerge a feeling of
solidarity with the endeavours and ambitions of these natives. Perhaps
man's mentality will be revealed to us, and brought near, along
some lines which we never have followed before. Perhaps through
realising human nature in a shape very distant and foreign to us,
we shall have some light shed on our own. In this, and in this case
only, we shall be justified in feeling that it has been worth our
while to understand these natives, their institutions and customs,
and that we have gathered some profit from the Kula.




The tribes who live within the sphere of the Kula system of trading
belong, one and all--with the exception perhaps, of the Rossel
Island natives, of whom we know next to nothing--to the same racial
group. These tribes inhabit the easternmost end of the mainland of
New Guinea and those islands, scattered in the form of the long-drawn
archipelago, which continue in the same south-easternly trend as
the mainland, as if to bridge over the gap between New Guinea and
the Solomons.

New Guinea is a mountainous island-continent, very difficult of access
in its interior, and also at certain portions of the coast, where
barrier reefs, swamps and rocks practically prevent landing or even
approach for native craft. Such a country would obviously not offer the
same opportunities in all its parts to the drifting migrations which
in all probability are responsible for the composition of the present
population of the South Seas. The easily accessible portions of the
coast and the outlying islands would certainly offer a hospitable
reception to immigrants of a higher stock; but, on the other hand,
the high hills, the impregnable fastnesses in swampy flats and shores
where landing was difficult and dangerous, would give easy protection
to the aborigines, and discourage the influx of migrators.

The actual distribution of races in New Guinea completely justifies
these hypotheses. Map II shows the Eastern part of the main island
and archipelagoes of New Guinea and the racial distribution of the
natives. The interior of the continent, the low sago swamps and deltas
of the Gulf of Papua--probably the greater part of the North Coast and
of the South-West Coast of New Guinea, are inhabited by a "relatively
tall, dark-skinned, frizzly-haired" race, called by Dr. Seligman
Papuan, and in the hills more especially by pygmy tribes. We know
little about these people, swamp tribes and hill tribes alike, who
probably are the autochtons in this part of the world. [13] As we shall
also not meet them in the following account, it will be better to pass
to the tribes who inhabit the accessible parts of New Guinea. "The
Eastern Papuasians, that is, the generally smaller, lighter coloured,
frizzly-haired races of the eastern peninsula of New Guinea and its
archipelagoes now require a name, and since the true Melanesian element
is dominant in them, they may be called Papuo-Melanesians. With regard
to these Eastern Papuasians, Dr. A. C. Haddon first recognised that
they came into the country as the result of a 'Melanesian migration
into New Guinea,' and further, 'That a single wandering would not
account for certain puzzling facts.'" [14] The Papuo-Melanesians
again can be divided into two groups, a Western and an Eastern one,
which, following Dr. Seligman's terminology, we shall call the Western
Papuo-Melanesians and the Massim respectively. It is with these latter
we shall become acquainted in the following pages.

If we glance at a map and follow the orographical features of Eastern
New Guinea and its coast line, we see at once that the high main
range of mountains drops off between the 149th and 150th meridians,
and again that the fringing reef disappears at the same point,
that is, at the west end of Orangerie Bay. This means that the
extreme East End of New Guinea, with its archipelagoes, in other
words, the Massim country, is the most easily accessible area,
and might be expected to be inhabited by a homogeneous stock of
people, consisting of immigrants almost unmixed with the autochtons
(Cf. Map II). "Indeed, while the condition actually existing in the
Massim area suggests that there was no slow mingling of the invaders
with a previous stock, the geographical features of the territory of
the Western Papuo-Melanesians with its hills, mountains and swamps,
are such that invaders could not have speedily overrun the country,
nor failed to have been influenced by the original inhabitants..." [15]

I shall assume that the reader is acquainted with the quoted work of
Dr. Seligman, where a thorough account is given of all the main types
of Papuo-Melanesian sociology and culture one after the other. But
the tribes of the Eastern Papuo-Melanesian or Massim area, must be
described here somewhat more in detail, as it is within this fairly
homogeneous area that the Kula takes place. Indeed, the Kula sphere
of influence and the ethnographic area of the Massim tribes almost
completely overlap, and we can speak about the Kula type of culture
and the Massim culture almost synonymously.


The adjacent Map III shows the Kula district, that is, the easternmost
end of the main island and the archipelagoes lying to its East
and North-East. As Professor C. G. Seligman says: "This area can
be divided into two parts, a small northern portion comprising the
Trobriands, the Marshall Bennets, the Woodlarks (Murua), as well as
a number of smaller islands such as the Laughlans (Nada), and a far
larger southern portion comprising the remainder of the Massim domain"
(op. cit., p. 7).

This division is represented on Map III by the thick line isolating
to the North the Amphletts, the Trobriands, the small Marshall
Bennet Group, Woodlark Island and the Laughlan Group. The Southern
portion, I found convenient to divide further into two divisions
by a vertical line, leaving to the East Misima, Sud-Est Island and
Rossel Island. As our information about this district is extremely
scanty, I have preferred to exclude it from the area of the Southern
Massim. In this excluded area, only the natives of Misima enter into
the Kula, but their participation will play a very small part only in
the following account. The western segment, and this is the part of
which we shall speak as the district of the Southern Massim, comprises
first the East End of the mainland, the few adjacent islands, Sariba,
Roge'a, Side'a, and Basilaki; to the South, the island of Wari, to
the East the important, though small archipelago of Tubetube (Engineer
Group); and to the North, the big archipelago of the d'Entrecasteaux
Islands. From this latter, only one district, that of Dobu, interests
us more specially. The culturally homogeneous tribes of the Southern
Massim have been marked off on our map as district V, the Doubans as
district IV.

Returning to the two main divisions into the Southern and Northern
portion, this latter is occupied by a very homogeneous population,
homogeneous both in language and culture, and in the clear recognition
of their own ethnic unity. To quote further Professor Seligman, it
"is characterised by the absence of cannibalism, which, until put
down by the Government, existed throughout the remaining portion of
the district; another peculiarity of the Northern Massim is their
recognition" in certain districts, though not in all, of chieftains
who wield extensive powers (op. cit. p. 7). The natives of that
northern area used to practise--I say used because wars are a thing
of the past--a type of warfare open and chivalrous, very different
from the raids of the Southern Massim. Their villages are built in
big compact blocks, and they have storehouses on piles for storing
food, distinct from their rather miserable dwellings, which stand
directly on the ground and are not raised on piles. As can be seen
on the map, it has been necessary to sub-divide this Northern Massim
further into three groups, first, that of the Trobriand Islanders,
or the Boyowans (the Western Branch); secondly that of the natives
of Woodlark Island and the Marshall Bennets (the Eastern Branch);
and, thirdly, the small group of the Amphlett natives.

The other big sub-division of the Kula tribes is composed of the
Southern Massim, of which, as just said, the western branch mainly
concerns us. These last natives are smaller in stature, and with,
broadly speaking, a much less attractive appearance than those
of the North. [16] They live in widely scattered communities,
each house or group of houses standing in its own little grove
of palm and fruit trees, apart from the others. Formerly they were
cannibals and head-hunters, and used to make unexpected raids on their
adversaries. There is no chieftainship, authority being exercised by
the elders in each community. They build very elaborately constructed
and beautifully decorated houses on piles.

I have found it necessary for the purpose of this study to cut out of
the western branch of the southern portion of the Massim the two areas
(marked IV and V on the Map III), as they are of special importance to
the Kula. It must, however, be borne in mind that our present knowledge
does not allow of any final classification of the Southern Massim.

Such are the general characteristics of the Northern and Southern
Massim respectively, given in a few words. But before proceeding with
our subject, it will be good to give a short but more detailed sketch
of each of these tribes. I shall begin with the southernmost section,
following the order in which a visitor, travelling from Port Moresby
with the Mail boat, would come in contact with these districts,
the way indeed in which I received my first impressions of them. My
personal knowledge of the various tribes is, however, very uneven,
based on a long residence among the Trobriand Islanders (District I),
on a month's study of the Amphletts (District III); on a few weeks
spent in Woodlark Island or Murua (District II), the neighbourhood
of Samarai (District V), and the South Coast of New Guinea (also V);
and on three short visits to Dobu (District IV). My knowledge of some
of the remaining localities which enter into the Kula is derived
only from a few conversations I had with natives of this district,
and on second-hand information derived from white residents. The
work of Professor C. G. Seligman, however, supplements my personal
acquaintance in so far as the districts of Tubetube, Woodlark Island,
the Marshall Bennets, and several others are concerned.

The whole account of the Kula will therefore naturally be given
from the perspective, so to speak, of the Trobriand district. This
district is often called in this book by its native name, Boyowa,
and the language is spoken of as Kiriwinian, Kiriwina being the main
province of the district, and its language considered by the natives
as a standard speech. But I may add at once that in studying the
Kula in that part, I ipso facto studied its adjacent branches between
the Trobriands and the Amphletts, between the Trobriands and Kitava,
and between the Trobriands and Dobu; seeing not only the preparations
and departures in Boyowa, but also the arrival of the natives from
other districts, in fact, following one or two of such expeditions
in person. [17] Moreover, the Kula being an international affair,
the natives of one tribe know more about Kula customs abroad than
they would about any other subject. And in all its essentials, the
customs and tribal rules of the exchange are identical throughout
the whole Kula area.


Let us imagine that we are sailing along the South coast of New
Guinea towards its Eastern end. At about the middle of Orangerie Bay
we arrive at the boundary of the Massim, which runs from this point
north-westwards till it strikes the northern coast near Cape Nelson
(see Map II). As mentioned before, the boundary of the district
inhabited by this tribe corresponds to definite geographical
conditions, that is, to the absence of natural, inland fastnesses,
or of any obstacles to landing. Indeed, it is here that the Great
Barrier Reef becomes finally submerged, while again the Main Range
of mountains, which follows up to this point, always separated from
the foreshore by minor ranges, comes to an end.

Orangerie Bay is closed, on its Eastern side, by a headland, the
first of a series of hills, rising directly out of the sea. As we
approach the land, we can see distinctly the steep, folded slopes,
covered with dense, rank jungle, brightened here and there by bold
patches of lalang grass. The coast is broken first by a series of
small, land-locked bays or lagoons; then, after Fife Bay, come one or
two larger bays, with a flat, alluvial foreshore, and then from South
Cape the coast stretches in an almost unbroken line, for several miles,
to the end of the mainland.

The East End of New Guinea is a tropical region, where the distinction
between the dry and wet season is not felt very sharply. In fact,
there is no pronounced dry season there, and so the land is always
clad in intense, shining green, which forms a crude contrast with
the blue sea. The summits of the hills are often shrouded in trailing
mist, whilst white clouds brood or race over the sea, breaking up the
monotony of saturated, stiff blue and green. To someone not acquainted
with the South Sea landscape it is difficult to convey the permanent
impression of smiling festiveness, the alluring clearness of the beach,
fringed by jungle trees and palms, skirted by white foam and blue
sea, above it the slopes ascending in rich, stiff folds of dark and
light green, piebald and shaded over towards the summit by steamy,
tropical mists.

When I first sailed along this coast, it was after a few months'
residence and field work in the neighbouring district of the
Mailu. From Toulon Island, the main centre and most important
settlement of the Mailu, I used to look towards the East end of
Orangerie Bay, and on clear days I could see the pyramidal hills of
Bonabona, of Gadogado'a, as blue silhouettes in the distance. Under
the influence of my work, I came to regard this country within the
somewhat narrow native horizon, as the distant land to which perilous,
seasonal voyages are made, from whence come certain objects--baskets,
decorated carvings, weapons, ornaments--particularly well formed, and
superior to the local ones; the land to which the natives point with
awe and distrust, when speaking of specially evil and virulent forms
of sorcery; the home of a folk mentioned with horror as cannibals. Any
really fine touch of artistic taste, in Mailu carvings, would always
be directly imported or imitated from the East, and I also found that
the softest and most melodious songs and the finest dances came from
the Massim. Many of their customs and institutions would be quoted
to me as quaint and unusual, and thus, I, the ethnographer working
on the borderland of two cultures, naturally had my interest and
curiosity aroused. It seemed as if the Eastern people must be much
more complex, in one direction towards the cruel, man-eating savage,
in the other towards the finely-gifted, poetical lord of primitive
forest and seas, when I compared them with the relatively coarse and
dull native of Mailu. No wonder, therefore, that on approaching their
coast--travelling on that occasion in a small launch--I scanned the
landscape with keen interest, anxious to catch my first glimpse of
natives, or of their traces.

The first distinctly visible signs of human existence in this
neighbourhood are the patches of garden land. These big clearings,
triangular in shape, with the apex pointing uphill, look as if they
were plastered on to the steep slopes. From August to November, the
season when the natives cut and burn the bush, they can be seen,
at night, alight with slowly-blazing logs, and in daytime, their
smoke clings over the clearings, and slowly drifts along the hill
side. Later on in the year, when the plantation sprouts, they form
a bright spot, with the light green of their fresh leaves.

The villages in this district are to be found only on the foreshore,
at the foot of the hills, hidden in groves of trees, with here and
there a golden or purplish bit of thatch showing through the dark
green of the leaves. In calm weather a few canoes are probably not
far off, fishing. If the visitor is lucky enough to pass at the time
of feasts, trading expeditions, or any other big tribal gathering,
many a fine sea-going canoe may be seen approaching the village with
the sound of conch shells blowing melodiously.

In order to visit one of the typical, large settlements of these
natives, let us say near Fife Bay, on the South coast, or on the island
of Sariba, or Roge'a, it would be best to go ashore in some big,
sheltered bay, or on one of the extensive beaches at the foot of a
hilly island. We enter a clear, lofty grove, composed of palms, bread
fruit, mangoes, and other fruit trees, often with a sandy subsoil,
well weeded-out and clean, where grow clumps of ornamental bushes,
such as the red-flowering hybiscus, croton or aromatic shrub. Here we
find the village. Fascinating as may be the Motuan habitations standing
on high piles in the middle of a lagoon, or the neat streets of an
Aroma or Mailu settlement, or the irregular warren of small huts on
the Trobriand coast, all these cannot compete in picturesqueness or
charm with the villages of the Southern Massim. When, on a hot day,
we enter the deep shadow of fruit trees and palms, and find ourselves
in the midst of the wonderfully designed and ornamented houses hiding
here and there in irregular groups among the green, surrounded by
little decorative gardens of shells and flowers, with pebble-bordered
paths and stone-paved sitting circles, it seems as if the visions of
a primeval, happy, savage life were suddenly realised, even if only
in a fleeting impression. Big bodies of canoes are drawn high up the
beach and covered with palm leaves; here and there nets are drying,
spread out on special stands, and on the platforms in front of the
houses sit groups of men and women, busy at some domestic work,
smoking and chatting.

Walking along the paths which lead on for miles, we come every few
hundred yards on another hamlet of a few houses. Some of these are
evidently new and freshly decorated, while others are abandoned,
and a heap of broken household objects is lying on the ground,
showing that the death of one of the village elders has caused it to
be deserted. As the evening approaches, the life becomes more active,
fires are kindled, and the natives busy themselves cooking and eating
food. In the dancing season, towards dusk, groups of men and women
foregather, singing, dancing, and beating drums.

When we approach the natives closer and scan their personal appearance,
we are struck--if we compare them with their Western neighbours--by
the extreme lightness of their skin, their sturdy, even lumpy stature,
and a sort of soft, almost effete general impression which their
physique produces. Their fat, broad faces, their squashed noses, and
frequently oblique eyes, make them appear quaint and grotesque rather
than impressively savage. Their hair, not so woolly as that of the pure
Papuans, nor growing into the enormous halo of the Motuans, is worn in
big mops, which they often cut at the sides so as to give the head an
oblong, almost cylindrical shape. Their manner is shy and diffident,
but not unfriendly--rather smiling and almost servile, in very great
contrast to the morose Papuan, or the unfriendly, reserved South Coast
Mailu or Aroma. On the whole, they give at first approach not so much
the impression of wild savages as of smug and self-satisfied bourgeois.

Their ornaments are much less elaborate and more toned down than
those of their Western neighbours. Belts and armlets plaited of a dark
brown fern vine, small red shell disks and turtle shell rings as ear
ornaments are the only permanent, every-day decorations worn. Like all
Melanesians of Eastern New Guinea, they are quite cleanly in their
persons, and a personal approach to them does not offend any of our
senses. They are very fond of red hibiscus flowers stuck in their
hair, of scented flower wreaths on their head, of aromatic leaves
thrust into their belts and armlets. Their grand, festive head-dress
is extremely modest compared with the enormous erections of feathers
used by the Western tribes, and consists mainly of a round halo of
white cockatoo feathers stuck into their hair (see Plate V and VI).

In olden days, before the advent of white men, these pleasant,
apparently effete people were inveterate cannibals and head-hunters,
and in their large war-canoes they carried on treacherous, cruel
raids, falling upon sleeping villages, killing man, woman and child,
and feasting on their bodies. The attractive stone circles in their
villages were associated with their cannibal feasts. [18]

The traveller, who could settle down in one of their villages and
remain there sufficiently long to study their habits and enter into
their tribal life, would soon be struck by the absence of a well
recognised general authority. In this, however, the natives resemble
not only the other Western Melanesians of New Guinea, but also the
natives of the Melanesian Archipelago. The authority in the Southern
Massim tribe, as in many others, is vested in the village elders. In
each hamlet the eldest man has a position of personal influence and
power, and these collectively would in all cases represent the tribe
and carry out and enforce their decisions--always arrived at in strict
accord with tribal tradition.

Deeper sociological study would reveal the characteristic totemism
of these natives, and also the matrilineal construction of their
society. Descent, inheritance, and social position follow the
female line--a man always belongs to his mother's totemic division
and local group, and inherits from his mother's brother. Women also
enjoy a very independent position, and are exceedingly well treated,
and in tribal and festive affairs they play a prominent part (see
Plates V and VI). Some women, even, owing to their magical powers,
wield a considerable influence. [19]

The sexual life of these natives is extremely lax. Even when we
remember the very free standard of sex morals in the Melanesian
tribes of New Guinea, such as the Motu or the Mailu, we still find
these natives exceedingly loose in such matters. Certain reserves
and appearances which are usually kept up in other tribes, are here
completely abandoned. As is probably the case in many communities
where sex morals are lax, there is a complete absence of unnatural
practices and sex perversions. Marriage is concluded as the natural
end of a long and lasting liaison. [20]

These natives are efficient and industrious manufacturers, and great
traders. They own large sea-going canoes, which, however, they do
not manufacture themselves, but which they import from the Northern
Massim district, or from Panayati. Another feature of their culture,
which we shall meet again, consists of their big feasts, called So'i
(see Plates V and VI), associated with mortuary celebrations and
with a special mortuary taboo called gwara. In the big inter-tribal
trading of the Kula, these feasts play a considerable rôle.

This general, and necessarily somewhat superficial description,
is meant to give the reader a definite impression of these tribes,
provide them, so to speak, with a physiognomy, rather than to give
a full account of their tribal constitution. For this the reader is
referred to Professor C. G. Seligman's treatise, our main source of
knowledge on the Melanesians of New Guinea. The above sketch refers
to what Professor Seligman calls the Southern Massim, or more exactly
to the portion marked off in the Ethnographic sketch Map No. III as
"V, the Southern Massim"--the inhabitants of the Easternmost mainland
and the adjacent archipelago.


Let us now move North, towards the district marked "IV, the
Dobu," in our map, which forms one of the most important links
in the chain of Kula and a very influential centre of cultural
influence. As we sail North, passing East Cape, the Easternmost
point of the main island--a long, flat promontory covered with
palms and fruit belts, and harbouring a very dense population--a
new world, new both geographically and ethnographically, opens up
before us. At first it is only a faint, bluish silhouette, like
a shadow of a distant mountain range, hovering far north over the
horizon. As we approach, the hills of Normanby, the nearest of three
big islands of the d'Entrecasteaux Archipelago, become clearer and
take more definite shape and substance. A few high summits stand
out more distinctly through the usual tropical haze, among them the
characteristic double-peaked top of Bwebweso, the mountain where,
according to native legend, the spirits of the dead in these parts
lead their latter existence. The South Coast of Normanby, and the
interior are inhabited by a tribe or tribes of which we know nothing
ethnographically, except that they differ culturally from the rest
of their neighbours. These tribes also take no direct part in the Kula.

The Northern end of Normanby, both sides of the Dawson Straits
which separate the two islands of Normanby and Fergusson, and the
South-eastern tip of Fergusson, are inhabited by a very important
tribe, the Dobu. The heart of their district is the small extinct
volcano forming an island at the Eastern entrance to Dawson
Straits--Dobu, after which island they are named. To reach it, we
have to sail through this extremely picturesque channel. On either
side of the winding, narrow strait, green hills descend, and close it
in, till it is more like a mountain lake. Here and there they recede,
and a lagoon opens out. Or again they rise in fairly steep slopes, on
which there can be plainly seen triangular gardens, native houses on
piles, large tracts of unbroken jungle and patches of grass land. As
we proceed, the narrow straits broaden, and we see on our right a
wide flank of Mt. Sulomona'i on Normanby Island. On our left, there
is a shallow bay, and behind it a large, flat plain, stretching far
into the interior of Fergusson Island, and over it, we look into wide
valleys, and on to several distant mountain ranges. After another
turn, we enter a big bay, on both sides bordered by a flat foreshore,
and in the middle of it rises out of a girdle of tropical vegetation,
the creased cone of an extinct volcano, the island of Dobu.

We are now in the centre of a densely populated and ethnographically
important district. From this island, in olden days, fierce and daring
cannibal and head-hunting expeditions were periodically launched, to
the dread of the neighbouring tribes. The natives of the immediately
surrounding districts, of the flat foreshore on both sides of the
straits, and of the big neighbouring islands were allies. But the
more distant districts, often over a hundred miles away by sail,
never felt safe from the Dobuans. Again, this was, and still is,
one of the main links in the Kula, a centre of trade, industries and
general cultural influence. It is characteristic of the international
position of the Dobuans that their language is spoken as a lingua
franca all over the d'Entrecasteaux Archipelago, in the Amphletts,
and as far north as the Trobriands. In the southern part of these
latter islands, almost everyone speaks Dobuan, although in Dobu
the language of the Trobriands or Kiriwinian is hardly spoken by
anyone. This is a remarkable fact, which cannot be easily explained
in terms of the present conditions, as the Trobrianders, if anything,
are on a higher level of cultural development than Dobuans, are more
numerous, and enjoy the same general prestige. [21]

Another remarkable fact about Dobu and its district is that it is
studded with spots of special, mythological interest. Its charming
scenery, of volcanic cones, of wide, calm bays, and lagoons overhung
by lofty, green mountains, with the reef-riddled, island-strewn ocean
on the North, has deep, legendary meaning for the native. Here is the
land and sea where the magically inspired sailors and heroes of the dim
past performed feats of daring and power. As we sail from the entrance
into Dawson Straits, through Dobu and the Amphletts to Boyowa, almost
every new configuration of the land which we pass is the scene of some
legendary exploit. Here the narrow gorge has been broken through by a
magic canoe flying in the air. There the two rocks standing in the sea
are the petrified bodies of two mythological heroes who were stranded
at this spot after a quarrel. Here again, a land-locked lagoon has
been a port of refuge to a mythical crew. Apart from its legends,
the scenery before us, fine as it is, derives still more charm from
the knowledge that it is, and has been a distant Eldorado, a land
of promise and hope to generation after generation of really daring
native sailors from the Northern islands. And in the past these lands
and seas must have been the scene of migrations and fights, of tribal
invasions, and of gradual infiltrations of peoples and cultures.

In personal appearance, the Dobuans have a very distinct physique,
which differentiates them sharply from the Southern Massim and from the
Trobrianders; very dark-skinned, small of stature, with big heads and
rounded shoulders, they give a strange, almost gnome-like impression
on a first encounter. In their manner, and their tribal character,
there is something definitely pleasant, honest and open--an impression
which long acquaintance with them confirms and strengthens. They are
the general favourites of the whites, form the best and most reliable
servants, and traders who have resided long among them compare them
favourably with other natives.

Their villages, like those of the previously described Massim, are
scattered over wide areas. The fertile and flat foreshores which
they inhabit are studded with small, compact hamlets of a dozen or
so houses, hidden in the midst of one continuous plantation of fruit
trees, palms, bananas and yams. The houses are built on piles, but
are cruder architecturally than those of the S. Massim, and almost
without any decorations, though in the olden days of head-hunting
some of them were ornamented with skulls.

In their social constitution, the people are totemic, being divided
into a number of exogamous clans with linked totems. There is no
institution of regular chieftainship, nor have they any system of
rank or caste such as we shall meet in the Trobriands. Authority is
vested in the elders of the tribe. In each hamlet there is a man who
wields the greatest influence locally, and acts as its representative
on such tribal councils as may arise in connection with ceremonies
and expeditions.

Their system of kinship is matrilineal, and women hold a very good
position, and wield great influence. They also seem to take a much
more permanent and prominent part in tribal life than is the case among
the neighbouring populations. There is notably one of the features of
Dobuan society, which seems to strike the Trobrianders as peculiar,
and to which they will direct attention while giving information,
even although in the Trobriands also women have a good enough social
position. In Dobu, women take an important part in gardening, and
have a share in performing garden magic, and this in itself gives
them a high status. Again, the main instrument for wielding power
and inflicting penalties in these lands, sorcery, is to a great
extent in the hands of women. The flying witches, so characteristic
of the Eastern New Guinea type of culture, here have one of their
strongholds. We shall have to go into this subject more in detail
when speaking about shipwreck and the dangers of sailing. Besides
this, women practice ordinary sorcery, which in other tribes is only
man's prerogative.

As a rule, amongst natives, a high position of women is associated with
sex laxity. In this, Dobu is an exception. Not only are married women
expected to remain faithful, and adultery considered a great crime,
but, in sharp contrast to all surrounding tribes, the unmarried girls
of Dobu remain strictly chaste. There are no ceremonial or customary
forms of licence, and an intrigue would be certainly regarded as
an offence.

A few more words must be said here about sorcery, as this is a matter
of great importance in all inter-tribal relations. The dread of sorcery
is enormous, and when the natives visit distant parts, this dread is
enhanced by the additional awe of the unknown and foreign. Besides
the flying witches, there are, in Dobu, men and women who, by their
knowledge of magical spells and rites, can inflict disease and cause
death. The methods of these sorcerers, and all the beliefs clustering
round this subject are very much the same as those in the Trobriands
which we shall meet later on. These methods are characterised by
being very rational and direct, and implying hardly any supernatural
element. The sorcerer has to utter a spell over some substance, and
this must be administered by mouth, or else burnt over the fire in
the victim's hut. The pointing stick is also used by the sorcerers
in certain rites.

If his methods are compared with those used by flying witches, who
eat the heart and lungs, drink the blood, snap the bones of their
enemies, and moreover possess the powers of invisibility and of flying,
the Dobuan sorcerer seems to have but simple and clumsy means at his
disposal. He is also very much behind his Mailu or Motu namesakes--I
say namesakes, because sorcerers throughout the Massim are called
Bara'u, and the same word is used in Mailu, while the Motu use the
reduplicated Babara'u. The magicians in these parts use such powerful
methods as those of killing the victim first, opening up the body,
removing, lacerating or charming the inside, then bringing the victim
to life again, only that he may soon sicken and eventually die. [22]

According to Dobuan belief, the spirits of the dead go to the top
of Mt. Bwebweso on Normanby Island. This confined space harbours
the shades of practically all the natives of the d'Entrecasteaux
Archipelago, except those of Northern Goodenough Island, who, as I was
told by some local informants, go after death to the spirit land of
the Trobrianders. [23] The Dobuans have also the belief in a double
soul--one, shadowy and impersonal, surviving the bodily death for a
few days only, and remaining in the vicinity of the grave, the other
the real spirit, who goes to Bwebweso.

It is interesting to note how natives, living on the boundary
between two cultures and between two types of belief, regard the
ensuing differences. A native of, say, Southern Boyowa, confronted
with the question:--how it is that the Dobuans place spirit-land on
Bwebweso, whereas they, the Trobrianders, place it in Tuma?--does not
see any difficulty in solving the problem. He does not regard the
difference as due to a dogmatic conflict in doctrine. Quite simply
he answers:--"Their dead go to Bwebweso and ours to Tuma." The
metaphysical laws of existence are not yet considered subject to
one invariable truth. As human destinies in life change, according
to varieties in tribal custom, so also the doings of the spirit! An
interesting theory is evolved to harmonise the two beliefs in a mixed
case. There is a belief that if a Trobriander were to die in Dobu,
when on a Kula expedition, he would go for a time to Bwebweso. In
due season, the spirits of the Trobrianders would sail from Tuma,
the spirit land, to Bwebweso, on a spirit Kula, and the newly departed
one would join their party and sail with them back to Tuma.

On leaving Dobu, we sail the open sea, a sea studded with coral patches
and sand-banks, and seamed with long barrier reefs, where treacherous
tides, running sometimes as much as five knots, make sailing really
dangerous, especially for helpless native craft. This is the Kula sea,
the scene of the inter-tribal expeditions and adventures which will
be the theme of our future descriptions.

The Eastern shore of Ferguson Island, near Dobu, along which we are
sailing, consists first of a series of volcanic cones and capes,
giving the landscape the aspect of something unfinished and crudely
put together. At the foot of the hills there stretches for several
miles beyond Dobu a broad alluvial flat covered with villages--Deide'i,
Tu'utauna, Bwayowa, all important centres of trade, and the homes of
the direct Kula partners of the Trobrianders. Heavy fumes can be seen
floating above the jungle, coming from the hot geysers of Deide'i,
which spurt up in high jets every few minutes.

Soon we come abreast of two characteristically shaped, dark rocks,
one half hidden in the vegetation of the shore, the other standing
in the sea at the end of a narrow sand-spit dividing the two. These
are Atu'a'ine and Aturamo'a, two men turned into stone, as mythical
tradition has it. Here the big sailing expeditions, those starting
northwards from Dobu, as well as those arriving from the North,
still make a halt--just as they have done for centuries, and, under
observation of many taboos, give sacrificial offerings to the stones,
with ritual invocations for propitious trade.

In the lee of these two rocks, runs a small bay with a clean, sandy
beach, called Sarubwoyna. Here a visitor, lucky enough to pass at
the right moment of the right season would see a picturesque and
interesting scene. There before him would lie a huge fleet of some
fifty to a hundred canoes, anchored in the shallow water, with swarms
of natives upon them, all engaged in some strange and mysterious
task. Some of these, bent over heaps of herbs, would be mumbling
incantations; others would be painting and adorning their bodies. An
onlooker of two generations ago coming upon the same scene would no
doubt have been led to suspect that he was watching the preparations
for some dramatic tribal contest, for one of those big onslaughts in
which the existence of whole villages and tribes were wiped out. It
would even have been difficult for him to discern from the behaviour
of the natives whether they were moved more by fear or by the spirit of
aggression, as both these passions might have been read--and correctly
so--into their attitudes and movements. That the scene contained no
element of warfare; that this fleet had come here from about a hundred
miles sailing distance on a well regulated tribal visit; that it had
drawn up here for the final and most important preparations--this would
not have been an easy guess to make. Nowadays--for this is carried out
to this day with undiminished pomp--it would be an equally picturesque,
but of course, tamer affair, since the romance of danger has gone
from native life. As we learn in the course of this study to know
more about these natives, their general ways and customs, and more
especially about their Kula cycle of beliefs, ideas and sentiments,
we shall be able to look with understanding eyes upon this scene,
and comprehend this mixture of awe with intense, almost aggressive
eagerness and this behaviour, which appears cowed and fierce at the
same time.


Immediately after leaving Sarubwoyna and rounding the promontory
of the two rocks, we come in sight of the island of Sanaroa, a big,
sprawling, coral flat, with a range of volcanic hills on its western
side. On the wide lagoon to the East of this island are the fishing
grounds, where year after year the Trobrianders, returning from Dobu,
look for the valuable spondylus shell, which, after their arrival home,
is worked into the red discs, which form one of the main objects of
native wealth. In the North of Sanaroa there is a stone in one of
the tidal creeks called Sinatemubadiye'i, once a woman, the sister
of Atu'a'ine and Aturamo'a, who, with her brothers came in here and
was petrified before the last stage of the journey. She also receives
offerings from canoes, coming either way on Kula expeditions.

Sailing further, some fine scenery unfolds itself on our left, where
the high mountain range comes nearer to the sea shore, and where
small bays, deep valleys and wooded slopes succeed one another. By
carefully scanning the slopes, we can see small batches of some three
to six miserable huts. These are the dwellings of the inhabitants,
who are of a distinctly lower culture than the Dobuans, take no part
in the Kula, and in olden days were the cowed and unhappy victims of
their neighbours.

On our right there emerge behind Sanaroa the islands of Uwama and
Tewara, the latter inhabited by Dobuan natives. Tewara is of interest
to us, because one of the myths which we shall get to know later on
makes it the cradle of the Kula. As we sail on, rounding one after
the other the Eastern promontories of Fergusson Island, a group
of strongly marked monumental profiles appears far on the horizon
from behind the receding headlands. These are the Amphlett Islands,
the link, both geographically and culturally, between the coastal
tribes of the volcanic region of Dobu and the inhabitants of the
flat coral archipelago of the Trobriands. This portion of the sea
is very picturesque, and has a charm of its own even in this land of
fine and varied scenery. On the main island of Fergusson, overlooking
the Amphletts from the South, and ascending straight out of the sea
in a slim and graceful pyramid, lies the tall mountain of Koyatabu,
the highest peak on the island. Its big, green surface is cut in half
by the white ribbon of a watercourse, starting almost half-way up and
running down to the sea. Scattered under the lea of Koyatabu are the
numerous smaller and bigger islands of the Amphlett Archipelago--steep,
rocky hills, shaped into pyramids, sphinxes and cupolas, the whole
a strange and picturesque assemblage of characteristic forms.

With a strong South-Easterly wind, which blows here for three quarters
of the year, we approach the islands very fast, and the two most
important ones, Gumawana and Ome'a, almost seem to leap out of the
mist. As we anchor in front of Gumawana village at the S.E. end of
the island, we cannot but feel impressed. Built on a narrow strip
of foreshore, open to the breakers, and squeezed down to the water's
edge by an almost precipitously rising jungle at its back, the village
has been made sea-proof by walls of stone surrounding the houses with
several bulwarks, and by stone dykes forming small artificial harbours
along the sea front. The shabby and unornamented huts, built on piles,
look very picturesque in these surroundings (see Plates VII and XLIII).

The inhabitants of this village, and of the four remaining ones in
the archipelago, are a queer people. They are a numerically weak
tribe, easily assailable from the sea, getting hardly enough to
eat from their rocky islands; and yet, through their unique skill
in pottery, their great daring and efficiency as sailors, and their
central position half way between Dobu and the Trobriands, they have
succeeded in becoming in several respects the monopolists of this part
of the world. They have also the main characteristics of monopolists:
grasping and mean, inhospitable and greedy, keen on keeping the trade
and exchange in their own hands, yet unprepared to make any sacrifice
towards improving it; shy, yet arrogant to anyone who has any dealings
with them; they contrast unfavourably with their southern and northern
neighbours. And this is not only the white man's impression. [24]
The Trobrianders, as well as the Dobuans, give the Amphlett natives
a very bad name, as being stingy and unfair in all Kula transactions,
and as having no real sense of generosity and hospitality.

When our boat anchors there, the natives approach it in their canoes,
offering clay pots for sale. But if we want to go ashore and have a
look at their village, there is a great commotion, and all the women
disappear from the open places. The younger ones run and hide in the
jungle behind the village, and even the old hags conceal themselves
in the houses. So that if we want to see the making of pottery,
which is almost exclusively women's work, we must first lure some
old woman out of her retreat with generous promises of tobacco and
assurances of honourable intentions.

This has been mentioned here, because it is of ethnographic interest,
as it is not only white men who inspire this shyness; if native
strangers, coming from a distance for trade, put in for a short time
in the Amphletts, the women also disappear in this fashion. This very
ostentatious coyness is, however, not a sham, because in the Amphletts,
even more than in Dobu, married and unmarried life is characterised
by strict chastity and fidelity. Women here have also a good deal of
influence, and take a great part in gardening and the performance of
garden magic. In social institutions and customs, the natives present
a mixture of Northern and Southern Massim elements. There are no
chiefs, but influential elders wield authority, and in each village
there is a head man who takes the lead in ceremonies and other big
tribal affairs. Their totemic clans are identical with those of Murua
(District II). Their somewhat precarious food supply comes partly
from the poor gardens, partly from fishing with kite and fish trap,
which, however, can only seldom be carried out, and does not yield very
much. They are not self-supporting, and receive, in form of presents
and by trade, a good deal of vegetable food as well as pigs from the
mainland, from Dobu and the Trobriands. In personal appearance they
are very much like the Trobrianders, that is, taller than the Dobuans,
lighter skinned, and with finer features.

We must now leave the Amphletts and proceed to the Trobriand Islands,
the scene of most of the occurrences described in this book, and
the country concerning which I possess by far the largest amount of
ethnographic information.




Leaving the bronzed rocks and the dark jungle of the Amphletts for
the present--for we shall have to revisit them in the course of our
study, and then shall learn more about their inhabitants--we sail
North into an entirely different world of flat coral islands; into
an ethnographic district, which stands out by ever so many peculiar
manners and customs from the rest of Papuo-Melanesia. So far, we have
sailed over intensely blue, clear seas, where in shallow places the
coral bottom, with its variety of colour and form, with its wonderful
plant and fish life, is a fascinating spectacle in itself--a sea
framed in all the splendours of tropical jungle, of volcanic and
mountainous scenery, with lively watercourses and falls, with steamy
clouds trailing in the high valleys. From all this we take a final
farewell as we sail North. The outlines of the Amphletts soon fade
away in tropical haze, till only Koyatabu's slender pyramid, lifted
over them, remains on the horizon, the graceful form, which follows
us even as far as the Lagoon of Kiriwina.

We now enter an opaque, greenish sea, whose monotony is broken only
by a few sandbanks, some bare and awash, others with a few pandanus
trees squatting on their air roots, high in the sand. To these banks,
the Amphlett natives come and there they spend weeks on end, fishing
for turtle and dugong. Here is also laid the scene of several of
the mythical incidents of primeval Kula. Further ahead, through the
misty spray, the line of horizon thickens here and there, as if faint
pencil marks had been drawn upon it. These become more substantial,
one of them lengthens and broadens, the others spring into the distinct
shapes of small islands, and we find ourselves in the big Lagoon of
the Trobriands, with Boyowa, the largest island, on our right, and with
many others, inhabited and uninhabited, to the North and North-West.

As we sail in the Lagoon, following the intricate passages between
the shallows, and as we approach the main island, the thick, tangled
matting of the low jungle breaks here and there over a beach, and we
can see into a palm grove, like an interior, supported by pillars. This
indicates the site of a village. We step ashore on to the sea front,
as a rule covered with mud and refuse, with canoes drawn up high
and dry, and passing through the grove, we enter the village itself
(see Plate VIII).

Soon we are seated on one of the platforms built in front of a
yam-house, shaded by its overhanging roof. The round, grey logs, worn
smooth by contact with naked feet and bodies; the trodden ground of
the village-street; the brown skins of the natives, who immediately
surround the visitor in large groups--all these form a colour scheme
of bronze and grey, unforgettable to anyone, who, like myself, has
lived among these people.

It is difficult to convey the feelings of intense interest and suspense
with which an Ethnographer enters for the first time the district that
is to be the future scene of his field-work. Certain salient features,
characteristic of the place, at once rivet his attention, and fill
him with hopes or apprehensions. The appearance of the natives,
their manners, their types of behaviour, may augur well or ill for
the possibilities of rapid and easy research. One is on the lookout
for symptoms of deeper, sociological facts, one suspects many hidden
and mysterious ethnographic phenomena behind the commonplace aspect of
things. Perhaps that queer-looking, intelligent native is a renowned
sorcerer; perhaps between those two groups of men there exists some
important rivalry or vendetta which may throw much light on the
customs and character of the people if one can only lay hands upon
it? Such at least were my thoughts and feelings as on the day of my
arrival in Boyowa I sat scanning a chatting group of Trobriand natives.

The great variety in their physical appearance is what strikes one
first in Boyowa. [25] There are men and women of tall stature, fine
bearing, and delicate features, with clear-cut aquiline profile and
high foreheads, well formed nose and chin, and an open, intelligent
expression (see Plates IX, XV, XVII). And besides these, there are
others with prognathic, negroid faces, broad, thick-lipped mouths,
narrow foreheads, and a coarse expression (see Plates X, XI, XII). The
better featured have also a markedly lighter skin. Even their hair
differs, varying from quite straight locks to the frizzly mop of the
typical Melanesian. They wear the same classes of ornaments as the
other Massim, consisting mainly of fibre armlets and belts, earrings
of turtle shell and spondylus discs, and they are very fond of using,
for personal decoration, flowers and aromatic herbs. In manner they
are much freer, more familiar and confident, than any of the natives
we have so far met. As soon as an interesting stranger arrives, half
the village assembles around him, talking loudly and making remarks
about him, frequently uncomplimentary, and altogether assuming a tone
of jocular familiarity.

One of the main sociological features at once strikes an observant
newcomer--the existence of rank and social differentiation. Some of
the natives--very frequently those of the finer looking type--are
treated with most marked deference by others, and in return, these
chiefs and persons of rank behave in quite a different way towards the
strangers. In fact, they show excellent manners in the full meaning
of this word.

When a chief is present, no commoner dares to remain in a physically
higher position; he has to bend his body or squat. Similarly, when
the chief sits down, no one would dare to stand. The institution
of definite chieftainship, to which are shown such extreme marks of
deference, with a sort of rudimentary Court ceremonial, with insignia
of rank and authority, is so entirely foreign to the whole spirit
of Melanesian tribal life, that at first sight it transports the
Ethnographer into a different world. In the course of our inquiry,
we shall constantly meet with manifestation of the Kiriwinian chief's
authority, we shall notice the difference in this respect between the
Trobrianders and the other tribes, and the resulting adjustments of
tribal usage.


Another sociological feature, which forcibly obtrudes itself on the
visitor's notice is the social position of the women. Their behaviour,
after the cool aloofness of the Dobuan women, and the very uninviting
treatment which strangers receive from those of the Amphletts, comes
almost as a shock in its friendly familiarity. Naturally, here also,
the manners of women of rank are quite different from those of low
class commoners. But, on the whole, high and low alike, though by
no means reserved, have a genial, pleasant approach, and many of
them are very fine-looking (see Plates XI, XII). Their dress is also
different from any so far observed. All the Melanesian women in New
Guinea wear a petticoat made of fibre. Among the Southern Massim,
this fibre skirt is long, reaching to the knees or below, whereas in
the Trobriands it is much shorter and fuller, consisting of several
layers standing out round the body like a ruff (compare the S. Massim
women on Plates V and VI with the Trobrianders on Plate IV). The
highly ornamental effect of that dress is enhanced by the elaborate
decorations made in three colours on the several layers forming the
top skirt. On the whole, it is very becoming to fine young women,
and gives to small slender girls a graceful, elfish appearance.

Chastity is an unknown virtue among these natives. At an incredibly
early age they become initiated into sexual life, and many of the
innocent looking plays of childhood are not as innocuous as they
appear. As they grow up, they live in promiscuous free-love, which
gradually develops into more permanent attachments, one of which ends
in marriage. But before this is reached, unmarried girls are openly
supposed to be quite free to do what they like, and there are even
ceremonial arrangements by which the girls of a village repair in
a body to another place; there they publicly range themselves for
inspection, and each is chosen by a local boy, with whom she spends
a night. This is called katuyausi (see Plate XII). Again, when a
visiting party arrives from another district, food is brought to them
by the unmarried girls, who are also expected to satisfy their sexual
wants. At the big mortuary vigils round the corpse of a newly deceased
person, people from neighbouring villages come in large bodies to take
part in the wailing and singing. The girls of the visiting party are
expected by usage to comfort the boys of the bereaved village, in a
manner which gives much anguish to their official lovers. There is
another remarkable form of ceremonial licence, in which indeed women
are openly the initiators. During the gardening season, at the time of
weeding, the women do communal work, and any strange man who ventures
to pass through the district runs a considerable risk, for the women
will run after him, seize him, tear off his pubic leaf, and ill-treat
him orgiastically in the most ignominious manner. Side by side with
these ceremonial forms of licence, there go, in the normal course of
events, constant private intrigues, more intense during the festive
seasons, becoming less prominent as garden work, trading expeditions,
or harvesting take up the energies and attention of the tribe.

Marriage is associated with hardly any public or private rite or
ceremony. The woman simply joins her husband in his house, and later
on, there is a series of exchanges of gifts, which in no way can
be interpreted as purchase money for the wife. As a matter of fact,
the most important feature of the Trobriand marriage is the fact that
the wife's family have to contribute, and that in a very substantial
manner, to the economics of her household, and also they have to
perform all sorts of services for the husband. In her married life,
the woman is supposed to remain faithful to her husband, but this
rule is neither very strictly kept nor enforced. In all other ways,
she retains a great measure of independence, and her husband has to
treat her well and with consideration. If he does not, the woman simply
leaves him and returns to her family, and as the husband is as a rule
economically the loser by her action, he has to exert himself to get
her back--which he does by means of presents and persuasions. If she
chooses, she can leave him for good, and she can always find someone
else to marry.

In tribal life, the position of women is also very high. They do not as
a rule join the councils of men, but in many matters they have their
own way, and control several aspects of tribal life. Thus, some of
the garden work is their business; and this is considered a privilege
as well as a duty. They also look after certain stages in the big,
ceremonial divisions of food, associated with the very complete and
elaborate mortuary ritual of the Boyowans (see Plate IV). Certain
forms of magic--that performed over a first-born baby, beauty-magic
made at tribal ceremonies, some classes of sorcery--are also the
monopoly of women. Women of rank share the privileges incidental to
it, and men of low caste will bend before them and observe all the
necessary formalities and taboos due to a chief. A woman of chief's
rank, married to commoner, retains her status, even with regard to
her husband, and has to be treated accordingly.

The Trobrianders are matrilineal, that is, in tracing descent and
settling inheritance, they follow the maternal line. A child belongs
to the clan and village community of its mother, and wealth, as well
as social position, are inherited, not from father to son, but from
maternal uncle to nephew. This rule admits of certain important and
interesting exceptions, which we shall come across in the course of
this study.


Returning to our imaginary first visit ashore, the next interesting
thing to do, after we have sufficiently taken in the appearance and
manners of the natives, is to walk round the village. In doing this,
again we would come across much, which to a trained eye, would reveal
at once deeper sociological facts. In the Trobriands, however, it
would be better to make our first observations in one of the large,
inland villages, situated on even, flat ground with plenty of space,
so that it has been possible to build it in the typical pattern. In
the coastal villages, placed on marshy ground and coral outcrop,
the irregularity of the soil and cramped space have obliterated the
design, and they present quite a chaotic appearance. The big villages
of the central districts, on the other hands, are built one and all
with an almost geometrical regularity.

In the middle, a big circular space is surrounded by a ring of yam
houses. These latter are built on piles, and present a fine, decorative
front, with walls of big, round logs, laid crosswise on one another,
so as to leave wide interstices through which the stored yams can be
seen (see Plates XV, XXXII, XXXIII). Some of the store-houses strike
us at once as being better built, larger, and higher than the rest,
and these have also big, ornamented boards, running round the gable
and across it. These are the yam houses of the chief or of persons
of rank. Each yam house also has, as a rule, a small platform in
front of it, on which groups of men will sit and chat in the evening,
and where visitors can rest.

Concentrically with the circular row of yam houses, there runs a ring
of dwelling huts, and thus a street going all round the village is
formed between the two rows (see Plates III, IV, VIII). The dwellings
are lower than the yam houses, and instead of being on piles, are
built directly on the ground. The interior is dark and very stuffy,
and the only opening into it is through the door, and that is usually
closed. Each hut is occupied by one family (see Plate XV), that is,
husband, wife and small children, while adolescent and grown-up boys
and girls live in separate small bachelor's houses, harbouring some
two to six inmates. Chiefs and people of rank have their special,
personal houses, besides those of their wives. The Chief's house often
stands in the central ring of the store-houses facing the main place.

The broad inspection of the village would therefore reveal to
us the rôle of decoration as insignia of rank, the existence of
bachelors' and spinsters' houses, the great importance attached to
the yam-harvest--all these small symptoms which, followed up, would
lead us deep into the problems of native sociology. Moreover, such
an inspection would have led us to inquire as to the part played by
the different divisions of the village in tribal life. We should then
learn that the baku, the central circular space, is the scene of public
ceremonies and festivities, such as dancing (see Plates XIII, XIV),
division of food, tribal feasts, mortuary vigils, in short, of all
doings that represent the village as a whole. In the circular street
between the stores and living houses, everyday life goes on, that is,
the preparation of food, the eating of meals, and the usual exchange
of gossip and ordinary social amenities. The interior of the houses
is only used at night, or on wet days, and is more a sleeping than
a living room. The backs of the houses and the contiguous groves are
the scene of the children's play and the women's occupations. Further
away, remote parts of the grove are reserved for sanitary purposes,
each sex having its own retreat.

The baku (central place) is the most picturesque part, and there the
somewhat monotonous colour scheme of the brown and grey is broken by
the overhanging foliage of the grove, seen above the neat fronts and
gaudy ornamentation of the yam-houses and by the decorations worn by
the crowd when a dance or ceremony is taking place (see Plates XIII,
XXXIII). Dancing is done only at one time in the year, in connection
with the harvest festivities, called milamala, at which season also
the spirits of the dead return from Tuma, the nether-world, to the
villages from which they hail. Sometimes the dancing season lasts only
for a few weeks or even days, sometimes it is extended into a special
dancing period called usigola. During such a time of festivities,
the inhabitants of a village will dance day after day, for a month
or longer, the period being inaugurated by a feast, punctuated by
several more, and ending in a big culminating performance. At this
many villages assist as spectators, and distributions of food take
place. During an usigola, dancing is done in full dress, that is,
with facial painting, floral decorations, valuable ornaments, and
a head-dress of white cockatoo feathers (see Plates XIII, XIV). A
performance consists always of a dance executed in a ring to the
accompaniment of singing and drum-beating, both of which are done by
a group of people standing in the middle. Some dances are done with
the carved dancing shield.

Sociologically, the village is an important unit in the
Trobriands. Even the mightiest chief in the Trobriands wields his
authority primarily over his own village and only secondarily over the
district. The village community exploit jointly their garden lands,
perform ceremonies, wage warfare, undertake trading expeditions,
and sail in the same canoe or fleet of canoes as one group.

After the first inspection of the village, we would be naturally
interested to know more of the surrounding country, and would take a
walk through the bush. Here, however, if we hoped for a picturesque
and varied landscape, we should receive a great disappointment. The
extensive, flat island consists only of one fertile plain, with a
low coral ridge running along portions of the coast. It is almost
entirely under intermittent cultivation, and the bush, regularly
cleared away every few years, has no time to grow high. A low, dense
jungle grows in a matted tangle, and practically wherever we move
on the island we walk along between two green walls, presenting no
variety, allowing of no broader view. The monotony is broken only
by an occasional clump of old trees left standing--usually a tabooed
place--or by one of the numerous villages which we meet with every mile
or two in this densely populated country. The main element, both of
picturesqueness and ethnographic interest, is afforded by the native
gardens. Each year about one quarter or one fifth of the total area
is under actual cultivation as gardens, and these are well tended,
and present a pleasant change from the monotony of the scrub. In
its early stages, the garden site is simply a bare, cleared space,
allowing of a Wider outlook upon the distant coral ridge in the East,
and upon the tall groves, scattered over the horizon, which indicate
villages or tabooed tree clumps. Later on, when the yam-vines, taro,
and sugar cane begin to grow and bud, the bare brown soil is covered
with the fresh green of the tender plants. After some more time still,
tall, stout poles are planted over each yam-plant; the vine climbs
round them, grows into a full, shady garland of foliage, and the
whole makes the impression of a large, exuberant hop-yard.


Half of the natives' working life is spent in the garden, and around
it centres perhaps more than half of his interests and ambitions. And
here we must pause and make an attempt to understand his attitude
in this matter, as it is typical of the way in which he goes about
all his work. If we remain under the delusion that the native is a
happy-go-lucky, lazy child of nature, who shuns as far as possible
all labour and effort, waiting till the ripe fruits, so bountifully
supplied by generous tropical Nature, fall into his mouth, we shall not
be able to understand in the least his aims and motives in carrying
out the Kula or any other enterprise. On the contrary, the truth is
that the native can and, under circumstances, does work hard, and
work systematically, with endurance and purpose, nor does he wait
till he is pressed to work by his immediate needs.

In gardening, for instance, the natives produce much more than they
actually require, and in any average year they harvest perhaps twice as
much as they can eat. Nowadays, this surplus is exported by Europeans
to feed plantation hands in other parts of New Guinea; in olden days
it was simply allowed to rot. Again, they produce this surplus in a
manner which entails much more work than is strictly necessary for
obtaining the crops. Much time and labour is given up to æsthetic
purposes, to making the gardens tidy, clean, cleared of all debris;
to building fine, solid fences, to providing specially strong and big
yam-poles. All these things are to some extent required for the growth
of the plant; but there can be no doubt that the natives push their
conscientiousness far beyond the limit of the purely necessary. The
non-utilitarian element in their garden work is still more clearly
perceptible in the various tasks which they carry out entirely for
the sake of ornamentation, in connection with magical ceremonies,
and in obedience to tribal usage. Thus, after the ground has been
scrupulously cleared and is ready for planting, the natives divide
each garden plot into small squares, each a few yards in length and
width, and this is done only in obedience to usage, in order to make
the gardens look neat. No self-respecting man would dream of omitting
to do this. Again, in especially well trimmed gardens, long horizontal
poles are tied to the yam supports in order to embellish them. Another,
and perhaps the most interesting example of non-utilitarian work
is afforded by the big, prismatic erections called kamkokola, which
serve ornamental and magical purposes, but have nothing to do with
the growth of plants (comp. Plate LIX).

Among the forces and beliefs which bear upon and regulate garden work,
perhaps magic is the most important. It is a department of its own,
and the garden magician, next to the chief and the sorcerer, is the
most important personage of the village. The position is hereditary,
and, in each village, a special system of magic is handed on in the
female line from one generation to another. I have called it a system,
because the magician has to perform a series of rites and spells over
the garden, which run parallel with the labour, and which, in fact,
initiate each stage of the work and each new development of the plant
life. Even before any gardening is begun at all, the magician has to
consecrate the site with a big ceremonial performance in which all
the men of the village take part. This ceremony officially opens the
season's gardening, and only after it is performed do the villagers
begin to cut the scrub on their plots. Then, in a series of rites,
the magician inaugurates successively all the various stages which
follow one another--the burning of the scrub, the clearing, the
planting, the weeding and the harvesting. Also, in another series
of rites and spells, he magically assists the plant in sprouting,
in budding, in bursting into leaf, in climbing, in forming the rich
garlands of foliage, and in producing the edible tubers.

The garden magician, according to native ideas, thus controls both
the work of man and the forces of Nature. He also acts directly
as supervisor of gardening, sees to it that people do not skimp
their work, or lag behind with it. Thus magic is a systematising,
regulating, and controlling influence in garden work. The magician,
in carrying out the rites, sets the pace, compels people to apply
themselves to certain tasks, and to accomplish them properly and
in time. Incidentally, magic also imposes on the tribe a good deal
of extra work, of apparently unnecessary, hampering taboos and
regulations. In the long run, however, there is no doubt that by its
influence in ordering, systematising and regulating work, magic is
economically invaluable for the natives. [26]

Another notion which must be exploded, once and for ever, is that of
the Primitive Economic Man of some current economic text books. This
fanciful, dummy creature, who has been very tenacious of existence
in popular and semi-popular economic literature, and whose shadow
haunts even the minds of competent anthropologists, blighting their
outlook with a preconceived idea, is an imaginary, primitive man,
or savage, prompted in all his actions by a rationalistic conception
of self-interest, and achieving his aims directly and with the
minimum of effort. Even one well established instance should show
how preposterous is this assumption that man, and especially man on
a low level of culture, should be actuated by pure economic motives
of enlightened self-interest. The primitive Trobriander furnishes
us with such an instance, contradicting this fallacious theory. He
works prompted by motives of a highly complex, social and traditional
nature, and towards aims which are certainly not directed towards
the satisfaction of present wants, or to the direct achievement of
utilitarian purposes. Thus, in the first place, as we have seen,
work is not carried out on the principle of the least effort. On
the contrary, much time and energy is spent on wholly unnecessary
effort, that is, from a utilitarian point of view. Again, work and
effort, instead of being merely a means to an end, are, in a way an
end in themselves. A good garden worker in the Trobriands derives
a direct prestige from the amount of labour he can do, and the size
of garden he can till. The title tokwaybagula, which means "good" or
"efficient gardener," is bestowed with discrimination, and borne with
pride. Several of my friends, renowned as tokwaybagula, would boast to
me how long they worked, how much ground they tilled, and would compare
their efforts with those of less efficient men. When the labour, some
of which is done communally, is being actually carried out, a good
deal of competition goes on. Men vie with one another in their speed,
in their thoroughness, and in the weights they can lift, when bringing
big poles to the garden, or in carrying away the harvested yams.

The most important point about this is, however, that all, or almost
all the fruits of his work, and certainly any surplus which he can
achieve by extra effort, goes not to the man himself, but to his
relatives-in-law. Without entering into details of the system of
the apportionment of the harvest, of which the sociology is rather
complex and would require a preliminary account of the Trobriand
kinship system and kinship ideas, it may be said that about three
quarters of a man's crops go partly as tribute to the chief, partly
as his due to his sister's (or mother's) husband and family.

But although he thus derives practically no personal benefit in
the utilitarian sense from his harvest, the gardener receives much
praise and renown from its size and quality, and that in a direct
and circumstantial manner. For all the crops, after being harvested,
are displayed for some time afterwards in the gardens, piled up in
neat, conical heaps under small shelters made of yam vine. Each man's
harvest is thus exhibited for criticism in his own plot, and parties
of natives walk about from garden to garden, admiring, comparing and
praising the best results. The importance of the food display can be
gauged by the fact that, in olden days, when the chief's power was
much more considerable than now, it was dangerous for a man who was
not either of high rank himself, or working for such a one, to show
crops which might compare too favourably with those of the chief.

In years when the harvest promises to be plentiful, the chief will
proclaim a kayasa harvest, that is to say, ceremonial, competitive
display of food, and then the straining for good results and the
interest taken in them are still higher. We shall meet later on with
ceremonial enterprises of the kayasa type, and find that they play a
considerable part in the Kula. All this shows how entirely the real
native of flesh and bone differs from the shadowy Primitive Economic
Man, on whose imaginary behaviour many of the scholastic deductions
of abstract economics are based. [27] The Trobriander works in a
roundabout way, to a large extent for the sake of the work itself,
and puts a great deal of æsthetic polish on the arrangement and
general appearance of his garden. He is not guided primarily by the
desire to satisfy his wants, but by a very complex set of traditional
forces, duties and obligations, beliefs in magic, social ambitions
and vanities. He wants, if he is a man, to achieve social distinction
as a good gardener and a good worker in general.

I have dwelt at this length upon these points concerning the motives
and aims of the Trobrianders in their garden work, because, in the
chapters that follow, we shall be studying economic activities, and
the reader will grasp the attitude of the natives best if he has it
illustrated to him by various examples. All that has been said in this
matter about the Trobrianders applies also to the neighbouring tribes.


With the help of this new insight gained into the mind of the native,
and into their social scheme of harvest distribution, it will be
easier to describe the nature of the chief's authority. Chieftainship
in the Trobriands is the combination of two institutions: first,
that of headmanship, or village authority; secondly, that of totemic
clanship, that is the division of the community into classes or castes,
each with a certain more or less definite rank.

In every community in the Trobriands, there is one man who wields the
greatest authority, though often this does not amount to very much. He
is, in many cases, nothing more than the Primus inter pares in a group
of village elders, who deliberate on all important matters together,
and arrive at a decision by common consent. It must not be forgotten
that there is hardly ever much room for doubt or deliberation,
as natives communally, as well as individually, never act except on
traditional and conventional lines. This village headman is, as a rule,
therefore, not much more than a master of tribal ceremonies, and the
main speaker within and without the tribe, whenever one is needed.

But the position of headman becomes much more than this, when he
is a person of high rank, which is by no means always the case. In
the Trobriands there exist four totemic clans, and each of these
is divided into a number of smaller sub-clans,--which could also
be called families or castes, for the members of each claim common
descent from one ancestress, and each of them holds a certain,
specified rank. These sub-clans have also a local character, because
the original ancestress emerged from a hole in the ground, as a rule
somewhere in the neighbourhood of their village community. There is
not one sub-clan in the Trobriands whose members cannot indicate its
original locality, where their group, in the form of the ancestress,
first saw the light of the sun. Coral outcrops, water-holes, small
caves or grottoes, are generally pointed out as the original "holes"
or "houses," as they are called. Often such a hole is surrounded by
one of the tabooed clumps of trees alluded to before. Many of them
are situated in the groves surrounding a village, and a few near the
sea shore. Not one is on the cultivable land.

The highest sub-clan is that of the Tabalu, belonging to the Malasi
totem clan. To this sub-clan belongs the main chief of Kiriwina,
To'uluwa, who resides in the village of Omarakana (see Plate II and
Frontispiece). He is in the first place the headman of his own village,
and in contrast to the headmen of low rank, he has quite a considerable
amount of power. His high rank inspires everyone about him with the
greatest and most genuine respect and awe, and the remnants of his
power are still surprisingly large, even now, when white authorities,
very foolishly and with fatal results, do their utmost to undermine
his prestige and influence.

Not only does the chief--by which word I shall designate a headman
of rank--possess a high degree of authority within his own village,
but his sphere of influence extends far beyond it. A number of
villages are tributary to him, and in several respects subject to
his authority. In case of war, they are his allies, and have to
foregather in his village. When he needs men to perform some task,
he can send to his subject villages, and they will supply him with
workers. In all big festivities the villages of his district will
join, and the chief will act as master of ceremonies. Nevertheless,
for all these services rendered to him he has to pay. He even has to
pay for any tributes received out of his stores of wealth. Wealth,
in the Trobriands, is the outward sign and the substance of power,
and the means also of exercising it. But how does he acquire his
wealth? And here we come to the main duty of the vassal villages to
the chief. From each subject village, he takes a wife, whose family,
according to the Trobriand law, has to supply him with large amounts of
crops. This wife is always the sister or some relation of the headman
of the subject village, and thus practically the whole community has
to work for him. In olden days, the chief of Omarakana had up to as
many as forty consorts, and received perhaps as much as thirty to
fifty per cent. of all the garden produce of Kiriwina. Even now,
when his wives number only sixteen, he has enormous storehouses,
and they are full to the roof with yams every harvest time.

With this supply, he is able to pay for the many services he
requires, to furnish with food the participants in big feasts,
in tribal gatherings or distant expeditions. Part of the food he
uses to acquire objects of native wealth, or to pay for the making
of them. In brief, through his privilege of practising polygamy, the
chief is kept supplied with an abundance of wealth in food stuffs and
in valuables, which he uses to maintain his high position; to organise
tribal festivities and enterprises, and to pay, according to custom,
for the many personal services to which he is entitled.

One point in connection with the chief's authority deserves special
mention. Power implies not only the possibility of rewarding, but
also the means of punishing. This in the Trobriands is as a rule done
indirectly, by means of sorcery. The chief has the best sorcerers
of the district always at his beck and call. Of course he also has
to reward them when they do him a service. If anyone offends him,
or trespasses upon his authority, the chief summons the sorcerer, and
orders that the culprit shall die by black magic. And here the chief
is powerfully helped in achieving his end by the fact that he can do
this openly, so that everybody, and the victim himself knows that a
sorcerer is after him. As the natives are very deeply and genuinely
afraid of sorcery, the feeling of being hunted, of imagining themselves
doomed, is in itself enough to doom them in reality. Only in extreme
cases, does a chief inflict direct punishment on a culprit. He has
one or two hereditary henchmen, whose duty it is to kill the man who
has so deeply offended him, that actual death is the only sufficient
punishment. As a matter of fact, very few cases of this are on record,
and it is now, of course, entirely in abeyance.

Thus the chief's position can be grasped only through the realisation
of the high importance of wealth, of the necessity of paying for
everything, even for services which are due to him, and which could
not be withheld. Again, this wealth comes to the chief from his
relations-in-law, and it is through his right to practise polygamy
that he actually achieves his position, and exercises his power.

Side by side with this rather complex mechanism of authority, the
prestige of rank, the direct recognition of his personal superiority,
give the chief an immense power, even outside his district. Except
for the few of his own rank, no native in the Trobriands will remain
erect when the great chief of Omarakana approaches, even in these
days of tribal disintegration. Wherever he goes, he is considered
as the most important person, is seated on a high platform, and
treated with consideration. Of course the fact that he is accorded
marks of great deference, and approached in the manner as if he were
a supreme despot, does not mean that perfect good fellowship and
sociability do not reign in his personal relations with his companions
and vassals. There is no difference in interests or outlook between
him and his subjects. They sit together and chat, they exchange
village gossip, the only difference being that the chief is always
on his guard, and much more reticent and diplomatic than the other,
though he is no less interested. The chief, unless he is too old,
joins in dances and even in games, and indeed he takes precedence as
a matter of course.

In trying to realise the social conditions among the Trobrianders
and their neighbours, it must not be forgotten that their social
organisation is in certain respects complex and ill-defined. Besides
very definite laws which are strictly obeyed, there exist a number
of quaint usages, of vague graduations in rules, of others where the
exceptions are so many, that they rather obliterate the rule than
confirm it. The narrow social outlook of the native who does not
see beyond his own district, the prevalence of singularities and
exceptional cases is one of the leading characteristics of native
sociology, one which for many reasons has not been sufficiently
recognised. But the main outlines of chieftainship here presented,
will be enough to give a clear idea of it and of some of the flavour
of their institutions, as much, in fact, as is necessary, in order
to understand the chief's rôle in the Kula. But it must to a certain
extent be supplemented by the concrete data, bearing upon the political
divisions of the Trobriands.

The most important chief is, as said, the one who resides in Omarakana
and rules Kiriwina, agriculturally the richest and most important
district. His family, or sub-clan, the Tabalu, are acknowledged to
have by far the highest rank in all the Archipelago. Their fame is
spread over the whole Kula district; the entire province of Kiriwina
derives prestige from its chief, and its inhabitants also keep all
his personal taboos, which is a duty but also a distinction. Next to
the high chief, there resides in a village some two miles distant,
a personage who, though in several respects his vassal, is also his
main foe and rival, the headman of Kabwaku, and ruler of the province
of Tilataula. The present holder of this title is an old rogue named
Moliasi. From time to time, in the old days, war used to break out
between the two provinces, each of which could muster some twelve
villages for the fight. These wars were never very bloody or of
long duration, and they were in many ways fought in a competitive,
sporting manner, since, unlike with the Dobuans and Southern Massim,
there were neither head-hunting nor cannibalistic practices among
the Boyowans. Nevertheless, defeat was a serious matter. It meant
a temporary destruction of the loser's villages, and exile for a
year or two. After that, a ceremony of reconciliation took place,
and friend and foe would help to rebuild the villages. [28] The ruler
of Tilataula has an intermediate rank, and outside his district he
does not enjoy much prestige; but within it, he has a considerable
amount of power, and a good deal of wealth, in the shape of stored
food and ceremonial articles. All the villages under his rule, have,
of course, their own independent headman, who, being of low rank,
have only a small degree of local authority.

In the West of the big, Northern half of Boyowa (that is of the main
island of the Trobriand Group) are again two districts, in past
times often at war with one another. One of them, Kuboma, subject
to the chief of Gumilababa, of high rank, though inferior to the
chief of Kiriwina, consists of some ten inland villages, and is very
important as a centre of industry. Among these villages are included
those of Yalaka, Buduwaylaka, Kudukwaykela, where the quicklime is
prepared for betel chewing, and also the lime pots made. The highly
artistic designs, burnt in on the lime pots, are the speciality of
these villagers, but unfortunately the industry is fast decaying. The
inhabitants of Luya are renowned for their basket work, of which the
finest specimens are their production. But the most remarkable of all
is the village of Bwoytalu, whose inhabitants are at the same time
the most despised pariahs, the most dreaded sorcerers, and the most
skilful and industrious craftsmen in the island. They belong to several
sub-clans, all originating in the neighbourhood of the village, near
which also, according to tradition, the original sorcerer came out of
the soil in the form of a crab. They eat the flesh of bush-pigs, and
they catch and eat the stingaree, both objects of strict taboos and of
genuine loathing to the other inhabitants of Northern Boyowa. For this
reason they are despised and regarded as unclean by the others. In
olden days they would have to crouch lower and more abjectly than
anyone else. No man or woman would mate with anyone from Bwoytalu,
whether in marriage or in an intrigue. Yet in wood carving, and
especially in the working out of the wonderful, round dishes, in the
manufacture of plaited fibre work, and in the production of combs, they
are far more skilful than anyone else, and acknowledged to be such;
they are the wholesale manufacturers of these objects for export,
and they can produce work not to be rivalled by any other village.

The five villages lying on the western coast of the northern half,
on the shores of the Lagoon, form the district of Kulumata. They are
all fishing villages, but differ in their methods, and each has its
own fishing grounds and its own methods of exploiting them. [29]
The district is much less homogeneous than any of those before
mentioned. It possesses no paramount chief, and even in war the
villagers used not to fight on the same side. But it is impossible
to enter here into all these shades and singularities of political

In the southern part of Boyowa, there is first the province of Luba,
occupying the waist of the island, the part where it narrows down
to a long isthmus. This part is ruled by a chief of high rank, who
resides in Olivilevi. He belongs to the same family as the chief of
Omarakana, and this southern dominion is the result of a younger line's
having branched off some three generations ago. This happened after an
unsuccessful war, when the whole tribe of Kiriwina fled south to Luba,
and lived there for two years in a temporary village. The main body
returned afterwards, but a number remained behind with the chief's
brother, and thus the village of Olivilevi was founded. Wawela,
which was formerly a very big village, now consists of hardly more
than twenty huts. The only one on the Eastern shore which lies
right on the sea, it is very picturesquely situated, overlooking a
wide bay with a clean beach. It is of importance as the traditional
centre of astronomical knowledge. From here, for generation after
generation up to the present day, the calendar of the natives has
been regulated. This means that some of the most important dates are
fixed, especially that of the great annual festival, the Milamala,
always held at full moon. Again, Wawela is one of the villages where
the second form of sorcery, that of the flying witches, has its main
Trobriand home. In fact, according to native belief, this form of
sorcery has its seat only in the Southern half, and is unknown to the
women in the North, though the Southern witches extend their field
of operations all over Boyowa. Wawela, which lies facing the East,
and which is always in close touch with the villages of Kitava and
the rest of the Marshall Bennetts, shares with these islands the
reputation of harbouring many women who can fly, kill by magic, who
also feed on corpses, and are especially dangerous to seamen in peril.

Further down to the South, on the Western shore of the Lagoon, we come
to the big settlement of Sinaketa, consisting of some six villages
lying within a few hundred yards from one another, but each having
its own headman and a certain amount of local characteristics. These
villages form, however, one community for purposes of war and of
the Kula. Some of the local headmen of Sinaketa claim the highest
rank, some are commoners; but on the whole, both the principle of
rank and the power of the chief break down more and more as we move
South. Beyond Sinaketa, we meet a few more villages, who practice a
local Kula, and with whom we shall have to deal later on. Sinaketa
itself will loom very largely in the descriptions that follow. The
Southern part of the island is sometimes called Kaybwagina, but it does
not constitute a definite political unit, like the Northern districts.

Finally, south of the main island, divided from it by a narrow channel,
lies the half-moon-shaped island of Vakuta, to which belong four small
villages and one big one. Within recent times, perhaps four to six
generations ago, there came down and settled in this last mentioned one
a branch of the real Tabalu, the chiefly family of highest rank. But
their power here never assumed the proportions even of the small
chiefs of Sinaketa. In Vakuta, the typical Papuo-Melanesian system of
government by tribal elders--with one more prominent than the others,
but not paramount--is in full vigour.

The two big settlements of Sinaketa and Vakuta play a great part
in the Kula, and they also are the only two communities in the
whole Trobriands where the red shell discs are made. This industry,
as we shall see, is closely associated with the Kula. Politically,
Sinaketa and Vakuta are rivals, and in olden days were periodically
at war with one another.

Another district which forms a definite political and cultural unit
is the large island of Kayleula, in the West. The inhabitants are
fishermen, canoe-builders, and traders, and undertake big expeditions
to the western d'Entrecasteaux islands, trading for betel-nut, sago,
pottery and turtle shell in exchange for their own industrial produce.

It has been necessary to give a somewhat detailed description of
chieftainship and political divisions, as a firm grasp of the main,
political institutions is essential to the understanding of the
Kula. All departments of tribal life, religion, magic, economics
are interwoven, but the social organisation of the tribe lies at the
foundation of everything else. Thus it is essential to bear in mind
that the Trobriands form one cultural unit, speaking the same language,
having the same institutions, obeying the same laws and regulations,
swayed by the same beliefs and conventions. The districts just
enumerated, into which the Trobriands are sub-divided, are distinct
politically and not culturally; that is, each of them comprises the
same kind of natives, only obeying or at least acknowledging their
own chief, having their own interests and pursuits, and in case of
war each fighting their own fight.

Again, within each district, the several village communities have
each a great deal of independence. A village community is represented
by a headman, its members make their gardens in one block and under
the guidance of their own garden magician; they carry on their own
feasts and ceremonial arrangements, mourn their dead in common, and
perform, in remembrance of their departed ones, an endless series of
food distributions. In all big affairs, whether of the district or
of the tribe, members of a village community keep together, and act
in one group.


Right across the political and local divisions cut the totemic clans,
each having a series of linked totems, with a bird as principal
one. [30] The members of these four clans are scattered over the whole
tribe of Boyowa, and in each village community, members of all four are
to be found, and even in every house, there are at least two classes
represented, since a husband must be of a different clan from his wife
and children. There is a certain amount of solidarity within the clan,
based on the very vague feeling of communal affinity to the totem
birds and animals, but much more on the many social duties, such as
the performance of certain ceremonies, especially the mortuary ones,
which band the members of a clan together. But real solidarity obtains
only between members of a sub-clan. A sub-clan is a local division of
a clan, whose members claim common ancestry, and hence real identity
of bodily substance, and also are attached to the locality where
their ancestors emerged. It is to these sub-clans that the idea
of a definite rank attaches. One of the totemic clans, the Malasi,
includes the most aristocratic sub-clan, the Tabalu, as well as the
lowest one, the local division of the Malasi in Bwoytalu. A chief of
the Tabalu feels very insulted if it is ever hinted that he is akin
to one of the stingaree-eaters of the unclean village, although they
are Malasi like himself. The principle of rank attached to totemic
divisions is to be met only in Trobriand sociology; it is entirely
foreign to all the other Papuo-Melanesian tribes.

As regards kinship, the main thing to be remembered is that the natives
are matrilineal, and that the succession of rank, membership in all
the social groups, and the inheritance of possessions descend in the
maternal line. The mother's brother is considered the real guardian of
a boy, and there is a series of mutual duties and obligations, which
establish a very close and important relation between the two. The
real kinship, the real identity of substance is considered to exist
only between a man and his mother's relations. In the first rank of
these, his brothers and sisters are specially near to him. For his
sister or sisters he has to work as soon as they are grown up and
married. But, in spite of that, a most rigorous taboo exists between
them, beginning quite early in life. No man would joke and talk freely
in the presence of his sister, or even look at her. The slightest
allusion to the sexual affairs, whether illicit or matrimonial, of
a brother or sister in the presence of the other, is the deadliest
insult and mortification. When a man approaches a group of people
where his sister is talking, either she withdraws or he turns away.

The father's relation to his children is remarkable. Physiological
fatherhood [31] is unknown, and no tie of kinship or relationship
is supposed to exist between father and child, except that between a
mother's husband and the wife's child. Nevertheless, the father is by
far the nearest and most affectionate friend of his children. In ever
so many cases, I could observe that when a child, a young boy or girl,
was in trouble or sick; when there was a question of some one exposing
himself to difficulties or danger for the child's sake, it was always
the father who worried, who would undergo all the hardships needed,
and never the maternal uncle. This state of things is quite clearly
recognised, and explicitly put into words by the natives. In matters
of inheritance and handing over of possessions, a man always shows
the tendency to do as much for his children as he is able, considering
his obligations to his sister's family.

It is difficult, in one phrase or two, to epitomise the distinction
between the two relations, that between a boy and his maternal uncle,
and that between a son and a father. The best way to put it shortly
might be by saying that the maternal uncle's position of close relation
is regarded as right by law and usage, whereas the father's interest
and affection for his children are due to sentiment, and to the
intimate personal relations existing between them. He has watched
the children grow up, he has assisted the mother in many of the
small and tender cares given to an infant, he has carried the child
about, and given it such education as it gets from watching the elder
ones at work, and gradually joining in. In matters of inheritance,
the father gives the children all that he can, and gives it freely
and with pleasure; the maternal uncle gives under the compulsion of
custom what he cannot withhold and keep for his own children.


A few more words must be said about some of the magico-religious ideas
of the Trobrianders. The main thing that struck me in connection with
their belief in the spirits of the dead, was that they are almost
completely devoid of any fear of ghosts, of any of these uncanny
feelings with which we face the idea of a possible return of the
dead. All the fears and dreads of the natives are reserved for black
magic, flying witches, malevolent disease-bringing beings, but above
all for sorcerers and witches. The spirits migrate immediately after
death to the island of Tuma, lying in the North-West of Boyowa, and
there they exist for another span of time, underground, say some, on
the surface of the earth, though invisible, say others. They return
to visit their own villages once a year, and take part in the big
annual feast, milamala, where they receive offerings. Sometimes, at
this season, they show themselves to the living, who are, however, not
alarmed by it, and in general the spirits do not influence human beings
very much, for better or worse. [32] In a number of magical formulæ,
there is an invocation of ancestral spirits, and they receive offerings
in several rites. But there is nothing of the mutual interaction,
of the intimate collaboration between man and spirit which are the
essence of religious cult.

On the other hand, magic, the attempt of man to govern the forces of
nature directly, by means of a special lore, is all-pervading, and
all-important in the Trobriands. [33] Sorcery and garden magic have
already been mentioned. Here it must suffice to add, that everything
that vitally affects the native is accompanied by magic. All economic
activities have their magic; love, welfare of babies, talents and
crafts, beauty and agility--all can be fostered or frustrated by
magic. In dealing with the Kula--a pursuit of immense importance
to the natives, and playing on almost all their social passions and
ambitions--we shall meet with another system of magic, and we shall
have then to go more into detail about the subject in general.

Disease, health, or death are also the result of magic or
counter-magic. The Trobrianders have a very complex and very definite
set of theoretical views on these matters. Good health is primarily
of course the natural, normal state. Minor ills may be contracted
by exposure, over-eating, over-strain, bad food, or other ordinary
causes. Such ailments never last, and have never any really bad
effects, nor are they of immediate danger. But, if a man sickens for
any length of time, and his strength seems to be really sapped, then
the evil forces are at work. By far the most prevalent form of black
magic, is that of the bwaga'u, that is the black sorcerer, of whom
there are a number in each district. Usually even in each village
there are one or two men more or less dreaded as bwaga'u. To be one
does not require any special initiation except the knowledge of the
spells. To learn these--that is, to learn them in such a manner as
to become an acknowledged bwaga'u--can only be done by means of high
payment, or in exceptional circumstances. Thus, a father will often
"give" his sorcery to his son, always, however, without payment; or
a commoner will teach it to a man of rank, or a man to his sister's
son. In these two latter cases a very high payment would have to be
given. It is important as a characteristic of the kinship conditions
of this people, that a man receives sorcery gratis from his father,
who according to the traditional kinship system is no blood-relation,
whereas he has to pay for it to his maternal uncle, whose natural
heir he is.

When a man has acquired the black art, he applies it to a first victim,
and this has always to be some one of his own family. It is a firm
and definite belief among all the natives that if a man's sorcery has
to be any good, it must first be practised on his mother or sister,
or any of his maternal kindred. Such a matricidal act makes him a
genuine bwaga'u. His art then can be practised on others, and becomes
an established source of income.

The beliefs about sorcery are complex; they differ according as to
whether taken from a real sorcerer, or from an outsider; and there
are also evidently strata of belief, due perhaps to local variation,
perhaps to superimposed versions. Here a short summary must suffice.

When a sorcerer wants to attack someone, the first step is to cast
a light spell over his habitual haunts, a spell which will affect
him with a slight illness and compel him to keep to his bed in his
house, where he will try to cure himself by lying over a small fire
and warming his body. His first ailment, called kaynagola, comprises
pains in the body, such as (speaking from our point of view) would be
brought about by rheumatism, general cold, influenza, or any incipient
disease. When the victim is in bed, with a fire burning under him, and
also, as a rule, one in the middle of the hut, the bwaga'u stealthily
approaches the house. He is accompanied by a few nightbirds, owls
and night-jars, which keep guard over him, and he is surrounded by
a halo of legendary terrors which make all natives shiver at the
idea of meeting a sorcerer on such a nocturnal visit. He then tries
to insert through the thatch wall a bunch of herbs impregnated with
some deadly charm and tied to a long stick, and these he attempts to
thrust into the fire over which the sick man is lying. If he succeeds,
the fumes of the burnt leaves will be inhaled by the victim, whose
name has been uttered in the charm, and he will be seized by one or
other of the deadly diseases of which the natives have a long list,
with a definite symptomatology, as well as a magical etiology. Thus
the preliminary sorcery was necessary, in order to keep the victim
to his house, in which spot only can the mortal magic be performed.

Of course, the sick man is on the defensive as well. First of all,
his friends and relatives--this is one of the main duties of the wife's
brothers--will keep a close watch over him, sitting with spears round
the hut, and at all approaches to it. Often have I come across such
vigils, when walking late at night through some village. Then, the
services of some rival bwaga'u are invoked (for the art of killing
and curing is always in the same hand), and he utters counter-spells,
so that at times the efforts of the first sorcerer, even should he
succeed in burning the herbs according to the dreaded toginivayu rite,
are fruitless.

Should this be so, he resorts to the final and most fatal rite, that
of the pointing-bone. Uttering powerful spells, the bwaga'u and one or
two accomplices, boil some coco-nut oil in a small pot, far away in a
dense patch of jungle. Leaves of herbs are soaked in the oil, and then
wrapped round a sharp stingaree spine, or some similar pointed object,
and the final incantation, most deadly of all, is chanted over it. Then
the bwaga'u steals towards the village, catches sight of his victim,
and hiding himself behind a shrub or house, points the magical dagger
at him. In fact, he violently and viciously turns it round in the
air, as if to stab the victim, and to twist and wrench the point in
the wound. This, if carried out properly, and not counteracted by a
still more powerful magician, will never fail to kill a man.

I have here summarised the bare outlines of the successive application
of black magic as it is believed by sorcerer and outsider alike to
be done, and to act in producing disease and death. There can be no
doubt that the acts of sorcery are really carried out by those who
believe themselves to possess the black powers. It is equally certain
that the nervous strain of knowing one's life to be threatened by
a bwaga'u is very great, and probably it is much worse when a man
knows that behind the sorcerer stands the might of the chief, and this
apprehension certainly contributes powerfully towards the success of
black magic. On the other hand, a chief, if attacked, would have a
good guard to protect him, and the most powerful wizards to back him
up, and also the authority to deal directly with anyone suspected
of plotting against him. Thus sorcery, which is one of the means of
carrying on the established order, is in its turn strengthened by it.

If we remember that, as in all belief in the miraculous and
supernatural, so also here, there is the loophole of counterforces,
and of the sorcery being incorrectly or inefficiently applied, spoilt
by broken taboos, mispronounced spells, or what not; again, that
suggestion strongly influences the victim, and undermines his natural
resistance; further that all disease is invariably traced back to
some sorcerer or other, who, whether it is true or not, often frankly
admits his responsibility in order to enhance his reputation, there
is then no difficulty in understanding why the belief in black magic
flourishes, why no empirical evidence can ever dispel it, and why the
sorcerer no less than the victim, has confidence in his own powers. At
least, the difficulty is the same as in explaining many contemporary
examples of results achieved by miracles and faith healing, such as
Christian Science or Lourdes, or in any cure by prayers and devotion.

Although by far the most important of them all, the bwaga'u is only one
among the beings who can cause disease and death. The often-mentioned
flying-witches, who come always from the Southern half of the island,
or from the East, from the islands of Kitava, Iwa, Gava, or Murua, are
even more deadly. All very rapid and violent diseases, more especially
such as show no direct, perceptible symptoms, are attributed to the
mulukwausi, as they are called. Invisible, they fly through the air,
and perch on trees, house-tops, and other high places. From there,
they pounce upon a man or woman and remove and hide "the inside,"
that is, the lungs, heart and guts, or the brains and tongue. Such a
victim will die within a day or two, unless another witch, called for
the purpose and well paid, goes in search and restores the missing
"inside." Of course, sometimes it is too late to do it, as the meal
has been eaten in the meantime! Then the victim must die.

Another powerful agency of death consists of the tauva'u, non-human
though anthropomorphic beings, who cause all epidemic disease. When,
at the end of the rainy season the new and unripe yams have come in,
and dysentery rages, decimating the villages; or, when in hot and
damp years an infectious disease passes over the district, taking
heavy toll, this means that the tauva'u have come from the South, and
that, invisible, they march through the villages, rattling their lime
gourds, and with their sword-clubs or sticks hitting their victims, who
immediately sicken and die. The tauva'u can, at will, assume the shape
of man or reptile. He appears then as a snake, or crab, or lizard,
and you recognise him at once, for he will not run away from you,
and he has as a rule a patch of some gaudy colour on his skin. It
would be a fatal thing to kill such a reptile. On the contrary, it
has to be taken up cautiously and treated as a chief; that is to say,
it is placed on a high platform, and some of the valuable tokens of
wealth--a polished green stone blade, or a pair of arm-shells, or a
necklace of spondylus shell beads must be put before it as an offering.

It is very interesting to note that the tauva'u are believed to come
from the Northern coast of Normanby Island, from the district of
Du'a'u, and more especially from a place called Sewatupa. This is the
very place where, according to Dobuan belief and myth, their sorcery
originated. Thus, what to the local tribes of the originating place
is ordinary sorcery, practised by men, becomes, when looked at from a
great distance, and from an alien tribe, a non-human agency, endowed
with such super-normal powers as changing of shape, invisibility,
and a direct, infallible method of inflicting death.

The tauva'u have sometimes sexual intercourse with women; several
present cases are on record, and such women who have a familiar tauva'u
become dangerous witches, though how they practise their witchcraft
is not quite clear to the natives.

A much less dangerous being is the tokway, a wood-sprite, living in
trees and rocks, stealing crops from the field and from the yam-houses,
and inflicting slight ailments. Some men in the past have acquired
the knowledge of how to do this from the tokway, and have handed it
on to their descendants.

So we see that, except for the very light ailments which pass quickly
and easily, all disease is attributed to sorcery. Even accidents are
not believed to happen without cause. That this is the case also with
drowning, we shall learn more in detail, when we have to follow the
Trobrianders in their dangerous sea-trips. Natural death, caused by
old age, is admittedly possible, but when I asked in several concrete
cases, in which age was obviously the cause, why such and such a man
died, I was always told that a bwaga'u was at the back of it. Only
suicide and death in battle have a different place in the mind of the
natives, and this is also confirmed by the belief that people killed
in war, those that commit suicide, and those who are bewitched to
death have, each class, their own way to the other world.

This sketch of Trobriand tribal life, belief and customs must suffice,
and we shall still have opportunities of enlarging upon these subjects
that most matter to us for the present study.


Two more districts remain to be mentioned, through which the Kula
trade passes on its circuit, before it returns to the place from
where we started. One of them is the Eastern portion of the Northern
Massim, comprising the Marshall Bennett Islands (Kitava, Iwa, Gawa,
Kwayawata), and Woodlark Island (Murua), with the small group of Nada
Islands. The other district is that of St. Aignan Island, called by
the natives Masima, or Misima, with the smaller island Panayati.

Looking from the rocky shores of Boyowa, at its narrowest point, we
can see over the white breakers on the fringing reef and over the sea,
here always blue and limpid, the silhouette of a flat-topped, low rock,
almost due East. This is Kitava. To the Trobrianders of the Eastern
districts, this island and those behind it are the promised land
of the Kula, just as Dobu is to the natives of Southern Boyowa. But
here, unlike in the South, they have to deal with tribesmen who speak
their own language, with dialectic differences only, and who have very
much the same institutions and customs. In fact, the nearest island,
Kitava, differs only very little from the Trobriands. Although the
more distant islands, especially Murua, have a slightly different
form of totemism, with hardly any idea of rank attached to the
sub-clans, and consequently no chieftainship in the Trobriand
sense, yet their social organisation is also much the same as in the
Western province. [34] I know the natives only from having seen them
very frequently and in great numbers in the Trobriands, where they
come on Kula expeditions. In Murua, however, I spent a short time
doing field-work in the village of Dikoyas. In appearance, dress,
ornaments and manners, the natives are indistinguishable from the
Trobrianders. Their ideas and customs in matters of sex, marriage,
and kinship are, with variations in detail only, the same as in
Boyowa. In beliefs and mythology, they also belong to the same culture.

To the Trobrianders, the Eastern islands are also the chief home and
stronghold of the dreaded mulukwausi (flying witches); the land whence
love magic came, originating in the island of Iwa; the distant shores
towards which the mythical hero Tudava sailed, performing many feats,
till he finally disappeared, no one knows where. The most recent
version is that he most likely finished his career in the white man's
country. To the Eastern islands, says native belief, the spirits of
the dead, killed by sorcery, go round on a short visit not stopping
there, only floating through the air like clouds, before they turn
round to the North-West to Tuma.

From these islands, many important products come to Boyowa (the
Trobriands), but none half as important as the tough, homogeneous
green-stone, from which all their implements were made in the past,
and of which the ceremonial axes are made up till now. Some of these
places are renowned for their yam gardens, especially Kitava, and it is
recognised that the best carving in black ebony comes from there. The
most important point of difference between the natives of this district
and the Trobrianders, lies in the method of mortuary distributions,
to which subject we shall have to return in a later part of the book,
as it is closely connected with Kula.

From Murua (Woodlark Island) the Kula track curves over to the South
in two different branches, one direct to Tubetube, and the other to
Misima, and thence to Tubetube and Wari. The district of Misima is
almost entirely unknown to me--I have only spoken once or twice with
natives of this island, and there is not, to my knowledge, any reliable
published information about that district, so we shall have to pass
it over with a very few words. This is, however, not so alarming,
because it is certain, even from the little I know about them, that
the natives do not essentially differ from the other Massim. They
are totemic and matrilineal; there is no chieftainship, and the form
of authority is the same as in the Southern Massim. Their sorcerers
and witches resemble those of the Southern Massim and Dobuans. In
industries, they specialise in canoe-building, and in the small
island of Panayati produce the same type of craft as the natives of
Gawa and Woodlark Island, slightly different only from the Trobriand
canoe. In the island of Misima, a very big supply of areca (betel)
nut is produced, as there is a custom of planting a number of these
nuts after a man's death.

The small islands of Tubetube and Wari, which form the final link of
the Kula, lie already within the district of the Southern Massim. In
fact, the island of Tubetube is one of the places studied in detail
by Professor Seligman, and its ethnographical description is one of
three parallel monographs which form the division of the Southern
Massim in the treatise so often quoted.

Finally, I want to point out again that the descriptions of the
various Kula districts given in this and in the previous chapter,
though accurate in every detail, are not meant to be an exhaustive
ethnographic sketch of the tribes. They have been given with a few
light touches in order to produce a vivid and so-to-speak personal
impression of the various type of natives, and countries and of
cultures. If I have succeeded in giving a physiognomy to each of the
various tribes, to the Trobrianders, to the Amphlettans, the Dobuans,
and the Southern Massim, and in arousing some interest in them,
the main purpose has been achieved, and the necessary ethnographic
background for the Kula has been supplied.




Having thus described the scene, and the actors, let us now proceed
to the performance. The Kula is a form of exchange, of extensive,
inter-tribal character; it is carried on by communities inhabiting a
wide ring of islands, which form a closed circuit. This circuit can be
seen on Map V, where it is represented by the lines joining a number
of islands to the North and East of the East end of New Guinea. Along
this route, articles of two kinds, and these two kinds only, are
constantly travelling in opposite directions. In the direction of the
hands of a clock, moves constantly one of these kinds--long necklaces
of red shell, called soulava (Plates XVIII and XIX). In the opposite
direction moves the other kind--bracelets of white shell called mwali
(Plates XVI and XVII). Each of these articles, as it travels in its
own direction on the closed circuit, meets on its way articles of
the other class, and is constantly being exchanged for them. Every
movement of the Kula articles, every detail of the transactions is
fixed and regulated by a set of traditional rules and conventions,
and some acts of the Kula are accompanied by an elaborate magical
ritual and public ceremonies.

On every island and in every village, a more or less limited number of
men take part in the Kula--that is to say, receive the goods, hold them
for a short time, and then pass them on. Therefore every man who is in
the Kula, periodically though not regularly, receives one or several
mwali (arm-shells), or a soulava (necklace of red shell discs), and
then has to hand it on to one of his partners, from whom he receives
the opposite commodity in exchange. Thus no man ever keeps any of the
articles for any length of time in his possession. One transaction
does not finish the Kula relationship, the rule being "once in the
Kula, always in the Kula," and a partnership between two men is a
permanent and lifelong affair. Again, any given mwali or soulava
may always be found travelling and changing hands, and there is no
question of its ever settling down, so that the principle "once in
the Kula, always in the Kula" applies also to the valuables themselves.

The ceremonial exchange of the two articles is the main, the
fundamental aspect of the Kula. But associated with it, and done
under its cover, we find a great number of secondary activities
and features. Thus, side by side with the ritual exchange of
arm-shells and necklaces, the natives carry on ordinary trade,
bartering from one island to another a great number of utilities,
often unprocurable in the district to which they are imported, and
indispensable there. Further, there are other activities, preliminary
to the Kula, or associated with it, such as the building of sea-going
canoes for the expeditions, certain big forms of mortuary ceremonies,
and preparatory taboos.

The Kula is thus an extremely big and complex institution, both in
its geographical extent, and in the manifoldness of its component
pursuits. It welds together a considerable number of tribes, and it
embraces a vast complex of activities, interconnected, and playing
into one another, so as to form one organic whole.

Yet it must be remembered that what appears to us an extensive,
complicated, and yet well ordered institution is the outcome of ever
so many doings and pursuits, carried on by savages, who have no laws
or aims or charters definitely laid down. They have no knowledge of
the total outline of any of their social structure. They know their
own motives, know the purpose of individual actions and the rules
which apply to them, but how, out of these, the whole collective
institution shapes, this is beyond their mental range. Not even
the most intelligent native has any clear idea of the Kula as a big,
organised social construction, still less of its sociological function
and implications. If you were to ask him what the Kula is, he would
answer by giving a few details, most likely by giving his personal
experiences and subjective views on the Kula, but nothing approaching
the definition just given here. Not even a partial coherent account
could be obtained. For the integral picture does not exist in his mind;
he is in it, and cannot see the whole from the outside.

The integration of all the details observed, the achievement of a
sociological synthesis of all the various, relevant symptoms, is the
task of the Ethnographer. First of all, he has to find out that certain
activities, which at first sight might appear incoherent and not
correlated, have a meaning. He then has to find out what is constant
and relevant in these activities, and what accidental and inessential,
that is, to find out the laws and rules of all the transactions. Again,
the Ethnographer has to construct the picture of the big institution,
very much as the physicist constructs his theory from the experimental
data, which always have been within reach of everybody, but which
needed a consistent interpretation. I have touched on this point of
method in the Introduction (Divisions V and VI), but I have repeated it
here, as it is necessary to grasp it clearly in order not to lose the
right perspective of conditions as they really exist among the natives.


In giving the above abstract and concise definition, I had to reverse
the order of research, as this is done in ethnographic field-work,
where the most generalised inferences are obtained as the result
of long inquiries and laborious inductions. The general definition
of the Kula will serve as a sort of plan or diagram in our further
concrete and detailed descriptions. And this is the more necessary
as the Kula is concerned with the exchange of wealth and utilities,
and therefore it is an economic institution, and there is no other
aspect of primitive life where our knowledge is more scanty and our
understanding more superficial than in Economics. Hence misconception
is rampant, and it is necessary to clear the ground when approaching
any economic subject.

Thus in the Introduction we called the Kula a "form of trade," and we
ranged it alongside other systems of barter. This is quite correct,
if we give the word "trade" a sufficiently wide interpretation, and
mean by it any exchange of goods. But the word "trade" is used in
current Ethnography and economic literature with so many different
implications that a whole lot of misleading, preconceived ideas have
to be brushed aside in order to grasp the facts correctly. Thus the
aprioric current notion of primitive trade would be that of an exchange
of indispensable or useful articles, done without much ceremony or
regulation, under stress of dearth or need, in spasmodic, irregular
intervals--and this done either by direct barter, everyone looking
out sharply not to be done out of his due, or, if the savages were
too timid and distrustful to face one another, by some customary
arrangement, securing by means of heavy penalties compliance in
the obligations incurred or imposed. [35] Waiving for the present
the question how far this conception is valid or not in general--in
my opinion it is quite misleading--we have to realise clearly that
the Kula contradicts in almost every point the above definition of
"savage trade." It shows to us primitive exchange in an entirely
different light.

The Kula is not a surreptitious and precarious form of exchange. It is,
quite on the contrary, rooted in myth, backed by traditional law, and
surrounded with magical rites. All its main transactions are public
and ceremonial, and carried out according to definite rules. It is
not done on the spur of the moment, but happens periodically, at
dates settled in advance, and it is carried on along definite trade
routes, which must lead to fixed trysting places. Sociologically,
though transacted between tribes differing in language, culture,
and probably even in race, it is based on a fixed and permanent
status, on a partnership which binds into couples some thousands of
individuals. This partnership is a lifelong relationship, it implies
various mutual duties and privileges, and constitutes a type of
inter-tribal relationship on an enormous scale. As to the economic
mechanism of the transactions, this is based on a specific form of
credit, which implies a high degree of mutual trust and commercial
honour--and this refers also to the subsidiary, minor trade, which
accompanies the Kula proper. Finally, the Kula is not done under
stress of any need, since its main aim is to exchange articles which
are of no practical use.

From the concise definition of Kula given at the beginning of this
chapter, we see that in its final essence, divested of all trappings
and accessories, it is a very simple affair, which at first sight
might even appear tame and unromantic. After all, it only consists
of an exchange, interminably repeated, of two articles intended for
ornamentation, but not even used for that to any extent. Yet this
simple action--this passing from hand to hand of two meaningless
and quite useless objects--has somehow succeeded in becoming the
foundation of a big inter-tribal institution, in being associated with
ever so many other activities. Myth, magic and tradition have built
up around it definite ritual and ceremonial forms, have given it a
halo of romance and value in the minds of the natives, have indeed
created a passion in their hearts for this simple exchange.

The definition of the Kula must now be amplified, and we must describe
one after the other its fundamental characteristics and main rules,
so that it may be clearly grasped by what mechanism the mere exchange
of two articles results in an institution so vast, complex, and
deeply rooted.


First of all, a few words must be said about the two principal
objects of exchange, the arm-shells (mwali) and the necklaces
(soulava). The arm-shells are obtained by breaking off the top and
the narrow end of a big, cone-shaped shell (Conus millepunctatus),
and then polishing up the remaining ring. These bracelets are highly
coveted by all the Papuo-Melanesians of New Guinea, and they spread
even into the pure Papuan district of the Gulf. [36] The manner of
wearing the arm-shells is illustrated by Plate XVII, where the men
have put them on on purpose to be photographed.

The use of the small discs of red spondylus shell, out of which
the soulava are made, is also of a very wide diffusion. There is a
manufacturing centre of them in one of the villages in Port Moresby,
and also in several places in Eastern New Guinea, notably in Rossell
Island, and in the Trobriands. I have said "use" on purpose here,
because these small beads, each of them a flat, round disc with a hole
in the centre, coloured anything from muddy brown to carmine red, are
employed in various ways for ornamentation. They are most generally
used as part of earrings, made of rings of turtle shell, which are
attached to the ear lobe, and from which hang a cluster of the shell
discs. These earrings are very much worn, and, especially among the
Massim, you see them on the ears of every second man or woman, while
others are satisfied with turtle shell alone, unornamented with the
shell discs. Another everyday ornament, frequently met with and worn,
especially by young girls and boys, consists of a short necklace,
just encircling the neck, made of the red spondylus discs, with one
or more cowrie shell pendants. These shell discs can be, and often
are, used in the make-up of the various classes of the more elaborate
ornaments, worn on festive occasions only. Here, however, we are more
especially concerned with the very long necklaces, measuring from two
to five metres, made of spondylus discs, of which there are two main
varieties, one, much the finer, with a big shell pendant, the other
made of bigger discs, and with a few cowrie shells or black banana
seeds in the centre (see Plate XVIII).

The arm-shells on the one hand, and the long spondylus shell strings
on the other, the two main Kula articles, are primarily ornaments. As
such, they are used with the most elaborate dancing dress only,
and on very festive occasions such as big ceremonial dances, great
feasts, and big gatherings, where several villages are represented,
as can be seen in Plate VI. Never could they be used as everyday
ornaments, nor on occasions of minor importance, such as a small
dance in the village, a harvest gathering, a love-making expedition,
when facial painting, floral decoration and smaller though not quite
everyday ornaments are worn (see Plates XII and XIII). But even
though usable and sometimes used, this is not the main function of
these articles. Thus, a chief may have several shell strings in his
possession, and a few arm-shells. Supposing that a big dance is held
in his or in a neighbouring village, he will not put on his ornaments
himself if he goes to assist at it, unless he intends to dance
and decorate himself, but any of his relatives, his children or his
friends and even vassals, can have the use of them for the asking. If
you go to a feast or a dance where there are a number of men wearing
such ornaments, and ask anyone of them at random to whom it belongs,
the chances are that more than half of them will answer that they
themselves are not the owners, but that they had the articles lent to
them. These objects are not owned in order to be used; the privilege
of decorating oneself with them is not the real aim of possession.

Indeed--and this is more significant--by far the greater number of the
arm-shells, easily ninety per cent., are of too small a size to be worn
even by young boys and girls. A few are so big and valuable that they
would not be worn at all, except once in a decade by a very important
man on a very festive day. Though all the shell-strings can be worn,
some of them are again considered too valuable, and are cumbersome
for frequent use, and would be worn on very exceptional occasions only.

This negative description leaves us with the questions: why, then,
are these objects valued, what purpose do they serve? The full answer
to this question will emerge out of the whole story contained in the
following chapters, but an approximate idea must be given at once. As
it is always better to approach the unknown through the known, let us
consider for a moment whether among ourselves we have not some type of
objects which play a similar rôle and which are used and possessed in
the same manner. When, after a six years' absence in the South Seas and
Australia, I returned to Europe and did my first bit of sight-seeing
in Edinburgh Castle, I was shown the Crown jewels. The keeper told
many stories of how they were worn by this or that king or queen
on such and such occasion, of how some of them had been taken over
to London, to the great and just indignation of the whole Scottish
nation, how they were restored, and how now everyone can be pleased,
since they are safe under lock and key, and no one can touch them. As
I was looking at them and thinking how ugly, useless, ungainly, even
tawdry they were, I had the feeling that something similar had been
told to me of late, and that I had seen many other objects of this
sort, which made a similar impression on me.

And then arose before me the vision of a native village on coral soil,
and a small, rickety platform temporarily erected under a pandanus
thatch, surrounded by a number of brown, naked men, and one of them
showing me long, thin red strings, and big, white, worn-out objects,
clumsy to sight and greasy to touch. With reverence he also would name
them, and tell their history, and by whom and when they were worn,
and how they changed hands, and how their temporary possession was a
great sign of the importance and glory of the village. The analogy
between the European and the Trobriand vaygu'a (valuables) must be
delimited with more precision. The Crown jewels, in fact, any heirlooms
too valuable and too cumbersome to be worn, represent the same type as
vaygu'a in that they are merely possessed for the sake of possession
itself, and the ownership of them with the ensuing renown is the main
source of their value. Also both heirlooms and vaygu'a are cherished
because of the historical sentiment which surrounds them. However ugly,
useless, and--according to current standards--valueless an object
may be, if it has figured in historical scenes and passed through
the hands of historic persons, and is therefore an unfailing vehicle
of important sentimental associations, it cannot but be precious to
us. This historic sentimentalism, which indeed has a large share in
our general interest in studies of past events, exists also in the
South Seas. Every really good Kula article has its individual name,
round each there is a sort of history and romance in the traditions
of the natives. Crown jewels or heirlooms are insignia of rank and
symbols of wealth respectively, and in olden days with us, and in New
Guinea up till a few years ago, both rank and wealth went together. The
main point of difference is that the Kula goods are only in possession
for a time, whereas the European treasure must be permanently owned
in order to have full value.

Taking a broader, ethnological view of the question, we may class
the Kula valuables among the many "ceremonial" objects of wealth;
enormous, carved and decorated weapons, stone implements, articles of
domestic and industrial nature, too well decorated and too clumsy for
use. Such things are usually called "ceremonial," but this word seems
to cover a great number of meanings and much that has no meaning at
all. In fact, very often, especially on museum labels, an article is
called "ceremonial" simply because nothing is known about its uses and
general nature. Speaking only about museum exhibits from New Guinea,
I can say that many so-called ceremonial objects are nothing but
simply overgrown objects of use, which preciousness of material and
amount of labour expended have transformed into reservoirs of condensed
economic value. Again, others are used on festive occasions, but play
no part whatever in rites and ceremonies, and serve for decoration
only, and these might be called objects of parade (comp. Chap. VI,
Div. I). Finally, a number of these articles function actually as
instruments of a magical or religious rite, and belong to the intrinsic
apparatus of a ceremony. Such and such only could be correctly called
ceremonial. During the So'i feasts among the Southern Massim, women
carrying polished axe blades in fine carved handles, accompany with a
rhythmic step to the beat of drums, the entry of the pigs and mango
saplings into the village (see Plates V and VI). As this is part
of the ceremony and the axes are an indispensable accessory, their
use in this case can be legitimately called "ceremonial." Again,
in certain magical ceremonies in the Trobriands, the towosi (garden
magician) has to carry a mounted axe blade on his shoulders, and with
it he delivers a ritual blow at a kamkokola structure (see Plate LIX;
compare Chapter II, Division IV).

The vaygu'a--the Kula valuables--in one of their aspects are overgrown
objects of use. They are also, however, ceremonial objects in the
narrow and correct sense of the word. This will become clear after
perusal of the following pages, and to this point we shall return in
the last chapter.

It must be kept in mind that here we are trying to obtain a clear and
vivid idea of what the Kula valuables are to the natives, and not to
give a detailed and circumstantial description of them, nor to define
them with precision. The comparison with the European heirlooms or
Crown jewels was given in order to show that this type of ownership
is not entirely a fantastic South Sea custom, untranslatable into our
ideas. For--and this is a point I want to stress--the comparison I
have made is not based on purely external, superficial similarity. The
psychological and sociological forces at work are the same, it is
really the same mental attitude which makes us value our heirlooms,
and makes the natives in New Guinea value their vaygu'a.


The exchange of these two classes of vaygu'a, of the armshells and the
necklaces, constitutes the main act of the Kula. This exchange is not
done freely, right and left, as opportunity offers, and where the whim
leads. It is subject indeed to strict limitations and regulations. One
of these refers to the sociology of the exchange, and entails that
Kula transactions can be done only between partners. A man who is in
the Kula--for not everyone within its district is entitled to carry
it on--has only a limited number of people with whom he does it. This
partnership is entered upon in a definite manner, under fulfilment of
certain formalities, and it constitutes a life-long relationship. The
number of partners a man has varies with his rank and importance. A
commoner in the Trobriands would have a few partners only, whereas
a chief would number hundreds of them. There is no special social
mechanism to limit the partnership of some people and extend that of
the others, but a man would naturally know to what number of partners
he was entitled by his rank and position. And there would be always the
example of his immediate ancestors to guide him. In other tribes, where
the distinction of rank is not so pronounced, an old man of standing,
or a headman of a hamlet or village would also have hundreds of Kula
associates, whereas a man of minor importance would have but few.

Two Kula partners have to kula with one another, and exchange other
gifts incidentally; they behave as friends, and have a number of
mutual duties and obligations, which vary with the distance between
their villages and with their reciprocal status. An average man has a
few partners near by, as a rule his relations-in-law or his friends,
and with these partners, he is generally on very friendly terms. The
Kula partnership is one of the special bonds which unite two men
into one of the standing relations of mutual exchange of gifts and
services so characteristic of these natives. Again, the average man
will have one or two chiefs in his or in the neighbouring districts
with whom he kulas. In such a case, he would be bound to assist and
serve them in various ways, and to offer them the pick of his vaygu'a
when he gets a fresh supply. On the other hand he would expect them
to be specially liberal to him.

The overseas partner is, on the other hand, a host, patron and ally
in a land of danger and insecurity. Nowadays, though the feeling of
danger still persists, and natives never feel safe and comfortable
in a strange district, this danger is rather felt as a magical one,
and it is more the fear of foreign sorcery that besets them. In
olden days, more tangible dangers were apprehended, and the partner
was the main guarantee of safety. He also provides with food, gives
presents, and his house, though never used to sleep in, is the place
in which to foregather while in the village. Thus the Kula partnership
provides every man within its ring with a few friends near at hand,
and with some friendly allies in the far-away, dangerous, foreign
districts. These are the only people with whom he can kula, but,
of course, amongst all his partners, he is free to choose to which
one he will offer which object.

Let us now try to cast a broad glance at the cumulative effects
of the rules of partnership. We see that all around the ring of
Kula there is a network of relationships, and that naturally the
whole forms one interwoven fabric. Men living at hundreds of miles'
sailing distance from one another are bound together by direct or
intermediate partnership, exchange with each other, know of each
other, and on certain occasions meet in a large intertribal gathering
(Plate XX). Objects given by one, in time reach some very distant
indirect partner or other, and not only Kula objects, but various
articles of domestic use and minor gifts. It is easy to see that in
the long run, not only objects of material culture, but also customs,
songs, art motives and general cultural influences travel along the
Kula route. It is a vast, inter-tribal net of relationships, a big
institution, consisting of thousands of men, all bound together by
one common passion for Kula exchange, and secondarily, by many minor
ties and interests.

Returning again to the personal aspect of the Kula, let us take a
concrete example, that of an average man who lives, let us assume,
in the village of Sinaketa, an important Kula centre in the Southern
Trobriands. He has a few partners, near and far, but they again fall
into categories, those who give him arm-shells, and those who give
him necklaces. For it is naturally an invariable rule of the Kula that
arm-shells and necklaces are never received from the same man, since
they must travel in different directions. If one partner gives the
armshells, and I return to him a necklace, all future operations have
to be of the same type. More than that, the nature of the operation
between me, the man of Sinaketa, and my partner, is determined by our
relative positions with regard to the points of the compass. Thus I,
in Sinaketa, would receive from the North and East only arm-shells;
from the South and West, necklaces are given to me. If I have a near
partner next door to me, if his abode is North or East of mine,
he will always be giving me arm-shells and receiving necklaces
from me. If, at a later time he were to shift his residence within
the village, the old relationship would obtain, but if he became
a member of another village community on the other side of me the
relationship would be reversed. The partners in villages to the North
of Sinaketa, in the district of Luba, Kulumata, or Kiriwina all supply
me with arm-shells. These I hand over to my partners in the South,
and receive from them necklaces. The South in this case means the
southern districts of Boyowa, as well as the Amphletts and Dobu.

Thus every man has to obey definite rules as to the geographical
direction of his transactions. At any point in the Kula ring, if
we imagine him turned towards the centre of the circle, he receives
the arm-shells with his left hand, and the necklaces with his right,
and then hands them both on. In other words, he constantly passes the
arm-shells from left to right, and the necklaces from right to left.

Applying this rule of personal conduct to the whole Kula ring,
we can see at once what the aggregate result is. The sum total
of exchanges will not result in an aimless shifting of the two
classes of article, in a fortuitous come and go of the armshells and
necklaces. Two continuous streams will constantly flow on, the one
of necklaces following the hands of a clock, and the other, composed
of the arm-shells, in the opposite direction. We see thus that it
is quite correct to speak of the circular exchange of the Kula, of a
ring or circuit of moving articles (comp. Map V). On this ring, all
the villages are placed in a definitely fixed position with regard
to one another, so that one is always on either the arm-shell or on
the necklace side of the other.

Now we pass to another rule of the Kula, of the greatest importance. As
just explained "the armshells and shell-strings always travel in their
own respective directions on the ring, and they are never, under
any circumstances, traded back in the wrong direction. Also, they
never stop. It seems almost incredible at first, but it is the fact,
nevertheless, that no one ever keeps any of the Kula: valuables for
any length of time. Indeed, in the whole of the Trobriands there are
perhaps only one or two specially fine armshells and shell-necklaces
permanently owned as heirlooms, and these are set apart as a special
class, and are once and for all out of the Kula. 'Ownership,'
therefore, in Kula, is quite a special economic relation. A man who
is in the Kula never keeps any article for longer than, say, a year
or two. Even this exposes him to the reproach of being niggardly, and
certain districts have the bad reputation of being 'slow' and 'hard'
in the Kula. On the other hand, each man has an enormous number of
articles passing through his hands during his life time, of which
he enjoys a temporary possession, and which he keeps in trust for a
time. This possession hardly ever makes him use the articles, and
he remains under the obligation soon again to hand them on to one
of his partners. But the temporary ownership allows him to draw a
great deal of renown, to exhibit his article, to tell how he obtained
it, and to plan to whom he is going to give it. And all this forms
one of the favourite subjects of tribal conversation and gossip,
in which the feats and the glory in Kula of chiefs or commoners are
constantly discussed and re-discussed." [37] Thus every article moves
in one direction only, never comes back, never permanently stops,
and takes as a rule some two to ten years to make the round.

This feature of the Kula is perhaps its most remarkable one, since it
creates a new type of ownership, and places the two Kula articles in a
class of their own. Here we can return to the comparison drawn between
the vaygu'a (Kiriwinian valuables) and the European heirlooms. This
comparison broke down on one point: in the European objects of this
class, permanent ownership, lasting association with the hereditary
dignity or rank or with a family, is one of its main features. In
this the Kula articles differ from heirlooms, but resemble another
type of valued object, that is, trophies, gauges of superiority,
sporting cups, objects which are kept for a time only by the winning
party, whether a group or an individual. Though held only in trust,
only for a period, though never used in any utilitarian way, yet the
holders get from them a special type of pleasure by the mere fact of
owning them, of being entitled to them. Here again, it is not only
a superficial, external resemblance, but very much the same mental
attitude, favoured by similar social arrangements. The resemblance
goes so far that in the Kula there exists also the element of pride
in merit, an element which forms the main ingredient in the pleasure
felt by a man or group holding a trophy. Success in Kula is ascribed
to special, personal power, due mainly to magic, and men are very
proud of it. Again, the whole community glories in a specially fine
Kula trophy, obtained by one of its members.

All the rules so far enumerated--looking at them from the
individual point of view--limit the social range and the direction
of the transactions as well as the duration of ownership of the
articles. Looking at them from the point of view of their integral
effect, they shape the general outline of the Kula, give it the
character of the double-closed circuit. Now a few words must be said
about the nature of each individual transaction, in so far as its
commercial technicalities are concerned. Here very definite rules
also obtain.


The main principle underlying the regulations of actual exchange
is that the Kula consists in the bestowing of a ceremonial gift,
which has to be repaid by an equivalent counter-gift after a lapse
of time, be it a few hours or even minutes, though sometimes as much
as a year or more may elapse between payments. [38] But it can never
be exchanged from hand to hand, with the equivalence between the two
objects discussed, bargained about and computed. The decorum of the
Kula transaction is strictly kept, and highly valued. The natives
sharply distinguish it from barter, which they practise extensively,
of which they have a clear idea, and for which they have a settled
term--in Kiriwinian: gimwali. Often, when criticising an incorrect,
too hasty, or indecorous procedure of Kula, they will say: "He conducts
his Kula as if it were gimwali."

The second very important principle is that the equivalence of the
counter-gift is left to the giver, and it cannot be enforced by any
kind of coercion. A partner who has received a Kula gift is expected
to give back fair and full value, that is, to give as good an arm-shell
as the necklace he receives, or vice versa. Again, a very fine article
must be replaced by one of equivalent value, and not by several minor
ones, though intermediate gifts may be given to mark time before the
real repayment takes place.

If the article given as counter-gift is not equivalent, the recipient
will be disappointed and angry, but he has no direct means of redress,
no means of coercing his partner, or of putting an end to the whole
transaction. What then are the forces at work which keep the partners
to the terms of the bargain? Here we come up against a very important
feature of the native's mental attitude towards wealth and value. The
great misconception of attributing to the savage a pure economic
nature, might lead us to reason incorrectly thus: "The passion of
acquiring, the loathing to lose or give away, is the fundamental and
most primitive element in man's attitude to wealth. In primitive man,
this primitive characteristic will appear in its simplest and purest
form. Grab and never let go will be the guiding principle of his
life." [39] The fundamental error in this reasoning is that it assumes
that "primitive man," as represented by the present-day savage, lives,
at least in economic matters, untrammelled by conventions and social
restrictions. Quite the reverse is the case. Although, like every
human being, the Kula native loves to possess and therefore desires
to acquire and dreads to lose, the social code of rules, with regard
to give and take by far overrides his natural acquisitive tendency.

This social code, such as we find it among the natives of the Kula is,
however, far from weakening the natural desirability of possession;
on the contrary, it lays down that to possess is to be great, and that
wealth is the indispensable appanage of social rank and attribute of
personal virtue. But the important point is that with them to possess
is to give--and here the natives differ from us notably. A man who
owns a thing is naturally expected to share it, to distribute it,
to be its trustee and dispenser. And the higher the rank the greater
the obligation. A chief will naturally be expected to give food to any
stranger, visitor, even loiterer from another end of the village. He
will be expected to share any of the betel-nut or tobacco he has
about him. So that a man of rank will have to hide away any surplus of
these articles which he wants to preserve for his further use. In the
Eastern end of New Guinea a type of large basket, with three layers,
manufactured in the Trobriands, was specially popular among people
of consequence, because one could hide away one's small treasures
in the lower compartments. Thus the main symptom of being powerful
is to be wealthy, and of wealth is to be generous. Meanness, indeed,
is the most despised vice, and the only thing about which the natives
have strong moral views, while generosity is the essence of goodness.

This moral injunction and ensuing habit of generosity, superficially
observed and misinterpreted, is responsible for another wide-spread
misconception, that of the Primitive communism of savages. This, quite
as much as the diametrically opposed figment of the acquisitive and
ruthlessly tenacious native, is definitely erroneous, and this will
be seen with sufficient clearness in the following chapters.

Thus the fundamental principle of the natives' moral code in
this matter makes a man do his fair share in Kula transaction and
the more important he is, the more will he desire to shine by his
generosity. Noblesse oblige is in reality the social norm regulating
their conduct. This does not mean that people are always satisfied,
and that there are no squabbles about the transactions, no resentments
and even feuds. It is obvious that, however much a man may want to
give a good equivalent for the object received, he may not be able to
do so. And then, as there is always a keen competition to be the most
generous giver, a man who has received less than he gave will not keep
his grievance to himself, but will brag about his own generosity and
compare it to his partner's meanness; the other resents it, and the
quarrel is ready to break out. But it is very important to realise
that there is no actual haggling, no tendency to do a man out of his
share. The giver is quite as keen as the receiver that the gift should
be generous, though for different reasons. Then, of course, there is
the important consideration that a man who is fair and generous in
the Kula will attract a larger stream to himself than a mean one.

The two main principles, namely, first that the Kula is a gift repaid
after an interval of time by a counter-gift, and not a bartering;
and second, that the equivalent rests with the giver, and cannot
be enforced, nor can there be any haggling or going back on the
exchange--these underlie all the transactions. A concrete outline of
how they are carried on, will give a sufficient preliminary idea.

"Let us suppose that I, a Sinaketa man, am in possession of a
pair of big armshells. An overseas expedition from Dobu in the
d'Entrecasteaux Archipelago, arrives at my village. Blowing a conch
shell, I take my armshell pair and I offer it to my overseas partner,
with some such words as 'This is a vaga (opening gift)--in due time,
thou returnest to me a big soulava (necklace) for it!' Next year,
when I visit my partner's village, he either is in possession of an
equivalent necklace, and this he gives to me as yotile (return gift),
or he has not a necklace good enough to repay my last gift. In this
case he will give me a small necklace--avowedly not equivalent to my
gift--and he will give it to me as basi (intermediary gift). This means
that the main gift has to be repaid on a future occasion, and the basi
is given in token of good faith--but it, in turn, must be repaid by me
in the meantime by a gift of small arm-shells. The final gift, which
will be given to me to clinch the whole transaction, would then be
called kudu (clinching gift) in contrast to basi" (loc. cit., p. 99).

Although haggling and bargaining are completely ruled out of the
Kula, there are customary and regulated ways of bidding for a piece
of vaygu'a known to be in the possession of one's partner. This is
done by the offer of what we shall call solicitary gifts, of which
there are several types. "If I, an inhabitant of Sinaketa, happen
to be in possession of a pair of arm-shells more than usually good,
the fame of it spreads, for it must be remembered that each one of
the first-class armshells and necklaces has a personal name and a
history of its own, and as they circulate around the big ring of
the Kula, they are all well known, and their appearance in a given
district always creates a sensation. Now, all my partners--whether
from overseas or from within the district--compete for the favour of
receiving this particular article of mine, and those who are specially
keen try to obtain it by giving me pokala (offerings) and kaributu
(solicitary gifts). The former (pokala) consist as a rule of pigs,
especially fine bananas, and yams or taro; the latter (kaributu)
are of greater value: the valuable, large axe-blades (called beku),
or lime spoons of whale bone are given" (loc. cit., p. 100). The
further complication in the repayment of these solicitary gifts and a
few more technicalities and technical expressions connected herewith
will be given later on in Chapter IV.


I have enumerated the main rules of the Kula in a manner sufficient
for a preliminary definition, and now a few words must be said about
the associated activities and secondary aspects of the Kula. If we
realise that at times the exchange has to take place between districts
divided by dangerous seas, over which a great number of people have to
travel by sail, and do so keeping to appointed dates, it becomes clear
at once that considerable preparations are necessary to carry out the
expedition. Many preliminary activities are intimately associated with
the Kula. Such are, particularly, the building of canoes, preparation
of the outfit, the provisioning of the expedition, the fixing of dates
and social organisation of the enterprise. All these are subsidiary
to the Kula, and as they are carried on in pursuit of it, and form one
connected series, a description of the Kula must embrace an account of
these preliminary activities. The detailed account of canoe building,
of the ceremonial attached to it, of the incidental magical rites,
of the launching and trial run, of the associated customs which aim
at preparing the outfit--all this will be described in detail in the
next few chapters.

Another important pursuit inextricably bound up with the Kula,
is that of the secondary trade. Voyaging to far-off countries,
endowed with natural resources unknown in their own homes, the Kula
sailors return each time richly laden with these, the spoils of
their enterprise. Again, in order to be able to offer presents to his
partner, every outward bound canoe carries a cargo of such things as
are known to be most desirable in the overseas district. Some of this
is given away in presents to the partners, but a good deal is carried
in order to pay for the objects desired at home. In certain cases,
the visiting natives exploit on their own account during the journey
some of the natural resources overseas. For example, the Sinaketans
dive for the spondylus in Sanaroa Lagoon, and the Dobuans fish in
the Trobriands on a beach on the southern end of the island. The
secondary trade is complicated still more by the fact that such big
Kula centres as, for instance, Sinaketa, are not efficient in any
of the industries of special value to the Dobuans. Thus, Sinaketans
have to procure the necessary store of goods from the inland villages
of Kuboma, and this they do on minor trading expeditions preliminary
to the Kula. Like the canoe-building, the secondary trading will be
described in detail later on, and has only to be mentioned here.

Here, however, these subsidiary and associated activities must be
put in proper relation with regard to one another and to the main
transaction. Both the canoe-building and the ordinary trade have
been spoken of as secondary or subsidiary to the Kula proper. This
requires a comment. I do not, by thus subordinating the two things
in importance to the Kula, mean to express a philosophical reflection
or a personal opinion as to the relative value of these pursuits from
the point of view of some social teleology. Indeed, it is clear that
if we look at the acts from the outside, as comparative sociologists,
and gauge their real utility, trade and canoe-building will appear
to us as the really important achievements, whereas we shall regard
the Kula only as an indirect stimulus, impelling the natives to sail
and to trade. Here, however, I am not dealing in sociological, but
in pure ethnographical description, and any sociological analysis I
have given is only what has been absolutely indispensable to clear
away misconceptions and to define terms. [40]

By ranging the Kula as the primary and chief activity, and the rest
as secondary ones, I mean that this precedence is implied in the
institutions themselves. By studying the behaviour of the natives and
all the customs in question, we see that the Kula is in all respects
the main aim: the dates are fixed, the preliminaries settled, the
expeditions arranged, the social organisation determined, not with
regard to trade, but with regard to Kula. On an expedition, the big
ceremonial feast, held at the start, refers to the Kula; the final
ceremony of reckoning and counting the spoil refers to Kula, not to
the objects of trade obtained. Finally, the magic, which is one of the
main factors of all the procedure, refers only to the Kula, and this
applies even to a part of the magic carried out over the canoe. Some
rites in the whole cycle are done for the sake of the canoe itself,
and others for the sake of Kula. The construction of the canoes is
always carried on directly in connection with a Kula expedition. All
this, of course, will become really clear and convincing only after
the detailed account is given. But it was necessary at this point to
set the right perspective in the relation between the main Kula and
the trade.

Of course not only many of the surrounding tribes who know nothing
of the Kula do build canoes and sail far and daringly on trading
expeditions, but even within the Kula ring, in the Trobriands for
instance, there are several villages who do not kula, yet have canoes
and carry on energetic overseas trade. But where the Kula is practised,
it governs all the other allied activities, and canoe building and
trade are made subsidiary to it. And this is expressed both by the
nature of the institutions and the working of all the arrangements
on the one hand, and by the behaviour and explicit statements of the
natives on the other.

The Kula--it becomes, I hope, more and more clear--is a big,
complicated institution, insignificant though its nucleus might
appear. To the natives, it represents one of the most vital interests
in life, and as such it has a ceremonial character and is surrounded by
magic. We can well imagine that articles of wealth might pass from hand
to hand without ceremony or ritual, but in the Kula they never do. Even
when at times only small parties in one or two canoes sail overseas
and bring back vaygu'a, certain taboos are observed, and a customary
course is taken in departing, in sailing, and in arriving; even the
smallest expedition in one canoe is a tribal event of some importance,
known and spoken of over the whole district. But the characteristic
expedition is one in which a considerable number of canoes take
part, organised in a certain manner, and forming one body. Feasts,
distributions of food, and other public ceremonies are held, there
is one leader and master of the expedition, and various rules are
adhered to, in addition to the ordinary Kula taboos and observances.

The ceremonial nature of the Kula is strictly bound up with another of
its aspects--magic. "The belief in the efficiency of magic dominates
the Kula, as it does ever so many other tribal activities of the
natives. Magical rites must be performed over the sea-going canoe when
it is built, in order to make it swift, steady and safe; also magic
is done over a canoe to make it lucky in the Kula. Another system of
magical rites is done in order to avert the dangers of sailing. The
third system of magic connected with overseas expeditions is the
mwasila or the Kula magic proper. This system consists in numerous
rites and spells, all of which act directly on the mind (nanola)
of one's partner, and make him soft, unsteady in mind, and eager to
give Kula gifts" (loc. cit., p. 100).

It is clear that an institution so closely associated with magical
and ceremonial elements, as is the Kula, not only rests on a firm,
traditional foundation, but also has its large store of legends. "There
is a rich mythology of the Kula, in which stories are told about
far-off times when mythical ancestors sailed on distant and daring
expeditions. Owing totheir magical knowledge they were able to escape
dangers, to conquer their enemies, to surmount obstacles, and by their
feats they established many a precedent which is now closely followed
by tribal custom. But their importance for their descendants lies
mainly in the fact that they handed on their magic, and this made
the Kula possible for the following generations" (loc. cit., p. 100).

The Kula is also associated in certain districts, to which the
Trobriands do not belong, with the mortuary feasts, called so'i. The
association is interesting and important, and in Chapter XX an account
of it will be given.

The big Kula expeditions are carried on by a great number of natives,
a whole district together. But the geographical limits, from which the
members of an expedition are recruited, are well defined. Glancing
at Map V, "we see a number of circles, each of which represents a
certain sociological unit which we shall call a Kula community. A
Kula community consists of a village or a number of villages, who go
out together on big overseas expeditions, and who act as a body in the
Kula transactions, perform their magic in common, have common leaders,
and have the same outer and inner social sphere, within which they
exchange their valuables. The Kula consists, therefore, first of the
small, internal transactions within a Kula community or contiguous
communities, and secondly, of the big over-seas expeditions in which
the exchange of articles takes place between two communities divided
by sea. In the first, there is a chronic, permanent trickling of
articles from one village to another, and even within the village. In
the second, a whole lot of valuables, amounting to over a thousand
articles at a time, are exchanged in one enormous transaction, or, more
correctly, in ever so many transactions taking place simultaneously"
(loc. cit., p. 101). "The Kula trade consists of a series of such
periodical overseas expeditions, which link together the various
island groups, and annually bring over big quantities of vaygu'a and
of subsidiary trade from one district to another. The trade is used
and used up, but the vaygu'a--the armshells and necklets--go round
and round the ring" (loc. cit., p. 105).

In this chapter, a short, summary definition of the Kula has been
given. I enumerated one after the other its most salient features,
the most remarkable rules as they are laid down in native custom,
belief and behaviour. This was necessary in order to give a general
idea of the institution before describing its working in detail. But no
abridged definition can give to the reader the full understanding of
a human social institution. It is necessary for this, to explain its
working concretely, to bring the reader into contact with the people,
show how they proceed at each successive stage, and to describe all
the actual manifestations of the general rules laid down in abstract.

As has been said above, the Kula exchange is carried on by enterprises
of two sorts; first there are the big overseas expeditions, in which
a more or less considerable amount of valuables are carried at one
time. Then there is the inland trade in which the articles are passed
from hand to hand, often changing several owners before they move a
few miles.

The big overseas expeditions are by far the more spectacular part
of the Kula. They also contain much more public ceremonial, magical
ritual, and customary usage. They require also, of course, more of
preparation and preliminary activity. I shall therefore have a good
deal more to say about the overseas Kula expeditions than about the
internal exchange.

As the Kula customs and beliefs have been mainly studied in Boyowa,
that is, the Trobriand Islands, and from the Boyowan point of view,
I shall describe, in the first place, the typical course of an
overseas expedition, as it is prepared, organised, and carried out
from the Trobriands. Beginning with the construction of the canoes,
proceeding to the ceremonial launching and the visits of formal
presentation of canoes, we shall choose then the community of Sinaketa,
and follow the natives on one of their overseas trips, describing it
in all details. This will serve us as a type of a Kula expedition to
distant lands. It will then be indicated in what particulars such
expeditions may differ in other branches of the Kula, and for this
purpose I shall describe an expedition from Dobu, and one between
Kiriwina and Kitava. An account of inland Kula in the Trobriands,
of some associated forms of trading and of Kula in the remaining
branches will complete the account.

In the next chapter I pass, therefore, to the preliminary stages of the
Kula, in the Trobriands, beginning with a description of the canoes.




A canoe is an item of material culture, and as such it can
be described, photographed and even bodily transported into a
museum. But--and this is a truth too often overlooked--the ethnographic
reality of the canoe would not be brought much nearer to a student
at home, even by placing a perfect specimen right before him.

The canoe is made for a certain use, and with a definite purpose;
it is a means to an end, and we, who study native life, must not
reverse this relation, and make a fetish of the object itself. In
the study of the economic purposes for which a canoe is made, of the
various uses to which it is submitted, we find the first approach to
a deeper ethnographic treatment. Further sociological data, referring
to its ownership, accounts of who sails in it, and how it is done;
information regarding the ceremonies and customs of its construction,
a sort of typical life history of a native craft--all that brings us
nearer still to the understanding of what his canoe truly means to
the native.

Even this, however, does not touch the most vital reality of a native
canoe. For a craft, whether of bark or wood, iron or steel, lives in
the life of its sailors, and it is more to a sailor than a mere bit
of shaped matter. To the native, not less than to the white seaman, a
craft is surrounded by an atmosphere of romance, built up of tradition
and of personal experience. It is an object of cult and admiration,
a living thing, possessing its own individuality.

We Europeans--whether we know native craft by experience or through
descriptions--accustomed to our extraordinarily developed means of
water transport, are apt to look down on a native canoe and see it
in a false perspective--regarding it almost as a child's plaything,
an abortive, imperfect attempt to tackle the problem of sailing,
which we ourselves have satisfactorily solved. [41] But to the native
his cumbersome, sprawling canoe is a marvellous, almost miraculous
achievement, and a thing of beauty (see Plates XXI, XXIII, XL,
XLVII, LV). He has spun a tradition around it, and he adorns it
with his best carvings, he colours and decorates it. It is to him
a powerful contrivance for the mastery of Nature, which allows him
to cross perilous seas to distant places. It is associated with
journeys by sail, full of threatening dangers, of living hopes and
desires to which he gives expression in song and story. In short, in
the tradition of the natives, in their customs, in their behaviour,
and in their direct statements, there can be found the deep love,
the admiration, the specific attachment as to something alive and
personal, so characteristic of the sailors' attitude towards his craft.

And it is in this emotional attitude of the natives towards their
canoes that I see the deepest ethnographic reality, which must
guide us right through the study of other aspects--the customs and
technicalities of construction and of use; the economic conditions
and the associated beliefs and traditions. Ethnology or Anthropology,
the science of Man, must not shun him in his innermost self, in his
instinctive and emotional life.

A look at the pictures (for instance Plates XXI, XXIV, XXXIX, or XLVII)
will give us some idea of the general structure of the native canoes:
the body is a long, deep well, connected with an outrigger float,
which stretches parallel with the body for almost all its length
(see Plates XXI and XXIII), and with a platform going across from
one side to the other. The lightness of the material permits it to
be much more deeply immersed than any sea-going European craft, and
gives it greater buoyancy. It skims the surface, gliding up and down
the waves, now hidden by the crests, now riding on top of them. It
is a precarious but delightful sensation to sit in the slender body,
while the canoe darts on with the float raised, the platform steeply
slanting, and water constantly breaking over; or else, still better, to
perch on the platform or on the float--the latter only feasible in the
bigger canoes--and be carried across on the sea on a sort of suspended
raft, gliding over the waves in a manner almost uncanny. Occasionally
a wave leaps up and above the platform, and the canoe--unwieldy,
square raft as it seems at first--heaves lengthways and crossways,
mounting the furrows with graceful agility. When the sail is hoisted,
its heavy, stiff folds of golden matting unroll with a characteristic
swishing and crackling noise, and the canoe begins to make way; when
the water rushes away below with a hiss, and the yellow sail glows
against the intense blue of sea and sky--then indeed the romance of
sailing seems to open through a new vista.

The natural reflection on this description is that it presents the
feelings of the Ethnographer, not those of the native. Indeed there
is a great difficulty in disentangling our own sensations from a
correct reading of the innermost native mind. But if an investigator,
speaking the native's language and living among them for some time,
were to try to share and understand their feelings, he will find
that he can gauge them correctly. Soon he will learn to distinguish
when the native's behaviour is in harmony with his own, and when,
as it sometimes happens, the two are at variance.

Thus, in this case, there is no mistaking the natives' great admiration
of a good canoe; of their quickness in appreciating differences in
speed, buoyancy and stability, and of their emotional reaction to
such difference. When, on a calm day, suddenly a fresh breeze rises,
the sail is set, and fills, and the canoe lifts its lamina (outrigger
float) out of the water, and races along, flinging the spray to right
and left--there is no mistaking the keen enjoyment of the natives. All
rush to their posts and keenly watch the movements of the boat; some
break out into song, and the younger men lean over and play with the
water. They are never tired of discussing the good points of their
canoes, and analysing the various craft. In the coastal villages of
the Lagoon, boys and young men will often sail out in small canoes
on mere pleasure cruises, when they race each other, explore less
familiar nooks of the Lagoon, and in general undoubtedly enjoy the
outing, in just the same manner as we would do.

Seen from outside, after you have grasped its construction and
appreciated through personal experience its fitness for its purpose,
the canoe is no less attractive and full of character than from
within. When, on a trading expedition or as a visiting party, a fleet
of native canoes appears in the offing, with their triangular sails
like butterfly wings scattered over the water (see Plate XLVIII),
with the harmonious calls of conch shells blown in unison, the effect
is unforgettable. [42] When the canoes then approach, and you see
them rocking in the blue water in all the splendour of their fresh
white, red, and black paint, with their finely designed prow-boards,
and clanking array of large, white cowrie shells (see Plates XLIX,
LV)--you understand well the admiring love which results in all this
care bestowed by the native on the decoration of his canoe.

Even when not in actual use, when lying idle beached on the sea front
of a village, the canoe is a characteristic element in the scenery,
not without its share in the village life. The very big canoes are in
some cases housed in large sheds (see Plate XXII), which are by far
the largest buildings erected by the Trobrianders. In other villages,
where sailing is always being done, a canoe is simply covered with
palm leaves (see Plates I, LIII), as protection from the sun, and the
natives often sit on its platform, chatting, and chewing betel-nut, and
gazing at the sea. The smaller canoes, beached near the sea-front in
long parallel rows, are ready to be launched at any moment. With their
curved outline and intricate framework of poles and sticks, they form
one of the most characteristic settings of a native coastal village.


A few words must be said now about the technological essentials of
the canoe. Here again, a simple enumeration of the various parts
of the canoe, and a description of them, a pulling to pieces of a
lifeless object will not satisfy us. I shall instead try to show how,
given its purpose on the one hand, and the limitations in technical
means and in material on the other, the native ship-builders have
coped with the difficulties before them.

A sailing craft requires a water-tight, immersible vessel of some
considerable volume. This is supplied to our natives by a hollowed-out
log. Such a log might carry fairly heavy loads, for wood is light,
and the hollowed space adds to its buoyancy. Yet it possesses no
lateral stability, as can easily be seen. A look at the diagrammatic
section of a canoe Fig. I (1), shows that a weight with its centre of
gravity in the middle, that is, distributed symmetrically, will not
upset the equilibrium, but any load placed so as to produce a momentum
of rotation (that is, a turning force) at the sides (as indicated by
arrows at A or B) will cause the canoe to turn round and capsize.

If, however, as shown in Fig. I (2), another smaller, solid log (C)
be attached to the dug-out, a greater stability is achieved, though
not a symmetrical one. If we press down the one side of the canoe
(A) this will cause the canoe to turn round a longitudinal axis,
so that its other side (B) is raised, Fig. I (3). The log (C) will
be lifted out of the water, and its weight will produce a momentum
(turning force) proportional to the displacement, and the rest of the
canoe will come to equilibrium. This momentum is represented in the
diagram by the arrow R. Thus a great stability relative to any stress
exercised upon A, will be achieved. A stress on B causes the log to
be immersed, to which its buoyancy opposes a slight resistance. But
it can easily be seen that the stability on this side is much smaller
than on the other. This asymmetrical [43] stability plays a great
part in the technique of sailing. Thus, as we shall see, the canoe
is always so sailed that its outrigger float (C) remains in the wind
side. The pressure of the sail then lifts the canoe, so that A is
pressed into the water, and B and C are lifted, a position in which
they are extremely stable, and can stand great force of wind. Whereas
the slightest breeze would cause the canoe to turn turtle, if it fell
on the other side, and thus pressed B--C into the water.

Another look at Fig. I (2) and (3) will help us to realise that the
stability of the canoe will depend upon (i) the volume, and especially
the depth of the dug-out; (ii) the distance B--C between the dug-out
and the log; (iii) the size of the log C. The greater all these three
magnitudes are, the greater the stability of the canoes. A shallow
canoe, without much freeboard, will be easily forced into the water;
moreover, if sailed in rough weather, waves will break over it,
and fill it with water.

(i) The volume of the dug-out log naturally depends upon the length,
and thickness of the log. Fairly stable canoes are made of simply
scooped-out logs. There are limits, however, to the capacity of these,
which are very soon reached. But by building out the side, by adding
one or several planks to them, as shown in Figure I (4) the volume and
the depth can be greatly increased without much increase in weight. So
that such a canoe has a good deal of freeboard to prevent water from
breaking in. The longitudinal boards in Kiriwinian canoes are closed
in at each end by transversal prow-boards, which are also carved with
more or less perfection (see Plates XXIV c, XLVII).

(ii) The greater the distance B--C between dug-out and outrigger float,
the greater the stability of the canoe. Since the momentum of rotation
is the product of B--C (Fig. I), and the weight of the log C, it is
clear, therefore, that the greater the distance, the greater will be
the momentum. Too great a distance, however, would interfere with the
wieldiness of the canoe. Any force acting on the log would easily
tip the canoe, and as the natives, in order to manage the craft,
have to walk upon the outrigger, the distance B--C must not be too
great. In the Trobriands the distance B--C is about one-quarter, or
less, of the total length of the canoe. In the big, sea-going canoes,
it is always covered with a platform. In certain other districts, the
distance is much bigger, and the canoes have another type of rigging.

(iii) The size of the log (C) of which the float is formed. This,
in sea-going canoes, is usually of considerable dimensions. But, as
a solid piece of wood becomes heavy if soaked by water, too thick a
log would not be good.

These are all the essentials of construction in their functional
aspect, which will make clear further descriptions of sailing,
of building, and of using. For, indeed, though I have said that
technicalities are of secondary importance, still without grasping
them, we cannot understand references to the managing and rigging of
the canoes.

The Trobrianders use their craft for three main purposes, and
these correspond to the three types of canoe. Coastal transport,
especially in the Lagoon, requires small, light, handy canoes called
kewo'u (see Fig. II (1), and Plates XXIV, top foreground, and XXXVI,
to the right); for fishing, bigger and more seaworthy canoes called
kalipoulo (see Fig. II (2), and Plates XXIV, and XXXVI, to the left,
also XXXVII) are used; finally, for deep sea sailing, the biggest type
is needed, with a considerable carrying capacity, greater displacement,
and stronger construction. These are called masawa (see Fig. II (3)
and Plates XXI, XXIII, etc.). The word waga is a general designation
for all kinds of sailing craft.

Only a few words need to be said about the first two types, so as to
make, by means of comparison, the third type clearer. The construction
of the smallest canoes is sufficiently illustrated by the diagram (1)
in Fig. II. From this it is clear that it is a simple dug-out log,
connected with a float. It never has any built-up planking, and no
carved boards, nor as a rule any platform. In its economic aspect, it
is always owned by one individual, and serves his personal needs. No
mythology or magic is attached to it.

Type (2), as can be seen in Fig. II (2), differs in construction from
(1), in so far that it has its well enclosed by built-out planking and
carved prow-boards. A framework of six ribs helps to keep the planks
firmly attached to the dug-out and to hold them together. It is used in
fishing villages. These villages are organised into several fishing
detachments, each with a headman. He is the owner of the canoe,
he performs the fish magic, and among other privileges, obtains
the main yield of fish. But all his crew de facto have the right to
use the canoe and share in the yield. Here we come across the fact
that native ownership is not a simple institution, since it implies
definite rights of a number of men, combined with the paramount right
and title of one. There is a good deal of fishing magic, taboos and
customs connected with the construction of these canoes, and also
with their use, and they form the subject of a number of minor myths.

By far the most elaborate technically, the most seaworthy and
carefully built, are the sea-going canoes of the third type (see
Fig. II (3)). These are undoubtedly the greatest achievement of
craftsmanship of these natives. Technically, they differ from
the previously described kinds, in the amount of time spent over
their construction and the care given to details, rather than in
essentials. The well is formed by a planking built over a hollowed
log and closed up at both ends by carved, transversal prow-boards,
kept in position by others, longitudinal and of oval form. The whole
planking remains in place by means of ribs, as in the second type
of canoes, the kalipoulo, the fishing canoes, but all the parts are
finished and fitted much more perfectly, lashed with a better creeper,
and more thoroughly caulked. The carving, which in the fishing canoes
is often quite indifferent, here is perfect. Ownership of these canoes
is even more complex, and its construction is permeated with tribal
customs, ceremonial, and magic, the last based on mythology. The
magic is always performed in direct association with Kula expeditions.


After having thus spoken about, first, the general impression made by
a canoe and its psychological import, and then about the fundamental
features of its technology, we have to turn to the social implications
of a masawa (sea-going canoe).

The canoe is constructed by a group of people, it is owned, used and
enjoyed communally, and this is done according to definite rules. There
is therefore a social organisation underlying the building, the
owning, and the sailing of a canoe. Under these three headings, we
shall give an outline of the canoe's sociology, always bearing in mind
that these outlines have to be filled in in the subsequent account.

(A) Social organisation of labour in constructing a Canoe.

In studying the construction of a canoe, we see the natives engaged
in an economic enterprise on a big scale. Technical difficulties
face them, which require knowledge, and can only be overcome by
a continuous, systematic effort, and at certain stages must be
met by means of communal labour. All this obviously implies some
social organisation. All the stages of work, at which various people
have to co-operate, must be co-ordinated, there must be someone in
authority who takes the initiative and gives decisions; and there
must be also someone with a technical capacity, who directs the
construction. Finally, in Kiriwina, communal labour, and the services
of experts have to be paid for, and there must be someone who has
the means and is prepared to do it. [44] This economic organisation
rests on two fundamental facts--(1) the sociological differentiation
of functions, and (2) the magical regulation of work.

(1) The sociological differentiation of functions.--First of all there
is the owner of the canoe, that is, the chief, or the headman of a
village or of a smaller sub-division, who takes the responsibility
for the undertaking. He pays for the work, engages the expert, gives
orders, and commands communal labour.

Besides the owner, there is next another office of great sociological
importance, namely, that of the expert. He is the man who knows how
to construct the canoe, how to do the carvings, and, last, not least,
how to perform the magic. All these functions of the expert may be,
but not necessarily are, united in one person. The owner is always
one individual, but there may be two or even three experts.

Finally, the third sociological factor in canoe-building, consists
of the workers. And here there is a further division. First there
is a smaller group, consisting of the relations and close friends of
the owner or of the expert, who help throughout the whole process of
construction; and, secondly, there is, besides them, the main body of
villagers, who take part in the work at those stages where communal
labour is necessary.

(2) The magical regulation of work.--The belief in the efficiency of
magic is supreme among the natives of Boyowa, and they associate it
with all their vital concerns. In fact, we shall find magic interwoven
into all the many industrial and communal activities to be described
later on, as well as associated with every pursuit where either danger
or chance conspicuously enter. We shall have to describe, besides the
magic of canoe-making, that of propitious sailing, of shipwreck and
salvage, of Kula and of trade, of fishing, of obtaining spondylus and
Conus shell, and of protection against attack in foreign parts. It
is imperative that we should thoroughly grasp what magic means
to the natives and the rôle it plays in all their vital pursuits,
and a special chapter will be devoted to magical ideas and magical
practices in Kiriwina. Here, however, it is necessary to sketch the
main outlines, at least as far as canoe magic is concerned.

First of all, it must be realised that the natives firmly believe
in the value of magic, and that this conviction, when put to the
test of their actions, is quite unwavering, even nowadays when so
much of native belief and custom has been undermined. We may speak
of the sociological weight of tradition, that is of the degree to
which the behaviour of a community is affected by the traditional
commands of tribal law and customs. In the Trobriands, the general
injunction for always building canoes under the guidance of magic is
obeyed without the slightest deviation, for the tradition here weighs
very heavily. Up to the present, not one single masawa canoe has been
constructed without magic, indeed without the full observance of all
the rites and ceremonial. The forces that keep the natives to their
traditional course of behaviour are, in the first place, the specific
social inertia which obtains in all human societies and is the basis
of all conservative tendencies, and then the strong conviction that
if the traditional course were not taken, evil results would ensue. In
the case of canoes, the Trobrianders would be so firmly persuaded that
a canoe built without magic would be unseaworthy, slow in sailing,
and unlucky in the Kula, that no one would dream of omitting the
magic rites.

In the myths related elsewhere (Chap. XII) we shall see plainly the
power ascribed to magic in imparting speed and other qualities to a
canoe. According to native mythology, which is literally accepted,
and strongly believed, canoes could be even made to fly, had not the
necessary magic fallen into oblivion.

It is also important to understand rightly the natives' ideas
about the relation between magical efficiency and the results
of craftsmanship. Both are considered indispensable, but both
are understood to act independently. That is, the natives will
understand that magic, however efficient, will not make up for bad
workmanship. Each of these two has its own province: the builder
by his skill and knowledge makes the canoe stable and swift, and
magic gives it an additional stability and swiftness. If a canoe
is obviously badly built, the natives will know why it sails slowly
and is unwieldy. But if one of two canoes, both apparently equally
well constructed surpasses the other in some respect, this will be
attributed to magic.

Finally, speaking from a sociological point of view, what is the
economic function of magic in the process of canoe making? Is it
simply an extraneous action, having nothing to do with the real work
or its organisation? Is magic, from the economic point of view, a mere
waste of time? By no means. In reading the account which follows,
it will be seen clearly that magic puts order and sequence into
the various activities, and that it and its associated ceremonial
are instrumental in securing the co-operation of the community,
and the organisation of communal labour. As has been said before, it
inspires the builders with great confidence in the efficiency of their
work, a mental state essential in any enterprise of complicated and
difficult character. The belief that the magician is a man endowed
with special powers, controlling the canoe, makes him a natural
leader whose command is obeyed, who can fix dates, apportion work,
and keep the worker up to the mark.

Magic, far from being a useless appendage, or even a burden on
the work, supplies the psychological influence, which keeps people
confident about the success of their labour, and provides them with
a sort of natural leader. [45] Thus the organisation of labour in
canoe-building rests on the one hand on the division of functions,
those of the owner, the expert and the helpers, and on the other on
the co-operation between labour and magic.


(B) Sociology of Canoe Ownership.

Ownership, giving this word its broadest sense, is the relation,
often very complex, between an object and the social community in
which it is found. In ethnology it is extremely important not to
use this word in any narrower sense than that just defined, because
the types of ownership found in various parts of the world differ
widely. It is especially a grave error to use the word ownership with
the very definite connotation given to it in our own society. For
it is obvious that this connotation presupposes the existence of
very highly developed economic and legal conditions, such as they
are amongst ourselves, and therefore the term "own" as we use it is
meaningless, when applied to a native society. Or indeed, what is
worse, such an application smuggles a number of preconceived ideas
into our description, and before we have begun to give an account of
the native conditions, we have distorted the reader's outlook.

Ownership has naturally in every type of native society, a different
specific meaning, as in each type, custom and tradition attach a
different set of functions, rites and privileges to the word. Moreover,
the social range of those who enjoy these privileges varies. Between
pure individual ownership and collectivism, there is a whole scale
of intermediate blendings and combinations.

In the Trobriands, there is a word which may be said approximately to
denote ownership, the prefix toli--followed by the name of the object
owned. Thus the compound word (pronounced without hiatus) toli-waga,
means "owner" or "master" of a canoe (waga); toli-bagula, the master of
the garden (bagula--garden); toli-bunukwa, owner of the pig; toli-megwa
(owner, expert in magic, etc.) This word has to be used as a clue to
the understanding of native ideas, but here again such a clue must
be used with caution. For, in the first place, like all abstract
native words, it covers a wide range, and has different meanings
in different contexts. And even with regard to one object, a number
of people may lay claim to ownership, claim to be toli--with regard
to it. In the second place, people having the full de facto right of
using an object, might not be allowed to call themselves toli--of this
object. This will be made clear in the concrete example of the canoe.

The word toli--in this example is restricted to one man only, who calls
himself toli-waga. Sometimes his nearest maternal relatives, such as
his brothers and maternal nephews, might call themselves collectively
toli-waga, but this would be an abuse of the term. Now, even the mere
privilege of using exclusively this title is very highly valued by
the natives. With this feature of the Trobriand social psychology,
that is with their characteristic ambition, vanity and desire to be
renowned and well spoken of, the reader of the following pages will
become very familiar. The natives, to whom the Kula and the sailing
expeditions are so important, will associate the name of the canoe
with that of its toli; they will identify his magical powers and
its good luck in sailing and in the Kula; they will often speak of
So-and-so's sailing here and there, of his being very fast in sailing,
etc., using in this the man's name for that of the canoe.

Turning now to the detailed determination of this relationship, the
most important point about it is that it always rests in the person
of the chief or headman. As we have seen in our short account of the
Trobrianders' sociology, the village community is always subject to
the authority of one chief or headman. Each one of these, whether his
authority extends over a small sectional village, or over a whole
district, has the means of accumulating a certain amount of garden
produce, considerable in the case of a chief, relatively small in
that of a headman, but always sufficient to defray the extra expenses
incidental to all communal enterprise. He also owns native wealth
condensed into the form of the objects of value called vaygu'a. Again,
a headman will have little, a big chief a large amount. But everyone
who is not a mere nobody, must possess at least a few stone blades,
a few kaloma belts, and some kuwa (small necklets). Thus in all types
of tribal enterprises, the chief or headman is able to bear the burden
of expense, and he also derives the main benefit from the affair. In
the case of the canoe, the chief, as we saw, acts as main organiser
in the construction, and he also enjoys the title of toli.

This strong economic position runs side by side with his direct
power, due to high rank, or traditional authority. In the case of
a small headman, it is due to the fact that he is at the head of a
big kinship group (the totemic sub-clan). Both combined, allow him
to command labour and to reward for it.

This title of toliwaga, besides the general social distinction which
it confers, implies further a definite series of social functions
with regard to its individual bearer.

(1) There are first the formal and ceremonial privileges. Thus, the
toliwaga has the privilege of acting as spokesman of his community
in all matters of sailing or construction. He assembles the council,
informal or formal as the case may be, and opens the question of
when the sailing will take place. This right of initiative is purely
a nominal one, because both in construction and sailing, the date
of enterprise is determined by outward causes, such as reciprocity
to overseas tribes, seasons, customs, etc. Nevertheless, the formal
privilege is strictly confined to the toliwaga, and highly valued. The
position of master and leader of ceremonies, of general spokesman,
lasts right through the successive stages of the building of the
canoe, and its subsequent use, and we shall meet with it in all the
ceremonial phases of the Kula.

(2) The economic uses and advantages derived from a canoe are not
limited to the toliwaga. He, however, gets the lion's share. He has,
of course, in all circumstances, the privilege of absolute priority
in being included in the party. He also receives always by far the
greatest proportion of Kula valuables, and other articles on every
occasion. This, however, is in virtue of his general position as chief
or headman, and should perhaps not be included under this heading. But
a very definite and strictly individual advantage is that of being
able to dispose of the canoe for hire, and of receiving the payment
for it. The canoe can be, and often is, hired out from a headman,
who at a given season has no intention of sailing, by another one,
as a rule from a different district, who embarks on an expedition. The
reason of this is, that the chief or headman who borrows, may at that
time not be able to have his own canoe repaired, or construct another
new one. The payment for hire is called toguna, and it consists of
a vaygu'a. Besides this, the best vaygu'a obtained on the expedition
would be kula'd to the man from whom the canoe was hired. [46]

(3) The toliwaga has definite social privileges, and exercises definite
functions, in the running of a canoe. Thus, he selects his companions,
who will sail in his canoe, and has the nominal right to choose or
reject those who may go on the expedition with him. Here again the
privilege is much shorn of its value by many restrictions imposed on
the chief by the nature of things. Thus, on the one hand, his veyola
(maternal kinsmen) have, according to all native ideas of right and
law, a strong claim on the canoe. Again, a man of rank in a community
could be excluded from an expedition only with difficulty, if he
wished to go and there were no special grievance against him. But if
there were such a cause, if the man had offended the chief, and were
on bad terms with him, he himself would not even try to embark. There
are actual examples of this on record. Another class of people having
a de facto right to sail are the sailing experts. In the coastal
villages like Sinaketa there are many of these; in inland ones,
like Omarakana, there are few. So in one of these inland places,
there are men who always go in a canoe, whenever it is used; who
have even a good deal to say in all matters connected with sailing,
yet who would never dare to use the title of toliwaga, and would
even definitely disclaim it if it were given to them. To sum up:
the chief's privilege of choice is limited by two conditions, the
rank and the seamanship of those he may select. As we have seen,
he fulfils definite functions in the construction of the canoe. We
shall see later on that he has also definite functions in sailing.

(4) A special feature, implied in the title of toliwaga, is the
performance of magical duties. It will be made clear that magic during
the process of construction is done by the expert, but magic done in
connection with sailing and Kula is done by the toliwaga. The latter
must, by definition, know canoe magic. The rôle of magic in this,
and the taboos, ceremonial activities, and special customs associated
with it, will come out clearly in the consecutive account of a Kula


(C) The Social Division of Functions in the Manning and Sailing of
the Canoe.

Very little is to be said under this heading here, since to understand
this we must know more about the technicalities of sailing. We shall
deal with this subject later on (Chap. IX, Div. II), and there
the social organisation within the canoe--such as it is--will be
indicated. Here it may be said that a number of men have definite
tasks assigned to them, and they keep to these. As a rule a man will
specialise, let us say, as steersman, and will always have the rudder
given to his care. Captainship, carrying with it definite duties,
powers and responsibilities, as a position distinct from that of the
toliwaga, does not exist. The owner of the canoe will always take the
lead and give orders, provided that he is a good sailor. Otherwise the
best sailor from the crew will say what is to be done when difficulties
or dangers arise. As a rule, however, everyone knows his task, and
everyone performs it in the normal course of events.

A short outline of the concrete details referring to the distribution
of canoes in the Trobriands must be given here. A glance at the map of
Boyowa shows that various districts have not the same opportunities
for sailing, and not all of them direct access to the sea. Moreover,
the fishing villages on the Lagoon, where fishing and sailing have
constantly to be done, will naturally have more opportunities for
cultivating the arts of sailing and ship-building. And indeed we find
that the villages of the two inland districts, Tilataula and Kuboma,
know nothing about ship-building and sailing, and possess no canoes;
the villages in Kiriwina and Luba, on the east coast, with indirect
access to the sea, have only one canoe each, and few building experts;
while some villagers on the Lagoon are good sailors and excellent
builders. The best centres for canoe-building are found in the islands
of Vakuta and Kayleula and to a lesser degree this craft flourishes
in the village of Sinaketa. The island of Kitava is the traditional
building centre, and at present the finest canoes as well as the best
canoe carvings come from there. In this description of canoes, this
island, which really belongs to the Eastern rather than to the Western
branch of the N. Massim, must be included in the account, since all
Boyowan canoe mythology and canoe industry is associated with Kitava.

There are at present some sixty-four Masawa canoes in the Trobriands
and Kitava. Out of these, some four belong to the Northern district,
where Kula is not practised; all the rest are built and used for the
Kula. In the foregoing chapters I have spoken about "Kula communities,"
that is, such groups of villages as carry on the Kula as a whole,
sail together on overseas expeditions, and do their internal Kula
with one another. We shall group the canoes according to the Kula
community to which they belong.

            Kiriwina                         8 canoes.
            Luba                             3   ,,
            Sinaketa                         8   ,,
            Vakuta                          22   ,,
            Kayleula               about    20   ,,
            Kitava                 about    12   ,,
            Total for all Kula communities  60 canoes.

To this number, the canoes of the Northern district must be added,
but they are never used in the Kula. In olden days, this figure was,
on a rough estimate, more than double of what it is now, because,
first of all, there are some villages which had canoes in the old
days and now have none, and then the number of villages which became
extinct a few generations ago is considerable. About half a century
ago, there were in Vakuta alone about sixty canoes, in Sinaketa
at least twenty, in Kitava thirty, in Kiriwina twenty, and in Luba
ten. When all the canoes from Sinaketa and Vakuta sailed south, and
some twenty to thirty more joined them from the Amphletts and Tewara,
quite a stately fleet would approach Dobu.

Turning now to the list of ownership in Kiriwina, the most important
canoe is, of course, that owned by the chief of Omarakana. This
canoe always leads the fleet; that is to say, on big ceremonial Kula
sailings, called uvalaku, it has the privileged position. It lives
in a big shed on the beach of Kaulukuba (see Plates XXII, XXX),
distant about one mile from the village, the beach on which also
each new canoe is made. The present canoe (see Plates XXI and XLI)
is called Nigada Bu'a--"begging for an areca-nut." Every canoe has a
personal name of its own, sometimes just an appropriate expression,
like the one quoted, sometimes derived from some special incident. When
a new canoe is built, it often inherits the name of its predecessor,
but sometimes it gets a new name. The present Omarakana canoe was
constructed by a master-builder from Kitava, who also carved the
ornamental prow-board. There is no one now in Omarakana who can
build or carve properly. The magic over the latter stages ought to
have been recited by the present chief, To'uluwa, but as he has very
little capacity for remembering spells, the magic was performed by
one of his kinsmen.

All the other canoes of Kiriwina are also housed in hangars, each
on a beach of clean, white sand on the Eastern coast. The chief or
headman of each village is the toliwaga. In Kasana'i, the sub-village
of Omarakana, the canoe, called in feigned modesty tokwabu (something
like "landlubber"), was built by Ibena, a chief of equal rank, but
smaller power than To'uluwa, and he is also the toliwaga. Some other
characteristic names of the canoes are:--Kuyamataym'--"Take care of
yourself," that is, "because I shall get ahead of you"; the canoe
of Liluta, called Siya'i, which is the name of a Government station,
where some people from Liluta were once imprisoned; Topusa--a flying
fish; Yagwa'u--a scarecrow; Akamta'u--"I shall eat men," because the
canoe was a gift from the cannibals of Dobu.

In the district of Luba there are at present only three canoes; one
belongs to the chief of highest rank in the village of Olivilevi. This
is the biggest canoe in all the Trobriands. Two are in the village
of Wawela, and belong to two headmen, each ruling over a section of
the village; one of them is seen being relashed on Plate XXVII.

The big settlement of Sinaketa, consisting of sectional villages,
has also canoes. There are about four expert builders and carvers,
and almost every man there knows a good deal about construction. In
Vakuta the experts are even more numerous, and this is also the case
in Kayleula and Kitava.




The building of the sea-going canoe (masawa) is inextricably bound
up with the general proceedings of the Kula. As we have said before,
in all villages where Kula is practised the masawa canoes are built
and repaired only in direct connection with it. That is, as soon as
a Kula expedition is decided upon, and its date fixed, all the canoes
of the village must be overhauled, and those too old for repair must
be replaced by new ones. As the overhauling differs only slightly
from building in the later, ceremonial stages of the procedure,
the account in this chapter covers both.

To the native, the construction of the canoe is the first link in
the chain of the Kula performances. From the moment that the tree is
felled till the return of the oversea party, there is one continuous
flow of events, following in regular succession. Not only that:
as we shall see, the technicalities of construction are interrupted
and punctuated by magical rites. Some of these refer to the canoe,
others belong to the Kula. Thus, canoe-building and the first stage
of Kula dovetail into one another. Again, the launching of the canoe,
and especially the kabigidoya (the formal presentation visit) are
in one respect the final acts of canoe-building, and in another
they belong to the Kula. In giving the account of canoe-building,
therefore, we start on the long sequence of events which form a Kula
expedition. No account of the Kula could be considered complete in
which canoe-building had been omitted.

In this chapter, the incidents will be related one after the other
as they happen in the normal routine of tribal life, obeying the
commands of custom, and the indications of belief, the latter acting
more rigidly and strongly even than the former. It will be necessary,
in following this consecutive account, to keep in mind the definite,
sociological mechanism underlying the activities, and the system of
ideas at work in regulating labour and magic. The social organisation
has been described in the previous chapter. We shall remember that
the owner, the expert or experts, a small group of helpers, and
the whole community are the social factors, each of which fulfils a
different function in the organisation and performance of work. As
to the magical ideas which govern the various rites, they will be
analysed later on in the course of this and some of the following
chapters, and also in Chapter XVII. Here it must suffice to say that
they belong to several different systems of ideas. The one based on
the myth of the flying canoe refers directly to the canoe; it aims
at imparting a general excellence, and more especially the quality of
speed to the canoe. The rites of the other type are really exorcisms
directed against evil bewitchment (bulubwalata) of which the natives
are much afraid. The third system of magic (performed during canoe
construction) is the Kula magic, based on its own mythological cycle,
and although performed on the canoe, yet aiming at the imparting of
success to the toliwaga in his Kula transactions. Finally, at the
beginnings of the proceedings there is some magic addressed to the
tokway, the malignant wood-sprite.

The construction of the canoe is done in two main stages, differing
from one another in the character of the work, in the accompanying
magic, and in the general sociological setting. In the first stage,
the component parts of the canoe are prepared. A big tree is cut,
trimmed into a log, then hollowed out and made into the basic dug-out;
the planks, boards, poles, and sticks are prepared. This is achieved
by slow, leisurely work, and it is done by the canoe-builder with
the assistance of a few helpers, usually his relatives or friends
or else those of the toliwaga. This stage generally takes a long
time, some two to six months, and is done in fits and starts, as
other occupations allow, or the mood comes. The spells and rites
which accompany it belong to the tokway magic, and to that of the
flying canoe cycle. To this first stage also belongs the carving of
the decorative prow-boards. This is done sometimes by the builder,
sometimes by another expert, if the builder cannot carve.

The second stage is done by means of intense communal labour. As a
rule this stage is spread over a short time, only perhaps a week or
two--including the pauses between work. The actual labour, in which
the whole community is energetically engaged, takes up only some three
to five days. The work consists of the piecing together of the planks
and prow-boards, and, in case these do not fit well, of trimming them
appropriately, and then of the lashing them together. Next comes the
piecing and lashing of the outrigger, caulking and painting of the
canoe. Sail-making is also done at this time, and belongs to this
stage. As a rule, the main body of the canoe is constructed at one
sitting, lasting about a day; that is, the prow-boards are put in,
the ribs and planks fitted together, trimmed and lashed. Another day
is devoted to the attaching of the float and binding of the outrigger
frame and the platform. Caulking and painting are done at another
sitting, or perhaps at two more, while the sail is made on yet another
day. These times are only approximate, since the size of the canoe,
as well as the number of people participating in communal labour,
greatly varies. The second stage of canoe-building is accompanied
by Kula magic, and by a series of exorcisms on the canoe, and the
magic is performed by the owner of the canoe, and not by the builder
or expert. This latter, however, directs the technicalities of the
proceedings, in which he is assisted and advised by builders from
other villages; by sailing experts, and by the toliwaga and other
notables. The lashing of the canoe with a specially strong creeper,
called wayugo, is accompanied by perhaps the most important of the
rites and spells belonging to the flying canoe magic.


After the decision to build a waga has been taken, a tree suitable
for the main log has to be chosen. This, in the Trobriands, is not a
very easy task. As the whole plain is taken up by garden land, only
the small patches of fertile soil in the coral ridge which runs all
round the island, remain covered with jungle. There the tree must be
found, there felled, and thence transported to the village.

Once the tree is chosen, the toliwaga, the builder and a few helpers
repair to the spot, and a preliminary rite must be performed, before
they begin to cut it down. A small incision is made into the trunk,
so that a particle of food, or a bit of areca-nut can be put into
it. Giving this as an offering to the tokway (wood-sprite), the
magician utters an incantation:--

                          VABUSI TOKWAY SPELL.

    "Come down, O wood-sprites, O Tokway, dwellers in branches, come
    down! Come down, dwellers in branch forks, in branch shoots! Come
    down, come, eat! Go to your coral outcrop over there; crowd there,
    swarm there, be noisy there, scream there!

    "Step down from our tree, old men! This is a canoe ill spoken of;
    this is a canoe out of which you have been shamed; this is a canoe
    out of which you have been expelled! At sunrise and morning, you
    help us in felling the canoe; this our tree, old men, let it go
    and fall down!"

This spell, given in free translation, which, however, follows the
original very closely, word for word, is far clearer than the average
sample of Trobriand magic. In the first part, the tokway is invoked
under various names, and invited to leave his abode, and to move to
some other place, and there to be at his ease. In the second part,
the canoe is mentioned with several epithets, all of which denote an
act of discourtesy or ill-omen. This is obviously done to compel the
tokway to leave the tree. In Boyowa, the yoba, the chasing away, is
under circumstances a great insult, and at times it commands immediate
compliance. This is always the case when the chaser belongs to the
local sub-clan of a village, and the person expelled does not. But the
yoba is always an act of considerable consequence, never used lightly,
and in this spell, it carries these sociological associations with
it. In the usual anticipatory way, characteristic of native speech,
the tree is called in the spell "canoe" (waga).

The object of this spell is written very plainly in every word of
it, and the natives also confirm it by saying that it is absolutely
necessary to get rid of the tokway. What would happen, however, if
the tokway were not expelled, is not so unequivocally laid down by
tradition, and it cannot be read out of the spell or the rite. Some
informants say that the canoe would be heavy; others that the wood
would be full of knots, and that there would be holes in the canoe,
or that it would quickly rot.

But though the rationale of the expulsion is not so well defined, the
belief in the tokway's evil influence, and in the dangers associated
with his presence is positive. And this is in keeping with the general
nature of the tokway, as we find him delineated by native belief. The
tokway is on the whole a harmful being, though the harm he does is
seldom more than an unpleasant trick, perhaps a sudden fright, an
attack of shooting pains, or a theft. The tokway live in trees or in
coral rocks and boulders, usually in the raybwag, the primeval jungle,
growing on the coastal ridge, full of outcrops and rocks. Some people
have seen a tokway, although he is invisible at will. His skin is
brown, like that of any Boyowan, but he has long, sleek hair, and
a long beard. He comes often at night, and frightens people. But,
though seldom seen, the tokway's wailing is often heard from the
branches of a big tree, and some trees evidently harbour more tokways
than others, since you can hear them very easily there. Sometimes,
over such trees, where people often hear the tokway and get a fright,
the above quoted incantation and rite are performed.

In their contact with men, the tokway show their unpleasant side;
often they come at night and steal food. Many cases can be quoted
when a man, as it seemed, was surprised in the act of stealing yams
out of a storehouse, but lo! when approached he disappeared--it was
a tokway. Then, sickness in some of its lighter forms is caused by
the tokway. Shooting pains, pricking and stabbing in one's inside,
are often due to him, for he is in possession of magic by which
he can insert small, sharp-edged and sharp-pointed objects into
the body. Fortunately some men know magic by which to extract
such objects. These men, of course, according to the general rule
of sorcery, can also inflict the same ailments. In olden days,
the tokway gave both the harmful and beneficent magic to some men,
and ever since, this form of sorcery and of concomitant healing have
been handed on from one generation to another.

Let us return to our canoe, however. After the rite has been performed,
the tree is felled. In olden days, when stone implements were used,
this must have been a laborious process, in which a number of men
were engaged in wielding the axe, and others in re-sharpening the
blunted or broken blades. The old technique was more like nibbling
away the wood in small chips, and it must have taken a long time to
cut out a sufficiently deep incision to fell the tree. After the tree
is on the ground, the preliminary trimming is done on the spot. The
branches are lopped off, and the log of appropriate length is made
out of the tree. This log is cut into the rough shape of a canoe,
so as to make it as light as possible, for now it has to be pulled
to the village or to the beach.

The transporting of the log is not an easy task, as it has to be
taken out of the uneven, rocky raybwag, and then pulled along very
bad roads. Pieces of wood are put on the ground every few metres,
to serve as slips on which the log can more easily glide than on the
rocks and uneven soil. In spite of that, and in spite of the fact that
many men are summoned to assist, the work of pulling the log is very
heavy. The men receive food in payment for it. Pig flesh is cooked
and distributed with baked yams; at intervals during the work they
refresh themselves with green coco-nut drinks and with sucking sugar
cane. Gifts of such food, given during work in payment of communal
labour, are called puwaya. To describe how heavy the work sometimes
is, the native will say, in a characteristically figurative manner:

    "The pig, the coco drinks, the yams are finished, and yet we
    pull--very heavy!"

In such cases the natives resort to a magical rite which makes
the canoe lighter. A piece of dry banana leaf is put on top of the
log. The owner or builder beats the log with a bunch of dry lalang
grass and utters the following spell:

                           KAYMOMWA'U SPELL.

    "Come down, come down, defilement by contact with excrement! Come
    down, defilement by contact with refuse! Come down, heaviness! Come
    down, rot! Come down fungus! ..." and soon, invoking a number of
    deteriorations to leave the log, and then a number of defilements
    and broken taboos. In other words, the heaviness and slowness,
    due to all these magical causes, are thrown out of the log.

This bunch of grass is then ritually thrown away. It is called momwa'u,
or the "heavy bunch." Another handful of the long lalang grass,
seared and dry, is taken, and this is the gagabile, the "light bunch,"
and with this the canoe is again beaten. The meaning of the rite is
quite plain: the first bunch takes into it the heaviness of the log,
and the second imparts lightness to it. Both spells also express this
meaning in plain terms. The second spell, recited with the gagabile
bunch, runs thus:

                           KAYGAGABILE SPELL.

    "He fails to outrun me" (repeated many times). "The canoe trembles
    with speed" (many times). A few untranslatable words are uttered;
    then a long chain of ancestral names is invoked. "I lash you,
    O tree; the tree flies; the tree becomes like a breath of wind;
    the tree becomes like a butterfly; the tree becomes like a cotton
    seed fluff. One sun" (i.e., time) "for my companions, midday
    sun, setting sun; another sun for me----" (here the reciter's
    name is uttered)--"the rising sun, the rays of the (rising) sun,
    (the time of) opening the huts, (the time of the) rising of the
    morning star!" The last part means: "My companions arrive at
    sunset, while I arrive with the rising sun"--(indicating how far
    my canoe exceeds them in speed.) [47]

These formulæ are used both to make the log lighter for the present
purpose of pulling it into the village, and in order to give it
greater speed in general, when it is made up into a waga.

After the log has been finally brought into the village, and left
on the baku, the main central place, the creeper by means of which
it has been pulled and which is called in this connection duku,
is not cut away at once. This is done ceremonially on the morning
of the following day, sometimes after even two or three days have
passed. The men of the community assemble, and the one who will scoop
out the canoe, the builder (tota'ila waga, "the cutter of the canoe")
performs a magical rite. He takes his adze (ligogu) and wraps some very
light and thin herbs round the blade with a piece of dried banana leaf,
itself associated with the idea of lightness. This he wraps only half
round, so that a broad opening is left, and the breath and voice have
free access to the herbs and blade of the adze. Into this opening,
the magician chants the following long spell:

                         KAPITUNENA DUKU SPELL.

    "I shall wave them back, (i.e., prevent all other canoes from
    overtaking me)!" repeated many times. "On the top of Si'a Hill;
    women of Tokuna; my mother a sorceress, myself a sorcerer. It
    dashes forward, it flies ahead. The canoe body is light; the
    pandanus streamers are aflutter; the prow skims the waves;
    the ornamental boards leap, like dolphins; the tabuyo (small
    prow-board) breaks the waves; the lagim' (transversal prow-board)
    breaks the waves. Thou sleepest in the mountain, thou sleepest
    in Kuyawa Island. We shall kindle a small fire of lalang grass,
    we shall burn aromatic herbs (i.e., at our destination in the
    mountains)! Whether new or old, thou goest ahead."

    This is the exordium of the formula. Then comes a very long middle
    part, in a form very characteristic of Trobriand magic. This
    form resembles a litany, in so far as a key word or expression
    is repeated many times with a series of complementary words and
    expressions. Then the first key word is replaced by another, which
    in its turn, is repeated with the same series of expressions;
    then comes another key word, and so on. We have thus two series
    of words; each term of the first is repeated over and over again,
    with all terms of the second, and in this manner, with a limited
    number of words, a spell is very much lengthened out, since its
    length is the product of the length of both series. In shorter
    spells, there may be only one key word, and in fact, this is the
    more usual type. In this spell, the first series consists of nouns
    denoting different parts of the canoe; the second are verbs, such
    as: to cut, to fly, to speed, to cleave a fleet of other canoes,
    to disappear, to skim over the waves. Thus the litany runs in such
    a fashion: "The tip of my canoe starts, the tip of my canoe flies,
    the tip of my canoe speeds, etc., etc." After the long litany has
    been chanted, the magician repeats the exordium, and finishes it
    off with the conventional onomatopoetic word saydididi--which is
    meant to imitate the flying of the witches.

After the recital of this long spell over the herbs and blade of his
adze, the magician wraps up the dry banana leaf, thus imprisoning
the magical virtue of the spell round the blade, and with this, he
strikes and cuts through the duku (the creeper used for the pulling
of the canoes.)

With this, the magic is not over yet, for on the same evening, when
the canoe is put on transversal logs (nigakulu), another rite has to
be carried out. Some herbs are placed on the transversals between them
and the body of the big canoe log. Over these herbs, again, another
spell has to be uttered. In order not to overload this account with
magical texts, I shall not adduce this spell in detail. Its wording
also plainly indicates that it is speed magic, and it is a short
formula running on directly, without cross-repetitions.

After that, for some days, the outside of the canoe body is worked. Its
two ends must be cut into tapering shape, and the bottom evened and
smoothed. After that is done, the canoe has to be turned over, this
time into its natural position, bottom down, and what is to be the
opening, upwards. Before the scooping out begins, another formula has
to be recited over the kavilali, a special ligogu (adze), used for
scooping out, which is inserted into a handle with a moveable part,
which then allows the cutting to be done at varying angles to the
plane of striking.

The rite stands in close connection to the myth of the flying
canoe, localised in Kudayuri, a place in the Island of Kitava, and
many allusions are made to this myth. [48] After a short exordium,
containing untranslatable magical words, and geographical references,
the spell runs:

                             LIGOGU SPELL.

    "I shall take hold of an adze, I shall strike! I shall enter my
    canoe, I shall make thee fly, O canoe, I shall make thee jump! We
    shall fly like butterflies, like wind; we shall disappear in
    mist, we shall vanish. You will pierce the straits of Kadimwatu
    (between the islands of Tewara and Uwama) you will break the
    promontory of Saramwa (near Dobu), pierce the passage of Loma (in
    Dawson Straits), die away in the distance, die away with the wind,
    fade away with the mist, vanish away. Break through your seaweeds
    (i.e., on coming against the shore). Put on your wreath (probably
    an allusion to the seaweeds), make your bed in the sand. I turn
    round, I see the Vakuta men, the Kitava men behind me; my sea,
    the sea of Pilolu (i.e., the sea between the Trobriands and the
    Amphletts); to-day the Kudayuri men will burn their fires (i.e.,
    on the shores of Dobu). Bind your grass skirt together, O canoe"
    (here the personal name of the canoe is mentioned), "fly!" The
    last phrase contains an implicit hint that the canoe partakes
    of the nature of a flying witch, as it should, according to the
    Kudayuri myth.

After this, the canoe-builder proceeds to scoop out the log. This is
a long task, and a heavy one, and one which requires a good deal of
skill, especially towards the end, when the walls of the dug-out have
to be made sufficiently thin, and when the wood has to be taken off
evenly over the whole surface. Thus, although at the beginning the
canoe carpenter is usually helped by a few men--his sons or brothers
or nephews who in assisting him also learn the trade--towards the end
he has to do the work single-handed. It, therefore, always happens
that this stage takes a very long time. Often the canoe will lie
for weeks, untouched, covered with palm leaves against the sun,
and filled with some water to prevent drying and cracking (see Plate
XXV). Then the carpenter will set to work for a few days, and pause
again. In almost all villages, the canoe is put up in the central
place, or before the builder's hut. In some of the Eastern villages,
the scooping out is done on the sea beach, to avoid pulling the heavy
log to and from the village.

Parallel with the process of hollowing out, the other parts of the
canoe are made ready to be pieced together. Four broad and long
planks form the gunwale; L-shaped pieces of wood are cut into ribs;
long poles are prepared for longitudinal support of the ribs, and
for platform rafters; short poles are made ready as transversals of
the platform and main supports of the outrigging; small sticks to
connect the float with the transversals; finally, the float itself,
a long, bulky log. These are the main, constituent parts of a canoe,
to be made by the builder. The four carved boards are also made by
him if he knows how to carve, otherwise another expert has to do this
part of the work (see Plate XXVI).

When all the parts are ready, another magical rite has to be
performed. It is called "kapitunela nanola waga": "the cutting off
of the canoe's mind," an expression which denotes a change of mind,
a final determination. In this case, the canoe makes up its mind to
run quickly. The formula is short, contains at the beginning a few
obscure words, and then a few geographical references to some places
in the d'Entrecasteaux Archipelago. It is recited over a few drops
of coco-nut oil, which is then wrapped up in a small bundle. The same
spell is then again spoken over the ligogu blade, round which a piece
of dry banana has been wrapped in the manner described above. The
canoe is turned bottom up, the bundle with coco-nut oil placed on it
and struck with the adze. With this the canoe is ready to be pieced
together, and the first stage of its construction is over.


As has been said above, the two stages differ from one another in
the nature of work done and in their sociological and ceremonial
setting. So far, we have seen only a few men engaged in cutting the
tree and scooping it out and then preparing the various parts of the
canoe. Industriously, but slowly and deliberately, with many pauses,
they toil over their work, sitting on the brown, trodden soil of the
village in front of the huts, or scooping the canoe in the central
place. The first part of the task, the felling of the tree, took us
to the tall jungle and intricate undergrowth, climbing and festooned
around the fantastic shapes of coral rocks.

Now, with the second stage, the scene shifts to the clean, snow-white
sand of a coral beach, where hundreds of natives in festive array
crowd around the freshly scraped body of the canoe. The carved boards,
painted in black, white and red, the green fringe of palms and jungle
trees, the blue of the sea--all lend colour to the vivid and lively
scene. Thus I saw the building of a canoe done on the East shore
of the Trobriands, and in this setting I remember it. In Sinaketa,
instead of the blue, open sea, breaking in a belt of white foam
outside on the fringing reef and coming in limpid waves to the beach,
there are the dull, muddy browns and greens of the Lagoon, playing
into pure emerald tints where the clean sandy bottom begins.

Into one of these two scenes, we must now imagine the dug-out
transported from the village, after all is ready, and after the summons
of the chief or headman has gone round the neighbouring villages. In
the case of a big chief, several hundreds of natives will assemble
to help, or to gaze on the performance. When a small community with
a second-rate headman construct their canoe, only a few dozen people
will come, the relatives-in-law of the headman and of other notables,
and their close friends.

After the body of the canoe and all the accessories have been placed
in readiness, the proceedings are opened by a magical rite, called
Katuliliva tabuyo. This rite belongs to the Kula magic, for which
the natives have a special expression; they call it mwasila. It is
connected with the inserting of the ornamental prow-boards into their
grooves at both ends of the canoe. These ornamental parts of the canoe
are put in first of all, and this is done ceremonially. A few sprigs
of the mint plant are inserted under the boards, as they are put in,
and the toliwaga (owner of the canoe) hammers the boards in by means
of a special stone imported from Dobu, and ritually repeats a formula
of the mwasila magic. The mint plant (sulumwoya) plays an important
part in the mwasila (Kula magic) as well as in love spells, and in
the magic of beauty. Whenever a substance is to be medicated for the
purpose of charming, seducing, or persuading, as a rule sulumwoya
is used. This plant figures also in several myths, where it plays a
similar part, the mythical hero always conquering the foe or winning
a woman by the use of the sulumwoya.

I shall not adduce the magical formulæ in this account, with the
exception of the most important one. Even a short summary of each
of them would obstruct the narrative, and it would blur completely
the outline of the consecutive account of the various activities. The
various complexities of the magical ritual and of the formulæ will be
set forth in Chapter XVII. It may be mentioned here, however, that not
only are there several types of magic performed during canoe building,
such as the mwasila (Kula magic), the canoe speed magic, exorcisms
against evil magic, and exorcism of the tokway, but within each of
these types, there are different systems of magic, each with its own
mythological basis, each localised in a different district, and each
having of course different formulæ and slightly different rites. [49]

After the prow-boards are put in, and before the next bit of technical
work is done, another magical rite has to be performed. The body of
the canoe, now bright with the three-coloured boards, is pushed into
the water. A handful of leaves, of a shrub called bobi'u, is charmed
by the owner or by the builder, and the body of the canoe is washed in
sea water with the leaves. All the men participate in the washing, and
this rite is intended to make the canoe fast, by removing the traces of
any evil influence, which might still have remained, in spite of the
previous magic, performed on the waga. After the waga has been rubbed
and washed, it is pulled ashore again and placed on the skid logs.

Now the natives proceed to the main and most important constructive
part of their work; this consists of the erection of the gunwale
planks at the sides of the dug-out log, so as to form the deep and
wide well of the built-up canoe. They are kept in position by an
internal framework of some twelve to twenty pairs of ribs, and all
of this is lashed together with a special creeper called wayugo,
and the holes and interstices are caulked with a resinous substance.

I cannot enter here into details of building, though from the
technological point of view, this is the most interesting phase,
showing us the native at grips with real problems of construction. He
has a whole array of component parts, and he must make them fit
together with a considerable degree of precision, and that without
having any exact means of measurement. By a rough appreciation based on
long experience and great skill, he estimates the relative shapes and
sizes of the planks, the angles and dimensions of the ribs, and the
lengths of the various poles. Then, in shaping them out, the builder
tests and fits them in a preliminary manner as work goes on, and as a
rule the result is good. But now, when all these component parts have
to be pieced finally together, it nearly always happens that some bit
or other fails to fit properly with the rest. These details have to
be adjusted, a bit taken off the body of the canoe, a plank or pole
shortened, or even a piece added. The natives have a very efficient
way of lashing on a whole bit of a plank, if this proves too short,
or if, by some accident, it breaks at the end. After all has been
finally fitted, and made to tally, the framework of ribs is put into
the canoe (see Plate XXVII), and the natives proceed to lash them to
the body of the dug-out, and to the two longitudinal poles to which
the ribs are threaded.

And now a few words must be said about the wayugo, the lashing
creeper. Only one species of creeper is used for the lashing of boats,
and it is of the utmost importance that this creeper should be sound
and strong. It is this alone that maintains the cohesion of the various
parts, and in rough weather, very much depends on how the lashings
will stand the strain. The other parts of the canoe--the outrigger
poles--can be more easily tested, and as they are made of strong,
elastic wood, they usually stand any weather quite well. Thus the
element of danger and uncertainty in a canoe is due mainly to the
creeper. No wonder, therefore, that the magic of the creeper is
considered as one of the most important ritual items in canoe-building.

In fact, wayugo, the name of that creeper species, is also used as
a general term for canoe magic. When a man has the reputation of
building or owning a good and fast canoe, the usual way of explaining
it is to say that he has, or knows "a good wayugo." For, as in all
other magic, there are several types of wayugo spells. The ritual is
always practically the same: five coils of the creeper are, on the
previous day, placed on a large wooden dish and chanted over in the
owner's hut by himself. Only exceptionally can this magic be done by
the builder. Next day they are brought to the beach ceremonially on
the wooden plate. In one of the wayugo systems, there is an additional
rite, in which the toliwaga (canoe owner) takes a piece of the creeper,
inserts it into one of the holes pierced in the rim of the dug-out for
the lashing, and pulling it to and fro, recites once more the spell.

In consideration of the importance of this magic, the formula will
be here adduced in full. It consists of an exordium (u'ula), a double
main part (tapwana), and a concluding period (dogina). [50]

                             WAYUGO SPELL.

    In the u'ula he first repeats "Sacred (or ritual) eating of fish,
    sacred inside," thus alluding to a belief that the toliwaga
    has in connection with this magic to partake ritually of baked
    fish. Then come the words--"Flutter, betel plant, leaving behind,"
    all associated with leading ideas of canoe magic--the flutter of
    pandanus streamers; the betel-nut, which the ancestral spirits
    in other rites are invited to partake of; the speed by which all
    comrades will be left behind!

    A list of ancestral names follows. Two of them, probably
    mythical personages, have significative names; "Stormy sea" and
    "Foaming." Then the baloma (spirits) of these ancestors are asked
    to sit on the canoe slips and to chew betel, and they are invoked
    to take the pandanus streamer of the Kudayuri--a place in Kitava,
    where the flying canoe magic originated--and plant it on top of
    Teula or Tewara, the small island off the East coast of Fergusson.

    The magician after that chants: "I shall turn, I shall turn
    towards you, O men of Kitava, you remain behind on the To'uru
    beach (in the Lagoon of Vakuta). Before you lies the sea arm of
    Pilolu. To-day, they kindle the festive fire of the Kudayuri, thou,
    O my boat" (here the personal name of the boat is uttered), "bind
    thy skirts together and fly!" In this passage--which is almost
    identical with one in the previously quoted Ligogu spell--there
    is a direct allusion to the Kudayuri myth, and to the custom of
    festive fires. Again the canoe is addressed as a woman who has to
    bind her grass petticoat together during her flight, a reference
    to the belief that a flying witch binds her skirts when starting
    into the air and to the tradition that this myth originates from
    Na'ukuwakula, one of the flying Kudayuri sisters. The following
    main part continues with this mythical allusion: Na'ukuwakula
    flew from Kitava through Sinaketa and Kayleula to Simsim, where
    she settled down and transmitted the magic to her progeny. In
    this spell the three places: Kuyawa (a creek and hillock near
    Sinaketa), Dikutuwa (a rock near Kayleula), and La'u (a cleft
    rock in the sea near Simsim, in the Lousançay Islands) are the
    leading words of the tapwana.

    The last sentence of the first part, forming a transition into
    the tapwana, runs as follows: "I shall grasp the handle of the
    adze, I shall grip all the component parts of the canoe"--perhaps
    another allusion to the mythical construction of the Kudayuri canoe
    (comp. Chap. XII, Div. IV)--"I shall fly on the top of Kuyawa,
    I shall disappear; dissolve in mist, in smoke; become like a wind
    eddy, become alone--on top of Kuyawa." The same words are then
    repeated, substituting for Kuyawa the two other above-mentioned
    spots, one after the other, and thus retracing the flight of

    Then the magician returns to the beginning and recites the
    spell over again up to the phrase: "bind thy skirt together and
    fly," which is followed this time by a second tapwana: "I shall
    outdistance all my comrades with the bottom of my canoe; I shall
    out-distance all my comrades with the prow-board of my canoe,
    etc., etc.," repeating the prophetic boast with all the parts of
    the canoe, as is usual in the middle part of magical spells.

    In the dogina, the last part, the magician addresses the waga
    in mythological terms, with allusions to the Kudayuri myth, and
    adds: "Canoe thou art a ghost, thou art like a wind eddy; vanish,
    O my canoe, fly; break through your sea-passage of Kadimwatu,
    cleave through the promontory of Saramwa, pass through Loma;
    die away, disappear, vanish with an eddy, vanish with the mist;
    make your imprint in the sand, cut through the seaweed, go,
    put on your wreath of aromatic herbs." [51]

After the wayugo has been ritually brought in, the lashing of the
canoe begins. First of all the ribs are lashed into position then
the planks, and with this the body of the canoe is ready. This
takes a varying time, according to the number of people at work,
and to the amount of tallying and adjusting to be done at the final
fitting. Sometimes one whole day's work is spent on this stage,
and the next piece of work, the construction of the outrigger, has
to be postponed to another day. This is the next stage, and there is
no magic to punctuate the course of technical activities. The big,
solid log is put alongside the canoe, and a number of short, pointed
sticks are driven into it. The sticks are put in crossways on the top
of the float (lamina). Then the tops of these sticks are again attached
to a number of horizontal poles, which have to be thrust through one
side of the canoe-body, and attached to the other. All this naturally
requires again adjusting and fitting. When these sticks and poles are
bound together, there results a strong yet elastic frame, in which
the canoe and the float are held together in parallel positions,
and across them transversely there run the several horizontal poles
which keep them together. Next, these poles are bridged over by many
longitudinal sticks lashed together, and thus a platform is made
between the edge of the canoe and the tops of the float sticks.

When that is done, the whole frame of the canoe is ready, and there
remains only to caulk the holes and interstices. The caulking substance
is prepared in the hut of the toliwaga, and a spell is recited over
it on the evening before the work is begun. Then again, the whole
community turn out and do the work in one day's sitting.

The canoe is now ready for the sea, except for the painting, Which is
only for ornamentation. Three more magical rites have to be performed,
however, before it is painted and then launched. All three refer
directly to the canoe, and aim at giving it speed. At the same time all
three are exorcisms against evil influences, resulting from various
defilements or broken taboos, which possibly might have desecrated
the waga. The first is called Vakasulu, which means something like
"ritual cooking" of the canoe. The toliwaga has to prepare a real
witches' cauldron of all sorts of things, which afterwards are burnt
under the bottom of the canoe, and the smoke is supposed to exercise a
speed-giving and cleansing influence. The ingredients are: the wings
of a bat, the nest of a very small bird called posisiku, some dried
bracken leaves, a bit of cotton fluff, and some lalang grass. All
the substances are associated with flying and lightness. The wood
used for kindling the fire is that of the light-timbered mimosa tree
(liga). The twigs have to be obtained by throwing at the tree a
piece of wood (never a stone), and when the broken-off twig falls,
it must be caught in the hand, and not allowed to touch the ground.

The second rite, called Vaguri, is an exorcism only, and it consists
of charming a stick, and then knocking the body of the canoe all
over with it. This expels the evil witchery (bulubwalata), which
it is only wise to suspect has been cast by some envious rivals,
or persons jealous of the toliwaga.

Finally, the third of these rites, the Kaytapena waga, consists
in medicating a torch of coco-leaf with the appropriate spell, and
fumigating with it the inside of the canoe. This gives speed and once
more cleanses the canoe.

After another sitting of a few days, the whole outside of the canoe
is painted in three colours. Over each of them a special spell is
chanted again, the most important one over the black colour. This
is never omitted, while the red and white spells are optional. In
the rite of the black colour, again, a whole mixture of substances
is used--a dry bracken leaf, grass, and a posisiku nest--all this
is charred with some coco-nut husk, and the first strokes of the
black paint are made with the mixture. The rest is painted with a
watery mixture of charred coco-nut. For red colour, a sort of ochre,
imported from the d'Entrecasteaux Islands, is used; the white one is
made of a chalky earth, found in certain parts of the sea shore.

Sail-making is done on another day, usually in the village, by
communal labour, and, with a number of people helping, the tedious
and complicated work is performed in a relatively short time. The
triangular outline of the sail is first pegged out on the ground,
as a rule the old sail being used as a pattern. After this is done,
tapes of dried pandanus leaf (see Plates XXVIII, XXIX) are stretched
on the ground and first fixed along the borders of the sail. Then,
starting at the apex of the triangle, the sail-makers put tapes
radiating towards the base, sewing them together with awls of flying
fox bone, and using as thread narrow strips of specially toughened
pandanus leaf. Two layers of tapes are sewn one on top of the other
to make a solid fabric.


The canoe is now quite ready to be launched. But before we go on to an
account of the ceremonial launching and the associated festivities,
one or two general remarks must be made retrospectively about the
proceedings just described.

The whole of the first stage of canoe-building, that is, the cutting
of the tree, the scooping out of the log, and the preparation of the
other component parts, with all their associated magic, is done only
when a new canoe is built.

But the second stage has to be performed over all the canoes before
every great overseas Kula expedition. On such an occasion, all
the canoes have to be re-lashed, re-caulked, and re-painted. This
obviously requires that they should all be taken to pieces and then
lashed, caulked and painted exactly as is done with a new canoe. All
the magic incidental to these three processes is then performed, in
its due order, over the renovated canoe. So that we can say about the
second stage of canoe-building that not only is it always performed
in association with the Kula, but that no big expedition ever takes
place without it.

We have had a description of the magical rites, and the ideas which are
implied in every one of them have been specified. But there are one or
two more general characteristics which must be mentioned here. First,
there is what could be called the "ceremonial dimension" of magical
rites. That is, how far is the performance of the rite attended by
the members of the community, if at all; and if so, do they actively
take part in it, or do they simply pay keen attention and behave as
an interested audience; or, though being present, do they pay little
heed and show only small interest?

In the first stage of canoe-building, the rites are performed by the
magician himself, with only a few helpers in attendance. The general
village public do not feel sufficiently interested and attracted to
assist, nor are they bound by custom to do so. The general character
of these rites is more like the performance of a technicality of work
than of a ceremony. The preparing of herbs for the ligogu magic, for
instance, and the charming it over, is carried out in a matter-of-fact,
businesslike manner, and nothing in the behaviour of the magician
and those casually grouped around him would indicate that anything
specially interesting in the routine work is happening.

The rites of the second stage are ipso facto attended by all those who
help in piecing together and lashing, but on the whole those present
have no special task assigned to them in the performance of these
rites. As to the attention and behaviour during the performance of the
magic, much depends of course on whether the magician officiating is
a chief of great importance or someone of low rank. A certain decorum
and even silence would be observed in any case. But many of those
present would turn aside and go away, if they wanted to do so. The
magician does not produce the impression of an officiating high priest
performing a solemn ceremony, but rather of a specialised workman
doing a particularly important piece of work. It must be remembered
that all the rites are simple, and the chanting of the spells in
public is done in a low voice, and quickly, without any specially
effective vocal production. Again, the caulking and the wayugo rites
are, in some types of magic at least, performed in the magician's hut,
without any attendance whatever, and so is that of the black paint.

Another point of general importance is what could be called the
stringency of magic rites. In canoe magic, for instance, the expulsion
of the tokway, the ritual cutting of the pulling rope, the magic of the
adze (ligogu), that of the lashing creeper (wayugo), of the caulking,
and of the black paint can never be omitted. Whereas the other
rites are optional, though as a rule some of them are performed. But
even those which are considered indispensable do not all occupy the
same place of importance in native mythology and in native ideas,
which is clearly expressed in the behaviour of the natives and their
manner of speaking of them. Thus, the general term for canoe magic is
either wayugo or ligogu, from which we can see that these two spells
are considered the most important. A man will speak about his wayugo
being better than that of the other, or of having learnt his ligogu
from his father. Again, as we shall see in the canoe myth, both these
rites are explicitly mentioned there. Although the expulsion of the
tokway is always done, it is definitely recognised by the natives as
being of lesser importance. So are also the magic of caulking and of
the black paint.

A less general point, of great interest, however, is that of evil
magic (bulubwalata) and of broken taboos. I had to mention several
exorcisms against those influences, and something must be said about
them here. The term bulubwalata covers all forms of evil magic or
witchery. There is that which, directed against pigs, makes them
run away from their owners into the bush; there is bulubwalata for
alienating the affections of a wife or sweetheart; there is evil magic
against gardens, and--perhaps the most dreaded one--evil magic against
rain, producing drought and famine. The evil magic against canoes,
making them slow, heavy, and unseaworthy, is also much feared. Many
men profess to know it, but it is very difficult for the Ethnographer
to obtain a formula, and I succeeded only in taking down one. It is
always supposed to be practised by canoe-owners upon the craft which
they regard as dangerous rivals of their own.

There are many taboos referring to an already constructed canoe, and we
shall meet with them later when speaking about sailing and handling
the canoe. But before that stage is reached, any defilement with
any unclean substance of the log out of which the canoe is scooped,
would make it slow and bad; or if anybody were to walk over a canoe
log or stand on it there would be the same evil result.

One more point must be mentioned here. As we have seen, the first
magical rite, of the second stage of construction, is performed
over the prow-boards. The question obtrudes itself as to whether
the designs on these boards have any magical meaning. It must be
clearly understood that any guesswork or speculations about origins
must be rigidly excluded from ethnographic field work like this. For
a sociologically empirical answer, the Ethnographer must look to two
classes of facts. First of all, he may directly question the natives as
to whether the prow-boards themselves or any of the motives upon them
are done for magical purposes. Whether he questions the average man, or
even the specialist in canoe magic and carving, to this he will always
receive in Kiriwina a negative answer. He can then enquire whether
in the magical ritual for formulæ there are no references to the
prow-boards, or to any of the decorative motives on them. Here also,
the evidence on the whole is negative. In one spell perhaps, and that
belonging not to canoe but to the Kula magic (comp. below, Chap. XIII,
Div. II, the Kayikuna Tabuyo spell), there can be found an allusion
to the prow-boards, but only to the term describing them in general,
and not to any special decorative motive. Thus the only association
between canoe decoration and canoe magic consists in the fact that
two magical rites are performed over them, one mentioned already,
and the other to be mentioned at the beginning of the next chapter.

The description of canoe-building, in fact, all the data given in
this chapter, refer only to one of the two types of sea-going canoe
to be found in the Kula district. For the natives of the Eastern half
of the ring use craft bigger, and in certain respects better, than
the masawa. The main difference between the Eastern and Western type
consists in the fact that the bigger canoes have a higher gunwale or
side, and consequently a greater carrying capacity, and they can be
immersed deeper. The larger water board offers more resistance against
making leeway, and this allows the canoes to be sailed closer to the
wind. Consequently, the Eastern canoes can beat, and these natives
are therefore much more independent of the direction of the wind
in their sailings. With this is connected the position of the mast,
which in this type is stepped in the middle, and it is also permanently
fixed, and is not taken down every time after sailing. It obviously,
therefore, need not be changed in its position every time the canoe
goes on another tack.

I have not seen the construction of a nagega, as these canoes are
called, but I think that it is technically a much more difficult
task than the building of a masawa. I was told that both magic and
ceremonial of construction are very much the same in the building of
both canoes.

The nagega, that is the larger and more seaworthy type, is used on the
section of the Kula ring beginning in Gawa and ending in Tubetube. It
is also used in certain parts of the Massim district, which lie outside
the Kula ring, such as the Island of Sud-Est, and surrounding smaller
islands, and it is used among the Southern Massim of the mainland. But
though its use is very widely spread, its manufacture is confined to
only a few places. The most important centres of nagega building are
Gawa, a few villages on Woodlark Islands, the island of Panayati,
and perhaps one or two places on Misima. From there, the canoes are
traded all over the district, and indeed this is one of the most
important forms of trade in this part of the world. The masawa canoes
are used and manufactured in the district of Dobu, in the Amphletts,
in the Trobriands, in Kitava and Iwa.

One point of great importance in the relation of these two forms
of canoe is that one of them has, within the last two generations,
been expanding at the expense of the other. According to reliable
information, gathered at several points in the Trobriands and the
Amphletts, the nagega type, that is the heavier, more seaworthy and
better-sailing canoe, was driven out some time ago from the Amphletts
and Trobriands. The masawa, in many respects inferior, but less
difficult to build, and swifter, has supplanted the bigger type. In
olden days, that is, about two or three generations ago, the nagega
was used exclusively in Iwa, Kitava, Kiriwina, Vakuta, and Sinaketa,
while the Amphlettans and the natives of Kayleula would usually use
the nagega, though sometimes they would sail in masawa canoes. Dobu
was the real home and headquarters of the masawa. When the shifting
began, and when it was completed, I could not ascertain. But the fact
is that nowadays even the villages of Kitava and Iwa manufacture the
smaller masawa canoe. Thus, one of the most important cultural items
is spreading from South to North. There is, however, one point on
which I could not obtain definite information: that is, whether in
the Trobriands the nagega in olden days was imported from Kitava,
or whether it was manufactured locally by imported craftsmen (as is
done even nowadays in Kiriwina at times), or whether the Trobrianders
themselves knew how to make the big canoes. There is no doubt, however,
that in olden days, the natives of Kitava and Iwa used themselves to
make the nagega canoes. The Kudayuri myth (see Chapter XII), and the
connected magic, refer to this type of canoe. Thus in this district
at any rate, and probably in the Trobriands and Amphletts as well,
not only the use, but also the manufacture of the bigger canoe has
been superseded by that of the smaller one, the masawa, now found in
all these parts.




The canoe, painted and decorated, stands now ready to be launched,
a source of pride to the owners and to the makers, and an object of
admiration to the other beholders. A new sailing craft is not only
another utility created; it is more: it is a new entity sprung into
being, something with which the future destinies of the sailors
will be bound up, and on which they will depend. There can be no
doubt that this sentiment is also felt by the natives and expressed
in their customs and behaviour. The canoe receives a personal name,
it becomes an object of intense interest to the whole district. Its
qualities, points of beauty, and of probable perfection or faultiness
are canvassed round the fires at night. The owner and his kinsmen
and fellow villagers will speak of it with the usual boasting and
exaggerations, and the others will all be very keen to see it, and to
watch its performances. Thus the institution of ceremonial launching
is not a mere formality prescribed by custom; it corresponds to the
psychological needs of the community, it rouses a great interest,
and is very well attended even when the canoe belongs to a small
community. When a big chief's canoe is launched, whether that of
Kasana'i or Omarakana, Olivilevi or Sinaketa, up to a thousand natives
will assemble on the beach.

This festive and public display of a finished canoe, with its
full paint and ornament, is not only in harmony with the natives'
sentiments towards a new sailing craft; it also agrees with the way
they treat in general the results of their economic activities. Whether
in gardening or in fishing, in the building of houses or in industrial
achievements, there is a tendency to display the products, to arrange
them, and even adorn at least certain classes of them, so as to
produce a big, æsthetic effect. In fishing, there are only traces of
this tendency, but in gardening, it assumes very great proportions,
and the handling, arranging and display of garden produce is one of
the most characteristic features of their tribal life, and it takes
up much time and work. [52]

Soon after the painting and adorning of the canoe, a date is fixed for
the ceremonial launching and trial run, the tasasoria festivities,
as they are called. Word is passed to the chiefs and headmen of the
neighbouring villages. Those of them who own canoes and who belong
to the same Kula community have always to come with their canoes
and take part in a sort of regatta held on the occasion. As the new
canoe is always constructed in connection with a Kula expedition,
and as the other canoes of the same Kula community have to be either
done up or replaced, it is the rule that on the tasasoria day a
whole fleet of brand new or renovated canoes assemble on the beach,
all resplendent in fresh colours and decoration of cowrie shells and
bleached pandanus streamers.

The launching itself is inaugurated with a rite of the mwasila
(Kula magic), called Kaytalula wadola waga ("staining red of the
mouth of the canoe"). After the natives have taken off the plaited
coco-nut leaves with which the canoe is protected against the sun,
the toliwaga chants a spell over some red ochre, and stains both
bow and stern of the canoe. A special cowrie shell, attached to the
prow-board (tabuyo) is stained at each end. After that the canoe is
launched, the villagers pushing it into the water over pieces of wood
transversely placed which act as slips (see Plate XXX). This is done
amidst shouts and ululations, such as are made on all occasions when
some piece of work has to be done in a festive and ceremonial manner,
when, for instance, the harvest is brought in and given ceremonially
by a man to his brother-in-law, or when a gift of yams or taro is
laid down before a fisherman's house by an inland gardener, or the
return gift of fish is made.

Thus the canoe is finally launched after the long series of mingled
work and ceremony, technical effort and magical rite.

After the launching is done, there takes place a feast, or, more
correctly, a distribution of food (sagali) under observation of
all sorts of formalities and ritual. Such a distribution is always
made when the toliwaga has not built the canoe himself, and when he
therefore has to repay the cutter of the canoe and his helpers. It also
takes place whenever the canoe of a big chief is launched, in order
to celebrate the occasion, to show off his wealth and generosity,
and to give food to the many people who have been summoned to assist
in the construction.

After the sagali (ceremonial distribution of food) is over, as a rule,
in the afternoon, the new canoe is rigged, the mast is put up, the sail
attached, and this and all the other boats make a trial run. It is not
a competitive race in the strict sense of the word. The chief's canoe,
which indeed would as a rule be best and fastest, in any case always
wins the race. If it did not sail fastest, the others would probably
keep back. The trial run is rather a display of the new canoe, side
by side with the others.

In order to give one concrete illustration of the ceremonial connected
with canoe building and launching, it may be well to relate an
actual event. I shall therefore describe the tasasoria, seen on
the beach of Kaulukuba, in February, 1916, when the new canoe of
Kasana'i was launched. Eight canoes took part in the trial run, that
is, all the canoes of Kiriwina, which forms what I have called the
"Kula community," the social group who make their Kula expeditions
in a body, and who have the same limits within which they carry on
their exchange of valuables.

The great event which was the cause of the building and renovating of
the canoes, was a Kula expedition planned by To'ulawa and his Kula
community. They were to go to the East, to Kitava, to Iwa or Gawa,
perhaps even to Muruwa (Woodlark Island), though with this island the
natives do not carry on the Kula directly. As is usual in such cases,
months before the approximate date of sailing, plans and forecasts
were made, stories of previous voyages were recounted, old men dwelt
on their own reminiscences and reported what they had been told by
their elders of the days when iron was unknown and everyone had to
sail to the East in order to get the green stone quarried in Suloga
on Woodlark Island. And so, as it always happens when future events
are talked over round village fires, imagination outran all bounds of
probability; and the hopes and anticipations grew bigger and bigger. In
the end, everyone really believed his party would go at least to the
Easternmost Marshall Bennetts (Gawa), whereas, as events turned out,
they did not sail beyond Kitava.

For this occasion a new canoe had to be constructed in Kasana'i, and
this was done by Ibena himself, the chief of that village, a man of
rank equal to the highest chief (his kinsman, in fact) but of smaller
power. Ibena is a skilled builder as well as a fair carver, and there
is no class of magic in which he does not profess to be versed. The
canoe was built, under his guidance; he carved the boards himself,
he also performed the magic, and he was, of course, the toliwaga.

In Omarakana, the canoe had to be slightly altered in construction;
it had to be re-lashed and re-painted. To do this To'uluwa, the chief,
had summoned a master builder and carver from the island of Kitava,
the same one who a couple of years before, had built this canoe. Also
a new sail had to be made for the Omarakana boat, as the old one
was too small. The ceremony of tasasoria (launching and regatta)
ought by rights to have been held on the beach of Kasana'i, but as
its sister village, Omarakana, is so much more important, it took
place on Kaulukuba, the sea-shore of the latter.

As the date approached, the whole district was alive with preparations,
since the coastal villages had to put their canoes in order, while
in the inland communities, new festive dresses and food had to be
made ready. The food was not to be eaten, but to be offered to the
chief for his sagali (ceremonial distribution). Only in Omarakana,
the women had to cook for a big festive repast to be eaten on return
from the tasasoria. In the Trobriands it is always a sign that a
festive event is pending when all the women go in the evening to the
bush to collect plenty of firewood. Next morning, this will be used
for the kumkumuli, the baking of food in the ground, which is one of
the forms of cooking used on festive occasions. On the evening of
the tasasoria ceremony, people in Omarakana and Kasana'i were also
busy with the numerous other preparations, running to the shore and
back, filling baskets with yams for the sagali, getting ready their
festive dress and decorations for the morrow. Festive dress means,
for a woman, a new grass skirt, resplendent in fresh red, white and
purple, and for the man a newly bleached, snow-white pubic leaf,
made of the stalk of areca palm leaf.

Early in the morning of the appointed day, the food was packed into
baskets of plaited leaf, the personal apparel on top of it, all covered
as usual with folded mats and conveyed to the beach. The women carried
on their heads the large baskets, shaped like big inverted bells,
the men shouldered a stick with two bag-shaped baskets at each
end. Other men had to carry the oars, paddles, rigging and sail,
as these paraphernalia are always kept in the village. From one of
the villages, one of the large, prismatic receptacles for food made
of sticks was carried by several men right over the raybwag (coral
ridge) to be offered to the chief of Omarakana as a share in the
sagali. The whole village was astir, and on its outskirts, through the
surrounding groves, parties from inland could be seen making their way
rapidly to the shore. I left the village with a party of notables at
about eight o'clock in the morning. After leaving the grove of fruit
and palm trees which grows especially densely around the village
of Omarakana, we entered between the two walls of green, the usual
monotonous Trobriand road, which passes through the low scrub. Soon,
emerging on a garden space, we could see, beyond a gentle declivity,
the rising slope of the raybwag, a mixture of rank vegetation with
monumental boulders of grey coral standing out here and there. Through
this, the path led on, following in an intricate course between small
precipices and towering outcrops, passing huge, ancient ficus trees,
spreading around them their many trunks and aerial roots. At the top
of the ridge, all of a sudden the blue sea shone through the foliage,
and the roar of waves breaking on the reef struck our ears. Soon we
found ourselves among the crowd assembled on the beach, near to the
big boat-shed of Omarakana.

By about nine o'clock, everybody was ready on the beach. It was fully
exposed to the Eastern sun, but this was not yet sufficiently high
to drop its light right from above, and thus to produce that deadly
effect of tropical mid-day, where the shadows instead of modelling
out the details, blur every vertical surface and make everything dull
and formless. The beach appeared bright and gaudy, and the lively
brown bodies looked well against the background of green foliage and
white sand. The natives were anointed with coco-nut oil, and decorated
with flowers and facial paint. Large red hibiscus blossoms were stuck
into their hair, and wreaths of the white, wonderfully scented butia
flowers crowned the dense black mops. There was a good display of ebony
carvings, sticks and lime spoons. There were decorated lime pots,
and such objects of personal adornment as belts of red shell discs
or of small cowrie shells, nose sticks (very rarely used nowadays),
and other articles so well known to everybody from ethnological
collections in museums, and usually called "ceremonial," though, as
said above (Chapter III, Div. III) the description "objects of parade"
would be much more in agreement with the correct meaning of the words.

Such popular festivities as the one just being described are the
occasions on which these objects of parade, some of which astonish
us by their artistic perfection, appear in native life. Before I had
opportunities to see savage art in actual display, in its proper,
"living" setting, there seemed to me always to exist some incongruity
between the artistic finish of such objects and the general crudity
of savage life, a crudity marked precisely on the æsthetic side. One
imagines greasy, dirty, naked bodies, moppy hair full of vermin, and
other realistic features which make up one's idea of the "savage," and
in some respects reality bears out imagination. As a matter of fact
though, the incongruity does not exist when once one has seen native
art actually displayed in its own setting. A festive mob of natives,
with the wonderful golden-brown colour of their skins brought out by
washing and anointing and set off by the gaudy white, red and black of
facial paint, feathers and ornaments, with their exquisitely carved
and polished ebony objects, with their finely worked lime pots, has
a distinct elegance of its own, without striking one as grotesque
or incongruous in any æsthetic detail. There is an evident harmony
between their festive mood, the display of colours and forms, and
the manner in which they put on and bear their ornaments.

Those who have come from a distance, and who would spoil their
decorations by the long march, wash with water and anoint themselves
with coco-nut grease immediately before arriving at the scene of
festivities. As a rule the best paint is put on later on, when
the climax of the proceedings approaches. On this occasion, after
the preliminaries (distribution of food, arrival of other canoes)
were over, and when the races were just going to be started, the
aristocracy of Omarakana--the wives and children of To'uluwa, his
relatives and himself--withdrew behind the shelters, near the boat
shed, and proceeded to put on the red, white and black of full facial
paint. They crushed young betel-nut, mixed it with lime, and put it
on with the pestles of betel mortars; then some of the aromatic black
resin (sayaku) and white lime were applied. As the habit of mirrors
is not quite well established yet in the Trobriands, the painting
was done by one person on the face of another, and great care and
patience were displayed on both sides.

The numerous crowd spent the day without taking much refreshment--a
feature strongly differentiating Kiriwinian festivities from our ideal
of an entertainment or picnic. No cooking was done, and only a few
bananas were eaten here and there, and green coco-nuts were drunk and
eaten. But even these refreshments were consumed with great frugality.

As always on such occasions, the people collected together in sets, the
visitors from each village forming a group apart. The local natives
kept to their own boat houses, those of Omarakana and Kurokaiwa
having their natural centres on the beach of Kaulukuba. The other
visitors similarly kept together in their position on the beach,
according to their local distribution; thus, men from the Northern
villages would keep to the Northern section of the beach, those from
the South would stick to that point of the compass, so that villages
which were neighbours in reality would also be side by side on the
shore. There was no mingling in the crowd, and individuals would
not walk about from one group to another. The aristocrats, out of
personal dignity, humble folk because of a modesty imposed by custom,
would keep in their places. To'uluwa sat practically still during
the whole performance, on the platform erected for this purpose,
except when he went over to his boat, to trim it for the race.

The boat shed of Omarakana, round which the chief, his family
and the other villagers were grouped, was the centre of all the
proceedings. Under one of the palms, a fairly high platform was put up
to accommodate To'uluwa. In a row in front of the sheds and shelters,
there stood the prismatic food receptacles (pwata'i). They had been
erected by the inhabitants of Omarakana and Kasana'i, on the previous
day, and partially filled with yams. The rest had to be supplied by
people from the other villages, on the day of the boat races. As
the natives came to the beach on that day, village after village,
they brought their contribution, and before settling down on their
particular spot on the shore, they paid a visit to the chief and
offered him their tributes. These would be put into one of the
pwata'i. All the villages did not contribute their share, but the
majority did, though some of them brought only a few baskets. One
of the villages brought one complete pwata'i, filled with yams,
and offered the whole to the chief.

In the meantime, the eight canoes arrived, including that of Kasana'i,
which had been ceremonially launched that morning with the accompanying
magical rite, on its own beach about half a mile away. The canoe of
Omarakana had also been launched on this morning (Plate XXX), and the
same rite performed over it. It ought to have been done by To'uluwa,
the chief. As he, however, is quite incapable of remembering magical
spells--in fact, he never does any of the magic which his rank and
office impose on him--the rite was performed on this occasion by one
of his kinsmen. This is a typical case of a rule very stringently
formulated by all informants when you ask about it, yet in reality
often observed with laxity. If you inquire directly, everyone will
tell you that this rite, as all others of the mwasila (Kula magic)
has to be done by the toliwaga. But every time when he ought to
perform it, To'uluwa will find some excuse, and delegate it to another.

When all the canoes were present, as well as all the important
villages, at about eleven o'clock a.m., there took place the sagali
(ceremonial distribution). The food was given to people from various
villages, especially such as took part in the races, or had assisted
in the building of the new canoe. So we see that food contributed by
all the villages before the sagali was simply redistributed among them,
a considerable quantity having been added first by the chief; and this
indeed is the usual procedure at a sagali. In this case, of course,
the lion's share was taken by the Kitavans who helped at the building.

After the sagali was over, the canoes were all brought up to one spot,
and the natives began to prepare them for the race. The masts were
stepped, the fastenings trimmed, the sails made ready (see Plate
XXXI). After that the canoes all put off and gathered about half a
mile off the shore, beyond the fringing reef; and at a sign given
by some one on one of them, they all started. As said before, such a
run is not a race properly speaking, in which the canoes would start
scrupulously at the same minute, have the same distance to cover,
and which would clearly show which is the fastest. In this case, it
was merely, as always, a review of the boats sailing along as well
as they were able, a review in which they all began to move, more
or less at the same time, went in the same direction, and covered
practically the same distance.

As to the time table of the events, the sagali was over before
mid-day. There was a pause; and then, at about one p.m., the natives
began rigging the canoes. Then all hands had a spell, and not before
three p.m. were the races started. The whole affair was over by about
four o'clock, and half an hour later, the boats from the other villages
started to sail home, the people on the shore dispersed, so that by
sunset, that is, about six o'clock, the beach was almost deserted.

Such was the tasasoria ceremony which I saw in February, 1916. It
was a fine sight from the spectacular point of view. A superficial
onlooker could have hardly perceived any sign of white man's influence
or interference. I was the only white man present, and besides myself
only some two or three native missionary teachers were dressed in white
cotton. Amongst the rest of us there could be seen sparsely a coloured
rag, tied round as a neckerchief or head-dress. But otherwise there
was only a swarm of naked brown bodies, shining with coco-nut oil,
adorned in new festive dress, with here and there the three-coloured
grass skirt of a woman (see Plates XXX and XXXI).

But alas, for one who could look below the surface and read the
various symptoms of decay, deep changes would be discernible
from what must have been the original conditions of such a native
gathering. In fact, some three generations ago, even its appearances
would have been different. The natives then would have been armed
with shields and spears; some would have borne decorative weapons,
such as the big sword-clubs of hard wood, or massive ebony cudgels,
or small throwing-sticks. A closer inspection would have shown many
more decorations and ornaments, such as nose-sticks, finely carved
lime spatulæ, gourds with burnt-in designs, some of which are now out
of use, or those used of inferior workmanship or without decoration.

But other and much deeper changes have taken place in the social
conditions. Three generations ago both the canoes in the water and the
people on the shore would have been more numerous. As mentioned above,
in the olden days there would have been some twenty canoes in Kiriwina,
as against eight at the present time. Again, the far stronger influence
of the chief, and the much greater relative importance of the event
would have attracted a larger proportion out of the then more numerous
population. Nowadays, other interests, such as diving for pearls,
working on white man's plantations, divert the native attention,
while many events connected with Missions, Government and trading,
eclipse the importance of old customs.

Again, the people on the shore would have had to adhere in olden
days even more closely to the local distribution, men of the same
village community keeping together still more strictly, and looking
with mistrust and perhaps even hostility, at other groups, especially
those with whom they had hereditary feuds. The general tension would
often be broken by squabbles or even miniature fights, especially at
the moment of dispersing, and on the way home.

One of the important features of the performance, and the one of
which the natives think perhaps most--the display of food--would
also have been quite different. The chief whom I saw sitting on a
platform surrounded by a few wives only, and with small attendance
would, under the old conditions, have been the owner of thrice as many
wives and consequently relatives-in-law, and as it is these from whom
he derives most of his income, he would have provided a much bigger
sagali than he is able to do nowadays.

Three generations ago the whole event would have been much more solemn
and dramatic to the natives. The very distance to the neighbouring
island of Kitava is nowadays dwarfed. In the past, it would not,
as now, be quickly obliterated by a white man's steam-launch. Then,
the canoes on the beach were the only means of arriving there, and
their value in the eyes of the natives must have, therefore, been
even higher, although they think so much of them now. The outlines
of the distant island and the small fleet of canoes on the beach
formed for the natives the first act of a big over seas expedition,
an event of far deeper significance to them then than now. A rich haul
of arm-shells, the arrival of many much-coveted utilities, the bringing
back of news from the far-off land, all this meant much more in older
days than it can mean at present. War, dancing, and the Kula supplied
tribal life with its romantic and heroic elements. Nowadays, with war
prohibited by the Government, with dancing discredited by missionary
influence, the Kula alone remains, and even that is stripped of some
of its glamour.


Before we proceed to the next stage, we must pause in following
the events of a Kula expedition, and consider one or two points
of more general importance. I have touched in the narrative, but
not dwelt upon, certain problems of the sociology of work. At the
outset of the preceding chapter it was mentioned that canoe-building
requires a definite organisation of work, and in fact we saw that in
the course of construction, various kinds of labour were employed,
and more especially towards the end, much use was made of communal
labour. Again, we saw that during the launching ceremony payment
was given by the owner to the expert and his helpers. These two
points therefore, the organisation of labour and communal labour
in particular, and the system of payment for experts' work must be
here developed.

Organisation of Labour.--First of all, it is important to realise
that a Kiriwinian is capable of working well, efficiently and in a
continuous manner. But he must work under an effective incentive:
he must be prompted by some duty imposed by tribal standards, or
he must be lured by ambitions and values also dictated by custom
and tradition. Gain, such as is often the stimulus for work in more
civilised communities, never acts as an impulse to work under the
original native conditions. It succeeds very badly, therefore, when
a white man tries to use this incentive to make a native work.

This is the reason why the traditional view of the lazy and indolent
native is not only a constant refrain of the average white settler, but
finds its way into good books of travel, and even serious ethnographic
records. With us, labour is, or was till fairly recently, a commodity
sold as any other, in the open market. A man accustomed to think in
terms of current economic theory will naturally apply the conceptions
of supply and demand to labour, and he applies them therefore to
native labour. The untrained person does the same, though in less
sophisticated terms, and as they see that the native will not work
well for the white man, even if tempted by considerable payment and
treated fairly well, they conclude that his capacity for labour is very
small. This error is due to the same cause which lies at the bottom
of all our misconceptions about people of different cultures. If you
remove a man from his social milieu, you eo ipso deprive him of almost
all his stimuli to moral steadfastness and economic efficiency and
even of interest in life. If then you measure him by moral, legal or
economic standards, also essentially foreign to him, you cannot but
obtain a caricature in your estimate.

But the natives are not only capable of energetic, continuous and
skilful work; their social conditions also make it possible for
them to employ organised labour. At the beginning of Chapter IV, the
sociology of canoe-building was given in outline, and now, after the
details of its successive stages have been filled in, it is possible to
confirm what has been said there, and draw some conclusions as to this
organisation of labour. And first, as we are using this expression so
often, I must insist again on the fact that the natives are capable
of it, and that this contention is not a truism, as the following
considerations should show. The just mentioned view of the lazy,
individualistic and selfish savage, who lives on the bounties of
nature as they fall ripe and ready for him, implicitly precludes the
possibility of his doing effective work, integrated into an organised
effort by social forces. Again, the view, almost universally accepted
by specialists, is that the lowest savages are in the pre-economic
stage of individualistic search for food, whereas the more developed
ones, such as the Trobrianders, for instance, live at the stage of
isolated household economy. This view also ignores, when it does not
deny explicitly, the possibility of socially organised labour.

The view generally held is that, in native communities each individual
works for himself, or members of a household work so as to provide
each family with the necessities of life. Of course, a canoe, even a
masawa, could obviously be made by the members of a household, though
with less efficiency and in a longer time. So that there is a priori
nothing to foretell whether organised labour, or the unaided efforts
of an individual or a small group of people should be used in the
work. As a matter of fact, we have seen in canoe-building a number
of men engaged in performing each a definite and difficult task,
though united to one purpose. The tasks were differentiated in their
sociological setting; some of the workers were actually to own the
canoe; others belonged to a different community, and did it only as
an act of service to the chief. Some worked in order to derive direct
benefit from the use of the canoe, others were to be paid. We saw also
that the work of felling, of scooping, of decorating, would in some
cases be performed by various men, or it might be performed by one
only. Certainly the minute tasks of lashing, caulking and painting,
as well as sail-making, were done by communal labour as opposed to
individual. And all these different tasks were directed towards one
aim: the providing the chief or headman with the title of ownership
of a canoe, and his whole community with its use.

It is clear that this differentiation of tasks, co-ordinated to
a general purpose, requires a well developed social apparatus to
back it up, and that on the other hand, this social mechanism must
be associated and permeated with economic elements. There must be a
chief, regarded as representative of a group; he must have certain
formal rights and privileges, and a certain amount of authority, and
also he must dispose of part of the wealth of the community. There
must also be a man or men with knowledge sufficient to direct and
co-ordinate the technical operations. All this is obvious. But it must
be clearly set forth that the real force which binds all the people
and ties them down in their tasks is obedience to custom, to tradition.

Every man knows what is expected from him, in virtue of his position,
and he does it, whether it means the obtaining of a privilege,
the performance of a task, or the acquiescence in a status quo. He
knows that it always has been thus, and thus it is all around him,
and thus it always must remain. The chief's authority, his privileges,
the customary give and take which exist between him and the community,
all that is merely, so to speak, the mechanism through which the force
of tradition acts. For there is no organised physical means by which
those in authority could enforce their will in a case like this. Order
is kept by direct force of everybody's adhesion to custom, rules and
laws, by the same psychological influences which in our society prevent
a man of the world doing something which is not "the right thing." The
expression "might is right" would certainly not apply to Trobriand
society. "Tradition is right, and what is right has might"--this
rather is the rule governing the social forces in Boyowa, and I dare
say in almost all native communities at this stage of culture.

All the details of custom, all the magical formulæ, the whole fringe
of ceremonial and rite which accompany canoe-building, all these
things add weight to the social scheme of duties. The importance of
magical ideas and rites as integrating forces has been indicated
at the outset of this description. It is easy to see how all the
appurtenances of ceremony, that is, magic, decoration, and public
attendance welded together into one whole with labour, serve to put
order and organisation into it.

Another point must be enlarged upon somewhat more. I have spoken
of organised labour, and of communal labour. These two conceptions
are not synonymous, and it is well to keep them apart. As already
defined, organised labour implies the co-operation of several
socially and economically different elements. It is quite another
thing, however, when a number of people are engaged side by side,
performing the same work, without any technical division of labour,
or social differentiation of function. Thus, the whole enterprise of
canoe-building is, in Kiriwina, the result of organised labour. But
the work of some twenty to thirty men, who side by side do the lashing
or caulking of the canoe, is communal labour. This latter form of
work has a great psychological advantage. It is much more stimulating
and more interesting, and it allows of emulation, and therefore of a
better quality of work. For one or two men, it would require about a
month to do the work which twenty to thirty men can do in a day. In
certain cases, as in the pulling of the heavy log from the jungle to
the village, the joining of forces is almost indispensable. True,
the canoe could be scooped out in the raybwag, and then a few men
might be able to pull it along, applying some skill. But it would
entail great hardships. Thus, in some cases, communal labour is of
extreme importance, and in all casesit furthers the course of work
considerably. Sociologically, it is important, because it implies
mutual help, exchange of services, and solidarity in work within a
wide range.

Communal labour is an important factor in the tribal economy
of the Trobriand natives. They resort to it in the building of
living-huts and storehouses, in certain forms of industrial work,
and in the transport of things, especially at harvest time, when great
quantities of produce have to be shifted from one village to another,
often over a great distance. In fishing, when several canoes go out
together and fish each for itself, then we cannot speak of communal
labour. When on the other hand, they fish in one band, each canoe
having an appointed task, as is sometimes done, then we have to do
with organised labour. Communal labour is also based upon the duties
of urigubu, or relatives-in-law. That is, a man's relatives-in-law
have to assist him, whenever he needs their co-operation. In the
case of a chief, there is an assistance on a grand scale, and whole
villages will turn out. In the case of a commoner, only a few people
will help. There is always a distribution of food after the work has
been done, but this can hardly be considered as payment, for is is
not proportional to the work each individual does.

By far the most important part communal labour has to play, is in
gardening. There are as many as five different forms of communal labour
in the gardens, each called by a different name, and each distinct in
its sociological nature. When a chief or headman summons the members
of a village community, and they agree to do their gardens communally,
it is called tamgogula. When this is decided upon, and the time grows
near for cutting the scrub for new gardens, a festive eating is held
on the central place, and there all men go, and takayva (cut down)
the scrub on the chief's plot. After that, they cut in turn the
garden plots of everyone, all men working on the one plot during a
day, and getting on that day food from the owner. This procedure is
reproduced at each successive stage of gardening; at the fencing,
planting of yams, bringing in supports, and finally, at the weeding,
which is done by women. At certain stages, the gardening is often
done by each one working for himself, namely at the clearing of the
gardens after they are burnt, at the cleaning of the roots of yams
when they begin to produce tubers, and at harvesting.

There are, as a rule, several communal feasts during the progress,
and one at the end of a tamgogula period. Gardens are generally worked
in this fashion, in years when big ceremonial dancing or some other
tribal festivity is held. This usually makes the work very late,
and it has then to be done quickly and energetically, and communal
labour has evidently been found suitable for this purpose.

When several villages agree to work their gardens by communal labour,
this is called lubalabisa. The two forms do not differ very much except
by name, and also by the fact that, in the latter form, more than one
chief or headman has to direct the process. The lubalabisa would only
be held when there are several small villages, clustered together,
as is the case in the village compounds of Sinaketa, Kavataria,
Kabwaku or Yalaka.

When a chief or headman, or man of wealth and influence summons his
dependents or his relatives-in-law to work for him, the name kabutu
is given to the proceedings. The owner has to give food to all those
co-operating. A kabutu may be instituted for one bit of gardening,
for example, a headman may invite his villagers to do his cutting
for him, or his planting or his fencing. It is clear that whenever
communal labour is required by one man in the construction of his
house or yam store, the labour is of the kabutu type, and it is thus
called by the natives.

The fourth form of communal labour is called ta'ula, and takes place
whenever a number of villagers agree to do one stage of gardening in
common, on the basis of reciprocity. No great or special payments take
place. The same sort of communal labour extending over all stages of
gardening, is called kari'ula, and it may be counted as the fifth form
of communal labour in the gardens. Finally, a special word, tavile'i,
is used when they wish to say that the gardens are done by individual
labour, and that everyone works on his own plot. It is a rule, however,
that the chief's plots, especially those of an influential chief of
high rank, are always gardened by communal labour, and this latter
is also used with regard to certain privileged plots, on which,
in a given year, the garden magic is performed first, and with the
greatest display.

Thus there is a number of distinct forms of communal labour, and they
show many more interesting features which cannot be mentioned in this
short outline. The communal labour used in canoe-building is obviously
of the kabutu type. In having a canoe made, the chief is able to summon
big numbers of the inhabitants of a whole district, the headman of
an important village receives the assistance of his whole community,
whereas a man of small importance, such as one of the smaller headmen
of Sinaketa or Vakuta, would have to rely on his fellow villagers and
relations-in-law. In all these cases, it would be the call of duty,
laid down by custom, which would make them work. The payment would be
of secondary importance, though in certain circumstances, it would be
a considerable one. The distribution of food during launching forms
such a payment, as we have seen in Division I of this chapter. In
olden days, a meal of Pigs, an abundance of betel-nut and coco-nut
and sugar cane would have made a veritable feast for the natives.

Another point of importance from the economic aspect is the payment
given by the chief to the builder of the canoe. The canoe of Omarakana
was made, as we saw, for To'uluwa by a specialist from Kitava,
who was well paid with a quantity of food, pigs and vaygua (native
valuables). Nowadays, when the power of the chiefs is broken, when
they have much less wealth than formerly to back up their position,
and cannot use even the little force they ever did and when the general
breaking up of custom has undermined the traditional deference and
loyalty of their subjects, the production of canoes and other forms
of wealth by the specialist for the chief is only a vestige of what
it once was. In olden days it was, economically, one of the most
important features of the Trobriand tribal life. In the construction
of the canoe, Which a chief in olden days would never build himself,
we meet with an example of this.

Here it will be enough to say that whenever a canoe is built for a
chief or headman by a builder, this has to be paid for by an initial
gift of food. Then, as long as the man is at work, provisional gifts
of food are given him. If he lives away from home, like the Kitavan
builder on the beach of Omarakana, he is fed by the toliwaga and
supplied with dainties such as coco-nut, betel-nut, pigs' flesh,
fish and fruits. When he works in his own home, the toliwaga will
bring him choice food at frequent intervals, inspecting, as he
does so, the progress of the work. This feeding of the worker or
bringing him extra choice food is called vakapula. After the canoe
is finished, a substantial gift is given to the master-builder during
the ceremonial distribution of food. The proper amount would be a few
hundred basketfuls of yams, a pig or two, bunches of betel-nut, and
a great number of coco-nuts; also, a large stone blade or a pig, or a
belt of red shell discs, and some smaller vaygua of the non-Kula type.

In Vakuta, where chieftainship is not very distinct, and the difference
in wealth less great, a toliwaga also has to feed the workers during
the time of hollowing out, preparing, and building a canoe. Then, after
the caulking, some fifty basketfuls are given to the builder. After
the launching and trial run, this builder gives a rope, symbol of
the canoe, to his wife, who, blowing the conch shell, presents the
rope to the toliwaga. He, on the spot, gives her a bunch of betel or
bananas. Next day, a considerable present of food, known as yomelu,
is given by the chief, and then at the next harvest, another fifty
or sixty basketfuls of yams as karibudaboda or closing up gift.

I have chosen the data from two concrete cases, one noted in
Kiriwina, the other in Vakuta--that is, in the district where the
chief's power is greatest, and in that where there never has been
more than a rudimentary distance in rank and wealth between chief
and commoner. In both cases there is a payment, but in Kiriwina the
payment is greater. In Vakuta, it is obviously rather an exchange of
services, whereas in Kiriwina the chief maintains, as well as rewards
his builder. In both cases we have the exchange of skilled services
against maintenance by supply of food.


We shall pass now to the next ceremonial and customary performance
in the succession of Kula events, to the display of a new canoe to
the friends and relatives of the toliwaga. This custom is called
kabigidoya. The tasasoria (launching and trial run) is obviously at
the same time the last act of ship-building, and by its associated
magical rite, by the foretaste of sailing, it is also one of the
beginning stages of the Kula. The kabigidoya being a presentation
of the new canoe, belongs to the series of building ceremonials;
but in so far as it is a provisioning trip, it belongs to the Kula.

The canoe is manned with the usual crew, it is rigged and fitted out
with all its paraphernalia, such as paddles, baler, and conch shell,
and it sets out on a short trip to the beaches of the neighbouring
villages. When the canoe belongs to a compound settlement like
Sinaketa, then it will stop at every beach of the sister villages. The
conch shell is blown, and people in the village will know "The
kabigidoya men have arrived." The crew remains in the canoe, the
toliwaga goes ashore, taking one paddle with him. He goes to the house
of his fellow-headman, and thrusts the paddle into the frame of the
house, with the words: "I offer thee thy bisila (pandanus streamer);
take a vaygua (valuable), catch a pig and break the head of my new
canoe." To which the local headman will answer--giving a present:
"This is the katuvisala dabala (the breaking of the head) of thy
new canoe!" This is an example of the quaint, customary wording used
in the exchange of gifts, and in other ceremonial transactions. The
bisila (pandanus streamer) is often used as a symbol for the canoe,
in magical spells, in customary expressions, and in idiomatic terms
of speech. Bleached pandanus streamers are tied to the mast, rigging
and sail; a specially medicated strip is often attached to the prow
of the canoe to give it speed, and there is also other bisila magic
to make a district partner inclined for Kula.

The gifts given are not always up to the standard of those mentioned
in the above customary phrase. The kabigidoya, especially from the
neighbouring villages, often brings only a few mats, a few dozen
coco-nuts, some betel-nut, a couple of paddles, and such articles of
minor value. And even in these trifles there is not much gain from
the short kabigidoya. For as we know, at the beginning of the Kula
all the canoes of, say, Sinaketa or Kiriwina are either rebuilt
or renewed. What therefore one canoe receives on its kabigidoya
round, from all the others, will have to be more or less returned to
them, when they in their turn kabigidoya one after the other. Soon
afterwards, however, on an appointed day, all the canoes sail together
on a visit to the other districts, and on this kabigidoya, they
receive as a rule much more substantial presents, and these they will
only have to return much later, after a year or two, when the visited
district will come back to them on their own kabigidoya. Thus, when the
canoes of Kirwina are built and renovated for a big Kula expedition,
they will sail South along the coast, and stop first in Olivilevi,
receiving presents from the chief there, and walking on a round of
the inland villages of Luba. Then they will proceed to the next sea
village, that of Wawela, leaving their canoes there, and going from
there across to Sinaketa. Thence they proceed still further South,
to Vakuta. The villages on the Lagoon, such as Sinaketa and Vakuta,
will return these visits, sailing North along the Western shore on
the Lagoon side. Then they stop at Tukwaukwa or Kavataria, and from
there walk inland to Kiriwina, where they receive presents (see Map
IV, p. 50).

The kabigidoya trips of the Vakutans and Sinaketans are more important
than those of the Northern or Eastern districts, because they are
combined with a preliminary trade, in which the visitors replenish
their stock of goods, which they will need presently on their trip
South to Dobu. The reader will remember that Kuboma is the industrial
district of the Trobriands, where are manufactured most of the
useful articles, for which these islands are renowned in the whole
of Eastern New Guinea. It lies in the Northern half of the island,
and from Kiriwina it is only a few miles walk, but to reach it from
Sinaketa or Vakuta it is necessary to sail North. The Southern villages
therefore go to Kavataria, and from there walk inland to Bwoytalu,
Luya, Yalaka and Kadukwaykela, where they make their purchases. The
inhabitants of these villages also when they hear that the Sinaketans
are anchored in Kavataria, bring their wares to the canoes.

A brisk trade is carried on during the day or two that the Sinaketans
remain in Kavataria. The natives of Kuboma are always eager to buy
yams, as they live in an unfertile district, and devote themselves
more to industrial productions than to gardening. And they are still
more eager to acquire coco-nuts and betel-nut, of which they have a
great scarcity. They desire besides to receive in exchange for their
produce the red shell discs manufactured in Sinaketa and Vakuta, and
the turtle-shell rings. For objects of great value, the Sinaketans
would give the big clay pots which they receive directly from the
Amphletts. For that they obtain different articles according to the
villages with which they are exchanging. From Bwoytalu, they get
the wonderfully fashioned and decorated wooden dishes of various
sizes, depths and finish, made out of either hard or soft wood; from
Bwaytelu, Wabutuma and Buduwaylaka, armlets of plaited fern fibre,
and wooden combs; from Buduwaylaka, Yalaka, and Kadukwaykela, lime
pots of different qualities and sizes. From the villages of Tilataula,
the district North-east of Kuboma, the polished axe blades used to
be acquired in olden days.

I shall not enter into the technicalities of this exchange, nor shall I
give here the approximate list of prices which obtain. We shall have to
follow the traded goods further on to Dobu, and there we shall see how
they change hands again, and under what conditions. This will allow us
to compare the prices and thus to gauge the nature of the transaction
as a whole. It will be better therefore to defer all details till then.


Here, however, its seems necessary to make another digression from
the straight narrative of the Kula, and give an outline of the various
forms of trade and exchange as we find them in the Trobriands. Indeed,
the main theme of this volume is the Kula, a form of exchange, and
I would be untrue to my chief principle of method, were I to give
the description of one form of exchange torn out of its most intimate
context; that is, were I to give an account of the Kula without giving
at least a general outline of the forms of Kiriwinian payments and
gifts and barter.

In Chapter II, speaking of some features of Trobriand tribal life, I
was led to criticise the current views of primitive economic man. They
depict him as a being indolent, independent, happy-go-lucky, yet at
the same time governed exclusively by strictly rational and utilitarian
motives, and logical and consistent in his behaviour. In this chapter
again, in Division II, I pointed out another fallacy implied in this
conception, a fallacy which declares that a savage is capable only
of very simple, unorganised and unsystematic forms of labour. Another
error more or less explicitly expressed in all writings on primitive
economics, is that the natives possess only rudimentary forms of
trade and exchange; that these forms play no essential part in the
tribal life, are carried on only spasmodically and at rare intervals,
and as necessity dictates.

Whether we have to deal with the wide-spread fallacy of the primitive
Golden Age, characterised mainly by the absence of any distinction
between mine and thine; or whether we take the more sophisticated
view, which postulates stages of individual search for food, and of
isolated household catering; or if we consider for the moment the
numerous theories which see nothing in primitive economics but simple
pursuits for the maintenance of existence--in none of these can we
find reflected even a hint of the real state of affairs as found in
the Trobriands; namely, that the whole tribal life is permeated by a
constant give and take; that every ceremony, every legal and customary
act is done to the accompaniment of material gift and counter gift;
that wealth, given and taken, is one of the main instruments of social
organisation, of the power of the chief, of the bonds of kinship,
and of relationship in law. [53]

These views on primitive trade, prevalent though erroneous, appear
no doubt quite consistent, that is, if we grant certain premises. Now
these premises seem plausible, and yet they are false, and it will be
good to have a careful look at them so that we can discard them once
and for all. They are based on some sort of reasoning, such as the
following one: If, in tropical conditions, there is a plenty of all
utilities, why trouble about exchanging them? Then, why attach any
value to them? Is there any reason for striving after wealth, where
everyone can have as much as he wants without much effort? Is there
indeed any room for value, if this latter is the result of scarcity
as well as utility, in a community, in which all the useful things
are plentiful? On the other hand, in those savage communities where
the necessities of life are scarce, there is obviously no possibility
of accumulating them, and thus creating wealth.

Again, since, in savage communities, whether bountifully or badly
provided for by nature, everyone has the same free access to all the
necessities, is there any need to exchange them? Why give a basketful
of fruit or vegetables, if everybody has practically the same quantity
and the same means of procuring it? Why make a present of it, if it
cannot be returned except in the same form? [54]

There are two main sources of error at the bottom of this faulty
reasoning. The first is that the relation of the savage to
material goods is a purely rational one, and that consequently,
in his conditions, there is no room for wealth or value. The second
erroneous assumption is that there can be no need for exchange if
anyone and everyone can, by industry and skill, produce all that
represents value through its quantity or its quality.

As regards the first proposition, it is not true either with regard
to what may be called primary wealth, that is, food stuffs, nor
with regard to articles of luxury, which are by no means absent
in Trobriand society. First as to food-stuffs, they are not merely
regarded by the natives as nourishment, not merely valued because
of their utility. They accumulate them not so much because they know
that yams can be stored and used for a future date, but also because
they like to display their possessions in food. Their yam houses
are built so that the quantity of the food can be gauged, and its
quality ascertained through the wide interstices between the beams
(see Plates XXXII and XXXIII). The yams are so arranged that the best
specimens come to the outside and are well visible. Special varieties
of yams, which grow up to two metres length, and weigh as much as
several kilograms each, are framed in wood and decorated with paint,
and hung on the outside of the yam houses. That the right to display
food is highly valued can be seen from the fact that in villages
where a chief of high rank resides, the commoners' storehouses have
to be closed up with coco-nut leaves, so as not to compete with his.

All this shows that the accumulation of food is not only the result
of economic foresight, but also prompted by the desire of display
and enhancement of social prestige through possession of wealth.

When I speak about ideas underlying accumulation of food stuffs in
the Trobriands, I refer to the present, actual psychology of the
natives, and I must emphatically declare that I am not offering
here any conjectures about the "origins" or about the "history" of
the customs and their psychology, leaving this to theoretical and
comparative research.

Another institution which illuminates the native ideas about food
storage is the magic called vilamalya, performed over the crops after
harvest, and at one or two other stages. This magic is intended to
make the food last long. Before the store-house is filled with yams,
the magician places a special kind of heavy stone on the floor, and
recites a long magical spell. On the evening of the same day, after
the food houses have been filled, he spits over them with medicated
ginger root, and he also performs a rite over all the roads entering
into the village, and over the central place. All this will make food
plentiful in that village, and will make the supplies last long. But,
and this is the important point for us, this magic is conceived
to act, not on the food, but on the inhabitants of the village. It
makes their appetites poor, it makes them, as the natives put it,
inclined to eat wild fruit of the bush, the mango and bread fruit of
the village grove, and refuse to eat yams, or at least be satisfied
with very little. They will boast that when this magic is performed
well, half of the yams will rot away in the storehouses, and be
thrown on the wawa, the rubbish heap at the back of the houses, to
make room for the new harvest. Here again we meet the typical idea
that the main aim of accumulating food is to keep it exhibited in
the yam houses till it rots, and then can be replaced by a new étalage.

The filling of the storehouses involves a double display of food,
and a good deal of ceremonial handling. When the tubers are taken
out of the ground they are first displayed in the gardens. A shed
of poles is erected, and covered with taitu vine, which is thrown
thickly over it. In such arbours, a circle is pegged out on the ground,
and within this the taitu (the ordinary small yams of the Trobriands
which form the staple harvest) are carefully piled up into a conical
heap. A great deal of care is lavished on this task, the biggest
are selected, scrupulously cleaned, and put on the outside of the
heap. After a fortnight or more of keeping the yams in the garden,
where they are much admired by visiting parties, the owner of the
garden plot summons a party of friends or relatives-in-law, and these
transport them into a village. As we know already, from Chapter II,
such yams will be offered to the owner's sister's husband. It is to
his village that they are brought, where again they are displayed in
conical heaps, placed before his yam house. Only after they have thus
remained for several days--sometimes up to a fortnight--are they put
into the storehouse (see Plate XXXIII).

Indeed, it would be enough for anyone to see how the natives handle
the yams, how they admire big tubers, how they pick out freaks and
sports and exhibit them, to realise that there is a deep, socially
standardised sentiment centring round this staple product of their
gardens. In many phases of their ceremonial life, big displays of food
form the central feature. Extensive mortuary distributions called
sagali, are, in one of their aspects, enormous exhibitions of food,
connected with their re-apportionment (see Plate XXXIV). At harvest
of the early yams (kuvi) there is an offering of first fruits to the
memory of the recently dead. At the later, main harvest of taitu
(small yams), the first tubers are dug out ceremonially brought
into the village and admired by the whole community. Food contests
between two villages at harvest, in olden days often followed by
actual fighting, are also one of the characteristic features which
throw light on the natives' attitude towards edible wealth. In fact,
one could almost speak of a "cult of food" among these natives, in so
far as food is the central object of most of their public ceremonies.

In the preparation of food, it must be noted that many taboos are
associated with cooking, and especially with the cooking pots. The
wooden dishes on which the natives serve their food are called kaboma,
which means "tabooed wood." The act of eating is as a rule strictly
individual. People eat within their family circles, and even when there
is public ceremonial cooking of the taro pudding (mona) in the big clay
pots, especially tabooed for this purpose (see Plate XXXV), they do not
eat in one body, but in small groups. A clay pot is carried into the
different parts of the village, and men from that part squat round it
and eat, followed afterwards by the women. Sometimes again the pudding
is taken out, placed on wooden dishes, and eaten within the family.

I cannot enter here into the many details of what could be called the
social psychology of eating, but it is important to note that the
centre of gravity of the feast lies, not in the eating, but in the
display and ceremonial preparation of the food (see Plate XXXV). When
a pig is to be killed, which is a great culinary and festive event, it
will be first carried about, and shown perhaps in one or two villages;
then roasted alive, the whole village and neighbours enjoying the
spectacle and the squeals of the animal. It is then ceremonially, and
with a definite ritual, cut into pieces and distributed. But the eating
of it is a casual affair; it will take place either within a hut, or
else people will just cook a piece of flesh and eat it on the road,
or walking about in the village. The relics of a feast such as pigs'
jaws and fish tails, however, are often collected and displayed in
houses or yam stores. [55]

The quantity of food eaten, whether in prospect or retrospect, is
what matters most. "We shall eat, and eat till we vomit," is a stock
phrase, often heard at feasts, intended to express enjoyment of the
occasion, a close parallel to the pleasure felt at the idea of stores
rotting away in the yam house. All this shows that the social act of
eating and the associated conviviality are not present in the minds
or customs of the Trobrianders, and what is socially enjoyed is the
common admiration of fine and plentiful food, and the knowledge of its
abundance. Naturally, like all animals, human or otherwise, civilised
or savage, the Trobrianders enjoy their eating as one of the chief
pleasures of life, but this remains an individual act, and neither
its performance nor the sentiments attached to it have been socialised.

It is this indirect sentiment, rooted of course in reality in the
pleasures of eating, which makes for the value of food in the eyes
of the natives. This value again makes accumulated food a symbol,
and a vehicle of power. Hence the need for storing and displaying
it. Value is not the result of utility and rarity, intellectually
compounded, but is the result of a sentiment grown round things,
which, through satisfying human needs, are capable of evoking emotions.

The value of manufactured objects of use must also be explained
through man's emotional nature, and not by reference to his logical
construction of utilitarian views. Here, however, I think that
the explanation must take into account, not so much the user of
these objects, as the workman who produces them. These natives are
industrious, and keen workers. They do not work under the spur of
necessity, or to gain their living, but on the impulse of talent and
fancy, with a high sense and enjoyment of their art, which they often
conceive as the result of magical inspiration. This refers especially
to those who produce objects of high value, and who are always
good craftsmen and are fond of their workmanship. Now these native
artists have a keen appreciation of good material, and of perfection
in craft. When they find a specially good piece of material it lures
them on to lavish on it an excess of labour, and to produce things too
good to be used, but only so much the more desirable for possession.

The careful manner of working, the perfection of craftmanship, the
discrimination in material, the inexhaustible patience in giving the
final touches, have been often noted by those who have seen natives
at work. These observations have also come under the notice of some
theoretical economists, but it is necessary to see these facts in
their bearing upon the theory of value. That is, namely, that this
loving attitude towards material and work must produce a sentiment of
attachment to rare materials and well-worked objects, and that this
must result in their being valued. Value will be attached to rare
forms of such materials as the craftsman generally uses: classes of
shell which are scarce, lending themselves especially to fashioning
and polishing; kinds of wood which are also rare, like ebony; and more
particularly, special varieties of that stone out of which implements
are made. [56]

We can now compare our results with the fallacious views on Primitive
Economic Man, sketched out at the beginning of this Division. We see
that value and wealth exist, in spite of abundance of things, that
indeed this abundance is valued for its own sake. Great quantities
are produced beyond any possible utility they could possess, out of
mere love of accumulation for its own sake; food is allowed to rot,
and though they have all they could desire in necessities, yet the
natives want always more, to serve in its character of wealth. Again,
in manufactured objects, and more especially in objects of the
vaygu'a type (comp. Chapter III, Div. III), it is not rarity within
utility which creates value, but a rarity sought out by human skill
within the workable materials. In other words, not those things
are valued, which being useful or even indispensable are hard to
get, since all the necessities of life are within easy reach of the
Trobriand Islander. But such an article is valued where the workman,
having found specially fine or sportive material, has been induced
to spend a disproportionate amount of labour on it. By doing so, he
creates an object which is a kind of economic monstrosity, too good,
too big, too frail, or too overcharged with ornament to be used,
yet just because of that, highly valued.


Thus the first assumption is exploded, "that there is no room for
wealth or value in native societies." What about the other assumption,
namely, "That there is no need to exchange if anyone can by industry
and skill, produce all that represents value through its quantity or
its quality?" This assumption is confuted by realising a fundamental
fact of native usage and psychology: the love of give and take for
its own sake; the active enjoyment in possession of wealth, through
handing it over.

In studying any sociological questions in the Trobriands, in
describing the ceremonial side of tribal life, or religion and magic,
we constantly meet with this give and take, with exchange of gifts
and payments. I had occasion several times to mention this general
feature, and in the short outline of the Trobriand sociology in
Chapter II, I gave some examples of it. Even a walk across the island,
such as we imagined in that chapter, would reveal to an open-eyed
Ethnographer this economic truth. He would see visiting parties--women
carrying big food baskets on their head, men with loads on their
shoulders--and on inquiring he would learn that these were gifts to
be presented under one of the many names they bear, in fulfilment
of some social obligation. Offerings of first fruits are given to
the chief or to relatives-in-law, when the mango or bread fruit or
sugar cane are ripe. Big quantities of sugar cane being borne to a
chief, carried by some twenty to thirty men running along the road,
produce the impressions of a tropical Birnam Wood moving through the
jungle. At harvest time all the roads are full of big parties of men
carrying food, or returning with empty baskets. From the far North of
Kiriwina a party will have to run for some twelve miles to the creek of
Tukwa'ukwa, get into canoes, punt for miles along the shallow Lagoon,
and have another good walk inland from Sinaketa; and all this is in
order to fill the yam house of a man who could do it quite well for
himself, if it were not that he is under obligation to give all the
harvest to his sister's husband! Displays of gifts associated with
marriage, with sagali (food distributions), with payments for magic,
all these are some of the most picturesque characteristics of the
Trobriand garden, road and village, and must impress themselves upon
even a superficial observer.

The second fallacy, that man keeps all he needs and never spontaneously
gives it away, must therefore be completely discarded. Not that the
natives do not possess a strongly retentive tendency. To imagine that
they differ from other human beings in this, would be to fall out
of one fallacy into the opposite one also already mentioned, namely
that there is a sort of primitive communism among the natives. On the
contrary, just because they think so much of giving, the distinction
between mine and thine is not obliterated but enhanced; for the
presents are by no means given haphazardly, but practically always in
fulfilment of definite obligations, and with a great deal of formal
punctilio. The very fundamental motive of giving, the vanity of a
display of possession and power, a limine rules out any assumption
of communistic tendencies or institutions. Not in all cases, but
in many of them, the handing over of wealth is the expression
of the superiority of the giver over the recipient. In others,
it represents subordination to a chief, or a kinship relation or
relationship-in-law. And it is important to realise that in almost
all forms of exchange in the Trobriands, there is not even a trace
of gain, nor is there any reason for looking at it from the purely
utilitarian and economic standpoint, since there is no enhancement
of mutual utility through the exchange.

Thus, it is quite a usual thing in the Trobriands for a type of
transaction to take place in which A gives twenty baskets of yams to
B, receiving for it a small polished blade, only to have the whole
transaction reversed in a few weeks' time. Again, at a certain stage of
mortuary ritual, a present of valuables is given, and on the same day
later on, the identical articles are returned to the giver. Cases like
that described in the kabigidoya custom (Div. III of this chapter),
where each owner of a new canoe made a round of all the others,
each thus giving away again what he receives, are typical. In the
wasi--exchange of fish for yams, to be described presently--through
a practically useless gift, a burdensome obligation is imposed, and
one might speak of an increase of burdens rather than an increase
of utilities.

The view that the native can live in a state of individual search
for food, or catering for his own household only, in isolation from
any interchange of goods, implies a calculating, cold egotism, the
possibility of enjoyment by man of utilities for their sake. This view,
and all the previously criticised assumptions, ignore the fundamental
human impulse to display, to share, to bestow. They ignore the deep
tendency to create social ties through exchange of gifts. Apart from
any consideration as to whether the gifts are necessary or even useful,
giving for the sake of giving is one of the most important features of
Trobriand sociology, and, from its very general and fundamental nature,
I submit that it is a universal feature of all primitive societies.

I have dwelt at length on economic facts which on the surface are not
directly connected with the Kula. But if we realise that in these
facts we may be able to read the native's attitude towards wealth
and value, their importance for the main theme becomes obvious. The
Kula is the highest and the most dramatic expression of the native's
conception of value, and if we want to understand all the customs and
actions of the Kula in their real bearings we must, first and foremost,
grasp the psychology that lies at its basis.


I have on purpose spoken of forms of exchange, of gifts and
counter-gifts, rather than of barter or trade, because, although there
exist forms of barter pure and simple, there are so many transitions
and gradations between that and simple gift, that it is impossible
to draw any fixed line between trade on the one hand, and exchange
of gifts on the other. Indeed, the drawing of any lines to suit
our own terminology and our own distinctions is contrary to sound
method. In order to deal with these facts correctly it is necessary
to give a complete survey of all forms of payment or present. In this
survey there will be at one end the extreme case of pure gift, that
is an offering for which nothing is given in return. Then, through
many customary forms of gift or payment, partially or conditionally
returned, which shade into each other, there come forms of exchange,
where more or less strict equivalence is observed, arriving finally
at real barter. In the following survey I shall roughly classify each
transaction according to the principle of its equivalence.

Such tabularised accounts cannot give the same clear vision of
facts as a concrete description might do, and they even produce
the impression of artificiality, but, and this must be emphatically
stated, I shall not introduce here artificial categories, foreign to
the native mind. Nothing is so misleading in ethnographic accounts
as the description of facts of native civilisations in terms of
our own. This, however, shall not be done here. The principles of
arrangement, although quite beyond the comprehension of the natives,
are nevertheless contained in their social organisation, customs,
and even in their linguistic terminology. This latter always affords
the simplest and surest means of approach towards the understanding of
native distinctions and classifications. But it also must be remembered
that, though important as a clue to native ideas, the knowledge of
terminology is not a miraculous short-cut into the native's mind. As
a matter of fact, there exist many salient and extremely important
features of Trobriand sociology and social psychology, which are not
covered by any term, whereas their language distinguishes sub-divisions
and subtleties which are quite irrelevant with regard to actual
conditions. Thus, a survey of terminology must always be supplemented
by a direct analysis of ethnographic fact and inquiry into the native's
ideas, that is, by collecting a body of opinions, typical expressions,
and customary phrases by direct cross-questioning. The most conclusive
and deepest insight, however, must always be obtained by a study of
behaviour, by analysis of ethnographic custom and concrete cases of
traditional rules.


1. Pure Gifts.--By this, as just mentioned, we understand an act,
in which an individual gives an object or renders a service without
expecting or getting any return. This is not a type of transaction
very frequently met in Trobriand tribal life. It must be remembered
that accidental or spontaneous gifts, such as alms or charities, do
not exist, since everybody in need would be maintained by his or her
family. Again, there are so many well-defined economic obligations,
connected with kinship and relationship-in-law, that anyone wanting
a thing or a service would know where to go and ask for it. And then,
of course, it would not be a free gift, but one imposed by some social
obligation. Moreover, since gifts in the Trobriands are conceived
as definite acts with a social meaning, rather than transmissions of
objects, it results that where social duties do not directly impose
them, gifts are very rare.

The most important type of free gift are the presents characteristic
of relations between husband and wife, and parents and children. Among
the Trobrianders, husband and wife own their things separately. There
are man's and woman's possessions, and each of the two partners
has a special part of the household goods under control. When one
of them dies, his or her relations inherit the things. But though
the possessions are not joint, they very often give presents to one
another, more especially a husband to his wife.

As to the parents' gifts to the children, it is clear that in a
matrilineal society, where the mother is the nearest of kin to
her children in a sense quite different to that in our society,
they share in and inherit from her all her possessions. It is more
remarkable that the father, who, according to native belief and law,
is only the mother's husband, and not the kinsman of the children, is
the only relation from whom free gifts are expected. [57] The father
will give freely of his valuables to a son, and he will transmit to
him his relationships in the Kula, according to the definite rules by
which it is done (see Chapter XI, Division II). Also, one of the most
valuable and valued possessions, the knowledge of magic, is handed
over willingly, and free of any counter-gift, from father to son. The
ownership of trees in the village grove and ownership in garden plots
is ceded by the father to his son during the lifetime of the former. At
his death, it often has to be returned to the man's rightful heirs,
that is, his sister's children. All the objects of use embraced by
the term gugua will be shared with him as a matter of course by a
man's children. Also, any special luxuries in food, or such things as
betel-nut or tobacco, he will share with his children as well as with
his wife. In all such small articles of indulgence, free distribution
will also obtain between the chief or the headman and his vassals,
though not in such a generous spirit, as within the family. In fact,
everyone who possesses betel-nut or tobacco in excess of what he can
actually consume on the spot, would be expected to give it away. This
very special rule, which also happens to apply to such articles as
are generally used by white men for trade, has largely contributed to
the tenacity of the idea of the communistic native. In fact, many a
man will carefully conceal any surplus so as to avoid the obligation
of sharing it and yet escape the opprobrium attaching to meanness.

There is no comprehensive name for this class of free gifts in native
terminology. The verb "to give" (sayki) would simply be used, and on
inquiry as to whether there was repayment for such a gift, the natives
would directly answer that this was a gift without repayment; mapula
being the general term for return gifts, and retributions, economic
as well as otherwise. The natives undoubtedly would not think of
free gifts as forming one class, as being all of the same nature. The
acts of liberality on the part of the chief, the sharing of tobacco
and betel-nut by anybody who has some to spare, would be taken as a
matter of course. Gifts by a husband to a wife are considered also as
rooted in the nature of this relationship. They have as a matter of
fact a very coarse and direct way of formulating that such gifts are
the mapula (payment) for matrimonial relations, a conception in harmony
with the ideas underlying another type of gift, of which I shall speak
presently, that given in return for sexual intercourse. Economically
the two are entirely different, since those of husband to wife are
casual gifts within a permanent relationship, whereas the others are
definite payment for favours given on special occasions.

The most remarkable fact, however, is that the same explanation
is given for the free gifts given by the father to his children;
that is to say, a gift given by a father to his son is said to be a
repayment for the man's relationship to the son's mother. According to
the matrilineal set of ideas about kinship, mother and son are one,
but the father is a stranger (tomakava) to his son, an expression
often used when these matters are discussed. There is no doubt,
however, that the state of affairs is much more complex, for there is
a very strong direct emotional attitude between father and child. The
father wants always to give things to his child, as I have said,
(compare Chapter II, Division VI), and this is very well realised by
the natives themselves.

As a matter of fact, the psychology underlying these conditions is
this: normally a man is emotionally attached to his wife, and has a
very strong personal affection towards his children, and expresses
these feelings by gifts, and more especially by trying to endow his
children with as much of his wealth and position as he can. This,
however, runs counter to the matrilineal principle as well as to the
general rule that all gifts require repayment, and so these gifts
are explained away by the natives in a manner that agrees with these
rules. The above crude explanation of the natives by reference to sex
payment is a document, which in a very illuminating manner shows up
the conflict between the matrilineal theory and the actual sentiments
of the natives, and also how necessary it is to check the explicit
statements of natives, and the views contained in their terms and
phraseology by direct observation of full-blooded life, in which we
see man not only laying down rules and theories, but behaving under
the impulse of instinct and emotion.

2. Customary payments, re-paid irregularly, and without strict
equivalence.--The most important of these are the annual payments
received at harvest time by a man from his wife's brothers
(cf. Chapter II, Divisions IV and V). These regular and unfailing
gifts are so substantial, that they form the bulk of a man's income
in food. Sociologically, they are perhaps the strongest strand
in the fabric of the Trobriands tribal constitution. They entail a
life-long obligation of every man to work for his kinswomen and their
families. When a boy begins to garden, he does it for his mother. When
his sisters grow up and marry, he works for them. If he has neither
mother nor sisters, his nearest female blood relation will claim the
proceeds of his labour. [58]

The reciprocity in these gifts never amounts to their full value,
but the recipient is supposed to give a valuable (vaygu'a) or a pig
to his wife's brother from time to time. Again if he summons his
wife's kinsmen to do communal work for him, according to the kabutu
system, he pays them in food. In this case also the payments are not
the full equivalent of the services rendered. Thus we see that the
relationship between a man and his wife's kinsmen is full of mutual
gifts and services, in which repayment, however, by the husband, is
not equivalent and regular, but spasmodic and smaller in value than
his own share; and even if for some reason or other it ever fails,
this does not relieve the others from their obligations. In the
case of a chief, the duties of his numerous relatives-in-law have
to be much more stringently observed; that is, they have to give him
much bigger harvest gifts, and they also have to keep pigs, and grow
betel and coco-nut palms for him. For all this, they are rewarded by
correspondingly large presents of valuables, which again, however,
do not fully repay them for their contributions.

The tributes given by vassal village communities to a chief
and usually repaid by small counter-gifts, also belong to this
class. Besides these, there are the contributions given by one kinsman
to another, when this latter has to carry out a mortuary distribution
(sagali). Such contributions are sometimes, but irregularly and
spasmodically, repaid by objects of small value.

The natives do not embrace this class under one term, but the
word urigubu, which designates harvest gifts from the wife's
brothers, stands for one of the most important conceptions of native
sociology and economics. They have quite a clear idea about the many
characteristics of the urigubu duties, which have been described here,
and about their far-reaching importance. The occasional counter gifts
given by the husband to his wife's kinsmen are called youlo. The
chief's tributes which we have put in this category are called
pokala. The placing of these two types of payment in one category is
justified both by the similar mechanism, and by the close resemblance
between the urigubu gifts, when given to a chief, and the pokala
received by him. There are even resemblances in the actual ceremonial,
which however, would require too much of a detailed description
to be more than mentioned here. The word pokala is a general term
for the chief's tributes, and there are several other expressions
which cover gifts of first fruit, gifts at the main harvest,
and some other sub-divisions. There are also terms describing the
various counter-gifts given by a chief to those who pay him tribute,
according to whether they consist of pig's flesh or yams or fruit. I
am not mentioning all these native words, in order not to overload
the account with details, which would be irrelevant here.

3. Payment for services rendered. This class differs from the foregoing
one in that here the payment is within limits defined by custom. It has
to be given each time the service is performed, but we cannot speak
here of direct economic equivalence, since one of the terms of the
equation consists of a service, the value of which cannot be assessed,
except by conventional estimates. All services done by specialists
for individuals or for the community, belong here. The most important
of these are undoubtedly the services of the magician. The garden
magician, for instance, receives definite gifts from the community and
from certain individuals. The sorcerer is paid by the man who asks him
to kill or who desires to be healed. The presents given for magic of
rain and fair weather are very considerable. I have already described
the payments given to a canoe-builder. I shall have to speak later
on of those received by the specialists who make the various types
of vaygu'a.

Here also belong the payments, always associated with love
intrigues. Disinterested love is quite unknown among these people
of great sexual laxity. Every time a girl favours her lover, some
small gift has to be given immediately. This is the case in the normal
intrigues, going on every night in the village between unmarried girls
and boys, and also in more ceremonial cases of indulgence, like the
katuyausi custom, or the mortuary consolations, mentioned in Chapter
II, Division II. A few areca-nuts, some betel pepper, a bit of tobacco,
some turtle-shell rings, or spondylus discs, such are the small tokens
of gratitude and appreciation never omitted by the youth. An attractive
girl need never go unprovided with the small luxuries of life.

The big mortuary distributions of food, sagali, have already been
mentioned several times. On their economic side, these distributions
are payments for funerary services. The deceased man's nearest maternal
kinsman has to give food gifts to all the villagers for their assuming
mourning, that is to say, for blackening their faces and cutting their
hair. He pays some other special people for wailing and grave digging;
a still smaller group for cutting out the dead man's ulna and using
it as a lime spoon; and the widow or widower for the prolonged and
scrupulously to be observed period of strict mourning.

All these details show how universal and strict is the idea that
every social obligation or duty, though it may not on any account
be evaded, has yet to be re-paid by a ceremonial gift. The function
of these ceremonial re-payments is, on the surface of it, to thicken
the social ties from which arise the obligations.

The similarity of the gifts and payments which we have put into
this category is expressed by the native use of the word mapula
(repayment, equivalent) in connection with all these gifts. Thus
in giving the reason why a certain present is made to a magician,
or why a share is allotted to a man at the sagali (distribution),
or why some valuable object is given to a specialist, they would
say: "This is the mapula for what he has done." Another interesting
identification contained in linguistic usage is the calling of both
magical payments and payments to specialists: a 'restorative,' or,
literally, a  'poultice.' Certain extra fees given to a magician are
described as 'katuwarina kaykela' or 'poultice for his leg'; as the
magician, especially he of the garden or the sorcerer, has to take
long walks in connection with his magic. The expression 'poultice of
my back,' will be used by a canoe-builder who has been bending over
his work, or 'poultice of my hand' by a carver or stone-polisher. But
the identity of these gifts is not in any way expressed in the detailed
terminology. In fact, there is a list of words describing the various
payments for magic, the gifts given to specialists, love payments,
and the numerous types of gifts distinguished at the sagali. Thus a
magical payment, of which a small part would be offered to ancestral
spirits, is called ula'ula; a substantial magical gift is called
sousula; a gift to a sorcerer is described by the verb ibudipeta,
and there are many more special names. The gifts to the specialists
are called vewoulo--the initial gift; yomelu--a gift of food given
after the object has been ceremonially handed over to the owner;
karibudaboda--a substantial gift of yams given at the next harvest. The
gifts of food, made while the work is in progress are called vakapula;
but this latter term has much wider application, as it covers all the
presents of cooked or raw food given to workers by the man, for whom
they work. The sexual gifts are called buwana or sebuwana. I shall
not enumerate the various terminological distinctions of sagali gifts,
as this would be impossible to do, without entering upon the enormous
subject of mortuary duties and distributions.

The classification of love gifts and sagali gifts in the same category
with gifts to magicians and specialists, is a generalisation in which
the natives would not be able to follow us. For them, the gifts given
at sagali form a class in themselves and so do the love gifts. We may
say that, from the economic point of view, we were correct in classing
all these gifts together, because they all represent a definite type of
equivalence; also they correspond to the native idea that every service
has to be paid for, an idea documented by the linguistic use of the
word mapula. But within this class, the sub-divisions corresponding
to native terminology represent important distinctions made by the
natives between the three sub-classes; love gifts, sagali gifts,
and gifts for magical and professional services.

4. Gifts returned in economically equivalent form.--We are enumerating
the various types of exchange, as they gradually assume the appearance
of trade. In this fourth class have been put such gifts as must be
re-paid with almost strict equivalence. But it must be stressed
that strict equivalence of two gifts does not assimilate them to
trade altogether. There can be no more perfect equivalence between
gift and counter-gift, than when A gives to B an object, and B on
the same day returns the very same object to A. At a certain stage
of the mortuary proceedings, such a gift is given and received back
again by a deceased man's kinsmen and his widow's brothers. Yet it
is obvious at once that no transaction could be further removed from
trade. The above described gifts at the presentation of new canoes
(kabigidoya) belong to this class. So do also numerous presents given
to one community by another, on visits which are going to be returned
soon. Payments for the lease of a garden plot are at least in certain
districts of the Trobriands returned by a gift of equivalent value.

Sociologically, this class of gifts is characteristic of the
relationship between friends (luba'i). Thus the kabigidoya takes
place between friends, the Kula takes place between overseas partners
and inland friends, but of course relations-in-law also belong par
excellence to this category.

Other types of equivalent gifts which have to be mentioned here
shortly, are the presents given by one household to another, at
the milamala, the festive period associated with the return of the
ancestral spirits to their villages. Offerings of cooked food are
ceremonially exposed in houses for the use of the spirits, and after
these have consumed the spiritual substance, the material one is
given to a neighbouring household. These gifts are always reciprocal.

Again, a series of mutual gifts exchanged immediately after marriage
between a man and his wife's father (not matrilineal kinsman in this
case), have to be put into this category.

The economic similarity of these gifts is not expressed in terminology
or even in linguistic use. All the gifts I have enumerated have
their own special names, which I shall not adduce here, so as not
to multiply irrelevant details of information. The natives have no
comprehensive idea that such a class as I have spoken of exists. My
generalisation is based upon the very interesting fact, that all
through the tribal life we find scattered cases of direct exchange
of equivalent gifts. Nothing perhaps could show up so clearly, how
much the natives value the give and take of presents for its own sake.

5. Exchange of Material Goods against Privileges, Titles and
non-material Possessions. Under this heading, I class transactions
which approach trade, in so far as two owners, each possessing
something they value highly, exchange it for something they value
still more. The equivalence here is not so strict, at any rate
not so measurable, as in the previous class, because in this one,
one of the terms is usually a non-material possession, such as the
knowledge of magic, the privilege to execute a dance, or the title
to a garden plot, which latter very often is a mere title only. But
in spite of this smaller measure of equivalence, their character of
trade is more marked, just because of the element of mutual desire
to carry out the transaction and of the mutual advantage.

Two important types of transaction belong to this class. One of them
is the acquisition by a man of the goods or privileges which are due
to him by inheritance from his maternal uncle or elder brother, but
which he wishes to acquire before the elder's death. If a maternal
uncle is to give up in his life time a garden, or to teach and hand
over a system of magic, he has to be paid for that. As a rule several
payments, and very substantial ones, have to be given to him, and
he gradually relinquishes his rights, giving the garden land, bit
by bit, teaching the magic in instalments. After the final payment,
the title of ownership is definitely handed over to the younger man.

I have drawn attention already in the general description of the
Trobriand Sociology (Chapter II, Division VI) to the remarkable
contrast between matrilineal inheritance and that between father
and son. It is noteworthy that what is considered by the natives
rightful inheritance has yet to be paid for, and that a man who
knows that in any case he would obtain a privilege sooner or later,
if he wants it at once, must pay for it, and that heavily. None the
less, this transaction takes place only when it appears desirable to
both parties. There is no customary obligation on either of the two
to enter on the exchange, and it has to be considered advantageous
to both before it can be completed. The acquisition of magic is of
course different, because that must naturally always be taught by
the elder man to the younger in his life time.

The other type of transaction belonging to this class, is the payment
for dances. Dances are "owned"; that is, the original inventor
has the right of "producing" his dance and song in his village
community. If another village takes a fancy to this song and dance,
it has to purchase the right to perform it. This is done by handing
ceremonially to the original village a substantial payment of food
and valuables, after which the dance is taught to the new possessors.

In some rare cases, the title to garden-lands would pass from one
community to another. For this again, the members and headman of the
acquiring community would have to pay substantially to those who hand
over their rights.

Another transaction which has to be mentioned here is the hire of
a canoe, where a temporary transference of ownership takes place in
return for a payment.

The generalisation by which this class has been formed, although it
does not run counter to native terminology and ideas, is beyond their
own grasp, and contains several of their sub-divisions, differentiated
by distinct native terms. The name for the ceremonial purchase of a
task or for the transfer of a garden plot is laga. This term denotes a
very big and important transaction. For example, when a small pig is
purchased by food or minor objects of value, they call this barter
(gimwali) but when a more valuable pig is exchanged for vaygu'a,
they call it laga.

The important conception of gradual acquisition in advance of
matrilineal inheritance, is designated by the term pokala, a word
which we have already met as signifying the tributes to the chief. It
is a homonym, because its two meanings are distinct, and are clearly
distinguished by the natives. There can be no doubt that these two
meanings have developed out of a common one by gradual differentiation,
but I have no data even to indicate this linguistic process. At
present, it would be incorrect to strain after any connection
between them, and indeed this is an example how necessary it is to
be careful not to rely too much on native terminology for purposes
of classification.

The term for the hire of a canoe is toguna waga.

6. Ceremonial barter with deferred payment.--In this class we have to
describe payments which are ceremonially offered, and must be received
and re-paid later on. The exchange is based on a permanent partnership,
and the articles have to be roughly equivalent in value. Remembering
the definition of the Kula in Chapter III, it is easy to see that
this big, ceremonial, circulating exchange belongs to this class. It
is ceremonial barter based on permanent partnership, where a gift
offered is always accepted, and after a time has to be re-paid by an
equivalent counter-gift.

There is also a ceremonial form of exchange of vegetable food for fish,
based on a standing partnership, and on the obligation to accept and
return an initial gift. This is called wasi. The members of an inland
village, where yams and taro are plentiful have partners in a Lagoon
village, where much fishing is done but garden produce is scarce. Each
man has his partner, and at times, when new food is harvested and
also during the main harvest, he and his fellow villagers will bring
a big quantity of vegetable food into the Lagoon village (see Plate
XXXVI), each man putting his share before his partner's house. This
is an invitation, which never can be rejected, to return the gift by
its fixed equivalent in fish.

As soon as weather and previous engagements allow, the fishermen go
out to sea and notice is given to the inland village of the fact. The
inlanders arrive on the beach, awaiting the fishermen, Who come back
in a body, and their haul of fish is taken directly from the canoes
and carried to the inland village. Such large quantities of fish
are always acquired only in connection with big distributions of
food (sagali). It is remarkable that in the inland villages these
distributions must be carried out in fish, whereas in the Lagoon
villages, fish never can be used for ceremonial purposes, vegetables
being the only article considered proper. Thus the motive for exchange
here is not to get food in order to satisfy the primary want of eating,
but in order to satisfy the social need of displaying large quantities
of conventionally sanctioned eatables. Often when such a big fishing
takes place, great quantities of fish perish by becoming rotten
before they reach the man for whom they are finally destined. But
being rotten in no way detracts from the value of fish in a sagali.

The equivalence of fish, given in return for vegetable food, is
measured only roughly. A standard sized bunch of taro, or one of the
ordinary baskets of taytu (small yams) will be repaid by a bundle of
fish, some three to five kilograms in weight. The equivalence of the
two payments, as well as the advantage obtained by one party at least,
make this exchange approach barter. [59] But the element of trust
enters into it largely, in the fact that the equivalence is left to
the repayer; and again, the initial gift which as a rule is always
given by the inlanders, cannot be refused. And all these features
distinguish this exchange from barter.

Similar to this ceremonial exchange are certain arrangements in which
food is brought by individuals to the industrial villages of Kuboma,
and the natives of that place return it by manufactured objects when
these are made. In certain cases of production of vaygu'a (valuables)
it is difficult to judge whether we have to do with the payment for
services rendered (Class 3), or with the type of ceremonial barter
belonging to this class. There is hardly any need to add that the two
types of exchange contained in this class, the Kula and the wasi (fish
barter) are kept very distinct in the minds of the natives. Indeed,
the ceremonial exchange of valuables, the Kula, stands out as such a
remarkable form of trade that in all respects, not only by the natives,
but also by ourselves, it must be put into a class by itself. There
is no doubt, however, that the technique of the wasi must have
been influenced by the ideas and usages of the Kula, which is by
far the more important and widespread of the two. The natives, when
explaining one of these trades, often draw parallels to the other. And
the existence of social partnership, of ceremonial sequence of gift,
of the free yet unevadible equivalence, all these features appear
in both forms. This shows that the natives have a definite mental
attitude towards what they consider an honourable, ceremonial type of
barter. The rigid exclusion of haggling, the formalities observed in
handing over the gift, the obligation of accepting the initial gift
and of returning it later on, all these express this attitude.

7. Trade, Pure and Simple.--The main characteristic of this form
of exchange is found in the element of mutual advantage: each side
acquires what is needed, and gives away a less useful article. Also
we find here the equivalence between the articles adjusted during
the transaction by haggling or bargaining.

This bartering, pure and simple, takes place mainly between the
industrial communities of the interior, which manufacture on a large
scale the wooden dishes, combs, lime pots, armlets and baskets and
the agricultural districts of Kiriwina, the fishing communities of
the West, and the sailing and trading communities of the South. The
industrials, who are regarded as pariahs and treated with contumely,
are nevertheless allowed to hawk their goods throughout the other
districts. When they have plenty of articles on hand, they go to
the other places, and ask for yams, coco-nuts, fish, and betel-nut,
and for some ornaments, such as turtle shell, earrings and spondylus
beads. They sit in groups and display their wares, saying "You have
plenty of coco-nuts, and we have none. We have made fine wooden
dishes. This one is worth forty nuts, and some betel-nut, and some
betel pepper." The others then may answer, "Oh, no, I do not want
it. You ask too much." "What will you give us?" An offer may be made,
and rejected by the pedlars, and so on, till a bargain is struck.

Again, at certain times, people from other villages may need some of
the objects made in Kuboma, and will go there, and try to purchase
some manufactured goods. People of rank as a rule will do it in the
manner described in the previous paragraph, by giving an initial gift,
and expecting a repayment. Others simply go and barter. As we saw
in the description of the kabigidoya, the Sinaketans and Vakutans
go there and purchase goods before each Kula expedition to serve for
the subsidiary trade.

Thus the conception of pure barter (gimwali) stands out very clearly,
and the natives make a definite distinction between this and other
forms of exchange. Embodied in a word, this distinction is made more
poignant still by the manner in which the word is used. When scornfully
criticising bad conduct in Kula, or an improper manner of giving gifts,
a native will say that "it was done like a gimwali." When asked,
about a transaction, whether it belongs to one class or another,
they will reply with an accent of depreciation "That was only a
gimwali--(gimwali wala!)" In the course of ethnographic investigation,
they give clear descriptions, almost definitions of gimwali, its lack
of ceremony, the permissibility of haggling, the free manner in which
it can be done between any two strangers. They state correctly and
clearly its general conditions, and they tell readily which articles
may be exchanged by gimwali.

Of course certain characteristics of pure barter, which we can
perceive clearly as inherent in the facts, are quite beyond their
theoretical grasp. Thus for instance, that the element of mutual
advantage is prominent in gimwali; that it refers exclusively to
newly manufactured goods, because second-hand things are never
gimwali, etc., etc. Such generalisations the ethnographer has to
make for himself. Other properties of the gimwali embodied in custom
are: absence of ceremonial, absence of magic, absence of special
partnership--all these already mentioned above. In carrying out the
transaction, the natives also behave quite differently here than in
the other transactions. In all ceremonial forms of give and take,
it is considered very undignified and against all etiquette, for the
receiver to show any interest in the gift or any eagerness to take
it. In ceremonial distributions as well as in the Kula, the present is
thrown down by the giver, sometimes actually, sometimes only given in
an abrupt manner, and often it is not even picked up by the receiver,
but by some insignificant person in his following. In the gimwali,
on the contrary, there is a pronounced interest shown in the exchange.

There is one instance of gimwali which deserves special attention. It
is a barter of fish for vegetables, and stands out in sharp contrast
therefore to the wasi, the ceremonial fish and yam exchange. It is
called vava, and takes place between villages which have no standing
wasi partnership and therefore simply gimwali their produce when
necessary (see Plate XXXVII).

This ends the short survey of the different types of exchange. It was
necessary to give it, even though in a condensed form, in order to
provide a background for the Kula. It gives us an idea of the great
range and variety of the material give and take associated with the
Trobriand tribal life. We see also that the rules of equivalence,
as well as the formalities accompanying each transaction, are very
well defined.


It is easy to see that almost all the categories of gifts, which I
have classified according to economic principles, are also based
on some sociological relationship. Thus the first type of gifts,
that is, the free gifts, take place in the relationship between
husband and wife, and in that between parents and children. Again,
the second class of gifts, that is, the obligatory ones, given without
systematic repayment, are associated with relationship-in-law, mainly,
though the chief's tributes also belong to this class.

If we drew up a scheme of sociological relations, each type of them
would be defined by a special class of economic duties. There would
be some parallelism between such a sociological classification of
payments and presents, and the one given above. But such parallelism
is only approximate. It will be therefore interesting to draw up a
scheme of exchanges, classified according to the social relationship,
to which they correspond. This will give us good insight into the
economics of Trobriand sociology, as well as another view of the
subject of payments and presents.

Going over the sociological outline in Chapter II, Divisions V and VI,
we see that the family, the clan and sub-clan, the village community,
the district and the tribe are the main social divisions of the
Trobriands. To these groupings correspond definite bonds of social
relationship. Thus, to the family, there correspond no less than three
distinct types of relationship, according to native ideas. First of
all there is the matrilineal kinship (veyola) which embraces people,
who can trace common descent through their mothers. This is, to the
natives, the blood relationship, the identity of flesh, and the real
kinship. The marriage relation comprises that between husband and wife,
and father and children. Finally, the relationship between the husband
and the wife's matrilineal kinsmen forms the third class of personal
ties corresponding to family. These three types of personal bonds are
clearly distinguished in terminology, in the current linguistic usage,
in custom, and in explicitly formulated ideas.

To the grouping into clans and sub-clans, there pertain the ties
existing between clansmen and more especially between members of
the same sub-clan, and on the other hand, the relationship between a
man and members of different clans. Membership in the same sub-clan
is a kind of extended kinship. The relationship to other clans is
most important, where it assumes the form of special friendship
called luba'i. The grouping into village communities results in the
very important feature of fellow membership in the same village
community. The distinction of rank associated with clanship, the
division into village communities and districts, result, in the
manner sketched out in Chapter II, in the subordination of commoners
to chiefs. Finally, the general fact of membership in the tribe
creates the bonds which unite every tribesman with another and which
in olden days allowed of a free though not unlimited intercourse, and
therefore of commercial relations. We have, therefore, eight types of
personal relationship to distinguish. In the following table we see
them enumerated with a short survey of their economic characteristics.

1. Matrilineal kinship.--The underlying idea that this means identity
of blood and of substance is by no means forcibly expressed on its
economic side. The right of inheritance, the common participation
in certain titles of ownership, and a limited right to use one
another's implements and objects of daily use are often restricted
in practice by private jealousies and animosities. In economic gifts
more especially, we find here the remarkable custom of purchasing
during lifetime, by instalments, the titles to garden plots and trees
and the knowledge of magic, which by right ought to pass at death
from the older to the younger generation of matrilineal kinsmen. The
economic identity of matrilineal kinsmen comes into prominence at the
tribal distributions--sagali--where all of them have to share in the
responsibilities of providing food.

2. Marriage ties.--(Husband and wife; and derived from that, father and
children). It is enough to tabulate this type of relationship here,
and to remind the reader that it is characterised by free gifts, as
has been minutely described in the foregoing classification of gifts,
under (1).

3. Relationship-in-law.--These ties are in their economic aspect not
reciprocal or symmetrical. That is, one side in it, the husband of
the woman, is the economically favoured recipient, while the wife's
brothers receive from him gifts of smaller value in the aggregate. As
we know, this relationship is economically defined by the regular
and substantial harvest gifts, by which the husband's storehouse is
filled every year by his wife's brothers. They also have to perform
certain services for him. For all this, they receive a gift of vaygu'a
(valuables) from time to time, and some food in payment for services

4. Clanship.--The main economic identification of this group takes
place during the sagali, although the responsibility for the food
rests only with those actually related by blood with the deceased
man. All the members of the sub-clan, and to a smaller extent members
of the same clan within a village community, have to contribute by
small presents given to the organisers of the sagali.

5. The Relationship of Personal Friendship.--Two men thus bound as
a rule will carry on Kula between themselves, and, if they belong to
an inland and Lagoon village respectively, they will be partners in
the exchange of fish and vegetables (wasi).

6. Fellow-citizenship in a Village Community.--There are many types
of presents given by one community to another. And, economically, the
bonds of fellow-citizenship mean the obligation to contribute one's
share to such a present. Again, at the mortuary divisions, sagali,
the fellow-villagers of clans, differing from the deceased man's,
receive a series of presents for the performance of mortuary duties.

7. Relationship between Chiefs and Commoners.--The tributes and
services given to a chief by his vassals on the one hand, and
the small but frequent gifts which he gives them, and the big and
important contribution which he makes to all tribal enterprises are
characteristic of this relationship.

8. Relationship between any two tribesmen.--This is characterised by
payments and presents, by occasional trade between two individuals,
and by the sporadic free gifts of tobacco or betel-nut which no man
would refuse to another unless they were on terms of hostility.

With this, the survey of gifts and presents is finished. The general
importance of give and take to the social fabric of Boyowan society,
the great amount of distinctions and sub-divisions of the various
gifts can leave no doubt as to the paramount rôle which economic acts
and motives play in the life of these natives.



We have brought the Kula narrative to the point where all the
preparations have been made, the canoe is ready, its ceremonial
launching and presentation have taken place, and the goods for the
subsidiary trade have been collected. It remains only to load the
canoes and to set sail. So far, in describing the construction, the
tasasoria and kabigidoya, we spoke of the Trobrianders in general. Now
we shall have to confine ourselves to one district, the southern part
of the Island, and we shall follow a Kula expedition from Sinaketa to
Dobu. For there are some differences between the various districts and
each one must be treated separately. What is said of Sinaketa, however,
will hold good so far as the other southern community, that of Vakuta,
is concerned. The scene, therefore, of all that is described in the
following two chapters will be set in one spot, that is, the group of
some eight component villages lying on the flat, muddy shore of the
Trobriand Lagoon, within about a stone's throw of one another. There
is a short, sandy beach under a fringe of palm trees, and from there
we can take a comprehensive view of the Lagoon, the wide semi-circle
of its shore edged with the bright green of mangroves, backed by the
high jungle on the raised coral ridge of the Raybwag. A few small,
flat islands on the horizon just faintly thicken its line, and on a
clear day the mountains of the d'Entrecasteaux are visible as blue
shadows in the far distance.

From the beach, we step directly into one of the villages, a row of
houses faced by another of yam-stores. Through this, leaving on our
right a circular village, and passing through some empty spaces with
groves of betel and coco-nut palms, we come to the main component
village of Sinaketa, to Kasiyetana. There, overtopping the elegant
native huts, stands an enormous corrugated iron shed, built on piles,
but with the space between the floor and the ground filled up carefully
with white coral stones. This monument testifies both to native vanity
and to the strength of their superstitions--vanity in aping the white
man's habit of raising the house, and native belief in the fear of the
bwaga'u (sorcerer), whose most powerful sorcery is applied by burning
magical herbs, and could not be warded off, were he able to creep
under the house. It may be added that even the missionary teachers,
natives of the Trobriands, always put a solid mass of stones to fill
the space beneath their houses. To'udawada, the chief of Kasiyetana,
is, by the way, the only man in Boyowa who has a corrugated iron
house, and in fact in the whole of the island there are not more
than a dozen houses which are not built exactly according to the
traditional pattern. To'udawada is also the only native whom I ever
saw wearing a sun-helmet; otherwise he is a decent fellow (physically
quite pleasant looking), tall, with a broad, intelligent face. Opposite
his iron shanty are the fine native huts of his four wives.

Walking towards the North, over the black soil here and there pierced
by coral, among tall trees and bits of jungle, fields and gardens,
we come to Kanubayne, the village of Kouta'uya, the second most
important chief in Sinaketa. Very likely we shall see him sitting on
the platform of his hut or yam-house, a shrivelled up, toothless old
man, wearing a big native wig. He, as well as To'udawada, belongs
to the highest ranks of chieftainship, and they both consider
themselves the equals of the chiefs of Kiriwina. But the power of
each one is limited to his small, component village, and neither in
ceremonial nor in wealth did they, at least in olden days, approach
their kinsmen in the North. There is still another chief of the same
rank in Sinaketa, who governs the small village of Oraywota. This is
Sinakadi, a puffed up, unhealthy looking, bald and toothless old man,
and a really contemptible and crooked character, despised by black and
white alike. He has a well-established reputation of boarding white
men's boats as soon as they arrive, with one or two of his young wives
in the canoe, and of returning soon after, alone, but with plenty of
tobacco and good merchandise. Lax as is the Trobriander's sense of
honour and morality in such matters, this is too much even for them,
and Sinakadi is accordingly not respected in his village.

The rest of the villages are ruled by headmen of inferior rank, but
of not much less importance and power than the main chiefs. One of
them, a queer old man, spare and lame but with an extremely dignified
and deliberate manner, called Layseta, is renowned for his extensive
knowledge of all sorts of magic, and for his long sojourns in foreign
countries, such as the Amphletts and Dobu. We shall meet some of these
chiefs later on in our wanderings. Having described the villages and
headmen of Sinaketa let us return to our narrative.

A few days before the appointed date of the departure of the Kula
expedition there is a great stir in the villages. Visiting parties
arrive from the neighbourhood, bringing gifts mostly of food, to serve
as provisions for the journey. They sit in front of the huts, talking
and commenting, while the local people go about their business. In
the evenings, long conferences are held over the fires, and late hours
are kept. The preparation of food is mainly woman's work, whereas the
men put the finishing touches to the canoes, and perform their magic.

Sociologically the group of the departing differentiates itself of
course from those who remain. But even within that group a further
differentiation takes place, brought about by their respective
functions in the Kula. First of all there are the masters of the
canoe, the toliwaga, who will play quite a definite part for the next
few weeks. On each of them fall with greater stringency the taboos,
whether those that have to be kept in Sinaketa or in Dobu. Each has
to perform the magic and act in ceremonies. Each will also enjoy the
main honours and privileges of the Kula. The members of the crew, the
usagelu, some four to six men in each canoe, form another group. They
sail the craft, perform certain magical rites, and as a rule do the
Kula each on his own account. A couple of younger men in each canoe,
who do not yet kula, but who help in the work of sailing, form another
class, and are called silasila. Here and there a small boy will go
with his father on a Kula expedition--such are called dodo'u--and
makes himself useful by blowing the conch shell. Thus the whole
fleet consists of four classes, that of the toliwaga, the usagelu,
the helpers and the children. From Sinaketa, women, whether married or
unmarried, never go on overseas expeditions, though a different custom
prevails in the eastern part of the Trobriands. Each toliwaga has to
give a payment in food to his usagelu, and this is done in the form of
a small ceremony of distribution of food called mwalolo, and held after
the return from the expedition, in the central place of the village.

A few days before the sailing, the toliwaga starts his series of
magical rites and begins to keep his taboos, the women busy themselves
with the final Preparation of the food, and the men trim the waga
(canoe) for the imminent, long journey.

The taboo of the toliwaga refers to his sexual life. During the last
two nights, he has in any case to be up late in connection with his
magical performances, and with the visits of his friends and relatives
from other villages, who bring provisions for the voyage, presents
in trade goods, and who chat about the forthcoming expedition. But he
has also to keep vigil far into the night as a customary injunction,
and he has to sleep alone, though his wife may sleep in the same house.

The preparations of the canoe are begun by covering it with plaited
mats called yawarapu. They are put on the platform, thus making
it convenient for walking, sitting and spreading about of small
objects. This, the first act of canoe trimming, is associated with a
magical rite. The plaited leaves are chanted over by the toliwaga on
the shore as they are put on the canoe. Or, in a different system of
Kula magic the toliwaga medicates some ginger root and spits it on
the mats in his hut. This is a specimen of the magical formula which
would be used in such a rite:

                            YAWARAPU SPELL.

    "Betel-nut, betel-nut, female betel-nut; betel-nut, betel-nut,
    male betel-nut; betel-nut of the ceremonial spitting!"

    "The chiefs' comrades; the chiefs and their followers; their
    sun, the afternoon sun; their pig, a small pig. One only is
    my day"--here the reciter utters his own name--"their dawn,
    their morning."

    This is the exordium of the spell. Then follows the main body. The
    two words boraytupa and badederuma, coupled together, are repeated
    with a string of other words. The first word of the couple means,
    freely translated, 'quick sailing,' and the second one, 'abundant
    haul.' The string of words which are in succession tacked on
    to this couple describe various forms of Kula necklaces. The
    necklaces of different length and of different finish have each
    their own class names, of which there are about a dozen. After
    that, a list of words, referring to the human head, are recited:

    "My head, my nose, my occiput, my tongue, my throat, my larynx,
    etc., etc." Finally, the various objects carried on a Kula
    expedition are mentioned. The goods to be given (pari); a ritually
    wrapped up bundle (lilava); the personal basket; the sleeping mat;
    big baskets; the lime stick; the lime pot and comb are uttered
    one after the other.

    Finally the magician recites the end part of the spell;
    "I shall kick the mountain, the mountain moves, the mountain
    tumbles down, the mountain starts on its ceremonial activities,
    the mountain acclaims, the mountain falls down, the mountain lies
    prostrate! My spell shall go to the top of Dobu Mountain, my spell
    will penetrate the inside of my canoe. The body of my canoe will
    sink; the float of my canoe will get under water. My fame is like
    thunder, my treading is like the roar of the flying witches."

The first part of this spell contains a reference to the betel-nut,
this being one of the things which the natives expect to receive in
the Kula. On the other hand, it is one of the substances which the
natives charm over and give to the partner to induce him to kula with
them. To which of these two acts the spell refers, it is impossible
to decide, nor can the natives tell it. The part in which he extols
his speed and success are typical of the magic formulæ, and can be
found in many others.

The main part of the spell is as usual much easier to interpret. It
implies, broadly speaking, the declaration: "I shall speed and be
successful with regard to the various forms of vaygu'a; I shall speed
and be successful with my head, with my speech, with my appearance;
in all my trade goods and personal belongings." The final part of the
spell describes the impression which is to be made by the man's magic
upon 'the mountain,' which stands here for the district of Dobu and
its inhabitants. In fact, the districts in the d'Entrecasteaux to which
they are sailing are always called koya (mountain). The exaggerations,
the metaphors, and the implicit insistence on the power of the spell
are very characteristic of all magical spells.

The next day, or the day after, as there is often a delay in starting,
a pig or two are given by the master of the expedition to all the
participants. In the evening of that day, the owner of each canoe goes
into the garden, and finds an aromatic mint plant (sulumwoya). Taking
a sprig of it into his hand, he moves it to and fro, uttering a spell,
and then he plucks it. This is the spell:

                         SULUMWOYA SPELL. [60]

    "Who cuts the sulumwoya of Laba'i? I, Kwoyregu, with my father,
    we cut the sulumwoya of Laba'i! The roaring sulumwoya, it roars;
    the quaking sulumwoya, it quakes; the soughing sulumwoya, it
    soughs; the boiling sulumwoya, it boils."

    "My sulumwoya, it boils, my lime spoon, it boils, my lime pot, it
    boils, my comb ... my basket ... my small basket ... my mat ... my
    lilava bundle ... my presentation goods (pari) ..." And with each
    of these terms, the word 'boils' or 'foams up' is repeated often
    several times. After that, the same verb 'it boils' is repeated
    with all parts of the head, as in the previously quoted formula.

    The last part runs thus: "Recently deceased spirit of my
    maternal uncle Mwoyalova, breathe thy spell over the head of
    Monikiniki. Breathe the spell upon the head of my light canoe. I
    shall kick the mountain; the mountain tilts over; the mountain
    subsides; the mountain opens up; the mountain jubilates; it
    topples over. I shall kula so as to make my canoe sink. I shall
    kula so as to make my outrigger go under. My fame is like thunder,
    my treading is like the roar of the flying witches."

The exordium of this spell contains some mythical references, of which,
however, my informants could give me only confused explanations. But
it is clear in so far as it refers directly to the magical mint,
and describes its magical efficiency. In the second part, there is
again a list of words referring to objects used in the Kula, and to
the personal appearance and persuasiveness of the magician. The verb
with which they are repeated refers to the boiling of the mint and
coco-nut oil which I shall presently have to mention, and it indicates
that the magical properties of the mint are imparted to the toliwaga
and his goods. In the last part, the magician invokes the spirit of
his real maternal kinsman, from whom he obtained this spell, and
asks him to impart magical virtue to his canoe. The mythological
name, Monikiniki, with which there is no myth connected, except
the tradition that he was the original owner of all these spells,
stands here as synonym of the canoe. At the very end in the dogina,
which contains several expressions identical with those in the end
part of the Yawarapu spell, we have another example of the strongly
exaggerated language so often used in magic.

After having thus ritually plucked the mint plant, the magician
brings it home. There he finds one of his usagelu (members of crew)
who helps him by boiling some coco-nut oil (bulami) in a small native
clay pot. Into the boiling oil the mint plant is put, and, while it
boils, a magical formula is uttered over it.

                           KAYMWALOYO SPELL.

    "No betel-nut, no doga (ornament of circular boar's tusk),
    no betel-pod! My power to change his mind; my mwasila magic,
    my mwase, mwasare, mwaserewai." This last sentence contains a
    play on words very characteristic of Kiriwinian magic. It is
    difficult to interpret the opening sentence. Probably it means
    something like this: "No betel-nut or pod, no gift of a doga,
    can be as strong as my mwasila and its power of changing my
    partner's mind in my favour!"

    Now comes the main part of the spell: "There is one sulumwoya
    (mint) of mine, a sulumwoya of Laba'i which I shall place on top
    of Gumasila."

    "Thus shall I make a quick Kula on top of Gumasila; thus shall I
    hide away my Kula on top of Gumasila; thus shall I rob my Kula on
    top of Gumasila; thus shall I forage my Kula on top of Gumasila;
    thus shall I steal my Kula on top of Gumasila."

    These last paragraphs are repeated several times, inserting
    instead of the name of the island of Gumasila the following
    ones: Kuyawaywo, Domdom, Tewara, Siyawawa, Sanaroa, Tu'utauna,
    Kamsareta, Gorebubu. All these are the successive names of places
    in which Kula is made. In this long spell, the magician follows
    the course of a Kula expedition, enumerating its most conspicuous
    landmarks. The last part in this formula is identical with the
    last part of the Yawarapu Spell, previously quoted: "I shall kick
    the mountain, etc."

After the recital of this spell over the oil and mint, the magician
takes these substances, and places them in a receptacle made of banana
leaf toughened by grilling. Nowadays a glass bottle is sometimes used
instead. The receptacle is then attached to a stick thrust through the
prow boards of the canoe and protruding slantwise over the nose. As
we shall see later on, the aromatic oil will be used in anointing
some objects on arrival at Dobu.

With this, however, the series of magical rites is not finished. The
next day, early in the morning, the ritual bundle of representative
trade goods, called lilava, is made up with the recital of a magical
spell. A few objects of trade, a plaited armlet, a comb, a lime pot,
a bundle of betel-nut are placed on a clean, new mat, and into the
folded mat the spell is recited. Then the mat is rolled up, and over
it another mat is placed, and one or two may be wrapped round; thus it
contains, hermetically sealed, the magical virtue of the spell. This
bundle is placed afterwards in a special spot in the centre of the
canoe, and is not opened till the expedition arrives in Dobu. There is
a belief that a magical portent (kariyala) is associated with it. A
gentle rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning, sets in whenever
the lilava is opened. A sceptical European might add, that in the
monsoon season it almost invariably rains on any afternoon, with the
accompaniment of thunder, at the foot or on the slopes of such high
hills as are found in the d'Entrecasteaux group. Of course when, in
spite of that, a kariyala does not make its appearance, we all know
something has been amiss in the performance of the magical rite over
the lilava! This is the spell recited over the tabooed lilava bundle.

                             LILAVA SPELL.

    "I skirt the shore of the beach of Kaurakoma; the beach of Kayli,
    the Kayli of Muyuwa." I cannot add any explanation which would
    make this phrase clearer. It obviously contains some mythological
    references to which I have no key. The spell runs on:

    "I shall act magically on my mountain... Where shall I lie? I
    shall lie in Legumatabu; I shall dream, I shall have dream visions;
    rain will come as my magical portent... his mind is on the alert;
    he lies not, he sits not, he stands up and trembles, he stands
    up and is agitated; the renown of Kewara is small, my own renown
    flares up..."

    This whole period is repeated over and over again, each time
    the name of another place being inserted instead of that of
    Legumatabu. Legumatabu is a small coral island some two hundred
    yards long and a hundred yards wide, with a few pandanus trees
    growing on it, wild fowl and turtle laying their eggs in its
    sand. In this island, half way between Sinaketa and the Amphletts,
    the Sinaketan sailors often spend a night or two, if overtaken
    by bad weather or contrary winds.

    This period contains first a direct allusion to the magical
    portent of the lilava. In its second half it describes the state
    of agitation of the Dobuan partner under the influence of this
    magic, a state of agitation which will prompt him to be generous
    in the Kula. I do not know whether the word Kewara is a proper
    name or what else it may mean, but the phrase contains a boast
    of the magician's own renown, very typical of magical formulæ.

    The localities mentioned instead of Legumatabu in the successive
    repetitions of the period are: Yakum, another small coral
    island, Urasi, the Dobuan name for Gumasila, Tewara, Sanaro'a,
    and Tu'utauna, all localities known to us already from our
    description of Dobu.

    This is a very long spell. After the recital, and a very lengthy
    one, of the last period with its variants, yet another change
    is introduced into it. Instead of the first phrase "where shall
    I lie? etc." the new form runs "Where does the rainbow stand
    up? It stands up on the top of Koyatabu," and after this the
    rest of the period is repeated: "I shall dream, I shall have
    dream visions, etc." This new form is again varied by uttering
    instead of Koyatabu, Kamsareta, Koyava'u, and Gorebubu. [61] This
    again carries us through the landscape; but here, instead of the
    sleeping places we follow the beacons of the sailing expedition
    by mentioning the tops of the high mountains. The end part of
    this spell is again identical with that of the Yawarapu Spell.

This magical rite takes place on the morning of the last
day. Immediately after the recital of the spell, and the rolling up
of the lilava, it is carried to the canoe, and put into its place of
honour. By that time the usagelu (members of the crew) have already
made the canoe ready for sailing.

Each masawa canoe is divided into ten, eleven, or twelve compartments
by the stout, horizontal poles called riu, which join the body of the
canoe with the outrigger. Such a compartment is called liku, and each
liku has its name and its function. Starting from the end of the canoe,
the first liku, which, as is easily seen, is both narrow and shallow,
is called ogugwau, 'in the mist,' and this is the proper place for
the conch-shell. Small boys will sit there and blow the conch-shell
on ceremonial occasions.

The next compartment is called likumakava, and there some of the food
is stowed away. The third division is called kayliku and water-bottles
made of coco-nut shells have their traditional place in it. The fourth
liku, called likuguya'u, is, as its name indicates, the place for
the guya'u or chief, which, it may be added, is unofficially used as
a courtesy title for any headman, or man of importance. The baler,
yalumila, always remains in this compartment. Then follow the central
compartments, called gebobo, one, two or three, according to the
size of the canoe. This is the place where the lilava is put on the
platform, and where are placed the best food, not to be eaten till
the arrival in Dobu, and all valuable trade articles. After that
central division, the same divisions, as in the first part are met
in inverse order (see Plate XXXIX).

When the canoe is going to carry much cargo, as is always the case on
an expedition to Dobu, a square space is fenced round corresponding
to the gebobo part of the canoe. A big sort of square hen-coop, or
cage, is thus erected in the middle of the canoe, and this is full
of bundles wrapped up in mats, and at times when the canoe is not
travelling, it is usually covered over with a sail. In the bottom of
the canoe a floor is made by a framework of sticks. On this, people
can walk and things can rest, while the bilgewater flows underneath,
and is baled out from time to time. On this framework, in the gebobo,
four coco-nuts are placed, each in the corner of the square, while a
spell is recited over them. It is after that, that the lilava and the
choice food, and the rest of the trade are stowed away. The following
spell belongs to the class which is recited over the four coco-nuts.

                             GEBOBO SPELL.

    "My father, my mother ... Kula, mwasila." This short exordium,
    running in the compressed style proper to magical beginnings, is
    rather enigmatic, except for the mention of the Kula and mwasila,
    which explain themselves. The second part is less obscure:

    "I shall fill my canoe with bagido'u, I shall fill my canoe with
    bagiriku, I shall fill my canoe with bagidudu, etc." All the
    specific names of the necklaces are enumerated. The last part runs
    as follows: "I shall anchor in the open sea, and my renown will go
    to the Lagoon, I shall anchor in the Lagoon, and my renown will go
    to the open sea. My companions will be on the open sea and on the
    Lagoon. My renown is like thunder, my treading is like earthquake."

This last part is similar to several of the other formulæ. This rite
is obviously a Kula rite, judging from the spell, but the natives
maintain that its special virtue is to make the food stuffs, loaded
into the canoe, last longer. After this rite is over, the loading is
done quickly, the lilava is put into its place of honour, and with it
the best food to be eaten in Dobu. Some other choice food to serve
as pokala (offerings) is also put in the gebobo, to be offered to
overseas partners; on it, the rest of the trade, called pari, is piled,
and right on top of all are the personal belongings of the usagelu and
the toliwaga in their respective baskets, shaped like travelling bags.

The people from the inland villages, kulila'odila, as they are called,
are assembled on the beach. With them stand the women, the children,
the old men, and the few people left to guard the village. The master
of the fleet gets up and addresses the crowd on the shore, more or
less in these words:

    "Women, we others sail; you remain in the village and look after
    the gardens and the houses; you must keep chaste. When you get
    into the bush to get wood, may not one of you lag behind. When
    you go to the gardens to do work keep together. Return together
    with your younger sisters."

He also admonishes the people from the other villages to keep away,
never to visit Sinaketa at night or in the evening, and never to come
singly into the village. On hearing that, the headman of an inland
village will get up and speak in this fashion:

    "Not thus, oh, our chief; you go away, and your village will remain
    here as it is. Look, when you are here we come to see you. You
    sail away, we shall keep to our villages. When you return, we
    come again. Perhaps you will give us some betel-nut, some sago,
    some coco-nuts. Perhaps you will kula to us some necklace of
    shell beads."

After these harangues are over, the canoes sail away in a body. Some
of the women on the beach may weep at the actual departure, but it
is taboo to weep afterwards. The woman are also supposed to keep
the taboo, that is, not to walk alone out of the village, not to
receive male visitors, in fact, to remain chaste and true to their
husbands during their absence. Should a woman commit misconduct,
her husband's canoe would be slow. As a rule there are recriminations
between husbands and wives and consequent bad feeling on the return
of the party; whether the canoe should be blamed or the wife it is
difficult to say.

The women now look out for the rain and thunder, for the sign that
the men have opened the lilava (special magical bundle). Then they
know that the party has arrived on the beach of Sarubwoyna, and
performs now its final magic, and prepares for its entrance into the
villages of Tu'utauna, and Bwayowa. The women are very anxious that
the men should succeed in arriving at Dobu, and that they should not
be compelled by bad weather to return from the Amphletts. They have
been preparing special grass skirts to put on, when they meet the
returning canoes on the beach; they also hope to receive the sago,
which is considered a dainty, and some of the ornaments, which their
men bring them back from Dobu. If for any reason the fleet returns
prematurely, there is great disappointment throughout the village,
because this means the expedition has been a failure, nothing has been
brought back to those left at home, and they have no opportunity of
wearing their ceremonial dress.




After so many preparations and preliminaries, we might expect that,
once embarked, the natives would make straight for the high mountains,
which beckon them alluringly from the distant South. Quite on the
contrary, they are satisfied with a very short stage the first day,
and after sailing a few miles, they stop on a big sand bank called
Muwa, lying to the southwest of the village of Sinaketa. Here, near
the sandy shore, edged with old, gnarled trees, the canoes are moored
by sticks, while the crews prepare for a ceremonial distribution of
food, and arrange their camp for the night on the beach.

This somewhat puzzling delay is less incomprehensible, if we reflect
that the natives, after having prepared for a distant expedition, now
at last for the first time find themselves together, separated from the
rest of the villagers. A sort of mustering and reviewing of forces,
as a rule associated with a preliminary feast held by the party,
is characteristic of all the expeditions or visits in the Trobriands.

I have spoken already about big and small expeditions, but I have
not perhaps made quite clear that the natives themselves make a
definite distinction between big, competitive Kula expeditions, called
uvalaku, and sailings on a smaller scale, described as 'just Kula,'
("Kula wala"). The uvalaku are held every two or three years from
each district, though nowadays, as in everything else, the natives
are getting slack. One would be held, whenever there is a great
agglomeration of vaygu'a, due to reasons which I shall describe
later on. Sometimes, a special event, such as the possession by
one of the head men of an exceptionally fine pig, or of an object
of high value, might give rise to an uvalaku. Thus, in 1918, a big
competitive expedition (uvalaku) from Dobu was held ostensibly for
the reason that Kauyaporu, one of the head men of Tu'utauna, owned a
very large boar with tusks almost curling over into a circle. Again,
plenty of food, or in olden days the completion of a successful war
expedition, would form the raison d'être of an uvalaku. Of course
these reasons, explicitly given by the natives, are, so to speak,
accessory causes, for in reality an uvalaku would be held whenever
its turn came, that is, barring great scarcity of food or the death
of an important personage.

The uvalaku is a Kula expedition on an exceptionally big scale,
carried on with a definite social organisation under scrupulous
observance of all ceremonial and magical rites, and distinguished
from the smaller expeditions by its size, by a competitive element,
and by one or two additional features. On an uvalaku, all the canoes
in the district will sail, and they will sail fully manned. Everybody
will be very eager to take part in it. Side by side with this natural
desire, however, there exists the idea that all the members of the
crews are under an obligation to go on the expedition. This duty they
owe to the chief, or master of the uvalaku. The toli'uvalaku, as he
is called, is always one of the sectional chiefs or headmen. He plays
the part of a master of ceremonies, on leaving the beach of Sinaketa,
at the distributions of food, on arrival in the overseas villages,
and on the ceremonial return home. A streamer of dried and bleached
pandanus leaf, attached to the prows of his canoe on a stick, is the
ostensible sign of the dignity. Such a streamer is called tarabauba'u
in Kiriwinian, and doya in the Dobuan language. The headman, who
is toli'uvalaku on an expedition, will as a rule receive more Kula
gifts than the others. On him also will devolve the glory of this
particular expedition. Thus the title of toli, in this case, is one
of honorary and nominal ownership, resulting mainly in renown (butura)
for its bearer, and as such highly valued by the natives.

From the economic and legal point of view, however, the obligation
binding the members of the expedition to him is the most important
sociological feature. He gives the distribution of food, in which the
others participate, and this imposes on them the duty of carrying out
the expedition, however hard this might be, however often they would
have to stop or even return owing to bad weather, contrary winds,
or, in olden days, interference by hostile natives. As the natives say,

    "We cannot return on uvalaku, for we have eaten of the pig,
    and we have chewed of the betel-nut given by the toli'uvalaku."

Only after the most distant community with whom the Sinaketans
kula has been reached, and after due time has been allowed for the
collection of any vaygu'a within reach, will the party start on the
return journey. Concrete cases are quoted in which expeditions had
to start several times from Sinaketa, always returning within a few
days after all the provisions had been eaten on Muwa, from where a
contrary wind would not allow the canoes to move south. Or again,
a memorable expedition, some few decades ago, started once or twice,
was becalmed in Vakuta, had to give a heavy payment to a wind magician
in the village of Okinai, to provide them with a propitious northerly
wind, and then, sailing South at last, met with a vineylida, one of the
dreadful perils of the sea, a live stone which jumps from the bottom
of the sea at a canoe. But in spite of all this, they persevered,
reached Dobu in safety, and made a successful return.

Thus we see that, from a sociological point of view, the uvalaku is
an enterprise partially financed by the toli'uvalaku, and therefore
redounding to his credit, and bringing him honour; while the obligation
imposed on others by the food distributed to them, is to carry on
the expedition to a successful end.

It is rather puzzling to find that, although everyone is eager for
the expedition, although they all enjoy it equally and satisfy
their ambition and increase their wealth by it, yet the element
of compulsion and obligation is introduced into it; for we are not
accustomed to the idea of pleasure having to be forced on people. None
the less, the uvalaku is not an isolated feature, for in almost
all tribal enjoyments and festive entertainments on a big scale,
the same principle obtains. The master of the festivities, by an
initial distribution of food, imposes an obligation on the others,
to carry through dancing, sports, or games of the season. And indeed,
considering the ease with which native enthusiasms flag, with which
jealousies, envies and quarrels creep in, and destroy the unanimity
of social amusements, the need for compulsion from without to amuse
oneself appears not so preposterous as at first sight.

I have said that an uvalaku expedition is distinguished from an
ordinary one, in so far also as the full ceremonial of the Kula has to
be observed. Thus all the canoes must be either new or relashed, and
without exception they must be also repainted and redecorated. The full
ceremonial launching, tasasoria, and the presentation, kabigodoya,
are carried out with every detail only when the Kula takes the
form of an uvalaku. The pig or pigs killed in the village before
departure are also a special feature of the competitive Kula. So is
the kayguya'u ceremonial distribution held on Muwa, just at the point
of the proceedings at which we have now arrived. The tanarere, a big
display of vaygu'a and comparison of the individual acquisitions at the
end of an expedition, is another ceremonial feature of the uvalaku and
supplies some of the competitive element. There is also competition as
to the speed, qualities and beauties of the canoes at the beginning of
such an expedition. Some of the communities who present their vaygu'a
to an uvalaku expedition vie with one another, as to who will give
most, and in fact the element of emulation or competition runs right
through the proceedings. In the following chapters, I shall have,
in several more points, occasion to distinguish an uvalaku from an
ordinary Kula sailing.

It must be added at once that, although all these ceremonial features
are compulsory only on an uvalaku sailing, and although only then
are they one and all of them unfailingly observed, some and even all
may also be kept during an ordinary Kula expedition, especially if it
happens to be a somewhat bigger one. The same refers to the various
magical rites--that is to say the most important ones--which although
performed on every Kula expedition, are carried out with more punctilio
on an uvalaku.

Finally, a very important distinctive feature is the rule, that no
vaygu'a can be carried on the outbound sailing of an uvalaku. It must
not be forgotten that a Kula overseas expedition sails, in order mainly
to receive gifts and not to give them, and on an uvalaku this rule is
carried to its extreme, so that no Kula valuables whatever may be given
by the visiting party. The natives sailing from Sinaketa to Dobu on
ordinary Kula may carry a few armshells with them, but when they sail
on a ceremonial competitive uvalaku, no armshell is ever taken. For
it must be remembered that Kula exchanges, as has been explained in
Chapter III, never take place simultaneously. It is always a gift
followed after a lapse of time by a counter-gift. Now on a uvalaku
the natives would receive in Dobu a certain amount of gifts, which,
within a year or so, would be returned to the Dobuans, when these
pay a visit to Sinaketa. But there is always a considerable amount of
valuables which the Dobuans owe to the Sinaketans, so that when now the
Sinaketans go to Dobu, they will claim also these gifts due to them
from previous occasions. All these technicalities of Kula exchange
will become clearer in one of the subsequent chapters (Chapter XIV).

To sum up, the uvalaku is a ceremonial and competitive
expedition. Ceremonial it is, in so far as it is connected with
the special initial distribution of food, given by the master of
the uvalaku. It is also ceremonial in that all the formalities of
the Kula are kept rigorously and without exception, for in a sense
every Kula sailing expedition is ceremonial. Competitive it is mainly
in that at the end of it all the acquired articles are compared and
counted. With this also the prohibition to carry vaygu'a, is connected,
so as to give everyone an even start.


Returning now to the Sinaketan fleet assembled at Muwa, as soon as
they have arrived there, that is, some time about noon, they proceed
to the ceremonial distribution. Although the toli'uvalaku is master
of ceremonies, in this case he as a rule sits and watches the initial
proceedings from a distance. A group of his relatives or friends of
lesser rank busy themselves with the work. It might be better perhaps
here to give a more concrete account, since it is always difficult
to visualise exactly how such things will proceed.

This was brought home to me when in March, 1918, I assisted at these
initial stages of the Kula in the Amphlett Islands. The natives had
been preparing for days for departure, and on the final date, I spent
the whole morning observing and photographing the loading and trimming
of the canoes, the farewells, and the setting out of the fleet. In the
evening, after a busy day, as it was a full-moon night, I went for a
long pull in a dinghy. Although in the Trobriands I had had accounts
of the custom of the first halt, yet it gave me a surprise when on
rounding a rocky point I came upon the whole crowd of Gumasila natives,
who had departed on the Kula that morning, sitting in full-moon light
on a beach, only a few miles from the village which they had left
with so much to-do some ten hours before. With the fairly strong
wind that day, I was thinking of them as camping at least half way
to the Trobriands, on one of the small sand banks some twenty miles
North. I went and sat for a moment among the morose and unfriendly
Amphlett Islanders, who, unlike the Trobrianders, distinctly resented
the inquisitive and blighting presence of an Ethnographer.

To return to our Sinaketan party, we can imagine the chiefs sitting
high up on the shore under the gnarled, broad-leafed branches of the
shady trees. They might perhaps be resting in one group, each with a
few attendants, or else every headman and chief near his own canoe,
To'udawada silently chewing betel-nut, with a heavy and bovine dignity,
the excitable Koutauya chattering in a high pitched voice with some of
his grown-up sons, among whom there are two or three of the finest men
in Sinaketa. Further on, with a smaller group of attendants, sits the
infamous Sinakadi, in conference with his successor to chieftainship,
his sister's son, Gomaya, also a notorious scoundrel. On such occasions
it is good form for chiefs not to busy themselves among the groups,
nor to survey the proceedings, but to keep an aloof and detached
attitude. In company with other notables, they discuss in the short,
jerky sentences which make native languages so difficult to follow,
the arrangements and prospects of the Kula, making now and then a
mythological reference, forecasting the weather, and discussing the
merits of the canoes.

In the meantime, the henchmen of the toli'uvalaku, his sons, his
younger brothers, his relatives-in-law, prepare the distribution. As
a rule, either To'udawada or Koutauya would be the toli'uvalaku. The
one who at the given time has more wealth on hand and prospects
of receiving more vaygu'a, would take over the dignity and the
burdens. Sinakadi is much less wealthy, and probably it would be an
exception for him and his predecessors and successors to play the
part. The minor headmen of the other compound villages of Sinaketa
would never fill the rôle.

Whoever is the master of the expedition for the time being will have
brought over a couple of pigs, which will now be laid on the beach and
admired by the members of the expedition. Soon some fires are lit,
and the pigs, with a long pole thrust through their tied feet, are
hung upside down over the fires. A dreadful squealing fills the air
and delights the hearers. After the pig has been singed to death, or
rather, into insensibility, it is taken off and cut open. Specialists
cut it into appropriate parts, ready for the distribution. Yams,
taro, coco-nuts and sugar cane have already been put into big heaps,
as many as there are canoes--that is, nowadays, eight. On these heaps,
some hands of ripe bananas and some betel-nut bunches are placed. On
the ground, beside them, on trays of plaited coco-nut leaves,
the lumps of meat are displayed. All this food has been provided
by the toli'uvalaku, who previously has received as contributions
towards it special presents, both from his own and from his wife's
kinsmen. In fact, if we try to draw out all the strands of gifts and
contributions connected with such a distribution we would find that
it is spun round into such an intricate web, that even the lengthy
account of the foregoing chapter does not quite do it justice.

After the chief's helpers have arranged the heaps, they go over them,
seeing that the apportionment is correct, shifting some of the food
here and there, and memorising to whom each heap will be given. Often
in the final round, the toli'uvalaku inspects the heaps himself,
and then returns to his former seat. Then comes the culminating act
of the distribution. One of the chief's henchmen, always a man of
inferior rank, accompanied by the chief's helpers, walks down the
row of heaps, and at each of them screams out in a very loud voice:

    "O, Siyagana, thy heap, there, O Siyagana, O!" At the next one he
    calls the name of another canoe: "O Gumawora, thy heap, there! O
    Gumawora O!"

He goes thus over all the heaps, allotting each one to a canoe. After
that is finished, some of the younger boys of each canoe go and fetch
their heap. This is brought to their fire, the meat is roasted, and
the yams, the sugar cane and betel-nut distributed among the crew, who
presently sit down and eat, each group by itself. We see that, although
the toli'uvalaku is responsible for the feast, and receives from the
natives all the credit for it, his active part in the proceedings is a
small one, and it is more nominal than real. On such occasions it would
perhaps be incorrect to call him 'master of ceremonies,' although he
assumes this rôle, as we shall see, on other occasions. Nevertheless,
for the natives, he is the centre of the proceedings. His people do
all the work there is to be done, and in certain cases he would be
referred to for a decision, on some question of etiquette.

After the meal is over, the natives rest, chew betel-nut and smoke,
looking across the water towards the setting sun--it is now probably
late in the afternoon--towards where, above the moored canoes, which
rock and splash in the shallows, there float the faint silhouettes
of the mountains. These are the distant Koya, the high hills in the
d'Entrecasteaux and Amphletts, to which the elder natives have often
already sailed, and of which the younger have heard so many times in
myth, tales and magical spells. Kula conversations will predominate on
such occasions, and names of distant partners, and personal names of
specially valuable vaygu'a will punctuate the conversation and make
it very obscure to those not initiated into the technicalities and
historical traditions of the Kula. Recollections how a certain big
spondylus necklace passed a couple of years ago through Sinaketa,
how So-and-so handed it to So-and-so in Kiriwina, who again gave it
to one of his partners in Kitava (all the personal names of course
being mentioned) and how it went from there to Woodlark Island, where
its traces become lost--such reminiscences lead to conjectures as
to where the necklace might now be, and whether there is a chance
of meeting it in Dobu. Famous exchanges are cited, quarrels over
Kula grievances, cases in which a man was killed by magic for his
too successful dealings in the Kula, are told one after the other,
and listened to with never failing interest. The younger men amuse
themselves perhaps with less serious discussions about the dangers
awaiting them on the sea, about the fierceness of the witches and
dreadful beings in the Koya, while many a young Trobriander would be
warned at this stage of the unaccommodating attitude of the women in
Dobu, and of the fierceness of their men folk.

After nightfall a number of small fires are lit on the beach. The stiff
pandanus mats, folded in the middle, are put over each sleeper so as
to form a small roof, and the whole crowd settle down for the night.


Next morning, if there is a fair wind, or a hope of it, the natives
are up very early, and all are feverishly active. Some fix up the
masts and rigging of the canoes, doing it much more thoroughly and
carefully than it was done on the previous morning, since there may
be a whole day's sailing ahead of them perhaps with a strong wind,
and under dangerous conditions. After all is done, the sails ready
to be hoisted, the various ropes put into good trim, all the members
of the crew sit at their posts, and each canoe waits some few yards
from the beach for its toliwaga (master of the canoe). He remains on
shore, in order to perform one of the several magical rites which,
at this stage of sailing, break through the purely matter-of-fact
events. All these rites of magic are directed towards the canoes,
making them speedy, seaworthy and safe. In the first rite, some leaves
are medicated by the toliwaga as he squats over them on the beach and
recites a formula. The wording of this indicates that it is a speed
magic, and this is also the explicit statement of the natives.

                           KADUMIYALA SPELL.

    In this spell, the flying fish and the jumping gar fish are
    invoked at the beginning. Then the toliwaga urges his canoe
    to fly at its bows and at its stern. Then, in a long tapwana,
    he repeats a word signifying the magical imparting of speed,
    and with the names of the various parts of the canoe. The last
    part runs: "The canoe flies, the canoe flies in the morning,
    the canoe flies at sunrise, the canoe flies like a flying witch,"
    ending up with the onomatopoetic words "Saydidi, tatata, numsa,"
    which represent the flapping of pandanus streamers in the wind,
    or as others say, the noises made by the flying witches, as they
    move through the air on a stormy night.

After having uttered this spell into the leaves, the toliwaga gives
them to one of the usagelu (members of the crew), who, wading round
the waga, rubs with them first the dobwana, 'head' of the canoe, then
the middle of its body, and finally its u'ula (basis). Proceeding
round on the side of the outrigger, he rubs the 'head' again. It
may be remembered here that, with the native canoes, fore and aft
in the sailing sense are interchangeable, since the canoe must sail
having always the wind on its outrigger side, and it often has to
change stern to bows. But standing on a canoe so that the outrigger
is on the left hand, and the body of the canoe on the right, a native
will call the end of the canoe in front of him its head (dabwana),
and that behind, its basis (u'ula).

After this is over, the toliwaga enters the canoe, the sail is hoisted,
and the canoe rushes ahead. Now two or three pandanus streamers which
had previously been medicated in the village by the toliwaga are tied
to the rigging, and to the mast. The following is the spell which
had been said over them:

                             BISILA SPELL.

    "Bora'i, Bora'i (a mythical name). Bora'i flies, it will fly;
    Bora'i Bora'i, Bora'i stands up, it will stand up. In company
    with Bora'i--sidididi. Break through your passage in Kadimwatu,
    pierce through thy Promontory of Salamwa. Go and attach your
    pandanus streamer in Salamwa, go and ascend the slope of Loma."

    "Lift up the body of my canoe; its body is like floating gossamer,
    its body is like dry banana leaf, its body is like fluff."

There is a definite association in the minds of the natives between
the pandanus streamers, with which they usually decorate mast, rigging
and sail, and the speed of the canoe. The decorative effect of the
floating strips of pale, glittering yellow is indeed wonderful,
when the speed of the canoe makes them flutter in the wind. Like
small banners of some stiff, golden fabric they envelope the sail
and rigging with light, colour and movement.

The pandanus streamers, and especially their trembling, are a definite
characteristic of Trobriand culture (see Plate XXIX). In some of their
dances, the natives use long, bleached ribbons of pandanus, which the
men hold in both hands, and set a-flutter while they dance. To do this
well is one of the main achievements of a brilliant artist. On many
festive occasions the bisila (pandanus streamers) are tied to houses
on poles for decoration. They are thrust into armlets and belts as
personal ornaments. The vaygu'a (valuables) when prepared for the Kula,
are decorated with strips of bisila. In the Kula a chief will send to
some distant partner a bisila streamer over which a special spell has
been recited, and this will make the partner eager to bestow valuables
on the sender. As we saw, a broad bisila streamer is attached to the
canoe of a toli'uvalaku as his badge of honour. The flying witches
(mulukwausi) are supposed to use pandanus streamers in order to
acquire speed and levitation in their nightly flights through the air.

After the magical pandanus strips have been tied to the rigging,
beside the non-magical, purely ornamental ones, the toliwaga sits at
the veva rope, the sheet by which the sail is extended to the wind,
and moving it to and fro he recites a spell.

                          KAYIKUNA VEVA SPELL.

    Two verbs signifying magical influence are repeated with the
    prefix bo---which implies the conception of 'ritual' or 'sacred'
    or 'being tabooed.' [62] Then the toliwaga says: "I shall treat
    my canoe magically in its middle part, I shall treat it in its
    body. I shall take my butia (flower wreath), of the sweet-scented
    flowers. I shall put it on the head of my canoe."

    Then a lengthy middle strophe is recited, in which all the parts
    of a canoe are named with two verbs one after the other. The verbs
    are: "To wreathe the canoe in a ritual manner," and "to paint
    it red in a ritual manner." The prefix bo-, added to the verbs,
    has been here translated, "in a ritual manner."[62]

    The spell ends by a conclusion similar to that of many other canoe
    formulæ, "My canoe, thou art like a whirlwind, like a vanishing
    shadow! Disappear in the distance, become like mist, avaunt!"

These are the three usual rites for the sake of speed at the beginning
of the journey. If the canoe remains slow, however, an auxiliary
rite is performed; a piece of dried banana leaf is put between the
gunwale and one of the inner frame sticks of the canoe, and a spell
is recited over it. After that, they beat both ends of the canoe
with this banana leaf. If the canoe is still heavy, and lags behind
the others, a piece of kuleya (cooked and stale yam) is put on a
mat, and the toliwaga medicates it with a spell which transfers the
heaviness to the yam. The spell here recited is the same one which
we met when the heavy log was being pulled into the village. The log
was then beaten with a bunch of grass, accompanied by the recital of
the spell, and then this bunch was thrown away. [63] In this case
the piece of yam which has taken on the heaviness of the canoe is
thrown overboard. Sometimes, however, even this is of no avail. The
toliwaga then seats himself on the platform next to the steersman,
and utters a spell over a piece of coco-nut husk, which is thrown into
the water. This rite, called Bisiboda patile is a piece of evil-magic
(bulubwalata), intended to keep all the other canoes back. If that
does not help, the natives conclude that some taboos pertaining to
the canoe might have been broken, and perhaps the toliwaga may feel
some misgivings regarding the conduct of his wife or wives.




Now at last the Kula expedition is properly set going. The canoes are
started on a long stage, before them the sea-arm of Pilolu, stretching
between the Trobriands and the d'Entrecasteaux. On the North, this
portion of the sea is bounded by the Archipelago of the Trobriands,
that is, by the islands of Vakuta, Boyowa and Kayleula, joining in
the west on to the scattered belt of the Lousançay Islands. On the
east, a long submerged reef runs from the southern end of Vakuta to
the Amphletts, forming an extended barrier to sailing, but affording
little protection from the eastern winds and seas. In the South,
this barrier links on to the Amphletts, which together with the
Northern coast of Fergusson and Goodenough, form the Southern shore
of Pilolu. To the West, Pilolu opens up into the seas between the
mainland of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. In fact, what
the natives designate by the name of Pilolu is nothing else but the
enormous basin of the Lousançay Lagoon, the largest coral atoll in
the world. To the natives, the name of Pilolu is full of emotional
associations, drawn from magic and myth; it is connected with the
experiences of past generations, told by the old men round the village
fires and with adventure personally lived through.

As the Kula adventurers speed along with filled sails, the shallow
Lagoon of the Trobriands soon falls away behind; the dull green waters,
sprinkled with patches of brown where seaweed grows high and rank,
and lit up here and there with spots of bright emerald where a shallow
bottom of clean sand shines through, give place to a deeper sea of
strong green hue. The low strip of land, which surrounds the Trobriand
Lagoon in a wide sweep, thins away and dissolves in the haze, and
before them the southern mountains rise higher and higher. On a clear
day, these are visible even from the Trobriands. The neat outlines of
the Amphletts stand diminutive, yet firmer and more material, against
the blue silhouettes of the higher mountains behind. These, like a
far away cloud are draped in wreaths of cumuli, almost always clinging
to their summits. The nearest of them, Koyatabu--the mountain of the
taboo-- [64] on the North end of Fergusson Island, a slim, somewhat
tilted pyramid, forms a most alluring beacon, guiding the mariners due
South. To the right of it, as we look towards the South-West, a broad,
bulky mountain, the Koyabwaga'u--mountain of the sorcerers--marks the
North-western corner of Fergusson Island. The mountains on Goodenough
Island are visible only in very clear weather, and then very faintly.

Within a day or two, these disembodied, misty forms are to assume what
for the Trobrianders seems marvellous shape and enormous bulk. They
are to surround the Kula traders with their solid walls of precipitous
rock and green jungle, furrowed with deep ravines and streaked with
racing water-courses. The Trobrianders will sail deep, shaded bays,
resounding with the, to them unknown, voice of waterfalls; with the
weird cries of strange birds which never visit the Trobriands, such as
the laughing of the kookooburra (laughing jackass), and the melancholy
call of the South Sea crow. The sea will change its colour once more,
become pure blue, and beneath its transparent waters, a marvellous
world of multi-coloured coral, fish and seaweed will unfold itself,
a world which, through a strange geographical irony, the inhabitants
of a coral island hardly ever can see at home, and must come to this
volcanic region to discover.

In these surroundings, they will find also wonderful, heavy, compact
stones of various colours and shapes, whereas at home the only stone is
the insipid, white, dead coral. Here they can see, besides many types
of granite and basalt and volcanic tuff, specimens of black obsidian,
with its sharp edges and metallic ring, and sites full of red and
yellow ochre. Besides big hills of volcanic ash, they will behold
hot springs boiling up periodically. Of all these marvels the young
Trobriander hears tales, and sees samples brought back to his country,
and there is no doubt that it is for him a wonderful experience to
find himself amongst them for the first time, and that afterwards
he eagerly seizes every opportunity that offers to sail again to the
Koya. Thus the landscape now before them is a sort of promised land,
a country spoken of in almost legendary tone.

And indeed the scenery here, on the borderland of the two different
worlds, is singularly impressive. Sailing away from the Trobriands
on my last expedition, I had to spend two days, weatherbound, on a
small sandbank covered with a few pandanus trees, about midway between
the Trobriands and the Amphletts. A darkened sea lay to the North,
big thunderclouds hanging over where I knew there was the large flat
island of Boyowa--the Trobriands. To the South, against a clearer sky,
were the abrupt forms of the mountains, scattered over half of the
horizon. The scenery seemed saturated with myth and legendary tales,
with the strange adventures, hopes and fears of generations of native
sailors. On this sandbank they had often camped, when becalmed or
threatened with bad weather. On such an island, the great mythical
hero, Kasabwaybwayreta stopped, and was marooned by his companions,
only to escape through the sky. Here again a mythical canoe once
halted, in order to be re-caulked. As I sat there, looking towards
the Southern mountains, so clearly visible, yet so inaccessible,
I realised what must be the feelings of the Trobrianders, desirous
to reach the Koya, to meet the strange people, and to kula with them,
a desire made perhaps even more acute by a mixture of fear. For there,
to the west of the Amphletts, they see the big bay of Gabu, where once
the crews of a whole fleet of Trobriand canoes were killed and eaten
by the inhabitants of unknown villages, in attempting to kula with
them. And stories are also told of single canoes, drifted apart from
the fleet and cast against the northern shore of Fergusson Island,
of which all the crew perished at the hands of the cannibals. There
are also legends of some inexperienced natives, who, visiting the
neighbourhood of Deyde'i and arriving at the crystal water in the
big stone basins there, plunged in, to meet a dreadful death in the
almost boiling pool.

But though the legendary dangers on the distant shores may appall
the native imagination, the perils of actual sailing are even
more real. The sea over which they travel is seamed with reefs,
studded with sandbanks and coral rocks awash. And though in fair
weather these are not so dangerous to a canoe as to a European
boat, yet they are bad enough. The main dangers of native sailing,
however, lie in the helplessness of a canoe. As we have said before,
it cannot sail close to the wind, and therefore cannot beat. If the
wind comes round, the canoe has to turn and retrace its course. This
is very unpleasant, but not necessarily dangerous. If, however, the
wind drops, and the canoe just happens to be in one of the strong
tides, which run anything between three and five knots, or if it
becomes disabled, and makes leeway at right angles to its course,
the situation becomes dangerous. To the West, there lies the open
sea, and once far out there, the canoe would have slender chances
of ever returning. To the East, there runs the reef, on which in
heavy weather a native canoe would surely be smashed. In May, 1918,
a Dobuan canoe, returning home a few days after the rest of the fleet,
was caught by a strong South-Easterly wind, so strong that it had
to give up its course, and make North-West to one of the Lousançay
Islands. It had been given up as lost, when in August it came back
with a chance blow of the North-Westerly wind. It had had, however,
a narrow escape in making the small island. Had it been blown further
West, it would never have reached land at all.

There exist other tales of lost canoes, and it is a wonder that
accidents are not more frequent, considering the conditions under
which they have to sail. Sailing has to be done, so to speak, on
straight lines across the sea. Once they deviate from this course,
all sorts of dangers crop up. Not only that, but they must sail
between fixed points on the land. For, and this of course refers to
the olden days, if they had to go ashore, anywhere but in the district
of a friendly tribe, the perils which met them were almost as bad as
those of reefs and sharks. If the sailors missed the friendly villages
of the Amphletts and of Dobu, everywhere else they would meet with
extermination. Even nowadays, though the danger of being killed would
be smaller--perhaps not absolutely non-existent--yet the natives would
feel very uncomfortable at the idea of landing in a strange district,
fearing not only death by violence, but even more by evil magic. Thus,
as the natives sail across Pilolu, only very small sectors of their
horizon present a safe goal for their journey.

On the East, indeed, beyond the dangerous barrier reef, there is a
friendly horizon, marked for them by the Marshall Bennett Islands,
and Woodlark, the country known under the term Omuyuwa. To the South,
there is the Koya, also known as the land of the kinana, by which
name the natives of the d'Entrecasteaux and the Amphletts are known
generically. But to the South-West and West there is the deep open sea
(bebega), and beyond that, lands inhabited by tailed people, and by
people with wings, of whom very little more is known. To the North,
beyond the reef of small coral islands, lying off the Trobriands,
there are two countries, Kokopawa and Kaytalugi. Kokopawa is peopled
with ordinary men and women, who walk about naked, and are great
gardeners. Whether this country corresponds to the South coast of
New Britain, where people really are without any clothing, it would
be difficult to say.

The other country, Kaytalugi, is a land of women only, in which no man
can survive. The women who live there are beautiful, big and strong,
and they walk about naked, and with their bodily hair unshaven (which
is contrary to the Trobriand custom). They are extremely dangerous
to any man through the unbounded violence of their passion. The
natives never tire of describing graphically how such women would
satisfy their sensuous lust, if they got hold of some luckless,
shipwrecked man. No one could survive, even for a short time, the
amorous yet brutal attacks of these women. The natives compare this
treatment to that customary at the yousa, the orgiastic mishandling of
any man, caught at certain stages of female communal labour in Boyowa
(cf. Chapter II, Division II). Not even the boys born on this island of
Kaytalugi can survive a tender age. It must be remembered the natives
see no need for male co-operation in continuing the race. Thus the
women propagate the race, although every male needs must come to an
untimely end before he can become a man.

None the less, there is a legend that some men from the village of
Kaulagu, in eastern Boyowa, were blown in their canoe far North from
the easterly course of a Kula expedition, and were stranded on the
coast of Kaytalugi. There, having survived the first reception, they
were apportioned individually and married. Having repaired their canoe,
ostensibly for the sake of bringing some fish to their wives, one night
they put food and water into it, and secretly sailed away. On their
return to their own village, they found their women married to other
men. However, such things never end tragically in the Trobriands. As
soon as their rightful lords reappeared their women came back to
them. Among other things these men brought to Boyowa a variety of
banana called usikela, not known before.


Returning again to our Kula party, we see that, in journeying across
Pilolu, they move within the narrow confines of familiar sailing
ground, surrounded on all sides both by real dangers and by lands of
imaginary horrors. On their track, however, the natives never go out of
sight of land, and in the event of mist or rain, they can always take
sufficient bearings to enable them to make for the nearest sand-bank or
island. This is never more than some six miles off, a distance which,
should the wind have dropped, may even be reached by paddling.

Another thing that also makes their sailing not so dangerous as
one would imagine, is the regularity of the winds in this part of
the world. As a rule, in each of the two main seasons, there is one
prevailing direction of wind, which does not shift more than within
some ninety degrees. Thus, in the dry season, from May to October,
the trade wind blows almost incessantly from the South-East or South,
moving sometimes to the North-East, but never beyond that. As a matter
of fact, however, this season, just because of the constancy of the
wind, does not lend itself very well to native sailing. For although
with this wind it is easy to sail from South to North, or East to West,
it is impossible to retrace the course, and as the wind often blows
for months without veering, the natives prefer to do their sailings
between the seasons, or in the time when the monsoon blows. Between
the seasons--November, December or March and April--the winds are not
so constant, in fact they shift from one position on the compass to
another. On the other hand, there is very seldom a strong blow at this
time, and so this is the ideal season for sailing. In the hot summer
months, December till March, the monsoon blows from the North-West or
South-West, less regularly than a trade wind, but often culminating in
violent storms which almost always come from the North-West. Thus the
two strong winds to be met in these seas come from definite directions,
and this minimises the danger. The natives also as a rule are able to
foretell a day or two beforehand the approach of a squall. Rightly
or wrongly, they associate the strength of the North-Westerly gales
with the phases of the moon.

There is, of course, a good deal of magic to make wind blow or to
put it down. Like many other forms of magic, wind magic is localised
in villages. The inhabitants of Simsim, the biggest village in
the Lousançay Islands, and the furthest North-Westerly settlement
of this district, are credited with the ability of controlling
the North-Westerly wind, perhaps through association with their
geographical position. Again, the control over the South-Easterly
wind is granted to the inhabitants of Kitava, lying to the East of
Boyowa. The Simsim people control all the winds which blow habitually
during the rainy season, that is the winds on the western side of
the compass, from North to South. The other half can be worked by
the Kitavan spells.

Many men in Boyowa have learnt both spells and they practise the
magic. The spells are chanted broadcast into the wind, without
any other ritual. It is an impressive spectacle to walk through a
village, during one of the devastating gales, which always arise
at night and during which people leave their huts and assemble in
cleared spaces. They are afraid the wind may lift their dwellings
off the ground, or uproot a tree which might injure them in falling,
an accident which actually did happen a year or two ago in Wawela,
killing the chief's wife. Through the darkness from the doors of
some of the huts, and from among the huddled groups, there resound
loud voices, chanting, in a penetrating sing-song, the spells for
abating the force of the wind. On such occasions, feeling myself
somewhat nervous, I was deeply impressed by this persistent effort
of frail, human voice, fraught with deep belief, pitting itself so
feebly against the monotonous, overpowering force of the wind.

Taking the bearing by sight, and helped by the uniformity of winds,
the natives have no need of even the most elementary knowledge of
navigation. Barring accidents they never have to direct their course
by the stars. Of these, they know certain Outstanding constellations,
sufficient to indicate for them the direction, should they need
it. They have names for the Pleiades, for Orion, for the Southern
Cross, and they also recognise a few constellations of their own
construction. Their knowledge of the stars, as we have mentioned
already in Chapter II, Division V, is localised in the village of
Wawela, where it is handed over in the maternal line of the chiefs
of the village.

In order to understand better the customs and problems of sailing,
a few words must be said about the technique of managing a canoe. As
we have said before, the wind must always strike the craft, on the
outrigger side, so the sailing canoe is always tilted with its float
raised, and the platform slanting towards the body of the canoe. This
makes it necessary for it to be able to change bows and stern at
will; for imagine that a canoe going due South, has to sail with
a North-Easterly wind, then the lamina (outrigger) must be on the
left hand, and the canoe sails with what the natives call its "head"
forward. Now imagine that the wind turns to the North-West. Should
this happen in a violent squall, without warning, the canoe would be
at once submerged. But, as such a change would be gradual, barring
accidents, the natives could easily cope with it. The mast, which is
tied at the fourth cross-pole (ri'u) from the temporary bows of the
canoe, would be unbound, the canoe would be turned 180 degrees around,
so that its head would now form the stern, its u'ula (foundation)
would face South, and become its bows, and the platform would be
to our right, facing West. The mast would be attached again to the
fourth cross-pole (ri'u), from the u'ula end, the sail hoisted, and
the canoe would glide along with the wind striking it again on its
outrigger side, but having changed bows to stern (see Plate XLI).

The natives have a set of nautical expressions to describe the various
operations of changing mast, of trimming the sail, of paying out the
sheet rope, of shifting the sail, so that it stands up with its bottom
end high, and its tip touching the canoe, or else letting it lie with
both boom and gaff almost horizontal. And they have definite rules
as to how the various manoeuvres should be carried out, according
to the strength of the wind, and to the quarter on which it strikes
the canoe. They have four expressions denoting a following wind,
wind striking the outrigger beam, wind striking the canoe from the
katala (built-out body), and wind striking the canoe on the outrigger
side close to the direction of sailing. There is no point, however,
in adducing this native terminology here, as we shall not any further
refer to it; it is enough to know that they have got definite rules,
and means of expressing them, with regard to the handling of a canoe.

It has been often remarked here, that the Trobriand canoes cannot sail
close to the wind. They are very light, and shallow, and have very
little water board, giving a small resistance against making lee-way. I
think that this is also the reason, why they need two men to do the
steering for the steering oars act as lee-boards. One of the men wields
a big, elongated steering oar, called kuriga. He sits at the stern,
of course, in the body of the canoe. The other man handles a smaller
steering paddle, leaf-shaped, yet with a bigger blade than the paddling
oars; it is called viyoyu. He sits at the stern end of the platform,
and does the steering through the sticks of the pitapatile (platform).

The other working members of the crew are the man at the sheet, the
tokwabila veva, as he is called, who has to let out the veva or pull
it in, according as the wind shifts and varies in strength.

Another man, as a rule, stands in the bows of the ship on the
look-out, and if necessary, has to climb the mast in order to trim the
rigging. Or again, he would have to bale the water from time to time,
as this always leaks through, or splashes into the canoe. Thus four
men are enough to man a canoe, though usually the functions of the
baler and the man on the look-out and at the mast are divided.

When the wind drops, the men have to take to the small, leaf-shaped
paddles, while one, as a rule, wields a pulling oar. But in order to
give speed to a heavy masawa canoe, at least ten men would have to
paddle and pull. As we shall see, on certain ceremonial occasions,
the canoes have to be propelled by paddling, for instance when they
approach their final destination, after having performed the great
mwasila magic. When they arrive at a halting place, the canoes,
if necessary, are beached. As a rule, however, the heavily loaded
canoes on a Kula expedition, would be secured by both mooring and
anchoring, according to the bottom. On muddy bottoms, such as that
of the Trobriand Lagoon, a long stick would be thrust into the slime,
and one end of the canoe lashed to it. From the other, a heavy stone,
tied with a rope, would be thrown down as an anchor. Over a hard,
rocky bottom, the anchor stone alone is used.

It can be easily understood that with such craft, and with such
limitations in sailing, there are many real dangers which threaten the
natives. If the wind is too strong, and the sea becomes too rough,
a canoe may not be able to follow its course, and making lee-way,
or even directly running before the wind, it may be driven into a
quarter where there is no landfall to be made, or from where at best
there is no returning at that season. This is what happened to the
Dobuan boat mentioned before. Or else, a canoe becalmed and seized
by the tide may not be able to make its way by means of paddling. Or
in stormy weather, it may be smashed on rocks and sandbanks, or even
unable to withstand the impact of waves. An open craft like a native
canoe easily fills with sea water, and, in a heavy rain-storm, with
rain water. In a calm sea this is not very dangerous, for the wooden
canoe does not sink; even if swamped, the water can be baled out and
the canoe floats up. But in rough weather, a water-logged canoe loses
its buoyancy and gets broken up. Last and not least, there is the
danger of the canoe being pressed into the water, outrigger first,
should the wind strike it on the opposite side. With so many real
dangers around it, it is a marvellous thing, and to the credit of
native seamanship, that accidents are comparatively rare.

We now know about the crew of the canoe and the different functions
which every man has to fulfil. Remembering what has been said in
Chapter IV, Division V, about the sociological division of functions in
sailing, we can visualise concretely the craft with all its inmates,
as it sails on the Pilolu; the toliwaga usually sits near the mast
in the compartment called kayguya'u. With him perhaps is one of his
sons or young relatives, while another boy remains in the bows, near
the conch-shell ready to sound it, whenever the occasion arises. Thus
are employed the toliwaga and the dodo'u (small boys). The usagelu
or members of the crew, some four or five strong, are each at his
post, with perhaps one supernumerary to assist at any emergency,
where the task would require it. On the platform are lounging some
of the silasila, the youths not yet employed in any work, and not
participating in the Kula, but there for their pleasure, and to learn
how to manage a boat (see Plate XL).


All these people have not only special posts and modes of occupation
assigned to them, but they have also to keep certain rules. The canoe
on a Kula expedition, is surrounded by taboos, and many observances
have to be strictly kept, else this or that might go wrong. Thus it
is not allowed to 'point to objects with the hand' (yosala yamada),
or those who do it will become sick. A new canoe has many prohibitions
connected with it, which are called bomala wayugo (the taboos of
the lashing creeper). Eating and drinking are not allowed in a new
canoe except after sunset. The breaking of this taboo would make
the canoe very slow. On a very quick waga this rule might perhaps
be disregarded, especially if one of the young boys were hungry or
thirsty. The toliwaga would then bale in some sea-water, pour it over
one of the lashings of the creeper with the words:

    "I sprinkle thy eye, O kudayuri creeper, so that our crew might

After that, he would give the boy something to eat and drink. Besides
this eating and drinking taboo, on a new waga the other physiological
needs must not be satisfied. In case of urgent necessity, a man jumps
into the water, holding to one of the cross sticks of the outrigger,
or if it were a small boy, he is lowered into the water by one of the
elders. This taboo, if broken, would also make the canoe slow. These
two taboos, however, as was said, are kept only on a new waga, that
is on such a one which either sails for the first time, or else has
been relashed and repainted before this trip. The taboos are in all
cases not operative on the return journey. Women are not allowed to
enter a new waga before it sails. Certain types of yams may not be
carried on a canoe, which has been lashed with the rites of one of
the wayugo magical systems. There are several systems of this magic
(compare Chapter XVII, Division VII) and each has got its specific
taboos. These last taboos are to be kept right through the sailing.
On account of a magic to be described in the next chapter, the magic
of safety as it might be called, a canoe has to be kept free from
contact with earth, sand and stones. Hence the natives of Sinaketa
do not beach their canoes if they can possibly avoid it.

Among the specific taboos of the Kula, called bomala lilava (taboos of
the magical bundle) there is a strict rule referring to the entering
of a canoe. This must not be entered from any other point but on the
vitovaria, that is, the front side of the platform, facing the mast.
A native has to scale the platform at this place, then, crouching low,
pass to the back or front, and there descend into the body of the
canoe, or sit down where he is. The compartment facing the lilava
(magical bundle) is filled out with other trade goods. In front of
it sits the chief, behind it the man who handles the sheets. The
natives have special expressions which denote the various manners
of illicitly entering a canoe, and, in some of the canoe exorcisms,
these expressions are used to undo the evil effects of the breaking of
these taboos. Other prohibitions, which the natives call the taboo of
the mwasila, though not associated with the lilava, are those which
do not allow of using flower wreaths, red ornaments, or red flowers
in decorating the canoe or the bodies of the crew. The red colour of
such ornaments is, according to native belief, magically incompatible
with the aim of the expedition--the acquisition of the red spondylus
necklaces. Also, yams may not be roasted on the outward journey,
while later on, in Dobu, no local food may be eaten, and the natives
have to subsist on their own provisions, until the first Kula gifts
have been received.

There are, besides, definite rules, referring to the behaviour of one
canoe towards another, but these vary considerably with the different
villages. In Sinaketa, such rules are very few; no fixed sequence is
observed in the sailing order of the canoes, anyone of them can start
first, and if one of them is swifter it may pass any of the others,
even that of a chief. This, however, has to be done so that the
slower canoe is not passed on the outrigger side. Should this happen,
the transgressing canoe has to give the other one a peace offering
(lula), because it has broken a bomala lilava, it has offended the
magical bundle.

There is one interesting point with regard to priorities in Sinaketa,
and to describe this we must hark back to the subject of canoe-building
and launching. One of the sub-clans of the Lukwasisiga clan, the
Tolabwaga sub-clan, have the right of priority in all the successive
operations of piecing together, lashing, caulking, and painting of
their canoes. All these stages of building and all the magic must first
be done on the Tolabwaga canoe, and this canoe is also the first to
be launched. Only afterwards, the chief's and the commoners' canoes
may follow. A correct observance of this rule 'keeps the sea clean'
(imilakatile bwarita). If it were broken, and the chiefs had their
canoes built or launched before the Tolabwaga, the Kula would not
be successful.

    "We go to Dobu, no pig, no soulava necklace is given. We would
    tell the chiefs: 'Why have you first made your canoes? The
    ancestor spirits have turned against us, for we have broken the
    old custom!'"

Once at sea, however, the chiefs are first again, in theory at least,
for in practice the swiftest canoe may sail first.

In the sailing custom of Vakuta, the other South Boyowan community, who
make the Kula with the Dobu, a sub-clan of the Lukwasisiga clan, called
Tolawaga, have the privilege of priority in all the canoe-building
operations. While at sea, they also retain one prerogative, denied to
all the others: the man who steers with the smaller oar, the tokabina
viyoyu, is allowed permanently to stand up on the platform. As the
natives put it,

    "This is the sign of the Tolawaga (sub-clan) of Vakuta: wherever
    we see a man standing up at the viyoyu, we say: 'there sails the
    canoe of the Tolawaga!'"

The greatest privileges, however, granted to a sub-clan in sailing
are those which are to be found in Kavataria. This fishing and
sailing community from the North shore of the Lagoon makes distant and
dangerous sailings to the North-Western end of Fergusson Island. These
expeditions for sago, betel-nut, and pigs will be described in Chapter
XXI. Their sea customs, however, have to be mentioned here.

The Kulutula sub-clan of the Lukwasisiga clan enjoy all the same
privileges of priority in building, as the Tolabwaga and Tolawaga
clans in the southern villages, only in a still higher degree. For
their canoe has to pass each stage of construction on the first day,
and only the day after can the others follow. This refers even to
launching, the Kulutula canoe being launched one day, and on the next
those of the chiefs and commoners. When the moment of starting arrives,
the Kulutula canoe leaves the beach first, and during the sailing no
one is allowed to pass ahead of it. When they arrive at the sandbanks
or at an intermediate place in the Amphletts, the Kulutula have to
anchor first, and first go ashore and make their camp ready. Only after
that can the others follow. This priority expires at the final point
of destination. When they arrive at the furthest Koya the Kulutula
go ashore first, and they are the first to be presented with the
welcoming gift of the 'foreigner' (tokinana). He receives them with
a bunch of betel-nut, which he beats against the head of the canoe,
till the nuts scatter. On the return journey, the Kulutula clan sink
again into their naturally inferior position.

It may be noted that all the three privileged sub-clans in the three
villages belong to the Lukwasisiga clan, and that the names of two
of them, Tolawaga, Tolabwaga have a striking resemblance to the word
toliwaga, although these resemblances would have to be tested by some
stricter methods of etymological comparison, than I have now at my
disposal. The fact that these clans, under special circumstances of
sailing, resume what may be a lost superiority points to an interesting
historical survival. The name Kulutula is undoubtedly identical with
Kulutalu, which is an independent totemic clan in the Eastern Marshall
Bennetts and in Woodlark. [65]


Let us return now to our Sinaketan fleet, moving southwards along
the barrier reef and sighting one small island after the other. If
they did not start very early from Muwa--and delay is one of the
characteristics of native life--and if they were not favoured with
a very good wind, they would probably have to put in at one of the
small sand islands, Legumatabu, Gabuwana or Yakum. Here, on the
western side, sheltered from the prevalent trade winds, there is a
diminutive lagoon, bounded by two natural breakwaters of coral reef
running from the Northern and Southern ends of the island. Fires are
lit on the clean, white sand, under the scraggy pandanus trees, and
the natives boil their yam food and the eggs of the wild sea fowl,
collected on the spot. When darkness closes in and the fires draw
them all into a circle, the Kula talk begins again.

Let us listen to some such conversations, and try to steep ourselves
in the atmosphere surrounding this handful of natives, cast for a
while on to the narrow sandbank, far away from their homes, having
to trust only to their frail canoes on the long journey which faces
them. Darkness, the roar of surf breaking on the reef, the dry rattle
of the pandanus leaves in the wind, all produce a frame of mind in
which it is easy to believe in the dangers of witches and all the
beings usually hidden away, but ready to creep out at some special
moment of horror. The change of tone is unmistakable, when you get
the natives to talk about these things on such an occasion, from the
calm, often rationalistic way of treating them in broad daylight in
an Ethnographer's tent. Some of the most striking revelations I have
received of this side of native belief and psychology were made to me
on similar occasions. Sitting on a lonely beach in Sanaroa, surrounded
by a crew of Trobrianders, Dobuans, and a few local natives, I first
heard the story of the jumping stones. On a previous night, trying to
anchor off Gumasila in the Amphletts, we had been caught by a violent
squall, which tore one of our sails, and forced us to run before the
wind, on a dark night, in the pouring rain. Except for myself, all
the members of the crew saw clearly the flying witches in the form
of a flame at the mast head. Whether this was St. Elmo's fire I could
not judge, as I was in the cabin, seasick and indifferent to dangers,
witches, and even ethnographic revelations. Inspired by this incident,
my crew told me how this is, as a rule, a sign of disaster, how such
a light appeared a few years ago in a boat, which was sunk almost on
the same spot where the squall had caught us; but fortunately all
were saved. Starting from this, all sorts of dangers were spoken
about, in a tone of deep conviction, rendered perfectly sincere by
the experiences of the previous night, the surrounding darkness,
and the difficulties of the situation--for we had to repair our sail
and again attempt the difficult landing in the Amphletts.

I have always found that whenever natives are found under similar
circumstances, surrounded by the darkness and the imminent possibility
of danger, they naturally drift into a conversation about the various
things and beings into which the fears and apprehensions of generations
have traditionally crystallised.

Thus if we imagine that we listen to an account of the perils and
horrors of the seas, sitting round the fire at Yakum or Legumatabu,
we do not stray from reality. One of those who are specially versed in
tradition, and who love to tell a story, might refer to one of his own
experiences; or to a well-known case from the past, while others would
chime in, and comment, telling their own stories. General statements
of belief would be given, while the younger men would listen to the
tales so familiar, but always heard with renewed interest.

They would hear about an enormous octopus (kwita) which lies in wait
for canoes, sailing over the open seas. It is not an ordinary kwita
of exceptional size, but a special one, so gigantic that it would
cover a whole village with its body; its arms are thick as coco-nut
palms, stretching right across the sea. With typical exaggeration,
the natives will say: 'ikanubwadi Pilolu,' ... 'he covers up all the
Pilolu' (the sea-arm between the Trobriands and the Amphletts). Its
proper home is in the East, 'o Muyuwa,' as the natives describe that
region of sea and islands, where also it is believed some magic is
known against the dreadful creature. Only seldom does it come to the
waters between the Trobriands and Amphletts, but there are people who
have seen it there. One of the old men of Sinaketa tells how, coming
from Dobu, when he was quite young, he sailed in a canoe ahead of
the fleet, some canoes being to the right and some to the left behind
him. Suddenly from his canoe, they saw the giant kwita right in front
of them. Paralysed with fear, they fell silent, and the man himself,
getting up on the platform, by signs warned the other canoes of the
danger. At once they turned round, and the fleet divided into two,
took big bends in their course, and thus gave the octopus a wide
berth. For woe to the canoe caught by the giant kwita! It would be
held fast, unable to move for days, till the crew, dying of hunger
and thirst, would decide to sacrifice one of the small boys of
their number. Adorned with valuables, he would be thrown overboard,
and then the kwita, satisfied, would let go its hold of the canoe,
and set it free. Once a native, asked why a grown-up would not be
sacrificed on such an occasion, gave me the answer:

    "A grown-up man would not like it; a boy has got no mind. We take
    him by force and throw him to the kwita."

Another danger threatening a canoe on the high seas, is a big, special
Rain, or Water falling from above, called Sinamatanoginogi. When in
rain and bad weather a canoe, in spite of all the efforts to bale it
out, fills with water, Sinamatanoginogi strikes it from above and
breaks it up. Whether at the basis of this are the accidents with
waterspouts, or cloud-bursts or simply extremely big waves breaking
up the canoe, it is difficult to judge. On the whole, this belief is
more easily accounted for than the previous one.

The most remarkable of these beliefs is that there are big, live
stones, which lie in wait for sailing canoes, run after them, jump
up and smash them to pieces. Whenever the natives have reasons to
be afraid of them, all the members of the crew will keep silence,
as laughter and loud talk attracts them. Sometimes they can be seen,
at a distance, jumping out of the sea or moving on the water. In fact
I have had them pointed to me, sailing off Koyatabu, and although I
could see nothing, the natives, obviously, genuinely believed they
saw them. Of one thing I am certain, however, that there was no reef
awash there for miles around. The natives also know quite well that
they are different from any reefs or shallows, for the live stones
move, and when they perceive a canoe will pursue it, break it up
on purpose and smash the men. Nor would these expert fishermen ever
confuse a jumping fish with anything else, though in speaking of the
stones they may compare them to a leaping dolphin or stingaree.

There are two names given to such stones. One of them, nuwakekepaki,
applies to the stones met in the Dobuan seas. The other, vineylida,
to those who live 'o Muyuwa.' Thus, in the open seas, the two
spheres of culture meet, for the stones not only differ in name but
also in nature. The nuwakekepaki are probably nothing but malevolent
stones. The vineylida are inhabited by witches, or according to others,
by evil male beings. [66] Sometimes a vineylida will spring to the
surface, and hold fast the canoe, very much in the same manner as
the giant octopus would do. And here again offerings would have to be
given. A folded mat would first be thrown, in an attempt to deceive
it; if this were of no avail, a little boy would be anointed with
coco-nut oil, adorned with arm-shells and bagi necklaces, and thrown
over to the evil stones.

It is difficult to realise what natural phenomena or actual
occurrences might be at the bottom of this belief, and the one of
the giant octopus. We shall presently meet with a cycle of beliefs
presenting the same striking features. We shall find a story told
about human behaviour mixed up with supernatural elements, laying down
the rules of what would happen, and how human beings would behave,
in the same matter of fact way, as if ordinary events of tribal life
were described. I shall have to comment on the psychology of these
beliefs in the next chapter, where also the story is told. Of all
the dangerous and frightful beings met with on a sailing expedition,
the most unpleasant, the best known and most dreaded are the flying
witches, the yoyova or mulukwausi. The former name means a woman
endowed with such powers, whereas mulukwausi describes the second
self of the woman, as it flies disembodied through the air. Thus,
for instance, they would say that such and such a woman in Wawela
is a yoyova. But sailing at night, one would have to be on the look
out for mulukwausi, among whom might possibly be the double of that
woman in Wawela. Very often, especially at moments when the speaker
would be under the influence of fear of these beings, the deprecating
euphemism--'vivila' (women) would be used. And probably our Boyowan
mariners would speak of them thus in their talk round the campfire,
for fear of attracting them by sounding their real name. Dangerous as
they always are, at sea they become infinitely more dreaded. For the
belief is deep that in case of shipwreck or mishap at sea, no real
evil can befall the crows except by the agency of the dreaded women.

As through their connection with shipwreck, they enter inevitably into
our narrative, it will be better to leave our Kula expedition on the
beach of Yakum in the midst of Pilolu, and to turn in the next chapter
to Kiriwinian ethnography and give there an account of the natives'
belief in the flying witches and their legend of shipwreck.




In this chapter an account will be given of the ideas and beliefs
associated with shipwreck, and of the various precautions which
the natives take to insure their own safety. We shall find here
a strange mixture of definite, matter of fact information, and of
fantastic superstitions. Taking a critical, ethnographic side view,
it may be said directly that the fanciful elements are intertwined
with the realities in such a manner, that it is difficult to make a
distinction between what is mere mytho-poetic fiction and what is
a customary rule of behaviour, drawn from actual experience. The
best way of presenting this material will be to give a consecutive
account of a shipwreck, as it is told in Kiriwinian villages by the
travelled old men to the younger generation. I shall adduce in it
the several magical formulæ, the rules of behaviour, the part played
by the miraculous fish, and the complex ritual of the saved party as
they flee from the pursuing mulukwausi.

These--the flying witches--will play such an important part in the
account, that I must begin with a detailed description of the various
beliefs referring to them, though the subject has been touched upon
once or twice before (Chapter II, Division VII, and other places). The
sea and sailing upon it are intimately associated in the mind of a
Boyowan with these women. They had to be mentioned in the description
of canoe magic, and we shall see what an important part they play
in the legends of canoe building. In his sailing, whether he goes to
Kitava or further East, or whether he travels South to the Amphletts
and Dobu, they form one of the main preoccupations of a Boyowan
sailor. For they are not only dangerous to him, but to a certain
extent, foreign. Boyowa, with the exception of Wawela and one or two
other villages on the Eastern coast, and in the South of the island,
is an ethnographic district, where the flying witches do not exist,
although they visit it from time to time. Whereas all the surrounding
tribes are full of women who practice this form of sorcery. Thus
sailing South, the Boyowan is travelling straight into the heart of
their domain.

These women have the power of making themselves invisible, and flying
at night through the air. The orthodox belief is that a woman who
is a yoyova can send forth a double which is invisible at will,
but may appear in the form of a flying fox or of a night bird or a
firefly. There is also a belief that a yoyova develops within her a
something, shaped like an egg, or like a young, unripe coco-nut. This
something is called as a matter of fact kapuwana, which is the word
for a small coco-nut. [67] This idea remains in the native's mind in
a vague, indefinite, undifferentiated form, and any attempt to elicit
a more detailed definition by asking him such questions, as to whether
the kapuwana is a material object or not, would be to smuggle our own
categories into his belief, where they do not exist. The kapuwana is
anyhow believed to be the something which in the nightly flights leaves
the body of the yoyova and assumes the various forms in which the
mulukwausi appears. Another variant of the belief about the yoyova is,
that those who know their magic especially well, can fly themselves,
bodily transporting themselves through the air.

But it can never be sufficiently emphasised that all these beliefs
cannot be treated as consistent pieces of knowledge; they flow into
one another, and even the same native probably holds several views
rationally inconsistent with one another. Even their terminology
(compare the last Division of the foregoing chapter), cannot be
taken as implying a strict distinction or definition. Thus, the word
yoyova is applied to the woman as we meet her in the village, and
the word mulukwausi will be used when we see something suspicious
flying through the air. But it would be incorrect to systematise
this use into a sort of doctrine and to say: "An individual woman
is conceived as consisting of an actual living personality called
yoyova, and of an immaterial, spiritual principle called mulukwausi,
which in its potential form is the kapuwana." In doing this we would
do much what the Mediæval Scholastics did to the living faith of
the early ages. The native feels and fears his belief rather than
formulates it clearly to himself. He uses terms and expressions, and
thus, as used by him, we must collect them as documents of belief,
but abstain from working them out into a consistent theory; for this
represents neither the native's mind nor any other form of reality.

As we remember from Chapter II, the flying witches are a nefarious
agency, second in importance to the bwaga'u (male sorcerer), but in
efficiency far more deadly even than he himself. In contrast to the
bwaga'u, who is simply a man in possession of a special form of magic,
the yoyova have to be gradually initiated into their status. Only a
small child, whose mother is a witch, can become a witch herself. When
a witch gives birth to a female child, she medicates a piece of
obsidian, and cuts off the navel string. The navel string is then
buried, with the recital of a magical formula, in the house, and not,
as is done in all ordinary cases, in the garden. Soon after, the witch
will carry her daughter to the sea beach, utter a spell over some brine
in a coco-nut cup, and give the child to drink. After that, the child
is submerged in water and washed, a kind of witch's baptism! Then
she brings back the baby into the house, utters a spell over a mat,
and folds her up in it. At night, she carries the baby through the
air, and goes to a trysting place of other yoyova, where she presents
her child ritually to them. In contrast to the usual custom of young
mothers of sleeping over a small fire, a sorceress lies with her baby
in the cold. As the child grows up, the mother will take it into her
arms and carry it through the air on her nightly rounds. Entering
girlhood at the age when the first grass skirt is put on a maiden,
the little prospective witch will begin to fly herself.

Another system of training, running side by side with flying, consists
in accustoming the child to participation in human flesh. Even before
the growing witch will begin to fly on her own account, the mother
will take her to the ghoulish repasts, where she and other witches
sit over a corpse, eating its eyes, tongue, lungs, and entrails. There
the little girl receives her first share of corpse flesh, and trains
her taste to like this diet.

There are other forms of training ascribed to mothers solicitous that
their daughters should grow up into efficient yoyova and mulukwausi. At
night the mother will stand on one side of the hut, with the child in
her hands, and throw the little one over the roof. Then quickly, with
the speed only possible to a yoyova, she will move round, and catch the
child on the other side. This happens before the child begins to fly,
and is meant to accustom it to passing rapidly through the air. Or
again, the child will be held by her feet, head down, and remain in
this position while the mother utters a spell. Thus gradually, by
all these means, the child acquires the powers and tastes of a yoyova.

It is easy to pick out such girls from other children. They will
be recognisable by their crude tastes, and more especially by their
habit of eating raw flesh of pigs or uncooked fish. And here we come
to a point, where mythical superstition plays over into something more
real, for I have been assured by reliable informants, and those not
only natives, that there are cases of girls who will show a craving
for raw meat, and when a pig is being quartered in the village will
drink its blood and tear up its flesh. These statements I never could
verify by direct observations, and they may be only the result of
very strong belief projecting its own realities, as we see on every
side in our own society in miraculous cures, spiritistic phenomena,
etc., etc. If, however, the eating of raw flesh by girl children
really occurs, this simply means that they play up to what they know
is said and believed about them. This again is a phenomenon of social
psychology met with in many phases of Trobriand society and in our own.

This does not mean that the character of a yoyova is publicly
donned. Indeed, though a man often owns up to the fact that he is
a bwaga'u, and treats his speciality quite openly in conversation,
a woman will never directly confess to being a yoyova, not even to
her own husband. But she will certainly be marked by everyone as such
a one, and she will often play up to the rôle, for it is always an
advantage to be supposed to be endowed with supernatural powers. And
moreover, being a sorceress is also a good source of income. A
woman will often receive presents with the understanding that such
and such a person has to be injured. She will openly take gifts,
avowedly in payment for healing someone who has been hurt by another
witch. Thus the character of a yoyova is, in a way, a public one,
and the most important and powerful witches will be enumerated by
name. But no woman will ever openly speak about being one. Of course
to have such a character would in no way spoil matrimonial chances,
or do anything but enhance the social status of a woman.

So deep is the belief in the efficacy of magic, and in magic being the
only means of acquiring extraordinary faculties, that all powers of a
yoyova are attributed to magic. As we saw in the training of a young
yoyova, magic has to be spoken at every stage in order to impart to
her the character of a witch. A full blown yoyova has to utter special
magic each time she wishes to be invisible, or when she wants to fly,
or acquire higher speed, or penetrate darkness and distance in order to
find out whether an accident is happening there. But like everything
referring to this form of witchcraft, these formulæ never come to
light. Although I was able to acquire a whole body of spells of the
bwaga'u sorcery, I could not even lift the fringe of the impenetrable
veil, surrounding the magic of the yoyova. As a matter of fact,
there is not the slightest doubt for me that not one single rite,
not one single word of this magic, have ever existed.

Once a mulukwausi is fully trained in her craft, she will often
go at night to feed on corpses or to destroy shipwrecked mariners,
for these are her two main pursuits. By a special sense, acquired
through magic, she can 'hear,' as the natives say, that a man has
died at such and such a place, or that a canoe is in danger. Even
a young apprenticed yoyova will have her hearing so sharpened that
she will tell her mother: "Mother, I hear, they cry!" Which means
that a man is dead or dying at some place. Or she will say: "Mother,
a waga is sinking!" And then they both will fly to the spot.

When she goes out on such an errand, the yoyova leaves her body
behind. Then she climbs a tree, and reciting some magic, she ties
a creeper to it. Then, she flies off, along this creeper, which
snaps behind her. This is the moment when we see the fire flying
through the sky. Whenever the natives see a falling star, they know
it is a mulukwausi on her flight. Another version is that, when a
mulukwausi recites a certain spell, a tree which stands somewhere
near her destination bends down towards the other tree on which she
is perched. She jumps from one top to the other, and it is then that
we see the fire. According to some versions, the mulukwausi, that is,
the witch in her flying state, moves about naked, leaving her skirt
round the body, which remains asleep in the hut. Other versions depict
her as tying her skirt tightly round her when flying, and beating her
buttocks with a magical pandanus streamer. These latter versions are
embodied in the magic quoted above in Chapter V.

Arrived at the place where lies the corpse, the mulukwausi, with others
who have also flown to the spot, perches on some high object, the top
of a tree or the gable of a hut. There they all wait till they can
feast on the corpse, and such is their greed and appetite that they
are also very dangerous to living men. People who collect round the
dead body to mourn and wake over it often have a special spell against
the mulukwausi recited over them, by the one who knows it. They are
careful not to stray away from the others, and, during burial of the
dead and afterwards, they believe the air to be infested with these
dangerous witches, who spread the smell of carrion around them.

The mulukwausi will eat out the eyes, the tongue, and the 'insides'
(lopoula) of the corpse; when they attack a living man they may
simply hit him or kick him, and then he becomes more or less sick. But
sometimes they get hold of an individual and treat him like a corpse
and eat some of his organs, and then the man dies. It is possible
to diagnose this, for such a person would quickly fail, losing his
speech, his vision, sometimes suddenly being bereft of all power of
movement. It is a less dangerous method to the living man when the
mulukwausi instead of eating his 'insides' on the spot, simply remove
them. They hide them in a place only known to themselves, in order
to have provision for a future feast. In that case there is some hope
for the victim. Another yoyova, summoned quickly by the relations of
the dying and well paid by them, will, in the form of a mulukwausi,
go forth, search for the missing organs, and, if she is fortunate
enough to find and restore them, save the life of the victim.

Kenoriya, the favourite daughter of To'ulawa, the chief of Omarakana,
while on a visit to another village, was deprived of her internal
organs by the mulukwausi. When brought home, she could neither move
nor speak, and lay down as if dead. Her mother and other relatives
already began their mortuary wailing over her, the chief himself
broke out into loud lamentations. But nevertheless, as a forlorn
hope, they sent for a woman from Wawela, a well-known yoyova, who
after receiving valuables and food, flew out as a mulukwausi, and the
very next night found Kenoriya's insides somewhere in the raybwag,
near the beach of Kaulukuba, and restored her to health.

Another authentic story is that of the daughter of a Greek trader
and a Kiriwinian woman from Oburaku. This story was told me by the
lady herself, in perfectly correct English, learnt in one of the
white settlements of New Guinea, where she had been brought up in
the house of a leading missionary. But the story was not spoilt by
any scepticism; it was told with perfect simplicity and conviction.

When she was a little girl, a woman called Sewawela, from the Island
of Kitava, but married to a man of Wawela, came to her parents'
house and wanted to sell a mat. They did not buy it, and gave her
only a little food, which, as she was a renowned yoyova and accustomed
therefore to deferential treatment, made her angry. When night came,
the little one was playing on the beach in front of the house, when
the parents saw a big firefly hovering about the child. The insect
then flew round the parents and went into the room. Seeing that
there was something strange about the firefly, they called the girl
and put her to bed at once. But she fell ill immediately, could not
sleep all night, and the parents, with many native attendants, had
to keep watch over her. Next morning, added the Kiriwinian mother,
who was listening to her daughter telling me the tale, the girl
"boge ikarige; kukula wala ipipisi," "she was dead already, but her
heart was still beating." All the women present broke out into the
ceremonial lamentations. The father of the girl's mother, however,
went to Wawela, and got hold of another yoyova, called Bomrimwari. She
took some herbs and smeared her own body all over. Then she went
out in the form of a mulukwausi in search of the girl's lopoulo
(inside). She searched about and found it in the hut of Sewawela,
where it lay on the shelf on which are kept the big clay-pots, in
which the mona (taro pudding), is cooked ceremonially. There it lay
"red as calico." Sewawela had left it there, while she went into the
garden with her husband, meaning to eat it on her return. Had this
happened, the girl could not have been saved. As soon as Bomrimwari
found it, she made some magic over it then and there. Then she came
back to the trader's compound, made some more magic over ginger-root,
and water, and caused the lopoulo to return to its place. After that,
the little girl soon got better. A substantial payment was given by
the parents to the yoyova for saving their child.

Living in Oburaku, a village on the Southern half of Boyowa, I was
on the boundary between the district where the yoyova do not exist,
and the other one, to the East, where they are plentiful. On the other
side of the Island, which is very narrow at this part, is the village
of Wawela, where almost every woman is reputed to be a witch, and some
are quite notorious. Going over the raybwag at night, the natives
of Oburaku would point out certain fireflies which would suddenly
disappear, not to relight again. These were the mulukwausi. Again,
at night, swarms of flying foxes used to flap over the tall trees,
making for the big, swampy Island of Boymapo'u which closes in the
Lagoon opposite the village. These too were mulukwausi, travelling
from the East, their real home. They also used to perch on the tops
of the trees growing on the water's edge, and this was therefore an
especially dangerous spot after sunset. I was often warned not to
sit there on the platforms of the beached canoes, as I liked to do,
watching the play of colours on the smooth, muddy waters, and on the
bright mangroves. When I fell ill soon after, everybody decided that
I had been 'kicked' by the mulukwausi, and some magic was performed
over me by my friend Molilakwa, the same who gave me some formulæ of
kayga'u, the magic spoken at sea against witches. In this case his
efforts were entirely successful, and my quick recovery was attributed
by the natives solely to the spells.


What interests us most about mulukwausi, is their association with
the sea and shipwreck. Very often they will roam over the sea, and
meet at a trysting place on a reef. There they will partake of a
special kind of coral, broken off from a reef, a kind called by the
natives nada. This whets their appetite for human flesh, exactly as
the drinking of salt water does with the bwaga'u. They have also some
indirect power over the elements in the sea. Although the natives
do not quite agree on the point, there is no doubt that a definite
connection exists between the mulukwausi and all the other dangers
which may be met in the sea, such as sharks, the 'gaping depth'
(ikapwagega wiwitu), many of the small sea animals, crabs, some of
the shells and the other things to be mentioned presently, all of
which are considered to be the cause of death of drowning men. Thus
the belief is quite definite that, in being cast into the water
by the shipwreck, men do not meet any real danger except by being
eaten by the mulukwausi, the sharks, and the other animals. If by the
proper magic these influences can be obviated, the drowning men will
escape unscathed. The belief in the omnipotence of man, or rather,
woman in this case, and of the equal power in antidoting by magic,
governs all the ideas of these natives about shipwreck. The supreme
remedy and insurance against any dangers lies in the magic of mist,
called kayga'u, which, side by side with Kula magic, and the magic
of the canoes, is the third of the indispensable magical equipments
of a sailor.

A man who knows well the kayga'u is considered to be able to travel
safely through the most dangerous seas. A renowned chief, Maniyuwa,
who was reputed as one of the greatest masters in kayga'u as well as
in other magic, died in Dobu on an expedition about two generations
ago. His son, Maradiana, had learnt his father's kayga'u. Although
the mulukwausi are extremely dangerous in the presence of a corpse,
and though the natives would never dream of putting a dead body on
a canoe, and thus multiplying the probabilities of an attack by the
witches, still, Maradiana, trusting to his kayga'u, brought the corpse
back to Boyowa without mishap. This act, a testimony to the daring
sailor's great prowess, and to the efficiency of the kayga'u magic,
is kept alive in the memory and tradition of the natives. One of my
informants, boasting of his kayga'u, told me how once, on a return
from Dobu, he performed his rites. Such a mist arose as a consequence
of it that the rest of the canoes lost their way, and arrived in the
island of Kayleula. Indeed, if we can speak of a belief being alive,
that is, of having a strong hold over human imagination, the belief
in the danger from mulukwausi at sea is emphatically such a one. In
times of mental stress, in times of the slightest danger at sea,
or when a dying or dead person is near, the natives at once respond
emotionally in terms of this belief. No one could live among these
natives, speaking their language, and following their tribal life,
without constantly coming up against the belief in mulukwausi, and
in the efficiency of the kayga'u.

As in all other magic, also here, there are various systems of kayga'u,
that is, there are various formulæ, slightly differing in their
expressions, though usually similar in their fundamental wordings
and in certain 'key' expressions. In each system, there are two main
types of spells, the giyotanawa, or the kayga'u of the Underneath,
and the giyorokaywa, or the kayga'u of the Above. The first one usually
consists of a short formula or formulæ spoken over some stones and some
lime in a lime pot and over some ginger root. This giyotanawa, as its
name indicates, is magic directed against the evil agencies, awaiting
the drowning men from below. Its spells close up 'the gaping depth' and
they screen off the shipwrecked men from the eyes of the sharks. They
also protect them from the other evil things, which cause the death of
a man in drowning. The several little sea worms found on the beach,
the crabs, the poisonous fish, soka, and the spiky fish, baiba'i,
as well as the jumping stones, whether vineylida or nu'akekepaki,
are all warded off and blinded by the giyotanawa. Perhaps the most
extraordinary belief in this connection is that the tokwalu, the
carved human figures on the prow boards, the guwaya, the semi-human
effigy on the mast top, as well as the canoe ribs would 'eat' the
drowning men if not magically 'treated.'

The kayga'u of the 'Above,' the giyorokaywa, consists of long spells,
recited over some ginger root, on several occasions before sailing,
and during bad weather or shipwreck. They are directed exclusively
against the mulukwausi, and form therefore the more important
class of the two. These spells must never be recited at night, as
then the mulukwausi could see and hear the man, and make his magic
inefficient. Again, the spell of the Above, when recited at sea,
must be spoken so that the magician is not covered with spray, for
if his mouth were wet with sea water, the smell would attract rather
than disperse, the flying witches. The man who knows the kayga'u must
also be very careful at meal times. Children may not speak, play about,
or make any noise while he eats, nor should anyone go round him behind
his back while he is thus engaged; normay they point out anything with
the finger. Should the man be thus disturbed during his food, he would
have to stop eating at once, and not resume it till the next meal time.

Now the leading idea of kayga'u is that it produces some sort of
mist. The mulukwausi who follow the canoe, the sharks and live stones
which lie in wait for it, the depth with all its horror, and the débris
of the canoe ready to harm the owner, all these are blinded by the mist
that arises in obedience to these spells. Thus the paralysing effect of
these two main forms of magic and the specialised sphere of influence
of each of them, are definite and clear dogmas of native belief.

But here again we must not try to press the interpretation of these
dogmas too far. Some sort of mist covers the eyes of all the evil
agencies or blinds them; it makes the natives invisible from them. But
to ask whether the kayga'u produces a real mist, visible also to
man, or only a supernatural one, visible only to the mulukwausi; or
whether it simply blinds their eyes so that they see nothing, would
be asking too much. The same native who will boast of having produced
a real mist, so great that it led astray his companions, will next
day perform the kayga'u in the village during a burial, and affirm
that the mulukwausi are in a mist, though obviously a perfectly clear
atmosphere surrounds the whole proceedings. The natives will tell how,
sailing on a windy but clear day, after a kayga'u has been recited
into the eye of the wind, they hear the shrieks of the mulukwausi,
who, losing their companions and the scent of the trail, hail one
another in the dark. Again, some expressions seem to represent the view
that it is mainly an action on the eyes of the witches. 'Idudubila
matala mulukwausi,'--'It darkens the eyes of the mulukwausi,' or
'iguyugwayu'--'It blinds,' the natives will say. And when asked:

    "What do the mulukwausi see, then?" they will answer: "They will
    see mist only. They do not see the places, they do not see the men,
    only mist."

Thus here, as in all cases of belief, there is a certain latitude,
within which the opinions and views may vary, and only the broad
outline, which surrounds them, is definitely fixed by tradition,
embodied in ritual, and expressed by the phraseology of magical
formulæ or by the statements of a myth.

I have thus defined the manner in which the natives face the dangers
of the sea; we have found, that the fundamental conceptions underlying
this attitude are, that in shipwreck, men are entirely in the hands
of the witches, and that from this, only their own magical defence
can save them. This defence consists in the rites and formulæ of the
kayga'u, of which we have also learnt the leading principles. Now, a
consecutive description must be given of how this magic is performed
when a toliwaga sets out on an expedition. And following up this
expedition, it must be told how the natives imagine a shipwreck,
and what they believe the behaviour of the shipwrecked party would be.


I shall give this narrative in a consecutive manner, as it was told
to me by some of the most experienced and renowned Trobriand sailors
in Sinaketa, Oburaku, and Omarakana. We can imagine that exactly
such a narrative would be told by a veteran toliwaga to his usagelu
on the beach of Yakum, as our Kula party sit round the camp fires
at night. One of the old men, well-known for the excellence of his
kayga'u, and boastful of it, would tell his story, entering minutely
into all the details, however often the others might have heard about
them before, or even assisted at the performance of his magic. He
would then proceed to describe, with extreme realism, and dwelling
graphically on every point, the story of a shipwreck, very much as if
he had gone through one himself. As a matter of fact, no one alive
at present has had any personal experience of such a catastrophe,
though many have lived through frequent narrow escapes in stormy
weather. Based on this, and on what they have heard themselves
of the tradition of shipwrecks, natives will tell the story with
characteristic vividness. Thus, the account given below is not only
a summary of native belief, it is an ethnographic document in itself,
representing the manner in which such type of narrative would be told
over camp fires, the same subject being over and over again repeated
by the same man, and listened to by the same audience, exactly as we,
when children, or the peasants of Eastern Europe, will hearken to
familiar fairy tales and Märchen. The only deviation here from what
would actually take place in such a story-telling, is the insertion of
magical formulæ into the narrative. The speaker might indeed repeat
his magic, were he speaking in broad daylight, in his village, to a
group of close kinsmen and friends. But being on a small island in
the middle of the ocean, and at night, the recital of spells would be
a taboo of the kayga'u; nor would a man ever recite his magic before
a numerous audience, except on certain occasions at mortuary vigils,
where people are expected to chant their magic aloud before hundreds
of listeners.

Returning then again to our group of sailors, who sit under the stunted
pandanus trees of Yakum, let us listen to one of the companions of
the daring Maradiana, now dead, to one of the descendants of the
great Maniyuwa. He will tell us how, early in the morning, on the
day of departure from Sinaketa, or sometimes on the next morning,
when they leave Muwa, he performs the first rite of kayga'u. Wrapping
up a piece of leyya (wild ginger root) in a bit of dried banana leaf,
he chants over it the long spell of the giyorokaywa, the kayga'u of
the Above. He chants this spell into the leaf, holding it cup-shaped,
with the morsel of ginger root at the bottom, so that the spell
might enter into the substance to be medicated. After that, the leaf
is immediately wrapped round, so as to imprison the magical virtue,
and the magician ties the parcel round his left arm, with a piece of
bast or string. Sometimes he will medicate two bits of ginger and make
two parcels, of which the other will be placed in a string necklet,
and carried on his breast. Our narrator, who is the master of one
of the canoes, will probably not be the only one within the circle
round the camp fire, who carries these bundles of medicated ginger;
for though a toliwaga must always perform this rite as well as know all
the other magic of shipwreck, as a rule several of the older members
of his crew also know it, and have also prepared their magical bundles.

This is one of the spells of the giyorokaywa, such as the old man
said over the ginger root:

                   GIYOROKAYWA NO. 1 (LEYYA KAYGA'U).

    "I will befog Muyuwa!" (repeated). "I will befog
    Misima!" (repeated). "The mist springs up; the mist makes them
    tremble. I befog the front, I shut off the rear; I befog the
    rear, I shut off the front. I fill with mist, mist springs up;
    I fill with mist, the mist which makes them tremble."

    This is the opening part of the formula, very clear, and easy to
    be translated. The mist is magically invoked, the word for mist
    being repeated with several verbal combinations, in a rhythmic and
    alliterative manner. The expression tremble, maysisi, refers to
    a peculiar belief, that when a sorcerer or sorceress approaches
    the victim, and this man paralyses them with a counter spell,
    they lose their bearings, and stand there trembling.

    The main part of this spell opens up with the word 'aga'u,' 'I
    befog,' which, like all such leading words of a spell is first of
    all intoned in a long, drawn-out chant, and then quickly repeated
    with a series of words. Then the word 'aga'u' is replaced by 'aga'u
    sulu,' 'I befog, lead astray,' which in its turn makes way for,
    'aga'u boda,' 'I befog, shut off.' The list of words repeated
    in succession with each of these three expressions is a long
    one. It is headed by the words 'the eyes of the witches.' Then,
    'the eyes of the sea-crab.' Then, always with the word 'eyes,'
    the animals, worms and insects which threaten drowning men in the
    sea, are enumerated. After they are exhausted, the various parts
    of the body are repeated; then finally, a long list of villages
    is recited, preceded by the word aga'u, forming phrases such as:
    "I befog the eyes of the women of Wawela, etc."

    Let us reconstruct a piece of this middle part in a consecutive
    manner. "I befog ...! I befog, I befog, the eyes of the witches! I
    befog the eyes of the little crabs! I befog the eyes of the hermit
    crab! I befog the eyes of the insects on the beach! ... etc."

    "I befog the hand, I befog the foot, I befog the head. I befog
    the shoulders ... etc."

    "I befog the eyes of the women of Wawela; I befog the eyes of the
    women of Kaulasi; I befog the eyes of the women of Kumilabwaga,
    I befog the eyes of the women of Vakuta ... etc., etc."

    "I befog, lead astray, the eyes of the witches; I befog, lead
    astray the eyes of the little crab! ... etc."

    "I befog, shut off the eyes of the witches, I befog, shut off
    the eyes of the little crab ... etc., etc."

    It can easily be seen how long drawn such a spell is, especially
    as in this middle part, the magician will often come back to where
    he has started, and repeat the leading word over and over again
    with the others. Indeed, this can be taken as a typical tapwana,
    or middle part, of a long spell, where the leading words are,
    so to speak, well rubbed into the various other expressions. One
    feature of this middle part is remarkable, namely, that the
    beings from below, the crabs, the sea insects and worms are
    invoked, although the spell is one of the giyorokaywa type,
    the magic of the Above. This is an inconsistency frequently met
    with; a contradiction between the ideas embodied in the spell,
    and the theory of the magic, as explicitly formulated by the
    informants. The parts of the body enumerated in the tapwana
    refer to the magician's own person, and to his companions in the
    canoe. By this part of the spell, he surrounds himself and all
    his companions with mist, which makes them invisible to all the
    evil influences.

    After the long tapwana has been recited, there follows the last
    part, which, however, is not chanted in this case, but spoken in
    a low, persuasive, tender voice.

    "I hit thy flanks; I fold over thy mat, thy bleached mat of
    pandanus; I shall make it into thy mantle. I take thy sleeping
    doba (grass skirt), I cover thy loins; remain there, snore within
    thy house! I alone myself" (here the reciter's name is uttered)
    "I shall remain in the sea, I shall swim!"

This last part throws some interesting sidelights on native belief
in mulukwausi. We see here the expression of the idea that the body
of the witch remains in the house, whilst she herself goes out on her
nefarious errand. Molilakwa, the magician of Oburaku who gave me this
spell, said in commentary to this last part:

    "The yoyova casts off her body (inini wowola--which really means
    'peals off her skin'); she lies down and sleeps, we hear her
    snoring. Her covering (kapwalela that is, her outward body,
    her skin) remains in the house, and she herself flies (titolela
    biyova). Her skirt remains in the house, she flies naked. When
    she meets men, she eats us. In the morning, she puts on her body,
    and lies down in her hut. When we cover her loins with the doba,
    she cannot fly any more."

This last sentence refers to the magical act of covering, as expressed
in the last part of the spell.

Here we find another variant of belief as to the nature of the
mulukwausi, to be added to those mentioned before. Previously we
met the belief of the disassociation of the woman into the part that
remains, and the part that flies. But here the real personality is
located in the flying part, whereas what remains is the 'covering.' To
imagine the mulukwausi, the flying part, as a 'sending,' in the light
of this belief, would not be correct. In general, such categories
as 'agent,' and 'sending,' or as 'real self' and 'emanation' etc.,
etc., can be applied to native belief as rough approximations only,
and the exact definition should be given in terms of native statement.

The final sentence of this spell, containing the wish to remain alone
in the sea, to be allowed to swim and drift, is a testimony to the
belief that without mulukwausi, there is no danger to a man adrift
on a piece of wreckage among the foaming waves of a stormy sea.

After reciting this lengthy spell, the toliwaga, as he tells us in
his narrative, has had to perform another rite, this time, over his
lime-pot. Taking out the stopper of rolled palm leaf and plaited
fibre from the baked and decorated gourd in which he keeps his lime,
he utters another spell of the giyorokaywa cycle:

                   GIYOROKAYWA NO. 2 (PWAKA KAYGA'U).

    "There on Muruwa, I arise, I stand up! Iwa, Sewatupa, at
    the head--I rumble, I disperse. Kasabwaybwayreta, Namedili,
    Toburitolu, Tobwebweso, Tauva'u, Bo'abwa'u, Rasarasa. They are
    lost, they disappear."

    This beginning, full of archaic expressions, implicit meanings
    and allusions and personal names, is very obscure. The first
    words refer probably to the head-quarters of sorcery; Muruwa
    (or Murua--Woodlark Island), Iwa, Sewatupa. The long list of
    personal names following afterwards contains some mythical ones,
    like Kasabwaybwayreta, and some others, which I cannot explain,
    though the words Tobwebweso, Tauva'u, and Bo'abwa'u suggest that
    this is a list in which some sorcerers' names figure. As a rule,
    in such spells, a list of names signifies that all those who have
    used and handed down this formula, are enumerated. In some cases
    the people mentioned are frankly mythical heroes. Sometimes a
    few mythical names are chanted, and then comes a string of actual
    people, forming a sort of pedigree of the spell. If these in this
    spell are ancestor names they all refer to mythical personalities,
    and not to real ancestors. [68] The last words contained an
    expression typical of the kayga'u. Then comes the middle part.

    "I arise, I escape from bara'u; I arise, I escape from yoyova. I
    arise, I escape from mulukwausi. I arise, I escape from bowo'u,
    etc.," repeating the leading words "I arise, I escape from--"
    with the words used to describe the flying witches in the various
    surrounding districts. Thus the word bara'u comes from Muyuwa
    (Woodlark Island), where it describes the sorceress, and not,
    as in other Massim districts, a male sorcerer. The words yoyova,
    mulukwausi need no explanation. Bowo'u is an Amphlettan word. Words
    from Dobu, Tubetube, etc., follow. Then the whole period is
    repeated, adding 'eyes of' in the middle of each phrase, so that
    it runs:

    "I arise, I escape from the eyes of the bara'u. I arise, I escape
    from the eyes of the yoyova, etc." The leading words, 'I arise,
    I escape from' are then replaced by: 'They wander astray,' which,
    again, make way to 'the sea is cleared off.' This whole middle
    part of the spell is clear, and needs no commentary. Then comes
    the concluding period (dogina):

    "I am a manuderi (small bird), I am a kidikidi (small sea bird),
    I am a floating log, I am a piece of sea-weed; I shall produce
    mist till it encloses all, I shall befog, I shall shut off with
    fog. Mist, enveloped in mist, dissolving in mist am I. Clear is
    the sea, (the mulukwausi are) straying in mist." This part also
    needs no special commentary.

This is again a long spell of the giyorokaywa type, that is, directed
against the mulukwausi, and in this the spell is consistent, for the
mulukwausi alone are invoked in the middle period.

After the spell has been chanted into the lime pot, this is well
stoppered, and not opened till the end of the journey. It must be noted
that these two giyorokaywa spells have been spoken by our toliwaga in
the village or on Muwa beach, and in day time. For, as said above,
it is a taboo to utter them in the night or at sea. From the moment
he has spoken these two spells, both medicated substances, the ginger
root and the lime in the lime pot, remain near him. He has also in the
canoe some stones of those brought from the Koya, and called binabina,
in distinction to the dead coral, which is called dakuna. Over these
stones, at the moment of the occurrence of danger, a spell of the
Underneath, a giyotanawa will be recited. The following is a formula
of this type, short as they always are.

                   GIYOTANAWA NO. 1 (DAKUNA KAYGA'U).

    "Man, bachelor, woman, young girl; woman, young girl, man,
    bachelor! Traces, traces obliterated by cobwebs; traces,
    obliterated by turning up (the material in which they were
    left); I press, I close down! Sharks of Dukutabuya, I press,
    I close down; Sharks of Kaduwaga, I press, I close down," etc.,
    the sharks of Muwa, Galeya, Bonari, and Kaulokoki being invoked
    in turn. All these words are names of marked parts of the sea,
    in and around the Trobriand Lagoon. The formula ends up with
    the following peroration: "I press down thy neck, I open up thy
    passage of Kiyawa, I kick thee down, O shark. Duck down under
    water, shark. Die, shark, die away."

The commentary to the opening sentences given by my informant,
Molilakwa of Oburaku, was:

    "This magic is taught to people when they are quite young. Hence
    the mention of young people."

The obliterating of traces will be made clearer by the account
which follows, in which we shall see that to obliterate traces, to
put off the scent the shark and mulukwausi are the main concerns of
the shipwrecked party. The middle part refers to sharks only, and so
does the peroration. The passage of Kiyawa near Tuma is mentioned in
several types of magical exorcisms, when the evil influence is being
banished. This passage lies between the main island and the island
of Tuma, and leads into the unknown regions of the North-Western seas.

It will be best to quote here another formula of the giyotanawa type,
and a very dramatic one. For this is the formula spoken at the critical
moment of shipwreck. At the moment when the sailors decide to abandon
the craft and to plunge into the sea, the toliwaga stands up in the
canoe, and slowly turning round so as to throw his words towards all
four winds, intones in a loud voice this spell:

                           GIYOTANAWA NO. 2.

    "Foam, foam, breaking wave, wave! I shall enter into the breaking
    wave, I shall come out from behind it. I shall enter from behind
    into the wave, and I shall come out in its breaking foam!"

    "Mist, gathering mist, encircling mist, surround, surround me!"

    "Mist, gathering mist, encircling mist, surround, surround me,
    my mast!

    Mist, gathering mist, etc. ... surround me, the nose of my canoe.

    Mist, etc. ... surround me, my sail,

    Mist, etc. ... surround me, my steering oar,

    Mist, etc. ... surround me, my rigging,

    Mist, etc. ... surround me, my platform,"

    And so on, enumerating one after the other all the parts of the
    canoe and its accessories. Then comes the final part of the spell:

    "I shut off the skies with mist; I make the sea tremble with mist;
    I close up your mouth, sharks, bonubonu (small worms), ginukwadewo
    (other worms). Go underneath and we shall swim on top."

Little is needed as a commentary to this magic. Its beginning is
very clear, and singularly well depicts the situation in which it
is uttered. The end refers directly to the primary aim of the magic,
to the warding off of the Underneath, of the dangerous animals in the
sea. The only ambiguity refers to the middle part, where the magical
leading words of 'enveloping by mist' are associated with a list of
names of the parts of the canoe. I am not certain whether this is to
be interpreted, in the sense that the toliwaga wants to surround his
whole canoe with mist so that it may not be seen by the sharks, etc.,
or whether, on the contrary, just on the verge of abandoning his canoe,
and anxious to cut himself off from its various parts which may turn
on him and 'eat him,' he therefore wants to surround each of them
with mist so that it may be blinded. The latter interpretation fits
the above-quoted belief that certain parts of the canoe, especially
the carved human figures on the prow-board and the mast, the ribs
of the canoe, and certain other parts of its construction, 'eat' the
shipwrecked men. But again, in this spell, there are enumerated not
certain parts, but every part, and that undoubtedly is not consistent
with this belief, so the question must remain open.


I have anticipated some of the events of the consecutive narrative
of shipwreck, in order to give the two last mentioned magical formulæ
first, and not to have to interrupt the tale of our toliwaga, to which
we now return. We left it at the point where, having said his first
two kayga'u formulæ over the ginger and into the lime pot, he embarks,
keeping these two things handy, and putting some binabina stones
within his reach. From here, his narrative becomes more dramatic. He
describes the approaching storm:


    "The canoe sails fast; the wind rises; big waves come; the wind
    booms, du-du-du-du.... The sails flutter; the lamina (outrigger)
    rises high! All the usagelu crouch on the lamina. I speak magic to
    calm the wind. The big spell of the Sim-sim. They know all about
    yavata (North-Westerley Monsoon wind). They live in the eye of
    the yavata. The wind abates not, not a little bit. It booms, it
    gains strength, it booms loud du-du-du-du-du. All the usagelu are
    afraid. The mulukwausi scream, u-ú, u-ú, u-ú, u; their voices are
    heard in the wind. With the wind they scream and come flying. The
    veva (sheet rope) is torn from the hands of the tokabinaveva. The
    sail flutters freely in the wind; it is torn away. It flies
    far into the sea; it falls on the waters. The waves break over
    the canoe. I stand up. I take the binabina stones; I recite the
    kayga'u over them, the giyotanawa, the spell of the Underneath. The
    short spell, the very strong spell. I throw the stones into the
    deep. They weigh down the sharks, the vineylida; they close the
    Gaping Depth. The fish cannot see us. I stand up, I take my lime
    pot; I break it. The lime I throw into the wind. It wraps us up
    in mist. Such a mist that no one can see us. The mulukwausi lose
    sight of us. We hear them shout near by. They shout u-û, u-û, u-û,
    u. The sharks, the bonubonu, the soka do not see us; the water
    is turbid. The canoe is swamped, the water is in it. It drifts
    heavily, the waves break over us. We break the vatotuwa, (the
    sticks joining the float to the platform). The lamina (outrigger
    float) is severed; we jump from the waga; we catch hold of the
    lamina. On the lamina we drift. I utter the great Kaytaria spell;
    the big fish iraviyaka comes. It lifts us. It takes the lamina
    on its back, and carries us. We drift, we drift, we drift."

    "We approach a shore; the iraviyaka brings us there, the iraviyaka
    puts us on the shallows. I take a stout pole, I lift it off;
    I speak a spell. The iraviyaka turns back to the deep sea."

    "We are all on the dayaga (fringing reef). We stand inwater. The
    water is cold, we all shiver with cold. We do not go ashore. We
    are afraid of the mulukwausi. They follow us ashore. They wait for
    us ashore. I take a dakuna (piece of coral stone), I say a spell
    over it. I throw the stone on the beach; it makes a big thud;
    good; the mulukwausi are not there. We go ashore. Another time,
    I throw a stone, we hear nothing: mulukwausi are on the beach;
    they catch it; we hear nothing. We remain on the dayaga. I take
    some leyya (ginger). I spit it at the beach. I throw another
    stone. The mulukwausi do not see it. It falls down; we hear it. We
    go ashore; we sit on the sand in a row. We sit in one row, one man
    near another, as on the lamina (in the same order as they drifted
    on the lamina). I make a charm over the comb; all the usagelu comb
    their hair; they tease their hair a long time. They are very cold;
    we do not make the fire. First, I put order on the beach; I take
    the piece of leyya, I spit it over the beach. One time, when the
    leyya is finished, I take some kasita leaves (the beach is always
    full of these). I put them on the shore, I put a stone on them,
    uttering a spell--afterwards, we make fire. All sit round and
    warm themselves at the fire."

    "At day time, we don't go to the village; the mulukwausi would
    follow us. After dark, we go. Like on the lamina, we march in the
    same order, one after the other. I go last; I chant a spell over
    a libu plant. I efface our traces. I put the libu on our track;
    I put the weeds together. I make the path confused. I say a charm
    to the spider, that he might make a cobweb. I say a charm to the
    bush-hen, that she might turn up the soil."

    "We go to the village. We enter the village, we pass the main
    place. No one sees us; we are in mist, we are invisible. We enter
    the house of my veyola (maternal kinsman), he medicates some
    leyya; he spits (magically) on all of us. The mulukwausi smell us;
    they smell the salt water on our skins. They come to the house,
    the house trembles. A big wind shakes the house, we hear big thuds
    against the house. The owner of the house medicates the leyya and
    spits over us; they cannot see us. A big fire is made in the house;
    plenty of smoke fills the house. The leyya and the smoke blind
    their eyes. Five days we sit in smoke, our skin smells of smoke;
    our hair smells of smoke; the mulukwausi cannot smell us. Then
    I medicate some water and coco-nut, the usagelu wash and annoint
    themselves. They leave the house, they sit on the kaukweda (spot
    before the house). The owner of the house chases them away. 'Go,
    go to your wife;' we all go, we return to our houses."

I have given here a reconstruction of a native account, as I have often
heard it told with characteristic vividness: spoken in short, jerky
sentences, with onamatopoetic representations of sound, the narrative
exaggerates certain features, and omits others. The excellency of
the narrator's own magic, the violence of the elements at critical
moments, he would always reiterate with monotonous insistence. He would
diverge into some correlated subject, jump ahead, missing out several
stages, come back, and so on, so that the whole is quite incoherent
and unintelligible to a white listener, though the native audience
follows its trend perfectly well. For it must be remembered that,
when a native tells such a story, the events are already known to
his listeners, who have grown up gradually becoming familiar with
the narrow range of their tribal folklore. Our toliwaga, telling this
story over again on the sandbank of Yakum, would dwell on such points
as allowed him to boast of his kayga'u, to describe the violence of
the storm, to bear witness to the traditional effects of the magic.

It is necessary for an Ethnographer to listen several times to such a
narrative, in order to have a fair chance of forming some coherent
idea of its trend. Afterwards, by means of direct examination,
he can succeed in placing the facts in their proper sequence. By
questioning the informants about details of rite and magic, it is
possible then to obtain interpretations and commentaries. Thus the
whole of a narrative can be constructed, the various fragments, with
all their spontaneous freshness, can be put in their proper places,
and this is what I have done in giving this account of shipwreck. [69]

A few words of comment must now be given on the text of the above
narrative. In it, a number of magical rites were mentioned, besides
those which were described first with their spells. Something must
be said more in detail about the spells of the subsequent magical
performances. There are some eleven of them. First comes the ritual
invocation of the fish which helps the shipwrecked sailors. The
spell corresponding to this, is called kaytaria, and it is an
important formula, which every toliwaga is supposed to know. The
question arises, has this rite ever been practised in reality? Some
of the actions taken by the shipwrecked natives, such as the cutting
of the the outrigger float when the boat is abandoned, are quite
rational. It would be dangerous to float on the big, unwieldy canoe
which might be constantly turned round and round by the waves, and if
smashed to pieces, might injure the sailors with its wreckage. In this
fact, perhaps there is also the empirical basis for the belief that
some fragments of the canoe 'eat' the shipwrecked men. The round,
symmetrical log of the lamina, on the other hand, will serve as
an excellent lifebuoy. Perhaps a toliwaga, arrived at such a pass,
would really utter the kaytaria spell. And if the party were saved,
they would probably all declare, and, no doubt believe, that the fish
had come to their summons, and somehow or other helped in the rescue.

It is less easy to imagine what elements in such an experience might
have given rise to the myth that the natives, landed on the shore,
magically lift the fish from the shallow waters by means of a charmed
pole. This indeed seems a purely imaginary incident, and my main
informant, Molilakwa of Oburaku, from whom I obtained the kaytaria
spell, did not know the spell of the pole, and would have had to
leave the iraviaka to its own fate in the shallows. Nor could I hear
of anyone else professing to know this spell. The formula uttered
over the stone to be thrown on the beach was equally unknown to the
circle of my informants. Of course, in all such cases, when a man
carrying on a system of magic would come to a gap in his knowledge, he
would perform the rite without the spell, or utter the most suitable
spell of the system. Thus here, as the stone is thrown in order to
reconnoitre whether the mulukwausi are waiting for them, a spell of
the giyorokaywa, the spell of the mulukwausi, might be uttered over
the stone. Over the combs, as well as over the herbs on the beach,
a giyorokaywa spell would be uttered, according to my informants,
but probably, a different spell from the one spoken originally over
the ginger root. Molilakwa, for instance, knows two spells of the
giyorokaywa, both of which are suitable to be spoken over the ginger
and over the beach respectively. Then there comes another spell,
to be uttered over the libu plant, and in addressing the spider and
the bush-hen. Molilakwa told me that the same spell would be said in
the three cases, but neither he, nor anyone else, among my informants
could give me this spell. The magic done in the village, while the
shipwrecked men remained in the smoky hut, would be all accompanied
by the leyya (ginger) spells.

One incident in the above narrative might have struck the reader as
contradictory of the general theory of the mulukwausi belief, that,
namely, where the narrator declares that the party on the beach have to
wait till nightfall before they enter the village. The general belief
expressed in all the mulukwausi legends, as well as in the taboos of
the kayga'u, is that the witches are really dangerous only at night,
when they can see and hear better. Such contradictions, as I have said,
are often met in native belief, and in this, by the way, the savages do
not differ from ourselves. My informant, from whom I had this version,
simply said that such was the rule and the custom, and that they had
to wait till night. In another account, on the other hand, I was told
that the party must proceed to the village immediately after having
performed the several rites on the beach, whether night or day.

There also arises the main question, regarding this narrative,
to which allusion has been made already, namely, how far does it
represent the normal behaviour in shipwreck, and how far is it a
sort of standardised myth? There is no doubt that shipwreck in these
seas, surrounded in many parts by islands, is not unlikely to end
by the party's being saved. This again would result in some such
explanation as that contained in our narrative. Naturally, I tried
to record all the actual cases of shipwreck within the natives'
memory. Some two generations ago, one of the chiefs of Omarakana,
named Numakala, perished at sea, and with him all his crew. A canoe
of another Eastern Trobriand village, Tilakaywa, was blown far North,
and stranded in Kokopawa, from where it was sailed back by its crew,
when the wind turned to the North-West. Although this canoe was not
actually shipwrecked, its salvation is credited to kayga'u magic,
and to the kind fish, iraviyaka. A very intelligent informant of
mine explained this point of view in answer to some of my cavillings:
"If this canoe had been wrecked, it would have been saved also."

A party from Muyuwa (Woodlark Island) were saved on the shore of
Boyowa. In the South of the Island, several cases are on record where
canoes were wrecked and saved in the d'Entrecasteaux Islands or in the
Amphletts. Once the whole crew were eaten by cannibals, getting ashore
in a hostile district of Fergusson Island, and one man only escaped,
and ran along the shore, south-eastwards towards Dobu. Thus there is
a certain amount of historical evidence for the saving power of the
magic, and the mixture of fanciful and real elements makes our story
a good example of what could be called standardised or universalised
myth--that is, a myth referring not to one historical event but to
a type of occurrence, happening universally.


Let us now give the text of the remaining spells which belong to the
above narrative, but have not been adduced there, so as not to spoil
its flow. First of all there is the kaytaria spell, that which the
toliwaga, drifting alongside his crew on the detached canoe float,
intones in a loud, slow voice, in order to attract the iraviyaka.

                            KAYTARIA SPELL.

    "I lie, I shall lie down in my house, a big house. I shall sharpen
    my ear, I shall hear the roaring of the sea--it foams up, it makes
    a noise. At the bottom of Kausubiyai, come, lift me, take me,
    bring me to the top of Nabonabwana beach."

    Then comes a sentence with mythological allusions which I could
    not succeed in translating. After that follows the main part of
    the spell:

    "The suyusayu fish shall lift me up; my child, the suyusayu shall
    lift me up; my child's things, the suyusayu shall lift me up; my
    basket, etc.; my lime pot, etc.; my lime spoon, etc.; my house,
    etc.;" repeating the words "the suyusayu fish shall lift me up"
    with various expressions describing the toliwaga's equipment as
    well as his child, presumably a member of the shipwrecked crew.

There is no end part to this spell, as it was given to me; only
the beginning is repeated after the main part. It is not impossible
that Molilakwa himself, my informant, did not know the spell to the
end. Such magic, once learnt by a native, never used, and recited
perhaps once a year during a mortuary ceremony, or occasionally, in
order to show off, is easily forgotten. There is a marked difference
between the vacillating and uncertain way in which such spells are
produced by informants, and the wonderful precision and the easy
flow with which, for example, the spells, year after year performed
in public, will trip off the tongue of the garden magician.

I cannot give a correct commentary to the mythological names Kausubiyai
and Nabonabwana, in the first part of the spell. What this part means,
whether the reclining individual who hears the noises of the sea is
the magician, or whether it represents the sensations of the fish who
hears the calling for help, I could not make out. The meaning of the
middle part is plain, however. Suyusayu is another name for iraviyaka,
indeed, its magical name used only in spells, and not when speaking
of it in ordinary conversations.

The other formula to be given here is the other giyorokaywa spell,
which would be used in spitting the ginger on the beach after rescue,
and also in medicating the herbs, which will be put on the beach
and beaten with a stone. This spell is associated with the myth
of the origin of kayga'u, which must be related here, to make the
formula clear.

Near the beginning of time, there lived in Kwayawata, one of the
Marshall Bennetts, a family strange to our ideas of family life, but
quite natural in the world of Kiriwinian mythology. It consisted of
a man, Kalaytaytu, his sister, Isenadoga, and the youngest brother,
a dog, Tokulubweydoga. Like other mythological personages, their
names suggest that originally they must have conveyed some sort of
description. Doga means the curved, almost circular, boar's tusk used
as ornament. The name of the canine member of the family might mean
something like Man-with-circular-tusks-in-his-head, and his sister's
name, Woman-ornamented-with-doga. The eldest brother has in his
name the word taytu, which signifies the staple food (small yams) of
natives, and a verb, kalay, signifying 'to put on ornaments.' Not much
profit, however, can be deduced from this etymology, as far as I can
see, for the interpretation of this myth. I shall quote in a literal
translation the short version of this myth, as I obtained it first,
when the information was volunteered to me by Molilakwa in Oburaku.

                        MYTH OF TOKULUBWAYDOGA.

    "They live in Kwayawata; one day Kalaytayta goes to fish, gets
    into a small canoe (kewo'u). Behind him swims the dog. He comes to
    Digumenu. They fish with the older brother. They catch fish! The
    elder brother paddles; that one again goes behind; goes, returns
    to Kwayawata. They died; came Modokei, he learned the kayga'u,
    the inside of Tokulubwaydoga. The name of their mother, the mother
    of Tokulubwaydoga, is Tobunaygu."

This little fragment gives a good idea of what the first version
is, even of so well fixed a piece of narrative as a myth. It has
to be supplemented by inquiries as to the motives of the behaviour
of the various personages, as to the relations of one event to the
other. Thus, further questions revealed that the elder brother refused
to take the dog with him on this fishing expedition. Tokulubwaydoga
then determined to go all the same, and swam to Digumenu, following
the canoe of his brother. This latter was astonished to see him, but
none the less they went to work together. In fishing, the dog was more
successful than his brother, and thus aroused his jealousy. The man
then refused to take him back. Tokulubwaydoga then jumped into the
water, and again swam and arrived safely in Kwayawata. The point of
the story lies in the fact that the dog was able to do the swimming,
because he knew the kayga'u, otherwise the sharks, mulukwausi, or
other evil things would have eaten him. He got it from his mother,
the lady Tobunaygu, who could teach him this magic because she
was a mulukwausi herself. Another important point about this myth,
also quite omitted from the first version volunteered to me, is its
sociological aspect. First of all, there is the very interesting
incident, unparalleled in Kiriwinian tradition: the mother of the
three belonged to the Lukwasisiga clan. It was a most incongruous
thing for a dog, who is the animal of the Lukuba clan, to be born
into a Lukwasisiga family. However, there he was, and so he said:

    "Good, I shall be a Lukuba, this is my clan."

Now the incident of the quarrel receives its significance in so far as
the dog, the only one to whom the mother gave the kayga'u, did not hand
it over to his brother and sister who were of the Lukwasisiga clan,
and so the magic went down only the dog's own clan, the Lukuba. It must
be assumed (though this was not known to my informant) that Madokei,
who learnt the magic from the dog, was also a Lukuba man.

Like all mythological mother-ancestresses, Tobunaygu had no husband,
nor does this circumstance call forth any surprise or comment on the
part of the natives, since the physiological aspect of fatherhood is
not known among them, as I have repeatedly observed.

As can be seen, by comparing the original fragment, and the subsequent
amplification by inquiries, the volunteered version misses out the
most important points. The concatenation of events, the origin of the
kayga'u, the important sociological details, have to be dragged out
of the informant, or, to put it more correctly, he has to be made to
enlarge on points, to roam over all the subjects covered by the myth,
and from his statements then, one has to pick out and piece together
the other bits of the puzzle. On the other hand, the names of the
people, the unimportant statements of what they did and how they were
occupied are unfailingly given.

Let us adduce now the kayga'u, which is said to be derived from the
dog, and ultimately from his mother:

                       KAYGA'U OF TOKULUBWAYDOGA.

    "Tobunaygu (repeated), Manemanaygu (repeated), my mother a snake,
    myself a snake; myself a snake, my mother a snake. Tokulubwaydoga,
    Isenadoga, Matagagai, Kalaytaytu; bulumava'u tabugu Madokei. I
    shall befog the front, I shall shut off the rear; I shall befog
    the rear, I shall shut off the front."

    This exordium contains at first the invocation of the name of
    the mulukwausi, who was the source of the spell. Its pendant
    Manemanaygu is, according to my informant, derived from an archaic
    word nema, equivalent to the present day yama, hand. "As the
    right hand is to the left one, so is Tobunaygu to Manemanaygu,"
    which was expressed as a matter of fact in the less grammatically
    worded form; "this right hand, this left" (clapped together)
    "so Tobunaygu, Manemanaygu."

    Whether this analysis of my informant is correct must remain an
    open question. It must be remembered that magic is not taken by the
    natives as an ethnographic document, allowing of interpretations
    and developments, but as an instrument of power. The words are
    there to act, and not to teach. Questions as to the meaning of
    magic, as a rule, puzzled the informants, and therefore it is
    not easy to explain a formula or obtain a correct commentary upon
    it. All the same there are some natives who obviously have tried
    to get to the bottom of what the various words in magic represent.

    To proceed with our commentary, the phrase "My mother a snake,
    etc.," was thus explained to me by Molilakwa: "Supposing we strike
    a snake, already it vanishes, it does not remain; thus also we
    human beings, when mulukwausi catch us, we disappear." That
    is, we disappear after having spoken this magical formula,
    for in a formula the desired result is always expressed in
    anticipation. Molilakwa's description of a snake's behaviour is,
    according to my experience, not sound Natural History, but it
    probably expresses the underlying idea, namely the elusiveness
    of the snake, which would naturally be one of the metaphorical
    figures used in the spell.

    The string of words following the invocation of the snake are all
    mythical names, four of which we found mentioned in the above
    myth, while the rest remain obscure. The last-named, that of
    Modokei, is preceded by the words bulumavau tabugu, which means,
    'recent spirit of my ancestor,' which words are as a rule used
    in spells with reference to real grandfathers of the reciters.

    The middle part of the spell proceeds:--

    "I shall cover the eyes of the witches of Kitava; I shall cover
    the eyes of the witches of Kumwageya; I shall cover the eyes of
    the witches of Iwa; I shall cover the eyes of the witches of Gawa,
    etc., etc.," enumerating all the villages and islands renowned
    for their witches. This list is again recited, substituting for
    the expression "I shall cover," in succession, "I shall befog,"
    and "dew envelopes." This middle part needs no commentary.

    The end of this formula runs as follows:

    "I shall kick thy body, I shall take thy spirit skirt, I shall
    cover thy buttocks, I shall take thy mat, a pandanus mat, I
    shall take thy mantle. I shall strike thee with my foot, go,
    fly over Tuma, fly away. I myself in the sea (here the reciter's
    name is mentioned), I shall drift away, well." This last part of
    the spell is so much alike to the end of the spell first quoted
    in this chapter, that no commentary is needed.

The mythological and magical data presented in this chapter all bear
upon the native belief in flying witches and dangers at sea, a belief
in which elements of reality are strangely blended with traditionally
fixed fancies, in a way, however, not uncommon to human belief in
general. It is time now to return to our party on the beach at Yakum,
who, after having spent the night there, next morning rig up their
masts, and with a favourable wind, soon reach the waters of Gumasila
and Domdom.




Our party, sailing from the North, reach first the main island
of Gumasila, a tall, steep mountain with arched lines and great
cliffs, suggesting vaguely some huge Gothic monument. To the left,
a heavy pyramid, the island of Domdom, recedes behind the nearer
mountain as the travellers approach. The fleet now sails along the
westerly shore of Gumasila, on which side the jungle, interspersed
with bald patches, ascends a steep slope, ribbed with rocky ridges,
and creased by valleys which run at their foot into wide bays. Only
here and there can be seen triangular clearings, signs of cultivation
made by the natives from the other side of the island, where the two
villages are situated. At the South-West end of Gumasila, a narrow
promontory runs into a flat, low point with a sandy beach on both
sides. On the North side of the point, hidden from the villages,
the fleet comes to a halt, on the beach of Giyawana (called by the
Trobrianders Giyasila). This is the place where all the fleets,
arriving from the North, stop before approaching the villages. Here
also the inhabitants of the Amphletts rest for a day, after the
first false start they have made from the villages, and before they
actually set off for the Trobriands. This beach, in short, is the
Amphlettan counterpart of the sandbank Muwa. It was also here that I
surprised the Gumasilan canoes on a full moon night, in March, 1918,
after they had started to join the uvalaku expedition to Sinaketa.

On this beach, the Sinaketans perform the final stage of Kula magic,
before approaching their partners in Gumasila. The same magic will
be repeated before arriving in Dobu, and as a matter of fact, when
the objective of the big uvalaku is Dobu, the full and ceremonial
performance of the magic might usually be deferred till then. It
will be better therefore to postpone the description of this magic
till we have brought our fleet to the beach of Sarubwoyna. Here it
will be enough to mention that on occasions when magic is performed,
after an hour's or half hour's pause on the beach of Giyawana, all
the men get into their canoes, take the paddles and oars, and the
fleet sails round the point where, in a small, very picturesque bay,
there lies the smaller village of Gumasila, called Nu'agasi (see Plate
I). This village in olden days was perched on a narrow ledge some one
hundred metres above the sea level, a fastness difficult of access, and
overlooking all its approaches. Now, after the white man's influence
has rendered unnecessary all precautions against raiding parties,
the village has come down to the narrow strip of foreshore, a bridge
between the sea and a small swamp formed at the foot of the hill. Some
of the canoes will come to this beach, the others will sail further,
under a precipitous black rock of some 150 metres high and 300 metres
wide (see Plate XLII). Turning another corner, they arrive at the big
village of Gumasila, built on artificial stone terraces, surrounded
by dykes of small stones, forming square lagoons and diminutive
harbours (compare the description given above in Chapter I, Division
V). This is the old village which, practically inaccessible by sea,
formed a fastness of a different kind from the other, high-perched
villages typical of this district. Exposed to the full onslaught of
the South-Easterly winds and seas, against which it was protected by
its stone bulwarks and dykes, it was approachable only in all weathers
by a small channel to the South, where a big rock and a reef shelter
it from the rough waters.

Without any preliminary welcoming ceremony or formal reception,
the Sinaketan guests now leave their canoes and disperse among the
villagers, settle down in groups near the houses of their friends, and
engage in betel chewing and conversations. They speak in Kiriwinian,
a language which is universally known in the Amphletts. Almost as
soon as they go ashore, they give to their partners presents of pari
(opening gift), some small object, such as a comb, a lime pot, or
a lime stick. After that, they await some Kula gifts to be given
them. The most important headman will offer such a gift first to
Kouta'uya, or To'udawada, whichever of them is the toli'uvalaku of the
occasion. The soft, penetrating sound of a conch-shell soon announces
that the first gift has been given. Other blasts of conch-shells
follow, and the Kula is in full swing. But here again, what happens in
the Amphletts, is only a minor interlude to the Sinaketan adventurers,
bent on the bigger goal in Dobu. And in order for us to remain in
harmony with the native perspective we shall also wait for the detailed
and circumstantial description of the Kula proceedings till we arrive
on the beach of Tu'utauna, in Dobu. The concrete account of how such
a visiting fleet is received and behaves on arrival will be given,
when I describe a scene I saw with my own eyes in the village of
Nabwageta, another Amphlett island, when sixty Dobuan canoes arrived
there on their uvalaku, en route for Boyowa.

To give a definite idea of the conversations which take place between
the visitors and the Amphlettans, I shall give a sample noted down,
during a visit of some Trobrianders to Nu'agasi, the smaller village
of Gumasila. A few canoes had arrived a day or two before, in the
neighbouring island, Nabwageta, coming from the small Western islands
of the Trobriands on a Kula. One of them paddled across to Nu'agasi
with a crew of some six men, in order to offer pari gifts to their
partners and see what was to be done in the way of Kula. The canoe
was sighted from a distance, and its purpose was guessed at once,
as word had been brought before of the arrival in Nabwageta of this
small expedition. The headman of Nu'agasi, Tovasana, hurried back to
his house from my tent, where I was taking great pains to obtain some
ethnographic information from him.

Tovasana is an outspoken character, and he is the most important
headman in the Amphletts. I am not using the word 'chief,' for in
the Amphletts, as I have said, the natives do not observe either
the court ceremonial with crouching and bending, nor do the headmen
have any power or economic influence, at all comparable with those
of the Trobriands. Yet, although I came from the Trobriands, I was
struck by the authoritative tone used, and the amount of influence
evidently wielded by Tovasana. This is partly due undoubtedly to
the lack of white man's interference, which has so undermined native
authority and morality in the Trobriands, whereas the Amphletts have
so far escaped to a large extent Missionary teaching and Government
law and order. On the other hand, however, the very narrow sphere
of his powers, the authority over a small village, consolidates the
headman's influence. The oldest and the most aristocratic by descent
of all the headmen, he is their acknowledged 'doyen.'

In order to receive his visitors he went to the beach in front
of his house and sat there on a log, looking impassively over the
sea. When the Trobrianders arrived each man took a gift and went
to his partner's house. The chief did not rise to meet them, nor
did they come in a body to greet him. The toliwaga came towards the
place where Tovasana was sitting; he carried a bundle of taro and a
piece of gugu'a (objects of small value, such as combs, lime pots,
etc.). These he laid down near the seated headman, who, however,
took no notice of it. A small boy, a grandchild of Tovasana, I think,
took up the gifts and put them into his house. Then, without having
yet exchanged a word, the toliwaga sat down on the platform next to
Tovasana. Under a shady tree, which spread its branches like a canopy
above the bleached canoe, the men formed a picturesque group sitting
cross-legged on the platform. Beside the slim, youthful figure of the
Kaduwaga man, the old Tovasana, with his big, roughly carved features,
with his large aquiline nose sticking out from under an enormous
turban-like wig, looked like an old gnome. At first exchanging merely
a word or two, soon they dropped into more animated conversation,
and when other villagers and the rest of the visitors joined them,
the talk became general. As they spoke in Kiriwinian, I was able to
jot down the beginning of their conversation.

    Tovasana asked:

    "Where have you anchored?"

    "In Nabwageta."

    "When did you come?"


    "From where did you start on the last day before arriving?"

    "From Gabuwana."


    "The day before yesterday."

    "What wind?"

    "Started from home with yavata; wind changed. Arrived on sandbank
    (Gabuwana); we slept; so-and-so made wind magic; wind changed
    again; good wind."

    Then Tovasana asked the visitors about one of the chiefs from
    the island of Kayleula (to the West of Kiriwina), and when he
    was going to give him a big pair of mwali. The man answered
    they do not know; to their knowledge that chief has no big mwali
    at present. Tovasana became very angry, and in a long harangue,
    lapsing here and there into the Gumasila language, he declared that
    he would never kula again with that chief, who is a topiki (mean
    man), who has owed him for a long time a pair of mwali as yotile
    (return gift), and who always is slow in making Kula. A string
    of other accusations about some clay pots given by Tovasana to
    the same chief, and some pigs promised and never given, were also
    made by the angry headman. The visitors listened to it with polite
    assent, uttering here and there some noncommital remark. They,
    in their turn, complained about some sago, which they had hoped
    to receive in Nabwageta, but which was churlishly refused for some
    reason or other to all the men of Kaduwaga, Kaysiga and Kuyawa.

    Tovasana then asked them, "How long are you going to stay?"

    "Till Dobu men come."

    "They will come," said Tovasana, "not in two days, not in three
    days, not in four days; they will come tomorrow, or at the very
    last, the day after tomorrow."

    "You go with them to Boyowa?"

    "I sail first to Vakuta, then to Sinaketa with the Dobu men. They
    sail to Susuwa beach to fish, I go to your villages, to Kaduwaga,
    to Kaysiga, to Kuyawa. Is there plenty of mwali in your villages?"

    "Yes, there are. So-and-so has..."

    Here followed a long string of personal names of big armshells,
    the approximate number of smaller, nameless ones, and the names
    of the people in whose possession they were at the time.

The interest of both hearers and speakers was very obvious,
and Tovasana gave the approximate dates of his movements to his
visitors. Full moon was approaching, and the natives have got names
for every day during the week before and after full moon, and the
following and preceding days can therefore be reckoned. Also, every
seven-day period within a moon is named after the quarter which falls
in it. This allows the natives to fix dates with a fair exactitude. The
present example shows the way in which, in olden times, the movements
of the various expeditions were known over enormous areas; nowadays,
when white men's boats with native crews often move from one island
to the other, the news spreads even more easily. In former times,
small preliminary expeditions such as the one we have just been
describing, would fix the dates and make arrangements often for as
much as a year ahead.

The Kaduwaga men next inquired as to whether any strangers from the
Trobriands were then staying in Gumasila. The answer was that there
was in the village one man from Ba'u, and one from Sinaketa. Then
inquiries were made as to how many Kula necklaces there were in
Gumasila, and the conversation drifted again into Kula technicalities.

It is quite customary for men from the Trobriands to remain
for a long time in the Amphletts, that is, from one expedition
to another. For some weeks or even months, they live in the
house of their partner, friend, or relative, careful to keep to
the customs of the country. They will sit about with the men of
the village and talk. They will help in the work and go out on
fishing expeditions. These latter will be specially attractive to a
Trobriander, a keen fisherman himself, who here finds an entirely
new type of this pursuit. Whether an expedition would be made on
one of the sandbanks, where the fishermen remain for a few days,
casting their big nets for dugong and turtle; or whether they would
go out in a small canoe, trying to catch the jumping gar fish with
a fishing kite; or throwing a fish trap into the deep sea--all these
would be a novelty to the Trobriander, accustomed only to the methods
suitable to the shallow waters of the Lagoon, swarming with fish.

In one point the Trobriander would probably find his sojourn in
the Amphletts uncongenial; he would be entirely debarred from any
intercourse with women. Accustomed in his country to easy intrigues,
here he has completely to abstain, not only from sexual relations with
women married or unmarried, but even from moving with them socially,
in the free and happy manner characteristic of Boyowa. One of my main
informants, Layseta, a Sinaketa man, who spent several years in the
Amphletts, confessed to me, not without shame and regret, that he
never succeeded in having any intrigues with the women there. To
save his face, he claimed that he had had several Amphlett belles
declaring their love to him, and offering their favours, but he always
refused them:

    "I feared; I feared the bowo'u of Gumasila; they are very bad."

The bowo'u are the local sorcerers of the Amphletts. Whatever we might
think about Layseta's temptations--and his personal appearance and
charm do not make his boastings very credible--and whether he was
afraid of sorcery or of a sound thrashing, the fact remains that a
Trobriander would have to change his usual mode of behaviour when
in the Amphletts, and keep away from the women entirely. When big
parties arrive in Gumasila, or Nabwageta, the women run away, and
camp in the bush till the beach is clear.

The Amphlettans, on the contrary, were used to receive favours from
unmarried women in Sinaketa. Nowadays, the male inhabitants of that
village, always disapproving of the custom, though not to the extent
of taking any action, tell the Amphlettans that the white man's
Government has prohibited the men from Gumasila and Nabwageta to
have sexual relations in Sinaketa. One of the very few occasions,
when the men from the Amphletts showed any interest in talking to me
was when they asked me whether this was true.

    "The Sinaketa men tell us that we will go to jail if we sleep
    with girls in Sinaketa. Would the Government put us into jail,
    in truth?"

As usually, I simply disclaimed all knowledge of the white man's
arcana in such matters.

The small party of Kaduwaga men, whose visit to Tovasana I have just
been describing, sat there for about two hours, smoked and chewed
betel-nut, the conversation flagging now and then, and the men looking
into the distance with the habitual self-important expression worn
on such occasions. After the final words about mutual plans were
exchanged, and a few pots had been brought by small boys to the canoe
as taio'i (farewell gift to the visitors), they embarked, and paddled
back three or four miles across to Nabwageta.

We must imagine the big Kula party from Sinaketa, whom we just watched
landing in the two villages of Gumasila, behaving more or less in the
same manner; conducting similar conversations, offering the same type
of pari gifts to their partners. Only everything happens of course on
a much bigger scale. There is a big group seated before each house,
parties walk up and down the village, the sea in front of it is covered
with the gaudy, heavily laden canoes. In the little village, of which
Tovasana is headman, the two chiefs, To'udawada and Kouta'uya, will
be seated on the same platform, on which we saw the old man receiving
his other guests. The other headmen of the Sinaketans will have gone
to the bigger village round the corner, and will encamp there under
the tall palms, looking across the straits towards the pyramidal forms
of Domdom, and further South, to the main island fronting them with
the majestic form of Koyatabu. Here, among the small houses on piles,
scattered picturesquely through the maze of little harbours, lagoons
and dykes, large groups of people will be seated on mats of plaited
coco-nut, each man as a rule under the dwelling of his partner,
chewing betel-nut stolidly, and watching stealthily the pots being
brought out to be presented to them, and still more eagerly awaiting
the giving of Kula gifts, although he remains to a superficial glance
quite impassive.


In Chapter III I spoke about the sociology of Kula, and gave a concise
definition of partnership with its functions and obligations. I said
there that people enter into this relationship in a definite manner,
and remain in it for the rest of their life. I also said that the
number of partners a man possesses, depends upon his social position
and rank. The protective character of an overseas partner becomes
now clearer, after we have realised the nervous tension with which
each Kula party in olden days would have approached a land full of
mulukwausi, bowo'u and other forms of sorcery, a land from which
originate the very tauva'u themselves. [70] To have a friend there,
one who will not on the surface of it have bad intentions, is a
great boon. What this really means to the natives can, however, only
be realised when we arrive at Dobu, learn the special safety magic
performed there and find how genuinely serious these apprehensions are.

We must now make another short digression from our consecutive account,
and discuss the several aspects of the sociology of the Kula one
after the other.

1. Sociological Limitations to the Participation in the Kula.--Not
everyone who lives within the cultural sphere of the Kula does
participate in it. More especially in the Trobriand Islands, there
are whole districts which do not practise the Kula. Thus a series of
villages in the North of the main Island, the villages on the Island of
Tuma, as well as the industrial villages of Kuboma and the agricultural
ones of Tilataula do not practise Kula. In villages like Sinaketa,
Vakuta, Gumasila and Nabwageta, every man carries on the Kula. The
same applies to the small Islands which link up the big gaps of the
Kula chain, the Islands of Kitava, Iwa, Gawa and Kwayawata, strewn on
the seas between the Trobriands and Woodlark Island, to Tubetube and
Wari, etc., etc. In the Dobuan speaking district, on the other hand,
I think that certain village complexes either do not practice Kula
at all, or else practice it on a small scale, that is, their headmen
have only a few partners in the neighbouring villages.

In some of the big chiefs' villages in Kiriwina there are certain
people who never practice Kula. Thus, in a village where the
headman has the rank of guya'u (chief) or gumguya'u (minor chief)
the commoners of the lowest rank and unrelated to the headman are
not supposed to carry on the Kula. In olden days this rule would be
very strictly observed, and nowadays even, though somewhat relaxed,
not many commoners of this description practice the Kula. Limitations
as to entry into the Kula, therefore, exist only in big Kula districts
such as that of Dobu and of the Trobriands, and they are partly local,
excluding whole villages, and partly social, excluding certain people
of low rank.

2. The Relation of Partnership.--The name for an overseas partner
is in the Trobriand language karayta'u; 'my partner' is styled ulo
karayta'u, ulo being the possessive pronoun of remote relation. In
Gumasila he is called ulo ta'u, which means simply 'my man'; in Dobuan,
yegu gumagi. The inland partners are known in Kiriwinian by the term
denoting a friend, 'lubaygu,' the suffixed possessive pronoun gu
being that of nearest possession.

Only after this relationship has been established between two men,
can the two make Kula with one another. An overseas visitor would
as a rule go to his partner's house and offer him a small present
as pari. This again would be returned by the local man by means of
a talo'i present. There would not be any great intimacy between two
overseas partners. But, in sharp contrast to the essential hostility
between two strange tribesmen, such a relationship of friendship would
stand out as the most remarkable deviation from the general rule. In
inland relations between two partners of neighbouring villages, the
closeness and intimacy would be relatively small as compared to other
ties. This relation was defined to me in these words:

    "My partner same as my clansman (kakaveyogu)--he might fight
    me. My real kinsman (veyogu), same navelstring, would always side
    with us."

The best way of obtaining detailed information, and of eliminating
any errors which might have crept into ethnographic generalisations,
is to collect concrete data. I have drawn up a complete list of the
partners of Kouta'uya, who is one of the biggest Kula men in the
whole Ring; another list of a smaller Sinaketa headman, Toybayoba;
and of course I know several complements of partners of smaller men,
who, as a rule, have about four to six partners each.

The full list of Kouta'uya includes fifty-five men in the Northern
Half of Boyowa, that is, in Luba, Kulumata and Kiriwina. From these
the chief receives armshells. To the South, his partners in the
Southern districts of Boyowa and Vakuta are twenty-three by number;
in the Amphletts eleven, and twenty-seven in Dobu. Thus we see that the
numbers to the South and North almost balance, the Southern exceeding
the Northern by six. These numbers include his partners in Sinaketa,
where he makes Kula with all his fellow chiefs, and with all the
headmen of the divisional villages, and in his own little village
he kulas with his sons. But even there, everyone of his partners is
either South or North to him, that is, either gives him the necklaces
or armshells.

All the clans are represented in the list. Often when asked with
regard to the name of some man, why he is in partnership with him,
the answer would be--"Because he is my kinsman," which means, in
this case, clansman of equal rank. Men of other clans are included,
as 'friends' or relatives-in-law, or for some other reason more or
less imaginary. I shall speak presently of the mechanism through
which the man enters on this relation.

The list of Toybayoba's partners includes twelve men to the North,
four in Southern Boyowa, three in the Amphletts and eleven in Dobu,
the balance here also being on the Southern side. As said above,
minor men might have anything between four to ten partners all told,
whereas there are men in northern Boyowa who have only two partners,
one on each side of the ring, so to speak, with whom they make Kula.

In drawing up these lists, which I shall not reproduce here in
extenso, another striking feature comes to light: on both sides,
there is a definite geographical limit, beyond which a man cannot have
any partners. For all men in the village of Sinaketa, for instance,
this limit, as regards the armshells, coincides with the furthest
boundary of Kiriwina; that is, no man from Sinaketa has any partners
in Kitava, which is the next Kula district beyond Kiriwina. South,
in the direction from which the soulava are received, the villages
at the South-East end of Fergusson Island are the last places where
partners of Sinaketan men are still to be found. The small Island of
Dobu itself lies just beyond this boundary, and no man in this Island
or in any of the villages on Normanby Island makes Kula with the
Sinaketans (compare the circles, indicating Kula Communities on Map V).

Beyond these districts, the men still know the names of what could be
called their partners-once-removed, that is, the partners of their
partners. In the case of a man who has only a couple of partners on
each side, who, again being modest men, have also only one or two,
this relationship is not devoid of importance. If I, in Sinaketa, have
one partner, say in Kiriwina, who again has one partner in Kitava, it
is no small matter for me to learn that this Kitava man just obtained
a splendid pair of armshells. For this means that there is about a
quarter of a chance of my receiving these armshells, on the supposition
that the Kitavan and Kiriwinian have two partners each between whom
they can choose in bestowing them. In the case of a big chief like
Kouta'uya, however, the number of once-removed partners becomes so
great that they lose any personal significance for him. Kouta'uya has
some twenty-five partners in Kiriwina; among them To'uluwa, the big
chief, makes Kula with more than half of all the men in Kitava. Some
other of Kouta'uya's partners in Kiriwina, of lesser rank, yet quite
important, also make Kula with a great number, so that probably
practically everybody in Kitava is Kouta'uya's partner-once-removed.

If we were to imagine that on the Kula Ring there are many people who
have only one partner on each side, then the Ring would consist of a
large number of closed circuits, on each of which the same articles
would constantly pass. Thus if A in Kiriwina always kulas with B in
Sinaketa who kulas with C in Tubetube, who kulas with D in Murua,
who kulas with E in Kitava, who kulas with A in Kiriwina, then A B
C D E F would form such one strand in the big Kula circuit. If an
armshell got into the hands of one of them, it could never leave this
strand. But the Kula Ring is nothing approaching this, because every
small Kula partner has, as a rule, on one side or the other, a big one,
that is a chief. And every chief plays the part of a shunting-station
for Kula objects. Having so many partners on each side, he constantly
transfers an object from one strand to another. Thus, any article which
on its rounds has travelled through the hands of certain men, may on
its second round come through an entirely different channel. This,
of course, supplies a large part of the zest and excitement of the
Kula exchange.

The designation of such a partner-once-removed in the language of
Kiriwina is muri-muri. A man will say that such and such a one is 'my
partner-once-removed,' 'ulo murimuri.' Another expression connected
with this relationship is to inquire 'whose hand' has passed on
such and such a vaygu'a. When To'uluwa gives a pair of armshells to
Kouta'uya, this latter will ask: 'availe yamala' ('whose hand')? The
answer is 'yamala Pwata'i,' ('the hand of Pwata'i'). And, as a rule,
more or less the following conversation will ensue: "who gave this
pair of armshells to Pwata'i?" "how long were they kept by a man in
the Island of Yeguma, and then distributed on the occasion of a so'i
(feast)?" "when they had been the last time in Boyowa?" etc., etc.

3. Entering the Kula Relationship.--In order to become a practising
member of the Kula, a man must have passed the stage of adolescence; he
must have the status and rank required, that is in such villages where
this condition is demanded; he must know the magic of the Kula; and
last, not least, he must be in possession of a piece of vaygu'a. The
membership, with all its concomitant implications, may be received
from the father, who teaches his son the magic, gives him a piece of
vaygu'a, and provides him with a partner, very often in his own person.

Supposing one of the sons of Kouta'uya has reached the stage where
a lad may begin to kula. The chief will have been teaching him the
spells for some time already. Moreover the lad, who from childhood
has taken part in overseas expeditions, has many a time seen the
rites performed and heard the spells uttered. When the time is ripe,
Kouta'uya, having the conch-shell blown, and with all due formalities,
presents a soulava to his son. This latter, soon afterwards, goes
somewhere North. Perhaps he goes only to one of the neighbouring
villages within Sinaketa, perhaps he accompanies his father on a
visit as far North as Omarakana, and in any case he makes Kula,
either with one of his father's friends and partners, or with a
special friend of his own. Thus, at one stroke, the lad is equipped
with magic, vaygu'a, and two partners, one of whom is his father. His
northern partner will give him in due course an armshell, and this
he will probably offer to his father. The transactions once started
continue. His father soon gives him another vaygu'a, which he may kula
with the same northern partner, or he may try to establish another
partnership. The next mwali (armshells) he receives from the North, he
will probably give to another partner in the South, and thus establish
a new relationship. A chief's son, who is always a commoner himself
(since the chief cannot marry within his own sub-clan and the son has
the status of his mother), would not multiply his partners beyond the
limit numerically given by the above mentioned partners of Toybayoba.

Not everyone, however, is as fortunate as to be the son of a chief,
which in the Trobriands is, on the whole, one of the most enviable
positions, since it confers many privileges, and entails no special
responsibilities. A young chief himself would have to pay substantially
for establishing his position in the Kula, for a chief is always
the son of a woman of high rank, and the nephew of a chief, though
his father may be a commoner of small influence only. In any case,
his maternal uncle will expect from him some pokala (offerings by
instalment), in payment for magic, vaygu'a, and finally for a leading
position in the Kula. The young chief would marry, and thus acquire
wealth within limits, and with this he would have to give presents
to his maternal uncle, who in turn would introduce him into the Kula,
exactly as a chief does his son, only not disinterestedly.

A commoner enters into the Kula like a chief, with the only exception
that everything is on a smaller scale, the amount of the pokala
which he gives to his maternal uncle, the vaygu'a which he receives,
and the number of partners with whom he kulas. When a man gives
to another a piece of vaygu'a, of the Kula kind, but not as a Kula
exchange but as a gift, let us say as youlo (gift in repayment for
the harvest supply offerings, see above, Chapter VI, Division VI),
this vaygu'a does not leave the Kula Ring. The receiver, if he had
not been in the Kula yet, enters into it by acquiring the vaygu'a,
and can then choose his partner, and go on with the exchange.

There is one important qualification of the statement made at the
beginning of this section. I said there that a man entering the Kula
Ring, must learn the mwasila magic. This refers only to those who
practise overseas Kula. For people who do only the inland exchange,
magic is not necessary, and in fact it is never learned by them.

4. Participation of Women in the Kula.--As I have said in the
general descriptive chapter on the Kula tribes, the position of
women among them is by no means characterised by oppression or social
insignificance. They have their own sphere of influence, which, in
certain cases and in certain tribes, is of great importance. The Kula,
however, is essentially a man's type of activity. As mentioned above,
in the section between Sinaketa and Dobu, women do not sail on the
big expeditions. From Kiriwina young, unmarried girls would sail East
to Kitava, Iwa, and Gawa, and from these Islands even old, married
women, indeed whole families, come to Kiriwina. But they do not carry
on overseas Kula exchange, neither among themselves, nor with men.

In Kiriwina, some women, notably the chief's wives, are admitted to
the honour and privilege of exchanging vaygu'a, though in such cases
the transactions are done en famille. To take a concrete case, in
October or November, 1915, To'uluwa, the chief of Omarakana, brought
a fine haul of mwali from Kitava. The best pair of these he presented
to his veteran wife, Bokuyoba, a wife whom he had inherited from his
elder brother Numakala. Bokuyoba in turn gave the pair, without much
delay, to Kadamwasila, the favourite wife of the chief, the mother
of five sons and one daughter. She again gave it to her son, Namwana
Guyau, who kula'd it on to some of his southern partners. Next time
he receives a soulava necklace, he will give it, not to his father
directly, but to his mother, who will hand it over to her senior
colleague, and this venerable lady will give it to To'uluwa. The
whole transaction is evidently a complimentary interpolation of the
two giyovila (chief's wives) in between the simple transaction of
the chief giving the vaygu'a to his son. This interpolation gives the
women much pleasure, and is highly valued by them. In fact, at that
time I heard more about that than about all the rest of the exchanges
associated with this overseas trip.

In Southern Boyowa, that is in Sinaketa and Vakuta, the rôle of women
is similar, but they play besides another part. A man would sometimes
send his wife with a Kula gift to his partner in the neighbouring
village. On some occasions, when he needs vaygu'a very badly, as for
instance when he is expecting some uvalaku visitors, his wife may help
him to obtain the vaygu'a from that partner. For, though this latter
might refuse to give it to his Sinaketan partner, he would not do so
to his wife. It must be added that no sexual motives are associated
with it, and that it is only a sort of customary compliment paid to
the fair sex.

In Dobu, the wife, or the sister of a man, is always credited with a
great influence over his Kula decisions. Therefore, there is a special
form of magic, used by the Sinaketans, in order to act on the minds
of the Dobuan women. Although, in matters of sex, a Trobriander would
have absolutely to keep aloof from Dobuan women, married or unmarried,
he would approach them with nice speeches and gifts in matters of
Kula. He would reproach an unmarried girl with her brother's conduct
towards him. She would then ask for a piece of betel-nut. This would
be given with some magic spoken over it, and the girl, it is believed,
would then influence her brother to kula with his partner. [71]


In the short outline of the Amphlett tribe which was given in
Chapter II, Division IV, I called them 'typical monopolists,'
both with reference to their economic position and to their
character. Monopolists they are in two respects, namely as
manufacturers of the wonderful clay pots which form the only supply for
the surrounding districts; and in the second place, as a commercial
community, situated half-way between the populous country of Dobu,
with its rich gardens and coco-nut plantations, on the one hand, and
the Trobriands, the main industrial community in Eastern New Guinea
on the other.

The expression 'monopolists' must, however, be correctly
understood. The Amphletts are not a centre of commercial middle-men,
constantly busy importing and exporting desirable utilities. Only
about once or twice a year, a big expedition comes to their Islands,
and every few months they themselves will sail South-East or North
and again receive visits from smaller expeditions from one of the
neighbours or the other. It is through just such small expeditions
that they collect a relatively considerable amount of utilities
from all surrounding districts, and these they can give to such
visitors as need and desire them. Nor would they impose high prices
on any such exchange, but they are certainly considered less liberal,
less ready to give or to trade and always on the look out for higher
return gifts and extras. In their bartering away of the clay pots,
they also cannot ask extortionate prices, such as, according to the
laws of supply and demand, they could impose on their neighbours. For,
no more than any other natives, can they run counter to customary
rules, which regulate this exchange as much as all others. Indeed,
considering the great amount of trouble which they have in obtaining
the clay, and the high degree of skill necessary to produce the pots,
the prices for which they sell them are very low. But here again,
their manners over this transaction are distinctly haughty, and they
are well aware of their value as potters and distributors of pots to
the other natives.

A few more words must be said about their pot making industry as well
as about the trade in these islands.

The natives of the Amphletts are exclusive manufacturers of pottery,
within a wide radius. They are the only purveyors to the Trobrianders,
to the inhabitants of the Marshall Bennett Islands, and also, I
believe, all the clay-pots in Woodlark come from the Amphletts. [72]
To the South, they export their pots to Dobu, Du'a'u, and further South
as far as Milne Bay. This is not all, however, for although in some of
these farther districts the Amphlett pots are used side by side with
other ones, they are infinitely superior to any earthenware found in
the whole of British New Guinea. Of a large size, yet extremely thin,
they possess great durability, and in form they are extremely well
shaped and finished (see Plate XLVI).

The best Amphlett pots owe their high quality to the excellence
of their material as well as their workmanship. The clay for them
has to be imported into the Islands from Yayawana, a quarry on the
Northern shore of Fergusson Island, about a day's journey from the
Amphletts. Only a very inferior clay can be found in the islands of
Gumasila and Nabwageta, good enough to make small pots, but quite
useless for the big ones.

There is a legend, explaining why the good clay cannot be obtained
nowadays in the Amphletts. In olden days, two brothers, Torosipupu
and Tolikilaki, lived on one of the summits of Gumasila called
Tomonumonu. There was plenty of fine clay there at that time. One
day Torosipupu went to fish with a trap. He caught a very fine giant
clam-shell. When he came back, Tolikilaki said: "O my shell! I shall
eat it!" Torosipupu refused it and answered with a very obscene
allusion to the bivalvular mollusc and to the uses he was going
to make of it. Tolikilaki asked again; Torosipupu refused. They
quarrelled. Tolikilaki then took part of the clay with him, and went
to Yayawana on the main island. Torosipupu afterwards took the rest
and followed him. What were their further destinies, the legend does
not say. But on Gumasila there remained only very poor clay, which
is all that can be found there ever since.

Since then, the men have to go about twice yearly to Yayawana in order
to bring the clay from which the women afterwards will manufacture
the pots. It takes them about a day to reach Yayawana, to which, as
it lies to the South-West, they can travel with any of the prevailing
winds and return equally well. They remain for a couple of days there,
digging the clay, drying it and filling a few vataga baskets with it. I
estimate that each canoe carries about two ton weight on its return
journey. This will last the women for half a year's production. The
pale, straw-coloured clay is kept under the houses in big troughs
made of sides of discarded canoes.

In olden days, before the white man's advent, the conditions were a
little more complicated. Only one island, Kwatouto, being on friendly
terms with the natives had the freedom of the Northern shore. Whether
the other islands used also to fetch the clay from there, doing so
armed and ready for attack; or whether they used to acquire the clay by
barter from Kwatouto, I could not definitely establish. The information
one receives in the Amphletts is exceedingly unsatisfactory, and my
several informants gave contradictory accounts on this point. The fact
seems clear, in my case, that Kwatouto, then as now, was the source
of the best pottery, but that both Gumasila and Nabwageta also always
manufactured pots, though perhaps inferior ones. The fourth island,
Domdom, never participated in this trade, and up to the present there
is not a single woman in Domdom who can shape a pot.

The manufacturing of this article, as said, is exclusively the work of
women. They sit in groups of two or three under the houses, surrounded
by big clumps of clay and the implements of their craft, and produce in
these very shabby and mean conditions, veritable masterpieces of their
art. Personally I had only the opportunity of seeing groups of very
old women at work, although I spent about a month in the Amphletts.

With regard to the technology of pot-making, the method is that
of first roughly moulding the clay into its form and then beating
with a spatula and subsequently scraping the walls to the required
thinness with a mussel-shell. To give the description in detail,
a woman starts first by kneading a certain amount of clay for a long
time. Of this material she makes two semi-circular clumps, or several
clumps, if a big pot is to be made. These clumps are then placed in a
ring, touching one another upon a flat stone or board, so that they
form a thick, circular roll (Plate XLIV, top). The woman now begins
to work this roll with both hands, gradually pressing it together,
and at the same time bringing it up all round into a slanting wall
(see Plate XLIV, bottom). Her left hand works as a rule on the inside,
and her right on the outside of this wall; gradually it begins to
shape into a semi-spherical dome. On the top of the dome there is a
hole, through which the woman thrusts her left hand, working with it
on the inside of the dome (see Plate XLV, top). At first the main
movements of her hands were from downward up, flattening out the
rolls into thin walls. The traces of her fingers going up and down
on the outside leave longitudinal furrows (see details on Plate XLV,
top). Towards the end of this stage her hands move round and round,
leaving concentric, horizontal marks on the dome. This is continued
until the pot has assumed a good curvature all round.

It seems almost a miracle to see how, in a relatively short time, out
of this after all brittle material, and with no implements whatever,
a woman will shape a practically faultless hemisphere, often up to
a metre in diameter.

After the required shape has been obtained the woman takes a small
spatula of light-wood into her right hand and she proceeds to tap
the clay gently (see Plate XLV, bottom). This stage lasts a fairly
long time, for big pots about an hour. After the dome has been
sufficiently worked in this way small pieces of clay are gradually
fitted in at the top, closing the orifice, and the top of the dome
is beaten again. In the case of small pots the beating is done only
after the orifice has been closed. The pot is put with the mat into
the sun, where it remains for a day or two to harden. It is then
turned round, so that its mouth is now uppermost, and its bottom is
carefully placed into a basket. Then, round the rim of the mouth, a
flat strip of clay is placed horizontally, turned towards the inside,
forming a graceful lip. Three small lumps of clay are put 120° distance
from each other near the lip as ornaments, and, with a pointed stick,
a design is scratched in round the lip and sometimes down the outside
of the body. In this state the pot is again left in the sun for some
length of time.

After it has sufficiently hardened to be handled with safety,
though it must be done with the utmost care, it is placed on some
dried sticks, mouth downwards, supported by stones put between
the sticks. It is surrounded with twigs and pieces of wood on its
outside, fire is kindled, the sticks below bake it from the inside,
and those from above on the outside. The final result is a beautiful
pot, of a brick red colour when new, though after several uses it
becomes completely black. Its shape is not quite semi-spherical;
it is rather half an ellipsoid, like the broader half of an egg,
cut off in the middle. The whole gives the feeling of perfection in
form and of elegance, unparalleled in any South Sea pottery I know
(see Plate XLVI).

These pots in Kiriwinian language kuria, are called by the Amphlett
natives kuyana or va'ega. The biggest specimens are about a metre
across their mouth, and some sixty centimetres deep; they are used
exclusively for the ceremonial cooking of mona (see Plate XXXV), and
are called kwoylamona (in the Amphletts: nokunu). The second size
kwoylakalagila (in the Amphletts, nopa'eva) are used for ordinary
boiling of yams or taro. Kwoylugwawaga (Amphletts, nobadala), are
used for the same purposes but are much smaller. An especial size,
kwoylamegwa (Amphletts, nosipoma) are used in sorcery. The smallest
ones, which I do not remember ever having seen in the Trobriands
though there is a Trobriand word for them, kwoylakekila, are used
for everyday cooking in the Amphletts where they are called va'ega,
in the narrower sense of the word.

I have expatiated on this singular and artistic achievement of the
natives of the Amphletts, because from all points of view it is
important to know the details of a craft so far in advance of any
similar achievement within the Melanesian region.

A few words must now be said about trade in the Amphletts. The central
position of this little archipelago situated between, on one side,
the big, flat, extremely fertile coral islands, which, however, are
deprived of many indispensable, natural resources; and on the other,
the rich jungle and varied mineral supplies of the volcanic regions in
the d'Entrecasteaux archipelago, indicates on which lines this trade
would be likely to develop. To this natural inequality between them
and their neighbours are added social elements. The Trobrianders are
skilful, industrious, and economically highly organised. In this
respect, even the Dobuans stand on a lower level, and the other
inhabitants of the d'Entrecasteaux much more so.

If we imagine a commercial diagram drawn on the map, we would first
of all notice the export in pottery, radiating from the Amphletts
as its source. In the inverse direction, flowing towards them,
would be imports in food such as sago, pigs, coco-nut, betel-nut,
taro and yams. An article very important in olden days, which had
to be imported into the Amphletts, was the stone for implements
coming via the Trobriands from Woodlark Island. These indeed would
be traded on by the Amphlettans, as all the d'Entrecasteaux relied,
for the most part at least, on the imports from Woodlark, according to
information I obtained in the Amphletts. The Amphlett islands further
depended on the Trobriands for the following articles: wooden dishes,
manufactured in Bwoytalu; lime-pots manufactured in several villages
of Kuboma; three-tiered baskets and folding baskets, made in Luya;
ebony lime pots and mussel shells, these latter fished mainly by the
village of Kavataria in the lagoon. These articles were paid for, or
matched as presents by the following ones: first of all, of course the
pots; secondly, turtle-shell earrings, special nose sticks, red ochre,
pumice stone and obsidian, all of these obtainable locally. Further,
the natives of the Amphletts procured on Fergusson Island, for the
Trobrianders, wild banana seeds used for necklaces, strips of rattan
used as belts and for lashing, feathers of the cassowary and red
parrot, used for dancing decorations, plaited fibre-belts, bamboo
and barbed spears.

It may be added that in olden days, the natives in the Amphletts
would not sail freely to all the places on the main island. Each
Amphlett village community had a district on the mainland, with
which they were on friendly terms and with which they could trade
without incurring any danger. Thus, as said above, only the village
of Kwatouto, in the southernmost inhabited Amphlett island, was free
to go unmolested to the district round Yayawana, from whence they
obtained the pale yellow clay, so excellent for pottery. The natives
of Nabwageta had a few villages eastwards from Yayawana to deal
with, and those of Gumasila went further East still. Domdom natives
were never great traders or sailors. The trading conditions in the
islands were further complicated by the constant internal quarrels and
warfare between the districts. Kwatouto and Domdom on the one side,
Gumasila and Nabwageta on the other were allies, and between these
two factions there was a constant, smouldering hostility, preventing
any development of friendly commercial intercourse, and breaking out
now and then into open warfare. This was the reason why the villages
were all perched on high, inaccessible ledges, or like Gumasila,
were built so as to be protected by the sea and reefs from attack.

The influence of the surrounding great districts, that is, of the
Trobriands and of Dobu upon the Amphletts neither was nor is merely
commercial. From the limited linguistic material collected in the
Amphletts, I can only say that their language is related both to that
of the Trobriands and of Dobu. Their social organisation resembles
closely that of the Trobrianders with the exception of chieftainship,
which is lacking in the Amphletts. In their beliefs as to sorcery,
spirits, etc., they seem to be more akin to the Dobuans than to the
Trobrianders. Their canoe magic has come from the Trobriands, but the
art of building their canoes is that of Dobu, which as we have seen
before is also the one adopted by the Trobrianders. The magic of the
Kula, known in the Amphletts, is partly adopted from the Trobriands,
and partly from Dobu. There is only one indigenous system of magic
which originated in the islands. Long ago there lived a man of the
Malasi clan, who had his abode in the rock of Selawaya, which stands
out of the jungle, above the big village of Gumasila. This man knew
the magic of ayowa, which is the name given to mwasila (Kula magic)
in the language of the Amphletts and of Dobu. Some people passed
near the stone while it was being recited within it; they learned it,
and handed it over to their descendants.


One more point of importance must be mentioned here, a point
bearing upon the intertribal relations in this district. As we saw,
some Trobriand people remain sometimes on prolonged visits in the
Amphletts. This custom, however, is never reciprocated, and people
from the Amphletts never visit for any length of time their Northern
neighbours. The same refers to the relations between the Trobriands
and the district of Dobu. In discussing the lists of Kula partners
of Kouta'uya and Toybayoba, I was told about some of their Southern
partners, that they were veyola (maternal kinsmen) of my informant. On
further inquiry it appeared that these people were emigrants from
the Trobriands, who settled down in Tewara, Sanaroa or the big Dobuan
settlements on the North-West shores of Dawson Straits.

When I asked whether, on the contrary, there were any cases of Dobuans
settling in Boyowa, it was emphatically denied that such a thing
could happen. And indeed, in the numerous genealogical data which
I have collected from all over the district, there is no trace of
migration from the South, although frequent migrations occur within
the district and some from the Marshall Bennett Islands. In general,
all these migrations within the Trobriands show also a marked tendency
to move form North to South. Thus, the most aristocratic sub-clan,
the Tabalu, originated in the Northernmost village of Laba'i. But now
their stronghold is further South in Omarakana, and the members of
the same sub-clan are ruling in Olivilevi, and Tukwa'ukwa, that is in
the middle of the island. Some of them even migrated as far South as
Vakuta, where they established a feeble imitation of chieftainship,
never being able to subdue the other natives to any extent. Several
sub-clans, now firmly established in the Middle and Southern portions
of the island, trace their descent from the North, and in the Amphletts
there are also a couple of cases of sub-clans immigrated from Boyowa.

In contrast to this migration of people from North to South, we have
noted the spread of one of the main cultural elements, of the canoe,
from South to North. We saw how the nagega, the big, sea-worthy,
but heavy and slow canoe has been superseded by the masawa or tadobu,
which spread a few generations ago, till it arrived at the island of
Kitava. It is more difficult to follow the movements of beliefs. But
I have reason to assume that beliefs in sorcery, more especially in
the mulukwausi and tauva'u, move from South to North.

In the next Chapter, we shall return to our Sinaketan expedition,
in order to move them for a short distance along their route into
the first settlements of the Dobu speaking people. These places will
suggest a new theme for a lengthy digression, this time into the
mythological subjects and legends connected with the Kula.




At daybreak the party leave the Amphletts. This is the stage when
the parting gifts, the talo'i are given. The clay pots, the several
kinds of produce of the islands and of the Koya, which had been laid
aside the previous day, are now brought to the canoes (see Plate
XLVII). Neither the giver nor the main receiver, the toliwaga, take
much notice of the proceedings, great nonchalance about give and take
being the correct attitude prescribed by good manners. Children bring
the objects, and the junior members of the crew stow them away. The
general behaviour of the crowds, ashore and in the canoes, is as
unostentatious at this moment of parting as it was at the arrival. No
more farewells than greetings are spoken or shouted, nor are there
any visible or formal signs of grief, or of hope of meeting again,
or of any other emotions. The busy, self-absorbed crews push off
stolidly, step the mast, set sail, and glide away.

They now approach the broad front of Koyatabu, which with a favourable
wind, they might reach within two hours or so. They probably sail near
enough to get a clear view of the big trees standing on the edge of
the jungle, and of the long waterfall dividing the mountain's flank
right down the middle; of the triangular patches under cultivation,
covered with the vine of yams and big leaves of taro. They could also
perceive here and there smoke curling out of the jungle where, hidden
under the trees, there lies a village, composed of a few miserable
huts. Nowadays these villages have come down to the water's edge,
in order to supplement their garden yield with fish. In olden days
they were all high up on the slope, and their huts hardly ever visible
from the sea.

The inhabitants of these small and ramshackle villages are shy and
timid, though in olden days they would have been dangerous to the
Trobrianders. They speak a language which differs from that of Dobu
and is usually called by the natives 'the Basima talk.' There seem to
be about four or five various languages on the island of Fergusson,
besides that of Dobu. My acquaintance with the Basima natives is
very small, due only to two forced landings in their district. They
struck me as being physically of a different type from the Dobuans,
though this is only an impression. They have got no boats, and do the
little sailing they require on small rafts of three or five logs tied
together. Their houses are smaller and less well-made than those in
Dobu. Further investigation of these natives would be very interesting,
and probably also very difficult, as is always the case when studying
very small communities, living at the same time right out of touch
with any white man.

This land must remain, for the present anyhow, veiled for ourselves,
as it also is for the Trobriand natives. For these, indeed, the few
attempts which they occasionally made to come into contact with these
natives, and the few mishaps which brought them to their shores,
were all far from encouraging in results, and only strengthened the
traditional superstitious fear of them. Several generations ago, a
canoe or two from Burakwa, in the island of Kayeula, made an exploring
trip to the district of Gabu, lying in a wide bay under the North-West
flank of Koyatabu. The natives of Gabu, receiving them at first with a
show of interest, and pretending to enter into commercial relations,
afterwards fell on them treacherously and slew the chief Toraya and
all his companions. This story has become famous, and indeed one of the
outstanding historical events of the Trobriands, because Tomakam, the
slain chief's younger brother, went to the Koya of Gabu, and killed the
head man of one of the villages, avenging thus his brother's death. He
then composed a song and a dance which is performed to this day in
Kiriwina, and has indeed one of the finest melodies in the islands.

This is the verbatim account of the story as it was told to me by
To'uluwa himself, the chief of Omarakana, who at present 'owns' this
Gumagabu dance, his ancestors having acquired it from the descendants
of Tomakam by a laga payment. [73] It is a commentary to the song,
and begins only with the avenging expedition of Tomakam, which is
also the theme of the song.

                         THE STORY OF GUMAGABU

    "Tomakam got a new waga. He blew the conch shell and went to
    the Koya. He spoke to his mother" (that is, before leaving), "'My
    mother, you remain, I shall sail. One conch shell you hear, it will
    be a conch shell of a necklace.'" (That is, it will be a sign that
    he has been successful in getting a good Kula necklace). "'The
    second conch shell will be the conch shell of the dead man; the
    sign that I have already carried out my revenge. I shall sail, I
    shall anchor, I shall sleep. The second day I shall sail, I shall
    anchor, I shall sleep. The third day I shall anchor in a village,
    having already arrived in the Mountain. The fourth day I shall give
    pari, the Kinana (the Southern foreigner) will come, I shall hit
    him. The fifth day I shall return. I shall sail fast, till night
    grows on the sea. The next day I shall anchor at Burakwa. You
    hear the conch shell, you sleep in the house, arise. One blow you
    hear of the shell--the blow of the bagi (necklace). Two blows you
    hear, the blow of the dead man! Then the men of Burakwa will say:
    'Two conch shells, two necklaces,' then, you come out of the house,
    you speak: 'Men of Burakwa, from one side of the village and from
    the other; indeed you mocked my son, Tomakam. Your speech was--go,
    carry out thy vendetta in Gabu. The first conch shell is that of
    the necklace, the second conch shell is that of the dead man. I
    have spoken!'" (Here ends the speech of Tomakam to his mother.)

    "He anchored in the village in the Koya. He told his younger
    brother: 'Go, tell the Kinana men these words: Your friend has
    a sore leg, well, if we together go to the canoe he will give
    the pari!' The younger brother went and spoke those words to the
    headman of the Kinana: 'Some green coco-nuts, some betel-nut, some
    pig, bring this to us and we shall give you pari. Your arm-shells,
    your big stone blade, your boar's tusk, your whale-bone spatula
    await you in the canoe. The message for you is that your friend
    has a sore leg and cannot walk.' Says the Kinana man: 'Well,
    let us go!'"

    "He caught a pig, he collected betel-nut, sugar cane, bananas,
    necklaces, betel-pod, he said: 'Well, let us go together to the
    canoe.' Pu'u he gives the necklace; pu'u, the pig; then he gave
    the coco-nut, the betel-nut, the sugar cane, the bananas. Tomakam
    lay on one side; his leg he wrapped up in a white, soft pandanus
    mat. Before he had spoken to his younger brother": (i.e., he gave
    him this instruction also, when he sent him to meet the people of
    Gabu): "'You all come with the Kinana man. Do not remain in the
    village.' Then" (after the first gifts were exchanged) "the Kinana
    man stood up in the canoe. His betel-pod fell down. Spoke Tomakam,
    addressing the Kinana man: 'My friend, pick up the betel-pod. It
    fell and went down into the canoe.' The Kinana man bent down,
    he took the betel-pod. Tomakam saw that the Kinana bent down,
    he took an axe, and sitting he made a stroke at him. He cut off
    his neck. Then Tomakam took the head, threw the body into the
    sea. The head he stuck on a stick of his canoe. They sailed, they
    arrived in their village. He caught a pig, prepared a taro pudding,
    cut sugar cane, they had a big feast, he invented this song."

Such was the story told me by the chief of Omarakana about the song
and dance of Gumagabu, which at that time they were singing and
performing in his village. I have adduced it in full, in an almost
literal translation from the native text, in order to show it side by
side with the song. The narrative thus reproduced shows characteristic
gaps, and it does not cover even the incidents of the song.

The following is a free translation of the song, which, in its
original native text, is very condensed and impressionistic. A word
or two indicates rather than describes whole scenes and incidents,
and the traditional commentary, handed on in a native community side
by side with the song, is necessary for a full understanding.

                           THE GUMAGABU SONG


        The stranger of Gumagabu sits on the top of the mountain.
        'Go on top of the mountain, the towering mountain....'
        ----They cry for Toraya...----
        The stranger of Gumagabu sits on the slope of the mountain.
        ----The fringe of small clouds lifts above Boyowa;
        The mother cries for Toraya----
        'I shall take my revenge.'
        The mother cries for Toraya.


        Our mother, Dibwaruna, dreams on the mat.
        She dreams about the killing.
        'Revenge the wailing;
        Anchor; hit the Gabu strangers!'
        ----The stranger comes out;
        The chief gives him the pari;
        'I shall give you the doga;
        Bring me things from the mountain to the canoe!'


        We exchange our vaygu'a;
        The rumour of my arrival spreads through the Koya
        We talk and talk.
        He bends and is killed.
        His companions run away;
        His body is thrown into the sea;
        The companions of the Kinana run away,
        We sail home.


        Next day, the sea foams up,
        The chief's canoe stops on the reef;
        The storm approaches;
        The chief is afraid of drowning.
        The conch shell is blown:
        It sounds in the mountain.
        They all weep on the reef.


        They paddle in the chief's canoe;
        They circle round the point of Bewara.
        'I have hung my basket.
        I have met him.'
        So cries the chief,
        So cries repeatedly the chief.


        Women in festive decoration
        Walk on the beach.
        Nawaruva puts on her turtle rings;
        She puts on her luluga'u skirt.
        In the village of my fathers, in Burakwa,
        There is plenty of food;
        Plenty is brought in for distribution.

The character of this song is extremely elliptic, one might even say
futuristic, since several scenes are crowded simultaneously into the
picture. In the first strophe we see the Kinana, by which word all
the tribesmen from the d'Entrecasteaux Archipelago are designated in
Boyowa, on the top of his Mountain in Gabu. Immediately afterwards, we
are informed of the intentions of Tomakam to ascend the mountain, while
the women cry for Toraya, for the slain chief--probably his kinswomen
and widows. The next picture again spans over the wide seas, and on
the one shore we see the Gabuan sitting on the slopes of his hill and
far away on the other, under the fringe of small clouds lifting above
Boyowa, the mother cries for her son, the murdered chief. Tomakam
takes a resolve, 'I shall take my revenge,' hearing her cry.

In the second strophe, the mother dreams about the expedition; the
words about revenge to be taken on the Gabu men and the directions to
anchor and hit him are probably taken from her dream. Then suddenly we
are transported right across to the mountain, the expedition having
arrived there already. The strangers, the Kinana are coming down to
the canoe, and we assist at the words spoken between them and the
people of Buakwa.

Then in the third strophe, we arrive at the culminating scene of
the drama; even here, however, the hero, who is also his own bard,
could not help introducing a few boastful words about his renown
resounding in the Koya. In a few words the tragedy is described:
the Kinana bends down, is killed, and his body is thrown into the
water. About his head we hear nothing in this verse.

In the next one, a storm overtakes the returning party. Signals of
distress are re-echoed by the mountain, and like Homeric heroes, our
party are not ashamed to weep in fear and anguish. Somehow they escape,
however, and in the next verse, they are already near their village and
Tomakam, their leader, bursts into a pæan of triumph. It is not quite
clear what the allusion to the basket means, whether he keeps there his
Kula trophies or the slain enemy's head; this latter, in contradiction
to what we heard in the prose story of its being impaled. The song ends
with a description of a feast. The woman mentioned there is Tomakam's
daughter, who puts on festive attire in order to welcome her father.

Comparing now the song with the story, we see that they do not
quite tally. In the story, there is the dramatic interest of the
mother's intervention. We gather from it that Tomakam, goaded by
the aspersions of his fellow-villagers, wishes to make his return
as effective as possible. He arranges the signals of the two conch
shell blasts with his mother, and asks her to harangue the people
at the moment of his return. All this finds no expression in the
song. The ruse of the chief's sore leg is also omitted from there,
which, however, does not mean that the hero was ashamed of it. On
the other hand, the storm described in the song is omitted from the
story, and there is a discrepancy about the head of the Gabu man,
and we do not know whether it really is conveyed in a basket as the
song has it or impaled, as the story relates!

I have adduced in detail the story and the song, because they are a
good illustration of the native's attitude towards the dangers, and
towards the heroic romance of the Koya. They are also interesting as
documents, showing which salient points would strike the natives'
imagination in such a dramatic occurrence. Both in the story
and in the song, we find emphasised the motives of social duty,
of satisfied self-regard and ambition; again, the dangers on the
reef, the subterfuge in killing, finally the festivities on return
home. Much that would interest us in the whole story is omitted,
as anyone can see for himself.

Other stories, though not made illustrious through being set into a
song, are told about the Koya. I met myself an old man in the island
of Vakuta, who, as a boy, had been captured with a whole party by a
village community of Dobu-speaking people on Normanby Island. The men
and another small boy of the party were killed and eaten, but some
women took pity on him, and he was spared, to be brought up amongst
them. There is another man, either alive or recently dead in Kavataria,
who had a similar experience in Fergusson Island. Another man called
Kaypoyla, from the small island of Kuyawa in the Western Trobriands,
was stranded with his crew somewhere in the West of Fergusson Island,
but not in the district where they used to trade. His companions
were killed and eaten. He was taken alive and kept to fatten for a
proximate feast. His host, or rather the host of the feast in which
he was going to furnish the pièce de résistence, was away inland,
to invite the guests, while the host's wife went for a moment
behind the house, sweeping the ground. Kaypoyla jumped up and ran
to the shore. Being chased by some other men from the settlement,
he concealed himself in the branches of a big tree standing on the
beach, and was not found by his pursuers. At night he came down, took
a canoe or a raft, and paddled along the coast. He used to sleep on
shore during the night, and paddle on in day time. One night he slept
among some sago-palms, and, awakening in the morning, found himself,
to his terror, surrounded by Kinana men. What was his joyful surprise
after all, when he recognised among them his friend and Kula partner,
with whom he always used to trade! After some time, he was sent back
home in his partner's canoe.

Many such stories have a wide currency, and they supply one of
the heroic elements in tribal life, an element which now, with
the establishment of white man's influence, has vanished. Yet
even now the gloomy shores which our party are leaving to the
right, the tall jungle, the deep valleys, the hill-tops darkened
with trailing clouds, all this is a dim mysterious background,
adding to the awe and solemnity of the Kula, though not entering
into it. The sphere of activities of our traders lies at the foot
of the high mountains, there, where a chain of rocks and islands
lies scattered along the coast. Some of them are passed immediately
after leaving Gumasila. Then, after a good distance, a small rock,
called Gurewaya, is met, remarkable for the taboos associated with
it. Close behind it, two islands, Tewara and Uwama, are separated
by a narrow passage, the mythical straits of Kadimwatu. There is a
village on the first-mentioned, and the natives of this make gardens
on both islands. The village is not very big; it may have some sixty
to eighty inhabitants, as it can man three canoes for the Kula. It
has no commercial or industrial importance, but is notable because
of its mythological associations. This island is the home of the
mythological hero, Kasabwaybwayreta, whose story is one of the most
important legends of the Kula. Here indeed, in Tewara, we are right
within the mythological heart of the Kula. In fact, we entered its
legendary area with the moment the Sinaketan fleet sailed out of the
Lagoon into the deep waters of Pilolu.


Once more we must pause, this time in an attempt to grasp the
natives' mental attitude towards the mythological aspect of the
Kula. Right through this account it has been our constant endeavour
to realise the vision of the world, as it is reflected in the minds
of the natives. The frequent references to the scenery have not been
given only to enliven the narrative, or even to enable the reader
to visualise the setting of the native customs. I have attempted to
show how the scene of his actions appears actually to the native,
to describe his impressions and feelings with regard to it, as I was
able to read them in his folk-lore, in his conversations at home,
and in his behaviour when passing through this scenery itself.

Here we must try to reconstruct the influence of myth upon this
vast landscape, as it colours it, gives it meaning, and transforms
it into something live and familiar. What was a mere rock, now
becomes a personality; what was a speck on the horizon becomes a
beacon, hallowed by romantic associations with heroes; a meaningless
configuration of landscape acquires a significance, obscure no doubt,
but full of intense emotion. Sailing with natives, especially with
novices to the Kula, I often observed how deep was their interest
in sections of landscape impregnated with legendary meaning, how the
elder ones would point and explain, the younger would gaze and wonder,
while the talk was full of mythological names. It is the addition of
the human interest to the natural features, possessing in themselves
less power of appealing to a native man than to us, which makes the
difference for him in looking at the scenery. A stone hurled by one of
the heroes into the sea after an escaping canoe; a sea passage broken
between two islands by a magical canoe; here two people turned into
rock; there a petrified waga--all this makes the landscape represent
a continuous story or else the culminating dramatic incident of
a familiar legend. This power of transforming the landscape, the
visible environment, is one only of the many influences which myth
exercises upon the general outlook of the natives. Although here we
are studying myth only in its connection with the Kula, even within
these narrow limits some of its broader connections will be apparent,
notably its influence upon sociology, magic and ceremonial.

The question which presents itself first, in trying to grasp the native
outlook on the subject is: what is myth to the natives? How do they
conceive and define it? Have they any line of demarcation between the
mythical and the actual reality, and if so, how do they draw this line?

Their folk-lore, that is, the verbal tradition, the store of tales,
legends, and texts handed on by previous generations, is composed of
the following classes: first of all, there is what the natives call
libogwo, 'old talk,' but which we would call tradition; secondly,
kukwanebu, fairy tales, recited for amusement, at definite seasons,
and relating avowedly untrue events; thirdly, wosi, the various
songs, and vinavina, ditties, chanted at play or under other
special circumstances; and last, not least, megwa or yopa, the
magical spells. All these classes are strictly distinguished from
one another by name, function, social setting, and by certain formal
characteristics. This brief outline of the Boyowan folk-lore in general
must suffice here, as we cannot enter into more details, and the only
class which interests us in the present connection is the first one,
that called libogwo.

This, the 'old talk,' the body of ancient tradition, believed to be
true, consists on the one hand of historical tales, such as the deeds
of past chiefs, exploits in the Koya, stories of shipwreck, etc. On
the other hand, the libogwo class also contains what the natives call
lili'u--myths, narratives, deeply believed by them, held by them in
reverence, and exercising an active influence on their conduct and
tribal life. Now the natives distinguish definitely between myth and
historic account, but this distinction is difficult to formulate,
and cannot be stated but in a somewhat deliberate manner.

First of all, it must be borne in mind, that a native would not
trouble spontaneously to analyse such distinctions and to put them
into words. If an Ethnographer succeeded in making the problem clear
to an intelligent informant (and I have tried and succeeded in doing
this) the native would simply state:

    "We all know that the stories about Tudava, about Kudayuri, about
    Tokosikuna, are lili'u; our fathers, our kadada (our maternal
    uncles) told us so; and we always hear these tales; we know them
    well; we know that there are no other tales besides them, which
    are lili'u. Thus, whenever we hear a story, we know whether it
    is a lili'u or not."

Indeed, whenever a story is told, any native, even a boy, would be
able to say whether this is one of his tribal lili'u or not. For the
other tales, that is the historical ones, they have no special word,
but they would describe the events as happening among 'humans like
ourselves.' Thus tradition, from which the store of tales is received,
hands them on labelled as lili'u, and the definition of a lili'u,
is that it is a story transmitted with such a label. And even this
definition is contained by the facts themselves, and not explicitly
stated by the natives in their current stock of expressions.

For us, however, even this is not sufficient, and we have to search
further, in order to see whether we cannot find other indices, other
characteristic features which differentiate the world of mythical
events from that of real ones. A reflection which would naturally
present itself would be this: "Surely the natives place their myths
in ancient, pre-historic times, while they put historical events
into recent ages?" There is some truth in this, in so far as most of
the historical events related by the natives are quite recent, have
occurred within the community where they are told and can be directly
connected with people and conditions existing at present, by memory
of living man, by genealogies or other records. On the other hand,
when historical events are told from other districts, and cannot be
directly linked with the present, it would be erroneous to imagine that
the natives place them into a definite compartment of time different
from that of the myth. For it must be realised that these natives do
not conceive of a past as of a lengthy duration, unrolling itself
in successive stages of time. They have no idea of a long vista of
historical occurrences, narrowing down and dimming as they recede
towards a distant background of legend and myth, which stands out
as something entirely different from the nearer planes. This view,
so characteristic of the naive, historical thinking among ourselves,
is entirely foreign to the natives. Whenever they speak of some event
of the past, they distinguish whether it happened within their own
memory or that of their fathers' or not. But, once beyond this line
of demarcation, all the past events are placed by them on one plane,
and there are no gradations of 'long ago' and 'very long ago.' Any
idea of epochs in time is absent from their mind; the past is one
vast storehouse of events, and the line of demarcation between myth
and history does not coincide with any division into definite and
distinct periods of time. Indeed, I have found very often that when
they told me some story of the past, for me obviously mythological,
they would deem it necessary to emphasise that this did not happen
in their fathers' time or in their grand-fathers' time, but long ago,
and that it is a lili'u.

Again, they have no idea of what could be called the evolution of
the world or the evolution of society; that is, they do not look back
towards a series of successive changes, which happened in nature or
in humanity, as we do. We, in our religious and scientific outlook
alike, know that earth ages and that humanity ages, and we think of
both in these terms; for them, both are eternally the same, eternally
youthful. Thus, in judging the remoteness of traditional events, they
cannot use the co-ordinates of a social setting constantly in change
and divided into epochs. To give a concrete example, in the myths of
Torosipupu and Tolikalaki, we saw them having the same interest and
concerns, engaged in the same type of fishing, using the same means
of locomotion as the present natives do. The mythical personages of
the natives' legends, as we shall presently see, live in the same
houses, eat the same food, handle the same weapons and implements as
those in use at present. Whereas in any of our historical stories,
legends or myths, we have a whole set of changed cultural conditions,
which allow us to co-ordinate any event with a certain epoch, and
which make us feel that a distant historical event, and still more,
a mythological one, is happening in a setting of cultural conditions
entirely different from those in which we are living now. In the
very telling of the stories of, let us say, Joan of Arc, Solomon,
Achilles, King Arthur, we have to mention all sorts of things and
conditions long since disappeared from among us, which make even a
superficial and an uneducated listener realise that it is a story of
a remote and different past.

I have said just now that the mythical personages in the Trobriand
tradition are living the same type of life, under the same social
and cultural conditions as the present natives. This needs one
qualification, and in this we shall find a very remarkable criterion
for a distinction between what is legendary and what is historical:
in the mythical world, although surrounding conditions were similar,
all sorts of events happened which do not happen nowadays, and people
were endowed with powers such as present men and their historical
ancestors do not possess. In mythical times, human beings come out of
the ground, they change into animals, and these become people again;
men and women rejuvenate and slough their skins; flying canoes speed
through the air, and things are transformed into stone.

Now this line of demarcation between the world of myth and that of
actual reality--the simple difference that in the former things happen
which never occur nowadays--is undoubtedly felt and realised by the
natives, though they themselves could not put it into words. They know
quite well that to-day no one emerges from underground; that people
do not change into animals, and vice versa; nor do they give birth to
them; that present-day canoes do not fly. I had the opportunity of
grasping their mental attitude towards such things by the following
occurrence. The Fijian missionary teacher in Omarakana was telling them
about white man's flying machines. They inquired from me, whether this
was true, and when I corroborated the Fijian's report and showed them
pictures of aeroplanes in an illustrated paper, they asked me whether
this happened nowadays or whether it were a lili'u. This circumstance
made it clear to me then, that the natives would have a tendency,
when meeting with an extraordinary and to them supernatural event,
either to discard it as untrue, or relegate it into the regions of the
lili'u. This does not mean, however, that the untrue and the mythical
are the same or even similar to them. Certain stories told to them,
they insist on treating as sasopa (lies), and maintain that they
are not lili'u. For instance, those opposed to missionary teaching
will not accept the view that Biblical stories told to them are a
lili'u, but they reject them as sasopa. Many a time did I hear such
a conservative native arguing thus:--

    "Our stories about Tudava are true; this is a lili'u. If you go
    to Laba'i you can see the cave in which Tudava was born, you can
    see the beach where he played as a boy. You can see his footmark
    in a stone at a place in the Raybwag. But where are the traces
    of Yesu Keriso? Who ever saw any signs of the tales told by the
    misinari? Indeed they are not lili'u."

To sum up, the distinction between the lili'u and actual or historical
reality is drawn firmly, and there is a definite cleavage between the
two. Prima facie, this distinction is based on the fact that all myth
is labelled as such and known to be such to all natives. A further
distinctive mark of the world of lili'u lies in the super-normal,
supernatural character of certain events which happen in it. The
supernatural is believed to be true, and this truth is sanctioned
by tradition, and by the various signs and traces left behind by
mythical events, more especially by the magical powers handed on by the
ancestors who lived in times of lili'u. This magical inheritance is
no doubt the most palpable link between the present and the mythical
past. But this past must not be imagined to form a pre-historic,
very distant background, something which preceded a long evolution
of mankind. It is rather the past, but extremely near reality, very
much alive and true to the natives.

As I have just said, there is one point on which the cleavage between
myth and present reality, however deep, is bridged over in native
ideas. The extraordinary powers which men possess in myths are mostly
due to their knowledge of magic. This knowledge is, in many cases,
lost, and therefore the powers of doing these marvellous things are
either completely gone, or else considerably reduced. If the magic
could be recovered, men would fly again in their canoes, they could
rejuvenate, defy ogres, and perform the many heroic deeds which they
did in ancient times. Thus, magic, and the powers conferred by it, are
really the link between mythical tradition and the present day. Myth
has crystallised into magical formulæ, and magic in its turn bears
testimony to the authenticity of myth. Often the main function of
myth is to serve as a foundation for a system of magic, and, wherever
magic forms the backbone of an institution, a myth is also to be found
at the base of it. In this perhaps, lies the greatest sociological
importance of myth, that is, in its action upon institutions through
the associated magic. The sociological point of view and the idea of
the natives coincide here in a remarkable manner. In this book we see
this exemplified in one concrete case, in that of the relation between
the mythology, the magic, and the social institution of the Kula.

Thus we can define myth as a narrative of events which are to the
native supernatural, in this sense, that he knows well that to-day
they do not happen. At the same time he believes deeply that they
did happen then. The socially sanctioned narratives of these events;
the traces which they left on the surface of the earth; the magic
in which they left behind part of their supernatural powers, the
social institutions which are associated with the practice of this
magic--all this brings about the fact that a myth is for the native
a living actuality, though it has happened long ago and in an order
of things when people were endowed with supernatural powers.

I have said before that the natives do not possess any historical
perspective, that they do not range events--except of course,
those of the most recent decades--into any successive stages. They
also do not classify their myths into any divisions with regard
to their antiquity. But in looking at their myths, it becomes at
once obvious that they represent events, some of which must have
happened prior to others. For there is a group of stories describing
the origin of humanity, the emerging of the various social units
from underground. Another group of mythical tales gives accounts of
how certain important institutions were introduced and how certain
customs crystallised. Again, there are myths referring to small
changes in culture, or to the introduction of new details and minor
customs. Broadly speaking, the mythical folk-lore of the Trobrianders
can be divided into three groups referring to three different strata
of events. In order to give a general idea of Trobriand mythology, it
will be good to give a short characterisation of each of these groups.

1. The Oldest Myths, referring to the origin of human beings; to
the sociology of the sub-clans and villages; to the establishment
of permanent relations between this world and the next. These myths
describe events which took place just at the moment when the earth
began to be peopled from underneath. Humanity existed, somewhere
underground, since people emerged from there on the surface of Boyowa,
in full decoration, equipped with magic, belonging to social divisions,
and obeying definite laws and customs. But beyond this we know nothing
about what they did underground. There is, however, a series of myths,
of which one is attached to every one of the more important sub-clans,
about various ancestors coming out of the ground, and almost at once,
doing some important deed, which gives a definite character to the
sub-clan. Certain mythological versions about the nether world belong
also to this series.

2. Kultur-myths.--Here belong stories about ogres and their conquerors;
about human beings who established definite customs and cultural
features; about the origin of certain institutions. These myths are
different from the foregoing ones, in so far as they refer to a time
when humanity was already established on the surface of the earth,
and when all the social divisions had already assumed a definite
character. The main cycle of myths which belong here, are those of
a culture hero, Tudava, who slays an ogre and thus allows people
to live in Boyowa again, whence they all had fled in fear of being
eaten. A story about the origins of cannibalism belongs here also,
and about the origin of garden making.

3. Myths in which figure only ordinary human beings, though endowed
with extraordinary magical powers. These myths are distinguished
from the foregoing ones, by the fact that no ogres or non-human
persons figure in them, and that they refer to the origin, not of
whole aspects of culture, such as cannibalism or garden-making,
but to definite institutions or definite forms of magic. Here comes
the myth about the origins of sorcery, the myth about the origins
of love magic, the myth of the flying canoe, and finally the several
Kula myths. The line of division between these three categories is,
of course, not a rigid one, and many a myth could be placed in two
or even three of these classes, according to its several features
or episodes. But each myth contains as a rule one main subject, and
if we take only this, there is hardly ever the slightest doubt as to
where it should be placed.

A point which might appear contradictory in superficial reading is that
before, we stressed the fact that the natives had no idea of change,
yet here we spoke of myths about 'origins' of institutions. It is
important to realise that, though natives do speak about times when
humanity was not upon the earth, of times when there were no gardens,
etc., yet all these things arrive ready-made; they do not change or
evolve. The first people, who came from underground, came up adorned
with the same trinkets, carrying their lime-pot and chewing their
betel-nut. The event, the emergence from the earth was mythical,
that is, such as does not happen now; but the human beings and the
country which received them were such as exist to-day.


The myths of the Kula are scattered along a section of the present
Kula circuit. Beginning with a place in Eastern Woodlark Island,
the village of Wamwara, the mythological centres are spread round
almost in a semi-circle, right down to the island of Tewara, Where
we have left for the present our party from Sinaketa.

In Wamwara there lived an individual called Gere'u, who, according to
one myth, was the originator of the Kula. In the island of Digumenu,
West of Woodlark Island, Tokosikuna, another hero of the Kula, had
his early home, though he finished his career in Gumasila, in the
Amphletts. Kitava, the westernmost of the Marshall Bennetts, is the
centre of canoe magic associated with the Kula. It is also the home
of Monikiniki, whose name figures in many formulæ of the Kula magic,
though there is no explicit myth about him, except that he was the
first man to practice an important system of mwasila (Kula magic),
probably the most widespread system of the present day. Further West,
in Wawela, we are at the other end of the Kasabwaybwayreta myth, which
starts in Tewara, and goes over to Wawela in its narrative of events,
to return to Tewara again. This mythological narrative touches the
island of Boyowa at its southernmost point, the passage Giribwa,
which divides it from Vakuta. Almost all myths have one of their
incidents laid in a small island between Vakuta and the Amphletts,
called Gabuwana. One of the myths leads us to the Amphletts, that of
Tokosikuna; another has its beginning and end in Tewara. Such is the
geography of the Kula myths on the big sector between Murua and Dobu.

Although I do not know the other half through investigations made
on the spot, I have spoken with natives from those districts, and I
think that there are no myths localised anywhere on the sector Murua
(Woodlark Island), Tubetube, and Dobu. What I am quite certain of,
however, is that the whole of the Trobriands, except the two points
mentioned before, lie outside the mythological area of the Kula. No
Kula stories, associated with any village in the Northern half of
Boyowa exist, nor does any of the mythical heroes of the other stories
ever come to the Northern or Western provinces of the Trobriands. Such
extremely important centres as Sinaketa and Omarakana are never
mentioned. This would point, on the surface of it, to the fact that
in olden days, the island of Boyowa, except its Southern end and the
Eastern settlement of Wawela, either did not enter at all or did not
play an important part in the Kula.

I shall give a somewhat abbreviated account of the various stories,
and then adduce in extenso the one last mentioned, perhaps the most
noteworthy of all the Kula myths, that of Kasabwaybwayreta, as well
as the very important canoe myth, that of the flying waga of Kudayuri.

The Muruan myth, which I obtained only in a very bald outline,
is localised in the village of Wamwara, at the Eastern end of the
island. A man called Gere'u, of the Lukuba clan, knew very well the
mwasila magic, and wherever he went, all the valuables were given to
him, so that all the others returned empty-handed. He went to Gawa
and Iwa, and as Soon as he appeared, pu-pu went the conch shells,
and everybody gave him the bagi necklaces. He returned to his village,
full of glory and of Kula spoils. Then he went to Du'a'u, and obtained
again an enormous amount of arm-shells. He settled the direction
in which the Kula valuables have to move. Bagi necklaces have 'to
go,' and the arm-shells 'to come.' As this was spoken on Boyowa,
'go' meant to travel from Boyowa to Woodlark, 'come' to travel from
Gere'u's village to Sinaketa. The culture hero Gere'u was finally
killed, through envy of his success in the Kula.

I obtained two versions about the mythological hero, Tokosikuna
of Digumenu. In the first of them, he is represented as a complete
cripple, without hands and feet, who has to be carried by his two
daughters into the canoe. They sail on a Kula expedition through Iwa,
Gawa, through the Straits of Giribwa to Gumasila. Then they put him
on a platform, where he takes a meal and goes to sleep. They leave
him there and go into a garden which they see on a hill above, in
order to gather some food. On coming back, they find him dead. On
hearing their wailing, an ogre comes out, marries one of them and
adopts the other. As he was very ugly, however, the girls killed him
in an obscene manner, and then settled in the island. This obviously
mutilated and superficial version does not give us many clues to the
native ideas about the Kula.

The other version is much more interesting. Tokosikuna, according to
it, is also slightly crippled, lame, very ugly, and with a pitted skin;
so ugly indeed that he could not marry. Far North, in the mythical
land of Kokopawa, they play a flute so beautifully that the chief of
Digumenu, the village of Tokosikuna, hears it. He wishes to obtain the
flute. Many men set out, but all fail, and they have to return half
way, because it is so far. Tokosikuna goes, and, through a mixture of
cunning and daring, he succeeds in getting possession of the flute,
and in returning safely to Digumenu. There, through magic which
one is led to infer he has acquired on his journey, he changes his
appearance, becomes young, smooth-skinned and beautiful. The guya'u
(chief) who is away in his garden, hears the flute played in his
village, and returning there, he sees Tokosikuna sitting on a high
platform, playing the flute and looking beautiful. "Well," he says,
"all my daughters, all my granddaughters, my nieces and my sisters,
you all marry Tokosikuna! Your husbands, you leave behind! You marry
Tokosikuna, for he has brought the flute from the distant land!" So
Tokosikuna married all the women.

The other men did not take it very well, of course. They decided to get
rid of Tokosikuna by stratagem. They said: "The chief would like to
eat giant clam-shell, let us go and fish it." "And how shall I catch
it?" asks Tokosikuna. "You put your head, where the clam-shell gapes
open." (This of course would mean death, as the clam-shell would close,
and, if a really big one, would easily cut off his head). Tokosikuna,
however, dived and with his two hands, broke a clam-shell open, a deed
of super-human strength. The others were angry, and planned another
form of revenge. They arranged a shark-fishing, advising Tokosikuna to
catch the fish with his hands. But he simply strangled the big shark,
and put it into the canoe. Then, he tears asunder a boar's mouth,
bringing them thus to despair. Finally they decide to get rid of him at
sea. They try to kill him first by letting the heavy tree, felled for
the waga, fall on him. But he supports it with his outstretched arms,
and does no harm to himself. At the time of lashing, his companions
wrap some wayaugo (lashing creeper) into a soft pandanus leaf; then
they persuade him to use pandanus only for the lashing of his canoe,
which he does indeed, deceived by seeing them use what apparently is
the same. Then they sail, the other men in good, sea-worthy canoes,
he in an entirely unseaworthy one, lashed only with the soft, brittle
pandanus leaf.

And here begins the real Kula part of the myth. The expedition
arrives at Gawa, where Tokosikuna remains with his canoe on the beach,
while the other men go to the village to kula. They collect all the
smaller armshells of the soulava type, but the big ones, the bagi,
remain in the village, for the local men are unwilling to give
them. Then Tokosikuna starts for the village after all the others
have returned. After a short while, he arrives from the village,
carrying all the bagido'u bagidudu, and bagiriku--that is, all the
most valuable types of spondylus necklaces. The same happens in Iwa
and Kitava. His companions from the other canoes go first and succeed
only in collecting the inferior kinds of valuables. He afterwards
enters the village, and easily obtains the high grades of necklace,
which had been refused to the others. These become very angry; in
Kitava, they inspect the lashings of his canoe, and see that they
are rotten. "Oh well, to-morrow, Vakuta! The day after, Gumasila,--he
will drown in Pilolu." In Vakuta the same happens as before, and the
wrath of his unsuccessful companions increases.

They sail and passing the sandbank of Gabula (this is the Trobriand
name for Gabuwana, as the Amphlettans pronounce it) Tokosikuna eases
his helm; then, as he tries to bring the canoe up to the wind again,
his lashings snap, and the canoe sinks. He swims in the waves, carrying
the basket-full of valuables in one arm. He calls out to the other
canoes: "Come and take your bagi! I shall get into your waga!" "You
married all our women," they answer, "now, sharks will eat you! We
shall go to make Kula in Dobu!" Tokosikuna, however, swims safely to
the point called Kamsareta, in the island of Domdom. From there he
beholds the rock of Selawaya standing out of the jungle on the eastern
slope of Gumasila. "This is a big rock, I shall go and live there,"
and turning towards the Digumenu canoes, he utters a curse:

"You will get nothing in Dobu but poor necklaces, soulava of the
type of tutumuyuwa and tutuyanabwa. The big bagido'u will stop with
me." He remains in the Amphletts and does not return to Digumenu. And
here ends the myth.

I have given an extensive summary of this myth, including its first
part, which has nothing to do with the Kula, because it gives a full
character sketch of the hero as a daring sailor and adventurer. It
shows, how Tokosikuna, after his Northern trip, acquired magic which
allowed him to change his ugly and weak frame into a powerful body with
a beautiful appearance. The first part also contains the reference to
his great success with women, an association between Kula magic and
love magic, which as we shall see, is not without importance. In this
first part, that is, up to the moment when they start on the Kula,
Tokosikuna appears as a hero, endowed with extraordinary powers,
due to his knowledge of magic.

In this myth, as we see, no events are related through which the
natural appearance of the landscape is changed. Therefore this
myth is typical of what I have called the most recent stratum of
mythology. This is further confirmed by the circumstance that no
allusion is made in it to any origins, not even to the origins of the
mwasila magic. For, as the myth is at present told and commented upon,
all the men who go on the Kula expedition with our hero, know a system
of Kula magic, the mwasila of Monikiniki. Tokosikuna's superiority
rests with his special beauty magic; with his capacity to display
enormous strength, and to face with impunity great dangers; with his
ability to escape from drowning, finally, with his knowledge of the
evil magic, bulubwalata, with which he prevents his companions from
doing successful Kula. This last point was contained in a commentary
upon this myth, given to me by the man who narrated it. When I speak
about the Kula magic more explicitly further on, the reader will
see that the four points of superiority just mentioned correspond to
the categories into which we have to group the Kula magic, when it
is classified according to its leading ideas, according to the goal
towards which it aims.

One magic Tokosikuna does not know. We see from the myth that he
is ignorant of the nature of the wayugo, the lashing creeper. He
is therefore obviously not a canoe-builder, nor acquainted with
canoe-building magic. This is the point on which his companions are
able to catch him.

Geographically, this myth links Digumenu with the Amphletts, as also
did the previous version of the Tokosikuna story. The hero, here
as there, settles finally in Gumasila, and the element of migration
is contained in both versions. Again, in the last story, Tokosikuna
decides to settle in the Amphletts, on seeing the Selawaya rock. If we
remember the Gumasilan legend about the origin of Kula magic, it also
refers to the same rock. I did not obtain the name of the individual
who is believed to have lived on the Selawaya rock, but it obviously
is the same myth, only very mutilated in the Gumasilan version.


Moving Westwards from Digumenu, to which the Tokosikuna myth belongs,
the next important centre of Kula magic is the island of Kitava. With
this place, the magical system of Monikiniki is associated by
tradition, though no special story is told about this individual. A
very important myth, on the other hand, localised in Kitava, is the
one which serves as foundation for canoe magic. I have obtained three
independent versions of this myth, and they agree substantially. I
shall adduce at length the story as it was told to me by the best
informant, and written down in Kiriwinian, and after that, I shall
show on what points the other versions vary. I shall not omit from the
full account certain tedious repetitions and obviously inessential
details, for they are indispensable for imparting to the narrative
the characteristic flavour of native folk-lore.

To understand the following account, it is necessary to realise that
Kitava is a raised coral island. Its inland part is elevated to a
height of about three hundred feet. Behind the flat beach, a steep
coral wall rises, and from its summit the land gently falls towards
the central declivity. It is in this central part that the villages
are situated, and it would be quite impossible to transport a canoe
from any village to the beach. Thus, in Kitava, unlike what happens
with some of the Lagoon villages of Boyowa, the canoes have to be
always dug out and lashed on the beach.


    "Mokatuboda of the Lukuba clan and his younger brother Toweyre'i
    lived in the village of Kudayuri. With them lived their three
    sisters Kayguremwo, Na'ukuwakula and Murumweyri'a. They had
    all come out from underground in the spot called Labikewo, in
    Kitava. These people were the u'ula (foundation, basis, here:
    first possessors) of the ligogu and wayugo magic."

    "All the men of Kitava decided on a great Kula expedition to
    the Koya. The men of Kumwageya, Kaybutu, Kabululo and Lalela
    made their canoes. They scooped out the inside of the waga, they
    carved the tabuyo and lagim (decorated prow boards), they made
    the budaka (lateral gunwale planks). They brought the component
    parts to the beach, in order to make the yowaga (to put and lash
    them together)."

    "The Kudayuri people made their canoe in the village. Mokatuboda,
    the head man of the Kudayuri village, ordered them to do
    so. They were angry: 'Very heavy canoe. Who will carry it to
    the beach?' He said: 'No, not so; it will be well. I shall just
    lash my waga in the village.' He refused to move the canoe;
    it remained in the village. The other people pieced their canoe
    on the beach; he pieced it together in the village. They lashed
    it with the wayugo creeper on the beach; he lashed his in the
    village. They caulked their canoes on the sea-shore; he caulked
    his in the village. They painted their canoes on the beach with
    black; he blackened his in the village. They made the youlala
    (painted red and white) on the beach; he made the youlala in
    the village. They sewed their sail on the beach; he did it in
    the village. They rigged up the mast and rigging on the beach;
    he in the village. After that, the men of Kitava made tasasoria
    (trial run) and kabigidoya (visit of ceremonial presentation),
    but the Kudayuri canoe did not make either."

    "By and by, all the men of Kitava ordered their women to
    prepare the food. The women one day put all the food, the gugu'a
    (personal belongings), the pari (presents and trade goods) into the
    canoe. The people of Kudayuri had all these things put into their
    canoe in the village. The headman of the Kudayuri, Mokatuboda,
    asked all his younger brothers, all the members of his crew,
    to bring some of their pari, and he performed magic over it,
    and made a lilava (magical bundle) of it."

    "The people of other villages went to the beach; each canoe was
    manned by its usagelu (members of the crew). The man of Kudayuri
    ordered his crew to man his canoe in the village. They of the other
    villages stepped the mast on the shore; he stepped the mast in
    the village. They prepared the rigging on the shore; he prepared
    the rigging in the village. They hoisted the sail on the sea;
    he spoke 'May our sail be hoisted,' and his companions hoisted
    the sail. He spoke: 'Sit in your places, every man!' He went into
    the house, he took his ligogu (adze), he took some coco-nut oil,
    he took a staff. He spoke magic over the adze, over the coco-nut
    oil. He came out of the house, he approached the canoe. A small
    dog of his called Tokulubweydoga jumped into the canoe. [74] He
    spoke to his crew: 'Pull up the sail higher.' They pulled at the
    halyard. He rubbed the staff with the coco-nut oil. He knocked
    the canoe's skids with the staff. Then he struck with his ligogu
    the u'ula of his canoe and the dobwana (that is, both ends of the
    canoe). He jumped into the canoe, sat down, and the canoe flew!"

    "A rock stood before it. It pierced the rock in two, and flew
    through it. He bent down, he looked; his companions (that is,
    the other canoes of Kitava) sailed on the sea. He spoke to
    his younger brothers, (that is to his relatives in the canoe):
    'Bail out the water, pour it out!' Those who sailed on the earth
    thought it was rain, this water which they poured out from above."

    "They (the other canoes) sailed to Giribwa, they saw a canoe
    anchored there. They said: 'Is that the canoe from Dobu?' They
    thought so, they wanted to lebu (take by force, but not necessarily
    as a hostile act) the buna (big cowrie) shells of the Dobu
    people. Then they saw the dog walking on the beach. They said:
    'Wi-i-i! This is Tokulubweydoga, the dog of the Lukuba! This canoe
    they lashed in the village, in the village of Kudayuri. Which way
    did it come? It was anchored in the jungle!' They approached the
    people of Kudayuri, they spoke: 'Which way did you come?' 'Oh,
    I came together with you (the same way).' 'It rained. Did it rain
    over you?' 'Oh yes, it has rained over me.'"

    "Next day, they (the men of the other villages of Kitava), sailed
    to Vakuta and went ashore. They made their Kula. The next day
    they sailed, and he (Mokatuboda) remained in Vakuta. When they
    disappeared on the sea, his canoe flew. He flew from Vakuta. When
    they (the other crews) arrived in Gumasila, he was there on the
    promontory of Lububuyama. They said: 'This canoe is like the
    canoe of our companions,' and the dog came out. 'This is the dog
    of the Lukuba clan of Kudayuri.' They asked him again which way he
    came; he said he came the same way as they. They made the Kula in
    Gumasila. He said: 'You sail first, I shall sail later on.' They
    were astonished: 'Which way does he sail?' They slept in Gumasila."

    "Next day they sailed to Tewara, they arrived at the beach
    of Kadimwatu. They saw his canoe anchored there, the dog came
    out and ran along the beach. They spoke to the Kudayuri men,
    'How did you come here?' 'We came with you, the same way we
    came.' They made Kula in Tewara. Next day, they sailed to Bwayowa
    (village in Dobu district). He flew, and anchored at the beach
    Sarubwoyna. They arrived there, they saw: 'Oh, look at the canoe,
    are these fishermen from Dobu?' The dog came out. They recognised
    the dog. They asked him (Mokatuboda) which way he came: 'I came
    with you, I anchored here.' They went to the village of Bwayowa,
    they made Kula in the village, they loaded their canoes. They
    received presents from the Dobu people at parting, and the Kitava
    men sailed on the return journey. They sailed first, and he flew
    through the air."

    On the return journey, at every stage, they see him first, they
    ask him which way he went, and he gives them some sort of answer
    as the above ones.

    "From Giribwa they sailed to Kitava; he remained in Giribwa; he
    flew from Giribwa; he went to Kitava, to the beach. His gugu'a
    (personal belongings) were being carried to the village when his
    companions came paddling along, and saw his canoe anchored and
    the dog running on the beach. All the other men were very angry,
    because his canoe flew."

    "They remained in Kitava. Next year, they made their gardens,
    all the men of Kitava. The sun was very strong, there was no
    rain at all. The sun burned their gardens. This man (the head
    man of Kudayuri, Mokatuboda) went into the garden. He remained
    there, he made a bulubwalata (evil magic) of the rain. A small
    cloud came and rained on his garden only, and their gardens the
    sun burned. They (the other men of Kitava) went and saw their
    gardens. They arrived there, they saw all was dead, already the
    sun had burned them. They went to his garden and it was all wet:
    yams, taitu, taro, all was fine. They spoke: 'Let us kill him
    so that he might die. We shall then speak magic over the clouds,
    and it will rain over our gardens.'"

    "The real, keen magic, the Kudayuri man (i.e. Mokatuboda) did not
    give to them; he gave them not the magic of the ligogu (adze);
    he gave them not the magic of kunisalili (rain magic); he gave
    them not the magic of the wayugo (lashing creeper), of the coco-nut
    oil and staff. Toweyre'i, his younger brother, thought that he had
    already received the magic, but he was mistaken. His elder brother
    gave him only part of the magic, the real one he kept back."

    "They came (to Mokatuboda, the head man of Kudayuri), he sat in
    his village. His brothers and maternal nephews sharpened the spear,
    they hit him, he died."

    "Next year, they decided to make a big Kula expedition, to
    Dobu. The old waga, cut and lashed by Mokatuboda, was no more good,
    the lashings had perished. Then Toweyre'i, the younger brother,
    cut a new one to replace the old. The people of Kumwageya and
    Lalela (the other villages in Kitava) heard that Toweyre'i cuts
    his waga, and they also cut theirs. They pieced and lashed their
    canoes on the beach. Toweyre'i did it in the village."

    Here the native narrative enumerates every detail of canoe making,
    drawing the contrast between the proceedings on the beach of
    the other Kitavans, and of Toweyre'i building the canoe in the
    village of Kudayuri. It is an exact repetition of what was said
    at the beginning, when Mokatuboda was building his canoe, and I
    shall not adduce it here. The narrative arrives at the critical
    moment when all the members of the crew are seated in the canoe
    ready for the flight.

    "Toweyre'i went into the house and made magic over the adze and
    the coco-nut oil. He came out, smeared a staff with the oil,
    knocked the skids of the canoe. He then did as his elder brother
    did. He struck both ends of the canoe with the adze. He jumped
    into the canoe and sat down; but the waga did not fly. Toweyre'i
    went into the house and cried for his elder brother, whom he had
    slain; he had killed him without knowing his magic. The people
    of Kumwageya and Lalela went to Dobu and made their Kula. The
    people of Kudayuri remained in the village."

    "The three sisters were very angry with Toweyre'i, for he killed
    the elder brother and did not learn his magic. They themselves
    had learnt the ligogu, the wayugo magic; they had it already in
    their lopoula (belly). They could fly through the air, they were
    yoyova. In Kitava they lived on the top of Botigale'a hill. They
    said: 'Let us leave Kitava and fly away.' They flew through the
    air. One of them, Na'ukuwakula, flew to the West, pierced through
    the sea-passage Dikuwa'i (Somewhere in the Western Trobriands);
    she arrived at Simsim (one of the Lousançay). There she turned
    into a stone, she stands in the sea."

    "The two others flew first (due West) to the beach of Yalumugwa
    (on the Eastern shore of Boyowa). There they tried to pierce the
    coral rock named Yakayba--it was too hard. They went (further
    South on the Eastern shore) through the sea-passage of Vilasasa
    and tried to pierce the rock Kuyaluya--they couldn't. They went
    (further South) and tried to pierce the rock of Kawakari--it
    was too hard. They went (further South). They tried to pierce
    the rocks at Giribwa. They succeeded. That is why there is now a
    sea passage at Giribwa (the straits dividing the main island of
    Boyowa from the island of Vakuta)."

    "They flew (further South) towards Dobu. They came to the island of
    Tewara. They came to the beach of Kadimwatu and pierced it. This
    is where the straits of Kadimwatu are now between the islands of
    Tewara and Uwama. They went to Dobu; they travelled further South,
    to the promontory of Saramwa (near Dobu island). They spoke:
    'Shall we go round the point or pierce right through?' They
    went round the point. They met another obstacle and pierced
    it through, making the Straits of Loma (at the Western end of
    Dawson Straits). They came back, they returned and settled near
    Tewara. They turned into stones; they stand in the sea. One of
    them cast her eyes on Dobu, this is Murumweyri'a; she eats men,
    and the Dobuans are cannibals. The other one, Kayguremwo, does
    not eat men, and her face is turned towards Boyowa. The people
    of Boyowa do not eat man."

This story is extremely clear in its general outline, and very
dramatic, and all its incidents and developments have a high degree
of consistency and psychological motivation. It is perhaps the most
telling of all myths from this part of the world which came under
my notice. It is also a good example of what has been said before in
Division II. Namely that the identical conditions, sociological and
cultural, which obtain at the present time, are also reflected in
mythical narratives. The only exception to this is the much higher
efficiency of magic found in the world of myth. The tale of Kudayuri,
on the one hand, describes minutely the sociological conditions of the
heroes, their occupations and concerns, and all these do not differ
at all from the present ones. On the other hand, it shows the hero
endowed with a truly super-normal power through his magic of canoe
building and of rain making. Nor could it be more convincingly stated
than is done in this narrative that the full knowledge of the right
magic was solely responsible for these supernatural powers.

In its enumeration of the various details of tribal life, this myth is
truly a fount of ethnographic information. Its statements, when made
complete and explicit by native comment, contain a good deal of what
is to be known about the sociology, technology and organisation of
canoe-making, sailing, and of the Kula. If followed up into detail,
the incidents of this narrative make us acquainted for instance,
with the division into clans; with the origin and local character of
these latter; with ownership of magic and its association with the
totemic group. In almost all mythological narratives of the Trobriands,
the clan, the sub-clan and the locality of the heroes are stated. In
the above version, we see that the heroes have emerged at a certain
spot, and that they themselves came from underground; that is, that
they are the first representatives of their totemic sub-clan on the
surface of the earth. In the two other versions, this last point was
not explicitly stated, though I think it is implied in the incidents
of this myth, for obviously the flying canoe is built for the first
time, as it is for the last. In other versions, I was told that the
hole from which this sub-clan emerged is also called Kudayuri, and
that the name of their magical system is Viluvayaba.

Passing to the following part of the tale, we find in it a description
of canoe-building, and this was given to me in the same detailed
manner in all three versions. Here again, if we would substitute for
the short sentences a fuller account of what happens, such as could
be elicited from any intelligent native informant; if for each word
describing the stages of canoe-building we insert a full description
of the processes for which these words stand--we would have in this
myth an almost complete, ethnographic account of canoe-building. We
would see the canoe pieced together, lashed, caulked, painted, rigged
out, provided with a sail till it lies ready to be launched. Besides
the successive enumeration of technical stages, we have in this
myth a clear picture of the rôle played by the headman, who is
the nominal owner of the canoe, and who speaks of it as his canoe
and at the same time directs its building; overrides the wishes of
others, and is responsible for the magic. We have even the mention
of the tasasoria and kabigidoya, and several allusions to the Kula
expedition of which the canoe-building in this myth is represented as a
preliminary stage. The frequent, tedious repetitions and enumerations
of customary sequences of events, interesting as data of folk-lore,
are not less valuable as ethnographic documents, and as illustrations
of the natives' attitude towards custom. Incidentally, this feature
of native mythology shows that the task of serving as ethnographic
informant is not so foreign and difficult to a native as might at
first appear. He is quite used to recite one after the other the
various stages of customary proceedings in his own narratives, and
he does it with an almost pedantic accuracy and completeness, and it
is an easy task for him to transfer these qualities to the accounts,
which he is called upon to make in the service of ethnography.

The dramatic effect of the climax of the story, of the unexpected
flight of the canoe is clearly brought out in the narrative, and it
was given to me in all its three versions. In all three, the members
of the crew are made to pass through the numerous preparatory stages
of sailing. And the parallel drawn between the reasonable proceedings
of their fellows on the beach, and the absurd manner in which they
are made to get ready in the middle of the village, some few hundred
feet above the sea, makes the tension more palpable and the sudden
denouement more effective. In all accounts of this myth, the magic
is also performed just before the flight, and its performance is
explicitly mentioned and included as an important episode in the story.

The incident of bailing some water out of a canoe which never touched
the sea, seems to show some inconsistency. If we remember, however,
that water is poured into a canoe, while it is built, in order to
prevent its drying and consequently its shrinking, cracking and
warping, the inconsistency and flaw in the narrative disappear. I
may add that the bailing and rain incident is contained in one of my
three versions only.

The episode of the dog is more significant and more important to
the natives, and is mentioned in all three versions. The dog is the
animal associated with the Lukuba clan; that is, the natives will say
that the dog is a Lukuba, as the pig is a Malasi, and the igwana a
Lukulabuta. In several stories about the origin and relative rank of
the clans, each of them is represented by its totemic animal. Thus the
igwana is the first to emerge from underground. Hence the Lukulabuta
are the oldest clan. The dog and the pig dispute with one another the
priority of rank, the dog basing his claims on his earlier appearance
on the earth, for he followed immediately the igwana; the pig,
asserting himself in virtue of not eating unclean things. The pig
won the day, and therefore the Malasi clan are considered to be the
clan of the highest rank, though this is really reached only in one
of its sub-clans, that of the Tabalu of Omarakana. The incident of
the lebu (taking by force) of some ornaments from the Dobuans refers
to the custom of using friendly violence in certain Kula transactions
(see chapter XIV, Division II).

In the second part of the story, we find the hero endowed again with
magical powers far superior to those of the present-day wizards. They
can make rain, or stay the clouds, it is true, but he is able to
create a small cloud which pours copious rain over his own gardens,
and leaves the others to be shrivelled up by the sun. This part of the
narrative does not touch the canoe problem, and it is of interest to
us only in so far as it again shows what appears to the natives the
real source of their hero's supernatural powers.

The motives which lead to the killing of Mokatuboda are not stated
explicitly in the narrative. No myth as a rule enters very much
into the subjective side of its events. But, from the lengthy,
indeed wearisome repetition of how the other Kitava men constantly
find the Kudayuri canoe outrunning them, how they are astonished
and angry, it is clear that his success must have made many enemies
to Mokatuboda. What is not so easily explained, is the fact that he
is killed, not by the other Kitava men, but by his own kinsmen. One
of the versions mentions his brothers and his sister's sons as the
slayers. One of them states that the people of Kitava ask Toweyre'i,
the younger brother, whether he has already acquired the flying magic
and the rain magic, and only after an affirmative is received, is
Mokatuboda killed by his younger brother, in connivance with the other
people. An interesting variant is added to this version, according
to which Toweyre'i kills his elder brother in the garden. He then
comes back to the village and instructs and admonishes Mokatuboda's
children to take the body, to give it the mortuary attentions, to
prepare for the burial. Then he himself arranges the sagali, the big
mortuary distribution of food. In this we find an interesting document
of native custom and ideas. Toweyre'i, in spite of having killed his
brother, is still the man who has to arrange the mortuary proceedings,
act as master of ceremonies, and pay for the functions performed in
them by others. He personally may neither touch the corpse, nor do
any act of mourning or burial; nevertheless he, as the nearest of kin
of the dead man, is the bereaved one, is the one from whom a limb
has been severed, so to speak. A man whose brother has died cannot
mourn any more than he could mourn for himself. [75] To return to
the motives of killing, as this was done according to all accounts
by Mokatuboda's own kinsmen, with the approval of the other men,
envy, ambition, the desire to succeed the headman in his dignity,
must have been mixed with spite against him. In fact, we see that
Toweyre'i proceeds confidently to perform the magic, and bursts out
into wailing only after he has discovered he has been duped.

Now we come to one of the most remarkable incidents of the whole myth,
that namely which brings into connection the yoyova, or the flying
witches, with the flying canoe, and with such speed of a canoe,
as is imparted to it by magic. In the spells of swiftness there are
frequent allusions to the yoyova or mulukwausi. This can be clearly
seen in the spell of the wayugo, already adduced (Chapter V, Division
III), and which is still to be analysed linguistically (Chapter XVIII,
Divisions II to IV). The kariyala (magical portent, cf. Chapter XVII,
Division VII) of the wayugo spell consists in shooting stars, that
is, when a wayugo rite is performed at night over the creeper coils,
there will be stars falling in the sky. And again, when a magician,
knowing this system of magic, dies, shooting stars will be seen. Now,
as we have seen (Chapter X, Division I), falling stars are mulukwausi
in their flight.

In this story of the Kudayuri we see the mythological ground for this
association. The same magic which allowed the canoe to sail through
the air gives the three sisters of Kudayuri their power of being
mulukwausi, and of flying. In this myth they are also endowed with the
power of cleaving the rocks, a power which they share with the canoe,
which cleft a rock immediately after leaving the village. The three
sisters cleave rocks and pierce the land in several places. My native
commentators assured me that when the canoe first visited Giribwa and
Kadimwatu at the beginning of this myth, the land was still joined at
these places and there was a beach at each of them. The mulukwausi
tried to pierce Boyowa at several spots along the Eastern coast,
but succeeded only at Giribwa. The myth thus has the archaic stamp
of referring to deep changes in natural features. The two sisters,
who fly to the South return from the furthest point and settle near
Tewara, in which there is some analogy to several other myths in which
heroes from the Marshall Bennett Islands settle down somewhere between
the Amphletts and Dobu. One of them turns her eyes northwards towards
the non-cannibal people of Boyowa and she is said to be averse to
cannibalism. Probably this is a sort of mythological explanation of why
the Boyowan people do not eat men and the Dobuans do, an explanation
to which there is an analogy in another myth shortly to be adduced,
that of Atu'a'ine and Aturamo'a, and a better one still in a myth
about the origins of cannibalism, which I cannot quote here.

In all these traditions, so far, the heroes belonged to the clan of
Lukuba. To it belong Gere'u, Tokosikuna, the Kudayuri family and
their dog, and also the dog, Tokulubwaydoga of the myth told in
Chapter X, Division V. I may add that, in some legends told about
the origin of humanity, this clan emerges first from underground and
in some it emerges second in time, but as the clan of highest rank,
though in this it has to yield afterwards to the Malasi. The main
Kultur-hero of Kiriwina, the ogre-slayer Tudava, belongs, also to the
clan of Lukuba. There is even a historic fact, which agrees with this
mythological primacy, and subsequent eclipse. The Lukuba were, some six
or seven generations ago, the leading clan in Vakuta, and then they
had to surrender the chieftainship of this place to the Malasi clan,
when the sub-clan of the Tabalu, the Malasi chiefs of the highest
rank in Kiriwina, migrated South, and settled down in Vakuta. In the
myths quoted here, the Lukuba are leading canoe-builders, sailors,
and adventurers, that is with one exception, that of Tokosikuna,
who, though excelling in all other respects, knows nothing of canoe


Let us now proceed to the last named mythological centre, and
taking a very big step from the Marshall Bennetts, return to Tewara,
and to its myth of the origin of the Kula. I shall tell this myth
in a translation, closely following the original account, obtained
in Kiriwinian from an informant at Oburaku. I had an opportunity of
checking and amending his narrative, by the information obtained from
a native of Sanaro'a in pidgin English.


    "Kasabwaybwayreta lived in Tewara. He heard the renown of a soulava
    (spondylus necklace) which was lying (kept) in Wawela. Its name
    was Gumakarakedakeda. He said to his children: 'Let us go to
    Wawela, make Kula to get this soulava.' He put into his canoe
    unripe coco-nut, undeveloped betel-nut, green bananas."

    "They went to Wawela; they anchored in Wawela. His sons went
    ashore, they went to obtain Gumakarakedakeda. He remained in the
    canoe. His son made offering of food, they (the Wawela people)
    refused. Kasabwaybwayreta spoke a charm over the betel-nut: it
    yellowed (became ripe); he spoke the charm over the coco-nut:
    its soft kernel swelled; he charmed the bananas they ripened. He
    took off his hair, his gray hair; his wrinkled skin, it remained
    in the canoe. He rose, he went he gave a pokala offering of food,
    he received the valuable necklace as Kula gift, for he was already
    a beautiful man. He went, he put it down, he thrust it into his
    hair. He came to the canoe, he took his covering (the sloughed
    skin); he donned the wrinkles, the gray hairs, he remained."

    "His sons arrived, they took their places in the canoe, they
    sailed to Giribwa. They cooked their food. He called his grandson;
    'Oh, my grandson, come here, look for my lice.' The grandson came
    there, stepped near him. Kasabwaybwayreta spoke, telling him: 'My
    grandson, catch my lice in the middle (of my hair).' His grandson
    parted his hair; he saw the valuable necklace, Gumakarakedakeda
    remaining there in the hair of Kasabwaybwayreta. 'Ee...' he spoke
    to his father, telling him, 'My father, Kasabwaybwayreta already
    obtained Gumakarakedakeda.' 'O, no, he did not obtain it! I am a
    chief, I am beautiful, I have not obtained that valuable. Indeed,
    would this wrinkled old man have obtained the necklace? No,
    indeed!' 'Truly, my father, he has obtained it already. I have
    seen it; already it remains in his hair!'"

    "All the water-vessels are empty already; the son went into the
    canoe, spilled the water so that it ran out, and only the empty
    vessels (made of coco-nut shell) remained. Later on they sailed,
    they went to an island, Gabula (Gabuwana in Amphlettan and in
    Dobuan). This man, Kasabwaybwayreta wanted water, and spoke to
    his son. This man picked up the water vessels--no, they were all
    empty. They went on the beach of Gabula, the usagelu (members
    of the crew) dug out their water-holes (in the beach). This man
    remained in the canoe and called out: 'O my grandson, bring me here
    my water, go there and dip out my water!' The grandson said: 'No,
    come here and dip out (yourself)!' Later on, they dipped out water,
    they finished, and Kasabwaybwayreta came. They muddied the water,
    it was muddy. He sat down, he waited."

    "They went, they sailed in the canoe. Kasabwaybwayreta called out,
    'O, my son, why do you cast me off?' Spoke the son: 'I think you
    have obtained Gumakarakedakeda!' 'O, by and by, my son, when we
    arrive in the village, I shall give it to you!' 'O, no!' 'Well,
    you remain, I shall go!' He takes a stone, a binabina one, this
    man Kasabwaybwayreta, he throws so that he might make a hole in
    the canoe, and the men might go into the sea. No! they sped away,
    they went, this stone stands up, it has made an island in the
    sea. They went, they anchored in Tewara. They (the villagers)
    asked: 'And where is Kasabwaybwayreta?' 'O, his son got angry
    with him, already he had obtained Gumakarakedakeda!'"

    "Well, then, this man Kasabwaybwayreta remained in the island
    Gabula. He saw Tokom'mwawa (evening star) approach. He spoke:
    'My friend, come here, let me just enter into your canoe!' 'O no,
    I shall go to another place.' There came Kaylateku (Sirius). He
    asked him: 'Let me go with you.' He refused. There came Kayyousi
    (Southern Cross). Kasabwaybwayreta wanted to go with him. He
    refused. There came Umnakayva'u, (Alpha and Beta Centauri). He
    wanted a place in his canoe. He refused. There came Kibi
    (three stars widely distant, forming no constellation in our
    sky-chart). He also refused to take Kasabwaybwayreta. There came
    Uluwa (the Pleiades). Kasabwaybwayreta asked him to take him. Uluwa
    said: 'You wait, you look out, there will come Kaykiyadiga,
    he will take you.' There came Kaykiyadiga (the three central
    stars in Orion's belt). Kasabwaybwayreta asked him: 'My friend,
    which way will you go?' 'I shall come down on top of Taryebutu
    mountain. I shall go down, I shall go away.' 'Oh, my friend, come
    here, let me just sit down (on you).' 'Oh come,--see on one side
    there is a va'i (stingaree) on the other side, there is the lo'u
    (a fish with poisonous spikes); you sit in the middle, it will
    be well! Where is your village?' 'My village is Tewara.' 'What
    stands in the site of your village?' 'In the site of my village,
    there stands a busa tree!'"

    "They went there. Already the village of Kasabwaybwayreta is
    straight below them. He charmed this busa tree, it arose, it went
    straight up into the skies. Kasabwaybwayreta changed place (from
    Orion's belt on to the tree), he sat on the busa tree. He spoke:
    'Oh, my friend, break asunder this necklace. Part of it, I shall
    give you; part of it, I shall carry to Tewara.' He gave part of
    it to his companion. This busa tree came down to the ground. He
    was angry because his son left him behind. He went underground
    inside. He there remained for a long time. The dogs came there,
    and they dug and dug. They dug him out. He came out on top, he
    became a tauva'u (evil spirit, see Chapter II, Division VII.) He
    hits human beings. That is why in Tewara the village is that of
    sorcerers and witches, because of Kasabwaybwayreta."

To make this somewhat obscure narrative clearer, a short commentary
is necessary. The first part tells of a Kula expedition in which the
hero, his son, his grandson, and some other members of the crew take
part. His son takes with him good, fresh food, to give as solicitory
offering and thus tempt his partners to present him with the famous
necklace. The son is a young man and also a chief of renown. The
later stages are clearer; by means of magic, the hero changes
himself into a young, attractive man, and makes his own unripe, bad
fruit into splendid gifts to be offered to his partner. He obtains
the prize without difficulty, and hides it in his hair. Then, in a
moment of weakness, and for motives which it is impossible to find
out from native commentators, he on purpose reveals the necklace
to his grandson. Most likely, the motive was vanity. His son, and
probably also the other companions, become very angry and set a trap
for him. They arrange things so that he has to go for his own water
on the beach of Gabula. When they have already got theirs and while
he is dipping it out, they sail away, leaving him marooned on the
sand-bank. Like Polyphemus after the escaping party of Odysseus,
he throws a stone at the treacherous canoe, but it misses its mark,
and becomes an outstanding rock in the sea.

The episode of his release by the stars is quite clear. Arrived at
the village, he makes a tree rise by his magic, and after he has
given the bigger part of his necklace to his rescuer, he descends,
with the smaller part. His going underground and subsequent turning
into a tauva'u shows how bitter he feels towards humanity. As usual,
the presence of such a powerful, evil personality in the village,
gives its stamp to the whole community, and this latter produces
sorcerers and witches. All these additions and comments I obtained
in cross-questioning my original informant.

The Dobuan informant from Sanaro'a introduced one or two variants into
the second part of the narrative. According to him, Kasabwaybwayreta
marries while in the sky, and remains there long enough to beget
three male and two female children. After he has made up his mind to
descend to earth again, he Makes a hole in the heavens, looks down and
sees a betel-nut tree in his village. Then he speaks to his child,
'When I go down, you pull at one end of the necklace.' He climbs
down by means of the necklace on to the betel palm and pulls at
one end of Gumakarakedakeda. It breaks, a big piece remains in the
skies, the small one goes with him below. Arrived in the village,
he arranges a feast, and invites all the villagers to it. He speaks
some magic over the food and after they have eaten it, the villagers
are turned into birds. This last act is quite in harmony with his
profession of tauva'u, which he assumed in the previous version of
the myth. My Dobuan informant also added, by way of commentary, that
the companions of Kasabwaybwayreta were angry with him, because he
obtained the necklace in Boyowa, which was not the right direction
for a necklace to travel in the Kula. This, however, is obviously a
rationalisation of the events of the myth.

Comparing the previously related story of Tokosikuna with this
one, we see at once a clear resemblance between them in several
features. In both, the heroes start as old, decrepit, and very ugly
men. By their magical powers, they rejuvenate in the course of the
story, the one permanently, the other just sloughing off his skin
for the purpose of a Kula transaction. In both cases, the hero is
definitely superior in the Kula, and by this arouses the envy and
hatred of his companions. Again, in both stories, the companions
decide to punish the hero, and the island or sandbank of Gabuwana is
the scene of the punishment. In both, the hero finally settles in the
South, only in one case it is his original home, while in the other
he has migrated there from one of the Marshall Bennett Islands. An
anomaly in the Kasabwaybwayreta myth, namely, that he fetches his
necklace from the North, whereas the normal direction for necklaces
to travel is from South to North in this region, makes us suspect
that perhaps this story is a transformation of a legend about a man
who made the Kula from the North. Ill-treated by his companions, he
settled in Tewara, and becoming a local Kultur-hero, was afterwards
described as belonging to the place. However this might be, and the
hypothetical interpretation is mine, and not obtained from the natives,
the two stories are so similar that they must be regarded obviously
as variants of the same myth, and not as independent traditions.


So much about the ethnographic analysis of these myths. Let us now
return to the general, sociological considerations with which we opened
this digression into mythology. We are now better able to realise to
what extent and in what manner Kula myths influence the native outlook.

The main social force governing all tribal life could be described
as the inertia of custom, the love of uniformity of behaviour. The
great moral philosopher was wrong when he formulated his categorical
imperative, which was to serve human beings as a fundamental guiding
principle of behaviour. In advising us to act so that our behaviour
might be taken as a norm of universal law, he reversed the natural
state of things. The real rule guiding human behaviour is this:
"what everyone else does, what appears as norm of general conduct,
this is right, moral and proper. Let me look over the fence and see
what my neighbour does, and take it as a rule for my behaviour." So
acts every 'man-in-the-street' in our own society, so has acted the
average member of any society through the past ages, and so acts the
present-day savage; and the lower his level of cultural development,
the greater stickler he will be for good manners, propriety and
form, and the more incomprehensive and odious to him will be the
non-conforming point of view. Systems of social philosophy have
been built to explain and interpret or misinterpret this general
principle. Tarde's 'Imitation,' Giddings' 'Consciousness of Kind,'
Durkheim's 'Collective Ideas,' and many such conceptions as 'social
consciousness,' 'the soul of a nation,' 'group mind' or now-a-days
prevalent and highly fashionable ideas about 'suggestibility of the
crowd,' 'the instinct of herd,' etc., etc., try to cover this simple
empirical truth. Most of these systems, especially those evoking
the Phantom of Collective Soul are futile, to my mind, in so far as
they try to explain in the terms of a hypothesis that which is most
fundamental in sociology, and can therefore be reduced to nothing
else, but must be simply recognised and accepted as the basis of
our science. To frame verbal definitions and quibble over terms does
not seem to bring us much more forward in a new branch of learning,
where a knowledge of facts is above all needed.

Whatever might be the case with any theoretical interpretations of
this principle, in this place, we must simply emphasise that a strict
adherence to custom, to that which is done by everyone else, is the
main rule of conduct among our natives in the Trobriands. An important
corollary to this rule declares that the past is more important than
the present. What has been done by the father--or, as the Trobriander
would say, by the maternal uncle--is even more important as norm of
behaviour than what is done by the brother. It is to the behaviour
of the past generations that the Trobriander instinctively looks for
his guidance. Thus the mythical events which relate what has been
done, not by the immediate ancestors but by mythical, illustrious
forbears, must evidently carry an enormous social weight. The stories
of important past events are hallowed because they belong to the
great mythical generations and because they are generally accepted
as truth, for everybody knows and tells them. They bear the sanction
of righteousness and propriety in virtue of these two qualities of
preterity and universality.

Thus, through the operation of what might be called the elementary law
of sociology, myth possesses the normative power of fixing custom,
of sanctioning modes of behaviour, of giving dignity and importance
to an institution. The Kula receives from these ancient stories
its stamp of extreme importance and value. The rules of commercial
honour, of generosity and punctiliousness in all its operations,
acquire through this their binding force. This is what we could call
the normative influence of myth on custom.

The Kula myth, however, exercises another kind of appeal. In the Kula,
we have a type of enterprise where the vast possibilities of success
are very much influenced by chance. A man, whether he be rich or poor
in partners, may, according to his luck, return with a relatively
big or a small haul from an expedition. Thus the imagination of the
adventurers, as in all forms of gambling, must be bent towards lucky
hits and turns of extraordinarily good chance. The Kula myths feed
this imagination on stories of extreme good luck, and at the same time
show that it lies in the hands of man to bring this luck on himself,
provided he acquires the necessary magical lore.

I have said before that the mythological events are distinct from
those happening nowadays, in so far as they are extraordinary and
super-normal. This adds both to their authoritative character and to
their desirability. It sets them before the native as a specially
valuable standard of conduct, and as an ideal towards which their
desires must go out.


But I also said before that, distinct as it is, the mythical world
is not separated by an unbridgeable gulf from the present order of
events. Indeed, though an ideal must be always beyond what actually
exists, yet it must appear just within reach of realisation if it
is to be effective at all. Now, after we have become acquainted with
their stories, we can see clearly what was meant when it was said, that
magic acts as a link between the mythical and the actual realities. In
the canoe myth, for instance, the flying, the super-normal achievement
of the Kudayuri canoe, is conceived only as the highest degree of the
virtue of speed, which is still being imparted nowadays to canoes by
magic. The magical heritage of the Kudayuri clan is still there, making
the canoes sail fast. Had it been transmitted in its complete form,
any present canoe, like the mythical one, could be seen flying. In
the Kula myths also, magic is found to give super-normal powers of
beauty, strength and immunity from danger. The mythological events
demonstrate the truth of the claims of magic. Their validity is
established by a sort of retrospective, mythical empiry. But magic,
as it is practised nowadays, accomplishes the same effects, only in a
smaller degree. Natives believe deeply that the formulæ and rites of
mwasila magic make those who carry them out attractive, irresistible
and safe from dangers (compare next chapter).

Another feature which brings the mythical events into direct
connection with the present state of affairs, is the sociology of
mythical personages. They all are associated with certain localities,
as are the present local groups. They belong to the same system of
totemic division into clans and sub-clans as obtains nowadays. Thus,
members of a sub-clan, or a local unit, can claim a mythical hero
as their direct ancestor, and members of a clan can boast of him
as of a clansman. Indeed, myths, like songs and fairy stories, are
'owned' by certain sub-clans. This does not mean that other people
would abstain from telling them, but members of the sub-clan are
supposed to possess the most intimate knowledge of the mythical
events, and to be an authority in interpreting them. And indeed,
it is a rule that a myth will be best known in its own locality,
that is, known with all the details and free from any adulterations
or not quite genuine additions and fusions.

This better knowledge can be easily understood, if we remember
that myth is very often connected with magic in the Trobriands, and
that this latter is a possession, kept by some members of the local
group. Now, to know the magic, and to understand it properly, it is
necessary to be well acquainted with the myth. This is the reason
why the myth must be better known in the local group with which it is
connected. In some cases, the local group has not only to practise the
magic associated with the myth, but it has to look after the observance
of certain rites, ceremonies and taboos connected with it. In this
case, the sociology of the mythical events is intimately bound up with
the social divisions as they exist now. But even in such myths as those
of the Kula, which have become the property of all clans and local
groups within the district, the explicit statement of the hero's clan,
sub-clan and of his village gives the whole myth a stamp of actuality
and reality. Side by side with magic, the sociological continuity
bridges over the gap between the mythical and the actual. And indeed
the magical and the sociological bridges run side by side.

I spoke above (beginning of Division II) of the enlivening influence
of myth upon landscape. Here it must be noted also that the mythically
changed features of the landscape bear testimony in the native's mind
to the truth of the myth. The mythical word receives its substance
in rock and hill, in the changes in land and sea. The pierced
sea-passages, the cleft boulders, the petrified human beings, all these
bring the mythological world close to the natives, make it tangible and
permanent. On the other hand, the story thus powerfully illustrated,
re-acts on the landscape, fills it with dramatic happenings, which,
fixed there for ever, give it a definite meaning. With this I shall
close these general remarks on mythology though with myth and mythical
events we shall constantly meet in further inquiries.


As we return to our party, who, sailing past the mythical centre of
Tewara, make for the island of Sanaro'a, the first thing to be related
about them, brings us straight to another mythological story. As
the natives enter the district of Siayawawa, they pass a stone or
rock, called Sinatemubadiye'i. I have not seen it, but the natives
tell me it lies among the mangroves in a tidal creek. Like the stone
Gurewaya, mentioned before, this one also enjoys certain privileges,
and offerings are given to it.

The natives do not tarry in this unimportant district. Their final goal
is now in sight. Beyond the sea, which is here land-locked like a lake,
the hills of Dobu, topped by Koyava'u loom before them. In the distance
to their right as they sail South, the broad Easterly flank of Koyatabu
runs down to the water, forming a deep valley; behind them spreads
the wide plain of Sanaro'a, with a few volcanic cones at its Northern
end, and far to the left the mountains of Normanby unfold in a long
chain. They sail straight South, making for the beach of Sarubwoyna,
where they will have to pause for a ritual halt in order to carry
out the final preparations and magic. They steer towards two black
rocks, which mark the Northern end of Sarubwoyna beach as they stand,
one at the base, the other at the end of a narrow, sandy spit. These
are the two rocks Atu'a'ine and Aturamo'a, the most important of
the tabooed places, at which natives lay offerings when starting or
arriving on Kula expeditions. The rock among the mangroves of Siyawawa
is connected with these two by a mythical story. The three--two men
whom we see now before us in petrified form, and one woman--came to
this district from somewhere 'Omuyuwa,' that is, from Woodlark Island
or the Marshall Bennetts. This is the story:


    "They were two brothers and a sister. They came first to the creek
    called Kadawaga in Siyawawa. The woman lost her comb. She spoke
    to her brethren: 'My brothers, my comb fell down.' They answered
    her: 'Good, return, take your comb.' She found it and took it,
    and next day she said: 'Well, I shall remain here already,
    as Sinatemubadiye'i.'"

    "The brothers went on. When they arrived at the shore of the main
    island, Atu'a'ine said: 'Aturamo'a, how shall we go? Shall we look
    towards the sea?' Said Aturamo'a; 'O, no, let us look towards the
    jungle.' Aturamo'a went ahead, deceiving his brother, for he was
    a cannibal. He wanted to look towards the jungle, so that he might
    eat men. Thus Aturamo'a went ahead, and his eyes turned towards the
    jungle. Atu'a'ine turned his eyes, looked over the sea, he spoke:
    'Why did you deceive me, Aturamo'a? Whilst I am looking towards the
    sea, you look towards the jungle.' Aturamo'a later on returned and
    came towards the sea. He spoke, 'Good, you Atu'a'ine, look towards
    the sea, I shall look to the jungle!' This man, who sits near
    the jungle, is a cannibal, the one who sits near the sea is good."

This short version of the myth I obtained in Sinaketa. The story shows
us three people migrating for unknown reasons from the North-East to
this district. The sister, after having lost her comb, decides to
remain in Siyawawa, and turns into the rock Sinatemubadiye'i. The
brothers go only a few miles further, to undergo the same
transformation at the Northern end of Sarubwoyna beach. There
is the characteristic distinction between the cannibal and the
non-cannibal. As the story was told to me in Boyowa, that is, in the
district where they were not man-eaters, the qualification of 'good'
was given to the non-cannibal hero, who became the rock further out
to sea. The same distinction is to be found in the previously quoted
myth of the Kudayuri sisters who flew to Dobu, and it is to be found
also in a myth, told about the origins of cannibalism, which I shall
not quote here. The association between the jungle and cannibalism on
the one hand, and between the sea and abstention from human flesh on
the other, is the same as the one in the Kudayuri myth. In that myth,
the rock which looks towards the South is cannibal, while the Northern
one is not, and for the natives this is the reason why the Dobuans
do eat human flesh and the Boyowans do not. The designation of one
of these rocks as a man-eater (tokamlata'u) has no further meaning,
more especially it is not associated with the belief that any special
dangers surround the rock.

The importance of these two rocks, Atu'a'ine and Aturamo'a lies,
however, not so much in the truncated myth as in the ritual surrounding
them. Thus, all three stones receive an offering--pokala--consisting of
a bit of coco-nut, a stale yam, a piece of sugar cane and banana. As
the canoes go past, the offerings are placed on the stone, or thrown
towards it, with the words:

    "Old man (or in the case of Sinatemubadiye'i, 'old woman') here
    comes your coco-nut, your sugar cane, your bananas, bring me good
    luck so that I may go and make my Kula quickly in Tu'utauna."

This offering is given by the Boyowan canoes on their way to Dobu, and
by the Dobuans as they start on the Kula Northwards, to Boyowa. Besides
the offerings, certain taboos and observances are kept at these
rocks. Thus, any people passing close to the rock would have to bathe
in the sea out of their canoes, and the children in the canoes would
be sprinkled with sea-water. This is done to prevent disease. A man
who would go for the first time to kula in Dobu would not be allowed
to eat food in the vicinity of these rocks. A pig, or a green coco-nut
would not be placed on the soil in this neighbourhood, but would have
to be put on a mat. A novice in the Kula would have to make a point
of going and bathing at the foot of Atu'a'ine and Aturamo'a.

The Dobuans pokala some other stones, to which the Boyowans do not
give any offerings. The previously mentioned Gurewaya rock receives
its share from the Dobuans, who believe that if they passed it close
by without making a pokala, they would become covered with sores
and die. Passing Gurewaya, they would not stand up in their canoes,
nor would they eat any food when camping on a beach within sight of
Gurewaya. If they did so, they would become seasick, fall asleep, and
their canoe would drift away into the unknown. I do not know whether
there is any myth in Dobu about the Gurewaya stone. There is a belief
that a big snake is coiled on the top of this rock, which looks after
the observance of the taboos, and in case of breach of any of them
would send down sickness on them. Some of the taboos of Gurewaya are
also kept by the Boyowans, but I do not exactly know which.

I obtained from a Dobuan informant a series of names of other,
similar stones, lying to the East of Dobu, on the route between there
and Tubetube. Thus, somewhere in the district of Du'a'u, there is
a rock called Kokorakakedakeda. Besides this, near a place called
Makaydokodoko there is a stone, Tabudaya. Further East, near Bunama,
a small stone called Sinada enjoys some Kula prestige. In a spot
Sina'ena, which I cannot place on the map, there is a stone called
Taryadabwoyro, with eye, nose, legs and hind-quarters shaped like
those of a pig. This stone is called 'the mother of all the pigs,'
and the district of Sina'ena is renowned for the abundance of these
animals there.

The only mythical fragment about any of these stones which I obtained
is the one quoted above. Like the two Kula myths previously adduced,
it is a story of a migration from North to South. There is no allusion
to the Kula in the narrative, but as the stones are pokala'd in the
Kula, there is evidently some association between it and them. To
understand this association better, it must be realised that similar
offerings are given in certain forms of magic to ancestral spirits and
to spirits of Kultur-heroes, who have founded the institution in which
the magic is practised. This suggests the conclusion that Atu'a'ine and
Aturamo'a are heroes of the Kula like Tokosikuna and Kasabwaybwayreta;
and that their story is another variant of the fundamental Kula myth.




When the Sinaketan fleet passes the two mythical rocks of Atu'a'ine
and Aturamo'a, the final goal of the expedition has been already
reached. For before them, there stretch in a wide expanse the
N.W. shores of Dawson Straits, where on the wide beach, there are
scattered the villages of Bwayowa, Tu'utauna and Deyde'i, at the foot
of Koyava'u. This latter, the Boyowans call Koyaviguna--the final
mountain. Immediately behind the two rocks, there stretches the beach
of Sarubwoyna, its clean, white sand edging the shallow curve of a
small bay. This is the place where the crews, nearing their final
destination, have to make a halt, to prepare themselves magically for
approaching their partners in Dobu. As, on their start from Sinaketa,
they stopped for some time on Muwa and there performed the last act
of their inaugurating rites and ceremonies, so in the same manner
this beach is the place where they once more muster their forces
after the journey has been accomplished.

This is the place which was already mentioned in Chapter II when, in
giving a description of the district, we imagined ourselves passing
near this beach and meeting there a large fleet of canoes, whose
crews were engaged in some mysterious activities. I said there that
up to a hundred canoes might have been seen anchored near the beach,
and indeed, on a big uvalaku expedition in olden days such a figure
could easily have been reached. For, on a rough estimate, Sinaketa
could have produced some twenty canoes; the Vakutans could have joined
them with about forty; the Amphlettans with another twenty; and twenty
more would have followed from Tewara, Siyawawa, and Sanaroa. Some of
them would indeed not have taken part in the Kula, but have followed
only out of sheer curiosity, just as in the big uvalaku expedition,
which I accompanied in 1918 from Dobu to Sinaketa, the sixty Dobuan
canoes were joined by some twelve canoes from the Amphletts and about
as many again from Vakuta.

The Sinaketans having arrived at this beach, now stop, moor the canoes
near the shore, adorn their persons, and perform a whole series of
magical rites. Within a short space of time they crowd in a great
number of short rites, accompanied by formulæ as a rule not very
long. In fact, from the moment they have arrived at Sarubwoyna up to
their entry into the village, they do not cease doing one magical act
or another, and the toliwaga never stop incessantly muttering their
spells. To the observer, a spectacle of feverish activity unfolds
itself, a spectacle which I witnessed in 1918 when I assisted at an
analogous performance of the Dobuan Kula fleet approaching Sinaketa.

The fleet halts; the sails are furled, the masts dismounted, the
canoes moored (see Plate XLVIII). In each canoe, the elder men begin
to undo their baskets and take out their personal belongings. The
younger ones run ashore and gather copious supplies of leaves which
they bring back into the canoes. Then the older men again murmur
magical formulæ over the leaves and over other substances. In this,
the toliwaga is assisted by others. Then, they all wash in sea-water,
and rub themselves with the medicated leaves. Coco-nuts are broken,
scraped, medicated, and the skin is rubbed with the mess, which
greases it and gives it a shining surface. A comb is chanted over,
and the hair teased out with it (see Plate XLIX). Then, with crushed
betel-nut mixed with lime, they draw red ornamental designs on their
faces, while others use the sayyaku, an aromatic resinous stuff, and
draw similar lines in black. The fine-smelling mint plant, which has
been chanted over at home before starting, is taken out of its little
receptacle where it was preserved in coco-nut oil. The herb is inserted
into the armlets, while the few drops of oil are smeared over the body,
and over the lilava, the magical bundle of pari (trade goods).

All the magic which is spoken over the native cosmetics is the mwasila
(Kula magic) of beauty. The main aim of these spells is the same
one which we found so clearly expressed in myth; to make the man
beautiful, attractive, and irresistible to his Kula partner. In the
myths we saw how an old, ugly and ungainly man becomes transformed by
his magic into a radiant and charming youth. Now this mythical episode
is nothing else but an exaggerated version of what happens every time,
when the mwasila of beauty is spoken on Sarubwoyna beach or on other
similar points of approach. As my informants over and over again told
me, when explaining the meaning of these rites:

    "Here we are ugly; we eat bad fish, bad food; our faces remain
    ugly. We want to sail to Dobu; we keep taboos, we don't eat
    bad food. We go to Sarubwoyna; we wash; we charm the leaves of
    silasila; we charm the coco-nut; we putuma (anoint ourselves); we
    make our red paint and black paint; we put in our fine-smelling
    vana (herb ornament in armlets); we arrive in Dobu beautiful
    looking. Our partner looks at us, sees our faces are beautiful;
    he throws the vaygu'a at us."

The bad fish and bad food here mentioned are the articles which are
tabooed to those who know the mwasila, and a man may often unwittingly
break such a taboo.

There is no doubt that a deep belief in the efficacy of such magic
might almost make it effective. Although actual beauty cannot be
imparted by spells, yet the feeling of being beautiful through
magic may give assurance, and influence people in their behaviour
and deportment, and as in the transaction it is the manner of the
soliciting party which matters, this magic, no doubt, achieves its
aim by psychological means.

This branch of Kula magic has two counter-parts in the other magical
lore of the Trobrianders. One of them is the love magic, through
which people are rendered attractive and irresistible. Their belief
in these spells is such that a man would always attribute all his
success in love to their efficiency. Another type closely analogous
to the beauty magic of the Kula is the specific beauty magic practised
before big dances and festivities.

Let us now give one or two samples of the magic which is performed on
Sarubwoyna beach. The ritual in all of it is exceedingly simple. In
each case the formula is spoken over a certain substance, and then
this substance is applied to the body. The first rite to be performed
is that of ceremonial washing. The toliwaga brings his mouth close to
the big bundles of herbs, brought from the shore and utters the formula
called kaykakaya (the ablution formula) over them. After an ablution,
these leaves are rubbed over the skins of all those in the canoe who
practise Kula. Then, in the same succession as I mention them, the
coco-nut, the comb, the ordinary or the aromatic black paint or the
betel-nut are charmed over. [76] Only one, as a rule, of the paints
is used. In some cases the toliwaga does the spell for everybody. In
other cases, a man who knows, say, the betel-nut or the comb spell,
will do it for himself or even for all others. In some cases again,
out of all these rites, only the kaykakaya (ablution) and one of the
others will be performed.

                            KAYKAKAYA SPELL

    "O katatuna fish, O marabwaga fish, yabwau fish, reregu fish!"

    "Their red paint, with which they are painted; their red paint,
    with which they are adorned."

    "Alone they visit, together we visit; alone they visit, together
    we visit a chief."

    "They take me to their bosom; they hug me."

    "The great woman befriends me, where the pots are boiling; the
    good woman befriends me, on the sitting platform."

    "Two pigeons stand and turn round; two parrots fly about."

    "No more it is my mother, my mother art thou, O woman of Dobu! No
    more it is my father, my father art thou, O man of Dobu! No
    more it is the high platform, the high platform are his arms;
    no more it is the sitting platform, the sitting platform are his
    legs; no more it is my lime spoon, my lime spoon is his tongue;
    no more it is my lime pot, my lime pot is his gullet."

    This formula then passes into the same ending as the sulumwoya
    spell, quoted previously, Chapter VII, which runs: "Recently
    deceased spirit of my maternal uncle, etc."

At the beginning of this spell, we find enumerated a series of
fish names. These fishes all have red markings on their bodies, and
they are tabooed to the people, who recite the mwasila magic and do
the Kula. If eaten, they would give a man an ugly appearance. The
above quoted saying of one of my informants: "we eat bad fish, we
are ugly," refers to these fishes amongst others. In this formula,
the invocation is partly an appeal for assistance, and partly a sort
of exorcism, which is meant to undo the evil effects of breaking
the taboo of eating these fish. As this formula is associated with
the ritual washing, the whole proceeding possesses a sort of magical
consistency, which obtains within an exceedingly obscure and confused
concatenation of ideas: the redness of the fish, the red painting on
the human bodies for beauty, the invocation of the fishing magic, the
taboo on this fish. These ideas hang together somehow, but it would
be unwise and incorrect to attempt to put them into any logical order
or sequence. [77] The sentence about 'visiting,' in this spell could
not be made clear by any of my native informants. I venture to suggest
that the fish are invited to assist the adventurer on his Kula visit,
and to help him with their beauty.

The next few sentences refer to the reception he anticipates at Dobu,
in the forcible and exaggerated language of magic. The words which
have been here translated by 'take to his bosom,' 'hug,' 'befriend,'
are the terms used to describe the fondling and rocking and hugging of
small children. According to native custom, it would not be considered
effeminate or ridiculous for men to put their arms round each other
and walk or sit about thus. And it must be added, this is done without
any homo-sexual intention, at least of the grosser type. None the less,
no such fondling would really take place between the Dobuans and their
Kula partners. The mention of the 'great woman,' the 'great good woman'
refers to the wife and sister of the partner, who, as we have said
before, are considered to wield great influence in the transactions.

The two pigeons and the two parrots express metaphorically the
friendship between the reciter of this magic and his partner. The long
list that follows expresses the exchange of his ordinary relations for
his Dobuan friends. An exaggerated description follows of the intimacy
between him and his partner, on whose arms and legs he will sit,
and from whose mouth he will partake of the betel chewing materials.

I shall give a sample of another of these spells, associated with
adornment and personal beauty. This is the spell spoken over the
betel-nut with which the toliwaga and the members of his canoe draw
lines of vermilion red on their faces. Young betel-nut, when crushed
with lime in a small mortar, produces pigment of wonderful brightness
and intensity. Travellers in the countries of the Indian Ocean and
parts of the Pacific know it well, as the paint that colours the lips
and tongues of the natives.

                               TALO SPELL

    "Red paint, red paint of the udawada fish! Red paint, red paint,
    of the mwaylili fish! At the one end of the aromatic pandanus
    flower-petal; at the other end of the Duwaku flower. There are
    two red paints of mine, they flare up, they flash."

    "My head, it flares up, it flashes; my red paint, it flares up,
    it flashes,

    My facial blacking, it flares up, it flashes;

    My aromatic paint, it flares up, it flashes;

    My little basket, it flares up, it flashes;

    My lime spoon, it flares up, it flashes;

    My lime pot, it flares up, it flashes;

    My comb, it flares up, it flashes."

    And so on, enumerating the various personal appurtenances, such
    as the mat, the stock-in-trade, the big basket, the charmed bundle
    (lilava) and then again the various parts of his head, that is his
    nose, his occiput, his tongue, his throat, his larynx, his eyes,
    and his mouth. The whole series of words is again repeated with
    another leading word instead of "it flares up, it flashes." The
    new word, 'mitapwaypwa'i' is a compound, expressing a desire,
    a coveting, nascent in the eyes. The eyes are, according to
    native psycho-physical theories, the seat of admiration, wish and
    appetite in matters of sex, of greed for food, and for material
    possessions. Here, this expression conveys that the Dobuan partner,
    will, on beholding his visitor, desire to make Kula with him.

    The spell ends: "My head is made bright, my face flashes. I have
    acquired a beautiful shape, like that of a chief; I have acquired
    a shape that is good. I am the only one; my renown stands alone."

At the beginning we have again the mention of two fishes; evidently
the redness of the fish is the right redness for the Kula! I am unable
to explain the meaning of the second sentence, except that the petals
of the pandanus flower are slightly coloured at one end, and that they
are considered as one of the finest and most attractive ornaments. The
middle part and the end of this spell need no commentary.

These two spells will be sufficient to indicate the general character
of the beauty magic of the Kula. One more spell must be adduced here,
that of the conch shell. This shell is as a rule medicated at this
stage of the Kula proceedings. Sometimes, however, the toliwaga would,
before departure from home, utter the formula into the opening of
the conch shell, and close this up carefully, so that the virtue
might not evaporate. The conch shell is made of a big specimen of the
Cassis cornuta shell, at the broad end of which the apex of the spiral
windings is knocked out, so as to form a mouth-piece. The spell is
not uttered into the mouthpiece, but into the broad opening between
the lips, both orifices being afterwards closed with coco-nut husk
fibre until the shell has actually to be blown.


    "Mwanita, Mwanita! Come there together; I will make you come
    there together! Come here together; I will make you come here
    together! The rainbow appears there; I will make the rainbow appear
    there! The rainbow appears here; I will make the rainbow here."

    "Who comes ahead with the Kula? I" (here the name of the reciter
    is uttered), "come ahead with the Kula, I shall be the only chief;
    I shall be the only old man; I shall be the only one to meet my
    partner on the road. My renown stands alone; my name is the only
    one. Beautiful valuables are exchanged here with my partner;
    Beautiful valuables are exchanged there with my partner; The
    contents of my partner's basket are mustered."

    After this exordium there comes a middle part, constructed on the
    general principle of one word's being repeated with a series of
    others. The keyword here is an expression denoting the state of
    excitement which seizes a partner, and makes him give generous
    Kula offerings. This word here is repeated first with a series of
    words, describing the various personal belongings of the partner,
    his dog, his belt; his tabooed coco-nut and betel-nut; and then,
    with a new series of terms denoting the different classes of
    Kula valuables which are expected to be given. This part could
    therefore be translated thus:--

    "A state of excitement seizes his dog, his belt, his gwara"
    (taboo on coco-nuts and betel-nuts) "his bagido'u necklace,
    his bagiriku necklace, his bagidudu necklace, etc." The spell
    ends in a typical manner: "I shall kula, I shall rob my Kula;
    I shall steal my Kula; I shall pilfer my Kula. I shall kula so
    as to make my canoe sink; I shall kula so as to make my outrigger
    go under. My fame is like thunder, my steps are like earthquake!"

The first word of this spell, mwanita, is the native name for a
long worm covered with rings of black armour. I was told that it
is mentioned here because of its similarity to the spondylus shell
necklaces, which also consist of many rings. I obtained this formula
in Sinaketa, hence this interpretation heeds only the necklaces, though
the simile might also obviously be extended to armshells, for a number
of armshells threaded on a string, as they can be seen on Plate LX,
presents also a likeness to the mwanita worm. It may be added here
that Sinaketa is one of these Kula communities in which the overseas
expeditions are done only in one direction, to the South, from where
only the spondylus necklaces are fetched. Its counterpart, Kiriwina,
to the North, carries on again only one-sided overseas Kula. The
formulæ which I obtained in Kiriwina differ from those of Sinaketa in
their main parts: whenever there is a list of spondylus necklaces in
a Sinaketan tapwana (main part) a list of the several varieties of
armshells would be used in a Kiriwinian tapwana. In Kitava, where,
as in several other Kula communities, the overseas expeditions are
carried out in both directions, the same formula would be used by the
same man with two different main parts, according as to whether he
was sailing East to fetch mwali, or West to fetch soulava. No changes,
however, would be made in the beginning of a spell.

The sentence 'come here together' refers to the collected
valuables. The play on 'there' and 'here,' represented in the native
language by the sounds 'm' and 'w,' which are used as interchangeable
formatives, is very frequent in magic; (see Chapter XVIII, Division
XII). The rainbow here invoked is a kariyala (magical portent) of this
formula. When the conch shell is blown, and the fleet approaches the
shore, a rainbow will appear in the skies.

The rest of the exordium is taken up by the usual boasts and
exaggerations typical of magic. The middle part needs no commentary. It
is clear that the sound of the conch shell is meant to arouse the
partner to do his duty eagerly. The magic spoken into the conch shell
heightens and strengthens this effect.


After the beauty magic and the spell over the conch shell are
finished--and the whole performance does not take more than half
an hour or so--every man, in full festive array, takes his place in
his canoe. The sails have been folded and the masts removed, and the
final stage is done by paddling. The canoes close in, not in any very
regular formation, but keeping near to one another, the canoe of the
toli'uvalaku as a rule moving in the van. In each canoe, the toliwaga
sits at his proper place in the middle of the canoe near the gebobo
(special erection made for cargo). One man sits in the front, right
against the prow-board, and another at the stern on the platform. All
the remaining members of the canoe wield the paddles, while the small
boy or the junior member of the crew, sits near the front, ready to
blow the conch shell. The oarsmen swing their leaf-shaped paddles
with long, energetic and swift strokes, letting the water spray off
them and the glistening blades flash in the sunlight--a ceremonial
stroke which they call kavikavila (lightening).

As the canoes begin to move, the three men, so far idle, intone a
chant, reciting a special magical formula, each a different one. The
man in the front, holding his hand on the tabuyo (oval prow-board),
recites a spell, called kayikuna tabuyo (the swaying of the
prow-board). The toliwaga in the middle recites the powerful formula
called kavalikuliku (the earthquake spell), a formula which makes "the
mountain tremble and subside." The man at the stern recites what is
called kaytavilena moynawaga, a name which I cannot very well explain,
which literally means, "the changing of the canoe entrance." Thus,
laden with magical force, which is poured forth irresistibly on to the
mountain, the canoes advance towards the goal of their enterprise. With
the voices of the reciters mingle the soft, penetrating sounds of the
conch shell, blending their various pitches into a weird, disturbing
harmony. Samples of the three spells must be given here.

                            KAYIKUNA TABUYO

    "Moruborogu, Mosilava'u!"

    "Fish-hawk, fall on thy prey, catch it.

    My prow-board, O fish-hawk, fall on thy prey, catch it.

    This key expression, the invocation of the fish-hawk, is repeated
    with a string of words, denoting, first, the ornamental parts of
    the canoe; afterwards, certain of its constructive parts; and
    finally, the lime-pot, the lime stick, the comb, the paddles,
    the mats, the lilava (magical bundle), and the usagelu (members
    of the crew). The spell ends with the words:--

    "I shall kula, I shall rob my Kula, etc.," as in the previously
    given formula of the conch shell.

The first two words of this spell are personal names of men, as the
initial syllable Mo- indicates, but no information about them was
available. The allusion to the fish-hawk in the main part suggests a
connection between the action of the rite, that is, the moving of the
tabuyo, with this part of the spell, for the ornamental prow-boards
are called synonymously buribwari (fish-hawk). On the other hand, the
expression: "Fish-hawk, fall on thy prey," is no doubt also a magical
simile, expressing the idea: "As a fish-hawk falls on his prey and
carries it off, so let this canoe fall on the Kula valuables and carry
them off." The association of this simile with the act of shaking the
prow-boards is very suggestive. It may be an attempt to assimilate
the whole canoe and all its parts to a fish-hawk falling on its prey,
through the special mediation of the ornamental prow-board.

The spell recited by the toliwaga in the middle of the canoe runs


    "I anchor at the open sea beach, my renown reaches the Lagoon;
    I anchor at the Lagoon, my renown reaches the open sea beach."

    "I hit the mountain; the mountain shivers; the mountain subsides;
    the mountain trembles; the mountain falls down; the mountain falls
    asunder. I kick the ground on which the mountain stands. I bring
    together, I gather."

    "The mountain is encountered in the Kula; we encounter the mountain
    in the Kula."

    The expression, kubara, takuba, kubara, which we have here
    translated by "the mountain is met in the Kula, etc." is
    then repeated with a long string of words denoting the various
    classes of valuables to be received in the Kula. It ends with the
    conclusion already quoted: "My renown is like thunder, my steps
    are like earthquake."

The opening two sentences are clear; they contain a typical magical
exaggeration, and equally typical permutation of words. Then comes the
terrible verbal onslaught on "the mountain," in which the dreadful
upheaval is carried on in words. "The mountain" (koya) stands here
for the community of partners, for the partner, for his mind. It was
very difficult to translate the expression kubara, takuba kubara. It
is evidently an archaic word, and I have found it in several formulæ
of the mwasila. It seems to mean something like an encounter between
the approaching fleet and the koya. The word for sea battle is kubilia
in the Trobriand language, and kubara in that of the Amphletts and
Dobu, and as often the words of the partner's language are mixed up
into these formulæ, this etymology and translation seem to be the
correct ones.

The third formula, that of the man in the stern, is as follows:--

                         KAYTAVILENA MWOYNAWAGA

    "Crocodile, fall down, take thy man! push him down under the
    gebobo! (part of the canoe where the cargo is stowed away)."

    "Crocodile, bring me the necklace, bring me the bagido'u, etc."

    The formula is ended by the usual phrase: "I shall kula, I
    shall rob my Kula, etc.," as in the two previously quoted spells
    (Ta'uyo and Kayikuna Tabuyo).

This formula is obviously a pendant to the first of these three
spells, and the crocodile is here invoked instead of the fish-hawk,
with the same significance. The rest of the spell is clear, the
crocodile being appealed to, to bring all the different classes of
the spondylus shell valuables.

It is interesting to reflect upon the psychological importance of this
magic. There is a deep belief in its efficiency, a belief cherished
not only by those who advance chanting it, but shared also by the men
awaiting the visitors on the shore. The Dobuans know that powerful
forces are at work upon them. They must feel the wave of magical
influence slowly advancing, spreading over their villages. They
hear the appeal of the conch-shell, wafting the magic to them in
its irresistible note. They can guess the murmur of the many voices
accompanying it. They know what is expected from them, and they rise
to the occasion. On the part of the approaching party, this magic,
the chant of the many voices blended with the ta'uyo (conch shell),
expresses their hopes and desires and their rising excitement; their
attempt to "shake the mountain," to stir it to its very foundations.

At the same time, a new emotion arises in their minds, that of awe
and apprehension; and another form of magic has to come to their
assistance at this juncture, to give expression to this fear and
to assuage it--the magic of safety. Spells of this magic have been
spoken previously, perhaps on the beach of Sarubwoyna alongside with
the rest, perhaps even earlier, at one of the intermediate stages of
the journey. But the rite will be performed at the moment of setting
foot ashore, and as this is also the psychological moment to which
the magic corresponds, it must be described here.

It seems absurd, from the rational point of view, that the natives,
who know that they are expected, indeed, who have been invited to come,
should yet feel uncertain about the good will of their partners, with
whom they have so often traded, whom they have received in visit,
and themselves visited and re-visited again and again. Coming on a
customary and peaceful errand, why should they have any apprehensions
of danger, and develop a special magical apparatus to meet the
natives of Dobu? This is a logical way of reasoning, but custom is
not logical, and the emotional attitude of man has a greater sway
over custom than has reason. The main attitude of a native to other,
alien groups is that of hostility and mistrust. The fact that to a
native every stranger is an enemy, is an ethnographic feature reported
from all parts of the world. The Trobriander is not an exception in
this respect, and beyond his own, narrow social horizon, a wall of
suspicion, misunderstanding and latent enmity divides him from even
near neighbours. The Kula breaks it through at definite geographical
points, and by means of special customary transactions. But, like
everything extraordinary and exceptional, this waiving of the general
taboo on strangers must be justified and bridged over by magic.

Indeed, the customary behaviour of the Dobuans and of the visitors
expresses this state of affairs with singular accuracy. It is the
customary rule that the Trobrianders should be received first with
a show of hostility and fierceness; treated almost as intruders. But
this attitude entirely subsides after the visitors have ritually spat
over the village on their arrival. The natives express their ideas
on this subject very characteristically:

    "The Dobu man is not good as we are. He is fierce, he is
    a man-eater! When we come to Dobu, we fear him, he might kill
    us. But see! I spit the charmed ginger root, and their mind
    turns. They lay down their spears, they receive us well."


This show of hostility is fixed into a definite ceremonial attitude
when the Dobuan village, which consists of a collection of hamlets,
has been laid under a taboo. On the death of a man of importance in
any of the hamlets, the whole community undergoes the so called gwara
taboo. The coco-nut and betel-nut palms around and within the village
are not allowed to be scaled, and the fruit must not be touched by
the Dobuans themselves, and still less by strangers. This state of
affairs lasts a varying length of time, according to the importance
of the dead man, and to other circumstances. Only after the gwara
has run out its course, and is ripe for expiring, do the Kiriwinians
dare to come on a visit to Dobu, having been advised beforehand of
the circumstance. But then, when they arrive, the Dobuans put up a
show of real hostility, for the visitors will have to break the taboo,
they will have to scale the palms, and take the forbidden fruit. This
is in accordance with a wide-spread Papuo-Melanesian type of custom
of finishing tabooed periods: in all cases, someone else, who is not
under the taboo, has to put an end to it, or to force the imposer
of the taboo to break it. And in all cases, there is some show of
violence and struggle on the part of the one who has to allow it to
be broken. In this case, as the Kiriwinian natives put it:

    "Supposing we do not perform the ka'ubana'i (safety magic),
    we are afraid, when there is a gwara in Dobu. The Dobuans put
    on war paint, take spear in hand, and a puluta (sword club);
    they sit and look at us. We run into the village; we climb the
    tree. He runs at us 'Don't climb,' he cries. Then we spit leyya
    (ginger root) at him. He throws down his spear, he goes back and
    smiles. The women take the spears away. We spit all around the
    village. Then he is pleased. He speaks: 'You climb your coco-nut,
    your betel-nut; cut your bananas.'"

Thus the taboo is broken, the gwara is finished, and the customary
and histrionic moment of tension is over, which must have been none
the less a strain on the nerves of both parties.

This is the lengthy formula which a toliwaga utters over several
bits of ginger root, which are afterwards distributed among his crew,
each of whom carries a piece when getting ashore.


    "Floating spirit of Nikiniki!

    Duduba, Kirakira." (These words are untranslatable).

    "It ebbs, it ebbs away!

    Thy fury ebbs, it ebbs away, O man of Dobu!

    Thy war paint ebbs, it ebbs away, O man of Dobu!

    Thy sting ebbs, it ebbs away, O man of Dobu!

    Thy anger ebbs, it ebbs away, O man of Dobu!

    Thy chasing away ebbs, it ebbs away, O man of Dobu!"

    A long string of various expressings denoting hostile passions,
    disinclination to make Kula, and all the paraphernalia of
    war are here enumerated. Thus, such words as "Kula refusal,"
    "growling," "sulking," "dislike"; further: "weapon," "bamboo
    knife," "club-sword," "large-barbed spear," "small-barbed spear,"
    "round club," "war blackening," "red war paint," are uttered one
    after the other. Moreover, all of them are repeated in their Dobuan
    equivalents after the list has been exhausted in Kiriwinian. When
    this series has been exhausted with reference to the man of
    Dobu, part of it is repeated with the addition "Woman of Dobu,"
    the mention of weapons, however, being omitted. But this does not
    end this extremely long formula. After the protracted litany has
    been finished, the reciter chants:

    "Who emerges at the top of Kinana? I" (here the name of the
    reciter is mentioned) "emerge on the top of Kinana."

    Then the whole litany is again repeated, the key word, instead of,
    "it ebbs, it ebbs away" being "the dog sniffs."

    In connection with all the other words, this would run, more or
    less, in a free translation:--

    "Thy fury, O man of Dobu, is as when the dog sniffs," or, more

    "Thy fury, O man of Dobu, should abate as the fury of a dog abates
    when it comes and sniffs at a new-comer."

    The simile of the dog must be very strongly ingrained in the
    magical tradition, for in two more versions of this formula,
    obtained from different informants, I received as key-words the
    expressions: "The dog plays about," and "The dog is docile." The
    final part of this formula is identical with that of the Kaykakaya
    spell previously given in this chapter:--

    "No more it is my mother, my mother art thou, O woman of Dobu,
    etc.," running into the ending "Recently deceased, etc."

In comment on this formula, there is first of all the name mentioned
in the first line, that of Nikiniki, or Monikiniki, as it is usually
pronounced, with the prefix of masculinity, mo-. He is described as "A
man, an ancient man; no myth about him; he spoke the magic." Indeed,
the main system of mwasila magic is named after him, but none of my
informants knew any legend about him.

The first key word of the middle part is quite clear. It describes the
ebbing away of the Dobuans' passions and of their outward trappings. It
is noteworthy that the word for 'ebbing' here used, is in the Dobuan,
and not in the Kiriwinian language. The reference to the dog already
explained may be still made clearer in terms of native comment. One
explanation is simple:--

    "They invoke the dog in the mwasila, because when master
    of dog comes, the dog stands up and licks; in the same way,
    the inclinations of the Dobu people." Another explanation is
    more sophisticated: "The reason is that dogs play about nose to
    nose. Supposing we mentioned the word, as it was of old arranged,
    the valuables do the same. Supposing we had given away armshells,
    the necklace will come, they will meet."

This means, by invoking the dog in this magic, according to old
magical tradition, we also influence the Kula gifts. This explanation
is undoubtedly far-fetched, and probably does not express the real
meaning of the spell. It would have no meaning in association with
the list of passions and weapons, but I have adduced it as an example
of native scholasticism.

The dog is also a taboo associated with this magic. When a man, who
practices the ka'ubana'i eats and a dog howls within his hearing,
he has to leave his food, else his magic would 'blunt.'

Safe under the auspices of this magic, the Trobriand sailors land on
the beach of Tu'utauna, where we shall follow them in the next chapter.




In the last chapter, we spoke about the institution of gwara (mortuary
taboo) and of the threatening reception accorded to the visiting
party, at the time when it is laid upon the village, and when it has
to be lifted. When there is no gwara, and the arriving fleet are on an
uvalaku expedition, there will be a big and ceremonial welcome. The
canoes, as they approach, will range themselves in a long row facing
the shore. The point selected will be the beach, corresponding to a
hamlet where the main partner of the toli'uvalaku lives. The canoe of
the toli'uvalaku, of the master of the uvalaku expedition, will range
itself at the end of the row. The toli'uvalaku will get up on to the
platform and harangue the natives assembled on the beach. He will try
to appeal to their ambition, so that they might give the visitors a
large amount of valuables and surpass all other occasions. After that,
his partner on the shore will blow a conch-shell, and, wading through
the water, advance towards the canoe, and offer the first gift of
valuables to the master of the expedition. This may be followed by
another gift, again given to the toli'uvalaku. Other blasts then
follow, and men disengage themselves from the throng on the shore,
approaching the canoes with necklaces for their partners. A certain
order of seniority will be observed in this. The necklaces are always
carried ceremonially; as a rule they will be tied by both ends to
a stick, and carried hanging down, with the pendant at the bottom
(see Plate LXI). Sometimes, when a vaygu'a (valuable) is carried to
the canoes by a woman (a headman's wife or sister) it will be put
into a basket and carried on her head.


After this ceremonial reception, the fleet disperses. As we remember
from Chapter II, the villages in Dobu are not built in compact blocks
of houses, but scattered in hamlets, each of about a dozen huts. The
fleet now sails along the shore, every canoe anchoring in front of
the hamlet in which its toliwaga has his main partner.

We have at last arrived at the point when the real Kula has begun. So
far, it was all preparations, and sailing with its concomitant
adventure, and a little bit of preliminary Kula in the Amphletts. It
was all full of excitement and emotion, pointing always towards the
final goal, the big Kula in Dobu. Now we have at last reached the
climax. The net result will be the acquisition of a few dirty, greasy,
and insignificant looking native trinkets, each of them a string of
flat, partly discoloured, partly raspberry-pink or brick-red discs,
threaded one behind the other into a long, cylindrical roll. In the
eyes of the natives, however, this result receives its meaning from
the social forces of tradition and custom, which give the imprint of
value to these objects, and surround them with a halo of romance. It
seems fit here to make these few reflections upon the native psychology
on this point, and to attempt to grasp its real significance.

It may help us towards this understanding to reflect, that not far
from the scenes of the Kula, large numbers of white adventurers have
toiled and suffered, and many of them given their lives, in order to
acquire what to the natives would appear as insignificant and filthy
as their bagi are to us--a few nuggets of gold. Nearer, even, in
the very Trobriand Lagoon, there are found valuable pearls. In olden
days, when the natives on opening a shell to eat it, found a waytuna,
as they called it, a 'seed' of the pearl shell, they would throw it
to their children to play with. Now they see a number of white men
straining all their forces in competition to acquire as many of these
worthless things as they can. The parallel is very close. In both
cases, the conventionalised value attached to an object carries with
it power, renown, and the pleasure of increasing them both. In the
case of the white man, this is infinitely more complex and indirect,
but not essentially different from that of the natives. If we would
imagine that a great number of celebrated gems are let loose among us,
and travel from hand to hand--that Koh-i-noor and Orloff and other
celebrated diamonds, emeralds and rubies--were on a continuous round
tour, and to be obtained through luck, daring and enterprise, we would
have a still closer analogy. Even though the possession of them would
be a short and temporary one, the renown of having possessed them
and the mania of 'collectioneering' would add its spur to the lust
for wealth.

This general, human, psychological foundation of the Kula must be
kept constantly in mind. If we want, however, to understand its
specific forms, we have to look for the details and technicalities
of the transaction. A short outline of these has been given before
in Chapter III. Here, after we have acquired a better knowledge of
preliminaries, and a more thorough grasp of native psychology and
custom, we shall be more ready to enter into a detailed description.

The main principle of the Kula exchange has been laid down in the
before-mentioned chapter; the Kula exchange has always to be a gift,
followed by a counter-gift; it can never be a barter, a direct exchange
with assessment of equivalents and with haggling. There must be always
in the Kula two transactions, distinct in name, in nature and in
time. The exchange is opened by an initial or opening gift called vaga,
and closed by a final or return present called yotile. They are both
ceremonial gifts, they have to be accompanied by the blow of a conch
shell, and the present is given ostentatiously and in public. The
native term "to throw" a valuable describes well the nature of the
act. For, though the valuable has to be handed over by the giver,
the receiver hardly takes any notice of it, and seldom receives it
actually into his hands. The etiquette of the transaction requires
that the gift should be given in an off-hand, abrupt, almost angry
manner, and received with equivalent nonchalance and disdain. A slight
modification in this is introduced when, as it happens sometimes,
in the Trobriands, and in the Trobriands only, the vaygu'a is given
by a chief to a commoner, in which case the commoner would take it
into his hand, and show some appreciation of it. In all other cases,
the valuable would be placed within the reach of the receiver, and
an insignificant member of his following would pick it up.

It is not very easy to unravel the various motives which combine
to make up this customary behaviour on receiving and giving a
gift. The part played by the receiver is perhaps not so difficult
to interpret. Right through their ceremonial and commercial give
and take, there runs the crude and fundamental human dissatisfaction
with the value received. A native will always, when speaking about a
transaction, insist on the magnitude and value of the gift he gave,
and minimise those of the equivalent accepted. Side by side with this,
there is the essential native reluctance to appear in want of anything,
a reluctance which is most pronounced in the case of food, as we have
said before (Chapter VI, Division IV). Both these motives combine
to produce the, after all, very human and understandable attitude
of disdain at the reception of a gift. In the case of the donor, the
histrionic anger with which he gives an object might be, in the first
place, a direct expression of the natural human dislike of parting
with a possession. Added to this, there is the attempt to enhance the
apparent value of the gift by showing what a wrench it is to give it
away. This is the interpretation of the etiquette in giving and taking
at which I have arrived after many observations of native behaviour,
and through many conversations and casual remarks of the natives.

The two gifts of the Kula are also distinct in time. It is quite
obvious this must be so in the case of an overseas expedition of an
uvalaku type, on which no valuables whatever are taken with them
by the visiting party, and so, any valuable received on such an
occasion, whether as vaga or yotile, cannot therefore be exchanged
at the same time. But even when the exchange takes place in the same
village during an inland Kula, there must be an interval between the
two gifts, of a few minutes at least.

There are also deep differences in the nature of the two
gifts. The vaga, as the opening gift of the exchange, has to be
given spontaneously, that is, there is no enforcement of any duty
in giving it. There are means of soliciting it, (wawoyla), but no
pressure can be employed. The yotile, however, that is, the valuable
which is given in return for the valuable previously received, is
given under pressure of a certain obligation. If I have given a vaga
(opening gift of valuable) to a partner of mine, let us say a year ago,
and now, when on a visit, I find that he has an equivalent vaygu'a,
I shall consider it his duty to give it to me. If he does not do so,
I am angry with him, and justified in being so. Not only that, if I
can by any chance lay my hand on his vaygu'a and carry if off by force
(lebu), I am entitled by custom to do this, although my partner in
that case may become very irate. The quarrel over that would again
be half histrionic, half real.

Another difference between a vaga and a yotile occurs in overseas
expeditions which are not uvalaku. On such expeditions, valuables
sometimes are carried, but only such as are due already for a past
vaga, and are to be given as yotile. Opening gifts, vaga, are never
taken overseas.

As mentioned above, the vaga, entails more wooing or soliciting than
the yotile. This process, called by the natives wawoyla, consists,
among others of a series of solicitary gifts. One type of such
gifts is called pokala, and consists of food. [78] In the myth of
Kasabwaybwayreta, narrated in Chapter XII, this type of gift was
mentioned. As a rule, a considerable amount of food is taken on an
expedition, and when a good valuable is known to be in the possession
of a man, some of this food will be presented to him, with the words:
"I pokala your valuable; give it to me." If the owner is not inclined
to part with his Valuable, he will not accept the pokala. If accepted,
it is an intimation that the vaygu'a will sooner or later be given to
the man who offers the pokala. The owner, however, may not be prepared
to part with it at once, and may wish to receive more solicitary gifts.

Another type of such a gift is called kaributu, and consists of a
valuable which, as a rule, is not one of those which are regularly
kulaed. Thus, a small polished axe blade, or a valuable belt is given
with the words: "I kaributu your necklace (or armshells); I shall take
it and carry it off." This gift again may only be accepted if there
is an intention to satisfy the giver with the desired vaygu'a. A
very famous and great valuable will often be solicited by gift of
pokala and of kaributu, one following the other. If, after one or
two of such solicitory gifts, the big vaygu'a is finally given, the
satisfied receiver will often give some more food to his partner,
which gift is called kwaypolu.

The food gifts would be returned on a similar occasion if it
arises. But there would be no strict equivalence in the matter of
food. The kaributu gift of a valuable, however, would always have to
be returned later on, in an equivalent form. It may be added that the
pokala offerings of food would be most often given from a district,
where food is more abundant than in the district to which it is
carried. Thus, the Sinaketans would bring pokala to the Amphletts,
but they would seldom or never pokala the Dobuans, who are very rich
in food. Again, within the Trobriands, a pokala would be offered from
the Northern agricultural district of Kiriwina to men of Sinaketa,
but not inversely.

Another peculiar type of gift connected with the Kula is called
korotomna. After a Sinaketan has given a necklace to a man of Kiriwina,
and this latter receives a minor valuable from his partner further
East, this minor valuable will be given to the Sinaketan as the
korotomna of his necklace. This gift usually consists of a lime spatula
of whalebone ornamented with spondylus discs, and it has to be repaid.

It must be noted that all these expressions are given in the language
of the Trobriands, and they refer to the gifts exchanged between the
Northern and Southern Trobriands on the one hand, and these latter and
the Amphletts on the other. In an overseas expedition from Sinaketa
to Dobu, the solicitary gifts would be rather given wholesale, as
the visitors' gifts of pari, and the subtle distinctions in name
and in technicality would not be observed. That this must be so
becomes clear, if we realise that, whereas, between the Northern and
Southern Trobriands the news about an exceptionally good valuable
spreads easily and quickly, this is not the case between Dobu and
Boyowa. Going over to Dobu, therefore, a man has to make up his mind,
whether he will give any solicitory presents to his partner, what
and how much he will give him, without knowing whether he has any
specially fine valuables to expect from him or not. If, however,
there was any exceptionally valuable gift in the visitors' pari,
it will have to be returned later on by the Dobuans.

Another important type of gift essential to the Kula is that of the
intermediary gifts, called basi. Let us imagine that a Sinaketan man
has given a very fine pair of armshells to his Dobuan partner at their
last meeting in Sinaketa. Now, arriving in Dobu, he finds that his
partner has not got any necklace equivalent in value to the armshells
given. He none the less will expect his partner to give him meanwhile
a necklace, even though it be of inferior value. Such a gift is a basi,
that is, not a return of the highly valuable vaga, but a gift given to
fill in the gap. This basi will have to be repaid by a small equivalent
pair of armshells at a later date. And the Dobuan on his side has
still to repay the big armshells he received, and for which he has as
yet got no equivalent in his possession. As soon as this is obtained,
it will be given, and will close the transaction as a clinching gift,
or kudu. Both these names imply figures of speech. Kudu means 'tooth,'
and is a good name for a gift which clinches or bites. Basi means to
pierce, or to stab, and this is the literal translation of a native
comment on this name:

    "We say basi, for it does not truly bite, like a kudu (tooth);
    it just basi (pierces) the surface; makes it lighter."

The equivalence of the two gifts, vaga and yotile, is expressed by
the word kudu (tooth) and bigeda (it will bite). Another figure of
speech describing the equivalence is contained in the word va'i, to
marry. When two of the opposite valuables meet in the Kula and are
exchanged, it is said that these two have married. The armshells are
conceived as a female principle, and the necklaces as the male. An
interesting comment on these ideas was given to me by one of the
informants. As mentioned above, a gift of food is never given from
Sinaketa to Kiriwina, obviously because it would be a case of bringing
coals to Newcastle. When I asked why this is so, I received the answer:

    "We do not now kwaypolu or pokala the mwali, for they are women,
    and there is no reason to kwaypolu or pokala them."

There is little logic in this comment, but it evidently includes
some idea about the smaller value of the female principle. Or else
perhaps it refers to the fundamental idea of the married status,
namely that it is for the woman's family to provide the man with food.

The idea of equivalence in the Kula transaction is very strong and
definite, and when the receiver is not satisfied with the yotile
(return gift) he will violently complain that it is not a proper
'tooth' (kudu) for his opening gift, that it is not a real 'marriage,'
that it is not properly 'bitten.'

These terms, given in the Kiriwinian language, cover about half of
the Kula ring from Woodlark Island and even further East, from Nada
(Loughlan Islands) as far as the Southern Trobriands. In the language
of Dobu, the same word is used for vaga and basi, while yotile is
pronounced yotura, and kudu is udu. The same terms are used in the

So much about the actual regulations of the Kula transactions. With
regard to the further general rules, the definition of Kula partnership
and sociology has been discussed in detail in Chapter XI. As to the
rule that the valuables have always to travel and never to stop,
nothing has to be added to what has been said about this in Chapter
III, for there are no exceptions to this rule. A few more words must
be said on the subject of the valuables used in the Kula. I said
in Chapter III, stating the case briefly, that in one direction
travel the armshells, whilst in the opposite, following the hands
of the clock, travel the necklaces. It must now be added that the
mwali--armshells--are accompanied by another article, the doga, or
circular boar's tusks. In olden days, the doga were almost as important
as the mwali in the stream of the Kula. Nowadays, hardly any at all are
to be met as Kula articles. It is not easy to explain the reason for
this change. In an institution having the importance and traditional
tenacity which we find in the Kula, there can be no question of the
interference of fashion to bring about changes. The only reason which
I can suggest is that nowadays, with immensely increased intertribal
intercourse, there is a great drainage on all Kula valuables by other
districts lying outside the Kula. Now, on the one hand the doga are
extremely valued on the main-land of New Guinea, much more, I assume,
than they are within the Kula district. The drainage therefore
would affect the doga much more strongly than any other articles,
one of which, the spondylus necklaces, are actually imported into
the Kula region from without, and even manufactured by white men in
considerable quantities for native consumption. The armshells are
produced within the district in sufficient numbers to replace any
leakage, but doga are extremely difficult to reproduce, as they are
connected with a rare freak of nature--a boar with a circular tusk.

One more article which travels in the same direction as the mwali,
consists of the bosu, the big lime spatulæ made of whale-bone and
decorated with spondylus shells. They are not strictly speaking Kula
articles, but play a part as the korotomna gifts mentioned above and
nowadays are hardly to be met with. With the necklaces, there travel
only as an unimportant subsidiary Kula article, belts made of the
same red spondylus shell. They would be given as return presents for
small armshells, as basi, etc.

There is one important exception in the respective movements of
necklace and armshell. A certain type of spondylus shell strings,
much bigger and coarser than the strings which are used in the Kula,
are produced in Sinaketa, as we saw in the last Chapter. These strings,
called katudababile in Kiriwinian, or sama'upa in Dobuan, are sometimes
exported from Sinaketa to Dobu as Kula gifts, and function therefore as
armshells. These katudababile, however, never complete the Kula ring,
in the wrong direction, as they never return to the Trobriands from
the East. Part of them are absorbed into the districts outside the
Kula, part of them come back again to Sinaketa, and join the other
necklaces in their circular movement.

Another class of articles, which often take a subsidiary part in the
Kula exchange, consists of the large and thin polished axe blades,
called in the Kiriwinian language beku. They are never used for any
practical purposes, and fulfil only the function of tokens of wealth
and objects of parade. In the Kula they would be given as kaributu
(solicitary gifts), and would go both ways. As they are quarried
in Woodlark Island and polished in Kiriwina, they would, however,
move in the direction from the Trobriands to Dobu more frequently
than in the opposite one.

To summarise this subject, it may be said that the proper Kula
articles are on the one hand, the armshells (mwali), and the curved
tusks (doga); and, on the other hand, the fine, long necklaces
(soulava or bagi), of which there are many sub-classes. An index of
the special position of these three articles is that they are the
only ones, or at least, by far the most important ones, mentioned
in the spells. Later on, I shall enumerate all the sub-classes and
varieties of these articles.

Although, as we have seen, there is both a good deal of ceremony
attached to the transaction and a good deal of decorum, one might even
say commercial honour, implied in the technicalities of the exchange,
there is much room left as well for quarrelling and friction. If
a man obtains a very fine valuable, which he is not already under
an obligation to offer as yotile (return payment), there will be a
number of his partners, who will compete to receive it. As only one
can be successful, all the others will be thwarted and more or less
offended and full of malice. Still more room for bad blood is left
in the matter of equivalence. As the valuables exchanged cannot be
measured or even compared with one another by an exact standard; as
there are no definite correspondences or indices of correlation between
the various kinds of the valuables, it is not easy to satisfy a man who
has given a vaygu'a of high value. On receiving a repayment (yotile),
which he does not consider equivalent, he will not actually make a
scene about it, or even show his displeasure openly in the act. But
he will feel a deep resentment, which will express itself in frequent
recriminations and abuse. These, though not made to his partner's face,
will reach his ears sooner or later. Eventually, the universal method
of settling differences may be resorted to--that of black magic, and a
sorcerer will be paid to cast some evil spell over the offending party.

When speaking about some celebrated vaygu'a, a native will praise
its value in the words: "Many men died because of it"--which does
not mean that they died in battle or fight, but were killed by black
magic. Again, there is a system of signs by which one can recognise,
on inspecting the corpse the day after death, for what reasons it
has been bewitched. Among these signs there are one or two which
mean that the man has been done away with, because of his success in
Kula, or because he has offended somebody in connection with it. The
mixture of punctilio and decorum, on the one hand, with passionate
resentment and greed on the other, must be realised as underlying all
the transactions, and giving the leading psychological tone to the
natives' interest. The obligation of fairness and decency is based
on the general rule, that it is highly improper and dishonourable
to be mean. Thus, though a man will generally strive to belittle
the thing received, it must not be forgotten that the man who gave
it was genuinely eager to do his best. And after all, in some cases
when a man receives a really fine valuable, he will boast of it and
be frankly satisfied. Such a success is attributed of course not to
his partner's generosity, but to his own magic.

A feature which is universally recognised as reprehensible and
discreditable, is a tendency to retain a number of valuables and be
slow in passing them on. A man who did this would be called "hard in
the Kula." The following is a native description of this feature as
exhibited by the natives of the Amphletts.

    "The Gumasila, their Kula is very hard; they are mean, they are
    retentive. They would like to take hold of one soulava, of two,
    of three big ones, of four perhaps. A man would pokala them, he
    would pokapokala; if he is a kinsman he will get a soulava. The
    Kayleula only, and the Gumasila are mean. The Dobu, the Du'a'u,
    the Kitava are good. Coming to Muyuwa--they are like Gumasila."

This means that a man in Gumasila would let a number of necklaces
accumulate in his possession; would require plenty of food as
pokala--a characteristic reduplication describes the insistence and
perseverance in pokala--and even then he would give a necklace to a
kinsman only. When I inquired from the same informant whether such a
mean man would also run a risk of being killed by sorcery, he answered

    "A man who is very much ahead in the Kula--he will die--the mean
    man not; he will sit in peace."


Returning now to the concrete proceedings of the Kula, let us follow
the movements of a Sinaketan toliwaga. He has presumably received a
necklace or two on his arrival; but he has more partners and he expects
more valuables. Before he receives his fill, he has to keep a taboo. He
may not partake of any local food, neither yams, nor coco-nuts, nor
betel pepper or nut. According to their belief, if he transgressed
this taboo he would not receive any more valuables. He tries also to
soften the heart of his partner by feigning disease. He will remain
in his canoe and send word that he is ill. The Dobu man will know
what such a conventional disease means. None the less, he may yield
to this mode of persuasion. If this ruse does not succeed, the man
may have recourse to magic. There is a formula called kwoygapani or
'enmeshing magic,' which seduces the mind of a man on whom it is
practised, makes him silly, and thus amenable to persuasion. The
formula is recited over a betel-nut or two, and these are given to
the partner and to his wife or sister.

                            KWOYGAPANI SPELL

    "O kwega leaf; O friendly kwega leaf; O kwega leaf hither;
    O kwega leaf thither!"

    "I shall enter through the mouth of the woman of Dobu; I shall
    come out through the mouth of the man of Dobu. I shall enter
    through the mouth of the man of Dobu; I shall come out through
    the mouth of the woman of Dobu."

    "Seducing kwega leaf; enmeshing kwega leaf; the mind of the
    woman of Dobu is seduced by the kwega leaf, is enmeshed by the
    kwega leaf."

    The expression "is seduced," "is enmeshed "by the kwega leaf,
    is repeated with a string of words such as: "Thy mind, O man of
    Dobu," "thy refusal, O woman of Dobu," "Thy disinclination, O
    woman of Dobu," "Thy bowels, thy tongue, thy liver," going thus
    over all the organs of understanding and feeling, and over the
    words which describe these faculties. The last part is identical
    with that of one or two formulæ previously quoted:

    "No more it is my mother; my mother art thou, O woman of Dobu,
    etc." (Compare the Kaykakaya and Ka'ubana'i spells of the previous

Kwega is a plant, probably belonging to the same family as betel
pepper, and its leaves are chewed with areca-nut and lime, when
real betel-pods (mwayye) are not available. The kwega is, remarkably
enough, invoked in more than one magical formula, instead of the real
betel-pod. The middle part is quite clear. In it, the seducing and
enmeshing power of the kwega is cast over all the mental faculties
of the Dobuan, and on the anatomical seats of these faculties. After
the application of this magic, all the resources of the soliciting
man are exhausted. He has to give up hope, and take to eating the
fruit of Dobu, as his taboo lapses.

Side by side with the Kula, the subsidiary exchange of ordinary goods
takes place. In Chapter VI, Division VI, we have classified the various
types of give and take, as they are to be found in the Trobriand
Islands. The inter-tribal transactions which now take place in Dobu
also fit into that scheme. The Kula itself belongs to class (6),
'Ceremonial Barter with deferred payment.' The offering of the pari,
of landing gifts by the visitors, returned by the talo'i or farewell
gifts from the hosts fall into the class (4) of presents more or less
equivalent. Finally, between the visitors and the local people there
takes place, also, barter pure and simple (gimwali). Between partners,
however, there is never a direct exchange of the gimwali type. The
local man will as a rule contribute a bigger present, for the talo'i
always exceeds the pari in quantity and value, and small presents are
also given to the visitors during their stay. Of course, if in the pari
there were included gifts of high value, like a stone blade or a good
lime spoon, such solicitary gifts would always be returned in strictly
equivalent form. The rest would be liberally exceeded in value.

The trade takes place between the visitors and local natives, who
are not their partners, but who must belong to the community with
whom the Kula is made. Thus, Numanuma, Tu'utauna and Bwayowa are the
three communities which form what we have called the 'Kula community'
or 'Kula unit,' with whom the Sinaketans stand in the relation of
partnership. And a Sinaketa man will gimwali (trade) only with a man
from one of these villages who is not his personal partner. To use
a native statement:

    "Some of our goods we give in pari; some we keep back; later on,
    we gimwali it. They bring their areca-nut, their sago, they put
    it down. They want some article of ours, they say: 'I want this
    stone blade.' We give it, we put the betel-nut, the sago into
    our canoe. If they give us, however, a not sufficient quantity,
    we rate them. Then they bring more."

This is a clear definition of the gimwali, with haggling and adjustment
of equivalence in the act.

When the visiting party from Sinaketa arrive, the natives from the
neighbouring districts, that is, from the small island of Dobu proper,
from the other side of Dawson Straits, from Deyde'i, the village to
the South, will assemble in the three Kula villages. These natives
from other districts bring with them a certain amount of goods. But
they must not trade directly with the visitors from Boyowa. They
must exchange their goods with the local natives, and these again
will trade them with the Sinaketans. Thus the hosts from the Kula
community act as intermediaries in any trading relations between the
Sinaketans and the inhabitants of more remote districts.

To sum up the sociology of these transactions, we may say that
the visitor enters into a threefold relation with the Dobuan
natives. First, there is his partner, with whom he exchanges general
gifts on the basis of free give and take, a type of transaction,
running side by side with the Kula proper. Then there is the local
resident, not his personal Kula partner, with whom he carries on
gimwali. Finally there is the stranger with whom an indirect exchange
is carried on through the intermediation of the local men. With
all this, it must not be imagined that the commercial aspect of
the gathering is at all conspicuous. The concourse of the natives
is great, mainly owing to their curiosity, to see the ceremonial
reception of the uvalaku party. But if I say that every visitor from
Boyowa, brings and carries away about half-a-dozen articles, I do
not under-state the case. Some of these articles the Sinaketan has
acquired in the industrial districts of Boyowa during his preliminary
trading expedition (see Chapter VI, Division III). On these he scores
a definite gain. A few samples of the prices paid in Boyowa and those
received in Dobu will indicate the amount of this gain.

  Kuboma to Sinaketa.                Dobu to Sinaketa.

  1 tanepopo basket = 12 coco-nuts = 12 coco-nuts + sago + 1 belt
  1 comb            =  4 coco-nuts =  4 coco-nuts + 1 bunch of betel
  1 armlet          =  8 coco-nuts =  8 coco-nuts + 2 bundles of betel
  1 lime pot        = 12 coco-nuts = 12 coco-nuts + 2 pieces of sago

This table shows in its second column the prices paid by the
Sinaketans to the industrial villages of Kuboma, a district in the
Northern Trobriands. In the third column what they receive in Dobu
is recorded. The table has been obtained from a Sinaketan informant,
and it probably is far from accurate, and the transactions are sure
to vary greatly in the gain which they afford. There is no doubt,
however, that for each article, the Sinaketan would ask the price
which he paid for them as well as some extra article.

Thus we see that there is in this transaction a definite gain obtained
by the middlemen. The natives of Sinaketa act as intermediaries
between the industrial centres of the Trobriands and Dobu, whereas
their hosts play the same rôle between the Sinaketans and the men
from the outlying districts.

Besides trading and obtaining of Kula valuables, the natives of
Sinaketa visit their friends and their distant relatives, who, as we
saw before, are to be found in this district owing to migrations. The
visitors walk across the flat, fertile plain from one hamlet to the
other, enjoying some of the marvellous and unknown sights of this
district. They are shown the hot springs of Numanuma and of Deyde'i,
which are in constant eruption. Every few minutes, the water boils up
in one spring after another of each group, throwing up jets of spray
a few metres high. The plain around these springs is barren, with
nothing but here and there a stunted kind of eucalyptus tree. This
is the only place in the whole of Eastern New Guinea where as far
as I know, eucalyptus trees are to be found. This was at least the
information of some intelligent natives, in whose company I visited
the springs, and who had travelled all over the Eastern islands and
the East end of the mainland.

The land-locked bays and lagoons, the Northern end of Dawson Strait,
enclosed like a lake by mountains and volcanic cones, all this must
also appear strange and beautiful to the Trobrianders. In the villages,
they are entertained by their male friends, the language spoken by both
parties being that of Dobu, which differs completely from Kiriwinian,
but which the Sinaketans learn in early youth. It is remarkable that
no one in Dobu speaks Kiriwinian.

As said above, no sexual relations of any description take place
between the visitors and the women of Dobu. As one of the informants
told me:

    "We do not sleep with women of Dobu, for Dobu is the final mountain
    (Koyaviguna Dobu); it is a taboo of the mwasila magic."

But when I enquired, whether the results of breaking this taboo would
be baneful to their success in Kula only, the reply was that they were
afraid of breaking it, and that it was ordained of old (tokunabogwo
ayguri) that no man should interfere with the women of Dobu. As a
matter of fact, the Sinaketans are altogether afraid of the Dobuans,
and they would take good care not to offend them in any way.

After some three or four days' sojourn in Dobu, the Sinaketan
fleet starts on its return journey. There is no special ceremony of
farewell. In the early morning, they receive their talo'i (farewell
gifts) of food, betel-nut, objects of use and sometimes also a Kula
valuable is enclosed amongst the the talo'i. Heavily laden as they
are, they lighten their canoes by means of a magic called kaylupa,
and sail away northwards once more.




The return journey of the Sinaketan fleet is made by following exactly
the same route as the one by which they came to Dobu. In each inhabited
island, in every village, where a halt had previously been made,
they stop again, for a day or a few hours. In the hamlets of Sanaroa,
in Tewara and in the Amphletts, the partners are revisited. Some
Kula valuables are received on the way back, and all the talo'i
gifts from those intermediate partners are also collected on the
return journey. In each of these villages people are eager to hear
about the reception which the uvalaku party have received in Dobu;
the yield in valuables is discussed, and comparisons are drawn between
the present occasion and previous records.

No magic is performed now, no ceremonial takes place, and there
would be very little indeed to say about the return journey but for
two important incidents; the fishing for spondylus shell (kaloma)
in Sanaroa Lagoon, and the display and comparison of the yield of
Kula valuables on Muwa beach.

The natives of Sinaketa, as we have seen in the last chapter, acquire
a certain amount of the Koya produce by means of trade. There are,
however, certain articles, useful yet unobtainable in the Trobriands,
and freely accessible in the Koya, and to these the Trobrianders
help themselves. The glassy forms of lava, known as obsidian, can be
found in great quantities over the slopes of the hills in Sanaroa
and Dobu. This article, in olden days, served the Trobrianders
as material for razors, scrapers, and sharp, delicate, cutting
instruments. Pumice-stone abounding in this district is collected
and carried to the Trobriands, where it is used for polishing. Red
ochre is also procured there by the visitors, and so are the hard,
basaltic stones (binabina) used for hammering and pounding and for
magical purposes. Finally, very fine silica sand, called maya, is
collected on some of the beaches, and imported into the Trobriands,
where it is used for polishing stone blades, of the kind which serve
as tokens of value and which are manufactured up to the present day.


But by far the most important of the articles which the Trobrianders
collect for themselves are the spondylus shells. These are freely,
though by no means easily, accessible in the coral outcrops of Sanaroa
Lagoon. It is from this shell that the small circular perforated
discs (kaloma) are made, out of which the necklaces of the Kula
are composed, and which also serve for ornamenting almost all the
articles of value or of artistic finish which are used within the
Kula district. But, only in two localities within the district are
these discs manufactured, in Sinaketa and in Vakuta, both villages in
Southern Boyowa. The shell can be found also in the Trobriand Lagoon,
facing these two villages. But the specimens found in Sanaroa are
much better in colour, and I think more easily procured. The fishing
in this latter locality, however, is done by the Sinaketans only.

Whether the fishing is done in their own Lagoon, near an uninhabited
island called Nanoula, or in Sanaroa, it is always a big, ceremonial
affair, in which the whole community takes part in a body. The
magic, or at least part of it, is done for the whole community by
the magician of the kaloma (towosina kaloma), who also fixes the
dates, and conducts the ceremonial part of the proceedings. As the
spondylus shell furnishes one of the essential episodes of a Kula
expedition, a detailed account both of fishing and of manufacturing
must be here given. The native name, kaloma (in the Southern Massim
districts the word sapi-sapi is used) describes both the shell and
the manufactured discs. The shell is the large spondylus shell,
containing a crystalline layer of a red colour, varying from dirty
brick-red to a soft, raspberry pink, the latter being by far the most
prized. It lives in the cavities of coral outcrop, scattered among
shallow mud-bottomed lagoons.

This shell is, according to tradition, associated with the village
of Sinaketa. According to a Sinaketan legend, once upon a time, three
guya'u (chief) women, belonging to the Tabalu sub-clan of the Malasi
clan, wandered along, each choosing her place to settle in. The eldest
selected the village of Omarakana; the second went to Gumilababa;
the youngest settled in Sinaketa. She had kaloma discs in her basket,
and they were threaded on a long, thin stick, called viduna, such
as is used in the final stage of manufacture. She remained first
in a place called Kaybwa'u, but a dog howled, and she moved further
on. She heard again a dog howling, and she took a kaboma (wooden plate)
and went on to the fringing reef to collect shells. She found there
the momoka (white spondylus), and she exclaimed: "Oh, this is the
kaloma!" She looked closer, and said: "Oh no, you are not red. Your
name is momoka." She took then the stick with the kaloma discs and
thrust it into a hole of the reef. It stood there, but when she looked
at it, she said: "Oh, the people from inland would come and see you
and pluck you off." She went, she pulled out the stick; she went into
a canoe, and she paddled. She paddled out into the sea. She anchored
there, pulled the discs off the stick, and she threw them into the
sea so that they might come into the coral outcrop. She said: "It
is forbidden that the inland natives should take the valuables. The
people of Sinaketa only must dive." Thus only the Sinaketa people
know the magic, and how to dive.

This myth presents certain remarkable characteristics. I shall not
enter into its sociology, though it differs in that respect from
the Kiriwinian myths, in which the equality of the Sinaketan and the
Gumilababan chiefs with those of Omarakana is not acknowledged. It is
characteristic that the Malasi woman in this myth shows an aversion to
the dog, the totem animal of the Lukuba clan, a clan which according
to mythical and historical data had to recede before and yield its
priority to the Malasi (compare Chapter XII, Division IV). Another
detail of interest is that she brings the kaloma on their sticks,
as they appear in the final stage of manufacturing. In this form,
also, she tries to plant them on the reef. The finished kaloma,
however, to use the words of one of my informants, "looked at her,
the water swinging it to and fro; flashing its red eyes." And the
woman, seeing it, pulls out the too accessible and too inviting
kaloma and scatters them over the deep sea. Thus she makes them
inaccessible to the uninitiated inland villagers, and monopolises them
for Sinaketa. There can be no doubt that the villages of Vakuta have
learnt this industry from the Sinaketans. The myth is hardly known in
Vakuta, only a few are experts in diving and manufacturing; there is
a tradition about a late transference of this industry there; finally
the Vakutans have never fished for kaloma in the Sanaroa Lagoon.

Now let us describe the technicalities and the ceremonial connected
with the fishing for kaloma. It will be better to give an account
of how this is done in the Lagoon of Sinaketa, round the sandbank
of Nanoula, as this is the normal and typical form of kaloma
fishing. Moreover, when the Sinaketans do it in Sanaroa, the
proceedings are very much the same, with just one or two phases
missed out.

The office of magician of the kaloma (towosina kaloma) is hereditary in
two sub-clans, belonging to the Malasi clan, and one of them is that
of the main chief of Kasi'etana. After the Monsoon season is over,
that is, some time in March or April, ogibukuvi (i.e., in the season
of the new yams) the magician gives the order for preparations. The
community give him a gift called sousula, one or two bringing a
vaygu'a, the rest supplying gugu'a (ordinary chattels), and some
food. Then they prepare the canoes, and get ready the binabina stones,
with which the spondylus shell will be knocked off the reef.

Next day, in the morning, the magician performs a rite called
'kaykwa'una la'i,' 'the attracting of the reef,' for, as in the
case of several other marine beings, the main seat of the kaloma is
far away. Its dwelling place is the reef Ketabu, somewhere between
Sanaroa and Dobu. In order to make it move and come towards Nanoula,
it is necessary to recite the above-named spell. This is done by the
magician as he walks up and down on the Sinaketa beach and casts
his words into the open, over the sea, towards the distant seat
of the kaloma. The kaloma then 'stand up' (itolise) that is start
from their original coral outcrop (vatu) and come into the Lagoon of
Sinaketa. This spell, I obtained from To'udavada, the present chief
of Kasi'etana, and descendant of the original giver of this shell,
the woman of the myth. It begins with a long list of ancestral names;
then follows a boastful picture of how the whole fleet admires the
magical success of the magician's spell. The key-word in the main part
is the word 'itolo': 'it stands up,' i.e., 'it starts,' and with this,
there are enumerated all the various classes of the kaloma shell,
differentiated according to size, colour and quality. It ends up with
another boast; "My canoe is overloaded with shell so that it sinks,"
which is repeated with varying phraseology.

This spell the magician may utter once only, or he may repeat it
several times on successive days. He fixes then the final date for the
fishing expedition. On the evening before that date, the men perform
some private magic, every one in his own house. The hammering stone,
the gabila, which is always a binabina (it is a stone imported from
the Koya), is charmed over. As a rule it is put on a piece of dried
banana leaf with some red hibiscus blossoms and leaves or flowers
of red colour. A formula is uttered over it, and the whole is then
wrapped up in the banana leaf and kept there until it is used. This
will make the stone a lucky one in hitting off many shells, and it
will make the shells very red.

Another rite of private magic consists in charming a large mussel
shell, with which, on the next morning, the body of the canoe will
be scraped. This makes the sea clear, so that the diver may easily
see and frequently find his spondylus shells.

Next morning the whole fleet starts on the expedition. Some food has
been taken into the canoes, as the fishing usually lasts for a few
days, the nights being spent on the beach of Nanoula. When the canoes
arrive at a certain point, about half-way between Sinaketa and Nanoula,
they all range themselves in a row. The canoe of the magician is at the
right flank, and he medicates a bunch of red hibiscus flowers, some
red croton leaves, and the leaves of the red-blossomed mangrove--red
coloured substances being used to make the shell red, magically. Then,
passing in front of all the other canoes, he rubs their prows with
the bundle of leaves. After that, the canoes at both ends of the
row begin to punt along, the row evolving into a circle, through
which presently the canoe of the magician passes, punting along its
diameter. At this place in the Lagoon, there is a small vatu (coral
outcrop) called Vitukwayla'i. This is called the vatu of the baloma
(spirits). At this vatu the magician's canoe stops, and he orders some
of its crew to dive down and here to begin the gathering of shells.

Some more private magic is performed later on by each canoe on its own
account. The anchor stone is charmed with some red hibiscus flowers,
in order to make the spondylus shell red. There is another private
magic called 'sweeping of the sea,' which, like the magic of the mussel
shell, mentioned above, makes the sea clear and transparent. Finally,
there is an evil magic called 'besprinkling with salt water.' If a
man does it over the others, he will annul the effects of their magic,
and frustrate their efforts, while he himself would arouse astonishment
and suspicion by the amount of shell collected. Such a man would dive
down into the water, take some brine into his mouth, and emerging,
spray it towards the other canoes, while he utters the evil charm.

So much for the magic and the ceremonial associated with the
spondylus fishing in the Trobriand Lagoon. In Sanaroa, exactly the
same proceedings take place, except that there is no attracting of
the reef, probably because they are already at the original seat
of the kaloma. Again I was told that some of the private magic
would be performed in Sinaketa before the fleet sailed on the Kula
expedition. The objects medicated would be then kept, well wrapped
in dried leaves.

It may be added that neither in the one Lagoon nor in the other are
there any private, proprietary rights to coral outcrops. The whole
community of Sinaketa have their fishing grounds in the Lagoon,
within which every man may hunt for his spondylus shell, and catch
his fish at times. If the other spondylus fishing community, the
Vakutans, encroached upon their grounds, there would be trouble,
and in olden days, fighting. Private ownership in coral outcrops
exists in the Northern villages of the Lagoon, that is in Kavataria,
and the villages on the island of Kayleula.


We must now follow the later stages of the kaloma industry. The
technology of the proceedings is so mixed up with remarkable
sociological and economic arrangements that it will be better to
indicate it first in its main outlines. The spondylus consists of a
shell, the size and shape of a hollowed out half of a pear, and of a
flat, small lid. It is only the first part which is worked. First
it has to be broken into pieces with a binabina or an utukema
(green stone imported from Woodlark Island) as shown on Plate L
(A). On each piece, then, can be seen the stratification of the
shell: the outside layer of soft, chalky substance; under this, the
layer of red, hard, calcareous material, and then the inmost, white,
crystalline stratum. Both the outside and inside have to be rubbed
off, but first each piece has to be roughly rounded up, so as to form
a thick circular lump. Such a lump (see foregrounds of Plates L (A),
L (B)) is then put in the hole of a cylindrical piece of wood. This
latter serves as a handle with which the lumps are rubbed on a piece
of flat sandstone (see Plate L (B)). The rubbing is carried on so far
till the outside and inside layers are gone, and there remains only a
red, flat tablet, polished on both sides. In the middle of it, a hole
is drilled through by means of a pump drill--gigi'u--(see Plate LI),
and a number of such perforated discs are then threaded on a thin,
but tough stick (see Plate LII), with which we have already met in
the myth. Then the cylindrical roll is rubbed round and round on
the flat sandstone, until its form becomes perfectly symmetrical
(see Plate LII). Thus a number of flat, circular discs, polished
all round and perforated in the middle, are produced. The breaking
and the drilling, like the diving are done exclusively by men. The
polishing is as a rule woman's work.

This technology is associated with an interesting sociological relation
between the maker and the man for whom the article is made. As has
been stated in Chapter II, one of the main features of the Trobriand
organisation consists of the mutual duties between a man and his
wife's maternal kinsmen. They have to supply him regularly with yams
at harvest time, while he gives them the present of a valuable now and
then. The manufacture of kaloma valuables in Sinaketa is very often
associated with this relationship. The Sinaketan manufacturer makes his
kutadababile (necklace of large beads) for one of his relatives-in-law,
while this latter pays him in food. In accordance with this custom, it
happens very frequently that a Sinaketan man marries a woman from one
of the agricultural inland villages, or even a woman of Kiriwina. Of
course, if he has no relatives-in-law in one of these villages, he
will have friends or distant relatives, and he will make the string
for one or the other of them. Or else he will produce one for himself,
and launch it into the Kula. But the most typical and interesting
case is, when the necklace is produced to order for a man who repays
it according to a remarkable economic system, a system similar to
the payments in instalments, which I have mentioned with regard to
canoe making. I shall give here, following closely the native text,
a translation of an account of the payments for kaloma making.

                      ACCOUNT OF THE KALOMA MAKING

    Supposing some man from inland lives in Kiriwina or in Luba
    or in one of the villages nearby; he wants a katudababile. He
    would request an expert fisherman who knows how to dive for
    kaloma. This man agrees; he dives, he dives ... till it is
    sufficient; his vataga (large folding basket) is already full,
    this man (the inlander) hears the rumour; he, the master of the
    kaloma (that is, the man for whom the necklace will be made) says:
    "Good! I shall just have a look!" He would come, he would see,
    he would not give any vakapula payment. He (here the Sinaketan
    diver is meant) would say: "Go, tomorrow, I shall break the shell,
    come here, give me vakapula." Next day, he (the inlander) would
    cook food, he would bring, he would give vakapula; he (the diver)
    would break the shell. Next day, the same. He (the inlander) would
    give the vakapula, he (the diver) would break the shell. Supposing
    the breaking is already finished, he (the diver) would say:
    "Good! already the breaking is finished, I shall polish." Next
    day, he (the inlander) would cook food, would bring bananas,
    coco-nut, betel-nut, sugar cane, would give it as vakapula;
    this man (the diver) polishes. The polishing already finished,
    he would speak: "Good! To-morrow I shall drill." This man (the
    inlander) would bring food, bananas, coco-nuts, sugar cane,
    he would give it as vakapula: it would be abundant, for soon
    already the necklace will be finished. The same, he would give a
    big vakapula on the occasion of the rounding up of the cylinder,
    for soon everything will be finished. When finished, we thread it
    on a string, we wash it. (Note the change from the third singular
    into the first plural). We give it to our wife, we blow the conch
    shell; she would go, she would carry his valuable to this man,
    our relative-in-law. Next day, he would yomelu; he would catch
    a pig, he would break off a bunch of betel-nut, he would cut
    sugar cane, bananas, he would fill the baskets with food, and
    spike the coco-nut on a multi-forked piece of wood. By-and-by
    he would bring it. Our house would be filled up. Later on we
    would make a distribution of the bananas, of the sugar cane, of
    the betel-nut. We give it to our helpers. We sit, we sit (i.e.,
    we wait); at harvest time he brings yams, he karibudaboda (he
    gives the payment of that name), the necklace. He would bring
    the food and fill out our yam house.

This narrative, like many pieces of native information, needs certain
corrections of perspective. In the first place, events here succeed one
another with a rapidity quite foreign to the extremely leisurely way in
which natives usually accomplish such a lengthy process as the making
of a katudababile. The amount of food which, in the usual manner,
is enumerated over and over again in this narrative would probably
not be exaggerated, for--such is native economy--a man who makes a
necklace to order would get about twice as much or even more for it
than it would fetch in any other transaction. On the other hand,
it must be remembered that what is represented here as the final
payment, the karibudaboda, is nothing else but the normal filling up
of the yam house, always done by a man's relations-in-law. None the
less, in a year in which a katudababile would be made, the ordinary
yearly harvest gift would be styled the 'karibudaboda payment for
the necklace.' The giving of the necklace to the wife, who afterwards
carries it to her brother or kinsman, is also characteristic of the
relation between relatives-in-law.

In Sinaketa and Vakuta only the necklaces made of bigger shell and
tapering towards the end are made. The real Kula article, in which
the discs are much thinner, smaller in diameter and even in size from
one end of the necklace to the other, these were introduced into the
Kula at other points, and I shall speak about this subject in one
of the following chapters (Chapter XXI), where the other branches of
the Kula are described.


Now, having come to an end of this digression on kaloma, let us return
for another short while to our Sinaketan party, whom we have left
on the Lagoon of Sanaroa. Having obtained a sufficient amount of the
shells, they set sail, and re-visiting Tewara and Gumasila, stopping
perhaps for a night on one of the sandbanks of Pilolu, they arrive at
last in their home Lagoon. But before rejoining their people in their
villages, they stop for the last halt on Muwa. Here they make what is
called tanarere, a comparison and display of the valuables obtained
on this trip. From each canoe, a mat or two are spread on the sand
beach, and the men put their necklaces on the mat. Thus a long row of
valuables lies on the beach, and the members of the expedition walk
up and down, admire, and count them. The chiefs would, of course,
have always the greatest haul, more especially the one who has been
the toli'uvalaku on that expedition.

After this is over, they return to the village. Each canoe blows its
conch shell, a blast for each valuable that it contains. When a canoe
has obtained no vaygu'a at all, this means great shame and distress
for its members, and especially for the toliwaga. Such a canoe is
said to bisikureya, which means literally 'to keep a fast.'

On the beach all the villagers are astir. The women, who have put on
their new grass petticoats (sevata'i) specially made for this occasion,
enter the water and approach the canoes to unload them. No special
greetings pass between them and their husbands. They are interested
in the food brought from Dobu, more especially in the sago.

People from other villages assemble also in great numbers to greet the
incoming party. Those who have supplied their friends or relatives
with provisions for their journey, receive now sago, betel-nuts and
coco-nuts in repayment. Some of the welcoming crowd have come in order
to make Kula. Even from the distant districts of Luba and Kiriwina
natives will travel to Sinaketa, having a fair idea of the date of
the arrival of the Kula party from Dobu. The expedition will be talked
over, the yield counted, the recent history of the important valuables
described. But this stage leads us already into the subject of inland
Kula, which will form the subject of one of the following chapters.




In the twelve preceding chapters, we have followed an expedition
from Sinaketa to Dobu. But branching off at almost every step from
its straight track, we studied the various associated institutions
and underlying beliefs; we quoted magical formulæ, and told
mythical stories, and thus we broke up the continuous thread of the
narrative. In this chapter, as we are already acquainted with the
customs, beliefs and institutions implied in the Kula, we are ready
to follow a straight and consecutive tale of an expedition in the
inverse direction, from Dobu to Sinaketa.

As I have seen, indeed followed, a big uvalaku expedition from
the South to the Trobriands, I shall be able to give some of the
scenes from direct impression, and not from reconstruction. Such
a reconstruction for one who has seen much of the natives' tribal
life and has a good grip over intelligent informants is neither very
difficult nor need it be fanciful at all. Indeed, towards the end
of my second visit, I had several times opportunities to check such
a reconstruction by witnessing the actual occurrence, for after my
first year's stay in the Trobriands I had written out already some
of my material. As a rule, even in minute details, my reconstructions
hardly differed from reality, as the tests have shown. None the less,
it is possible for an Ethnographer to enter into concrete details
with more conviction when he describes things actually seen.

In September, 1917, an uvalaku expedition was led by Kouta'uya
from Sinaketa to Dobu. The Vakutans joining them on the way, and the
canoes of the Amphletts following them also, some forty canoes finally
arrived at the western shore of Dawson Straits. It was arranged then
and there that a return expedition from that district should visit
Sinaketa in about six months' time. Kauyaporu, the esa'esa (headman)
of Kesora'i hamlet in the village of Bwayowa, had a pig with circular
tusks. He decided therefore to arrange an uvalaku expedition, at the
beginning of which the pig was to be killed and feasted upon and its
tusks turned into ornaments.

When, in November, 1917, I passed through the district, the preparing
of the canoes was already afoot. All of those, which still could be
repaired, had been taken to pieces and were being relashed, recaulked
and repainted. In some hamlets, new dug-outs were being scooped. After
a few months stay in the Trobriands, I went South again in March, 1918,
intending to spend some time in the Amphletts. Landing there is always
difficult, as there are no anchorages near the shore, and it is quite
impossible to disembark in rough weather at night. I arrived late in a
small cutter, and had to cruise between Gumasila and Domdom, intending
to wait till daybreak and then effect a landing. In the middle of
the night, however, a violent north-westerly squall came down, and
making a split in the main-sail, forced us to run before the wind,
southwards towards Dobu. It was on this night that the native boys
employed in the boat, saw the mulukwausi flaming up at the head of
the mast. The wind dropped before daybreak, and we entered the Lagoon
of Sanaroa, in order to repair the sail. During the three days we
stopped there, I roamed over the country, climbing its volcanic cones,
paddling up the creeks and visiting the villages scattered on the
coral plain. Everywhere I saw signs of the approaching departure for
Boyowa; the natives preparing their canoes on the beach to be loaded,
collecting food in the gardens and making sago in the jungle. At the
head of one of the creeks, in the midst of a sago swamp, there was a
long, low shelter which serves as a dwelling to Dobuan natives from
the main Island when they come to gather sago. This swamp was said
to be reserved to a certain community of Tu'utauna.

Another day I came upon a party of local natives from Sanaroa, who
were pounding sago pulp out of a palm, and sluicing it with water. A
big tree had been felled, its bark stripped in the middle of the trunk
in a large square, and the soft, fleshy interior laid open. There were
three men standing in a row before it and pounding away at it. A few
more men waited to relieve the tired ones. The pounding instruments,
half club, half adzes, had thick but not very broad blades of green
stone, of the same type as I have seen among the Mailu natives of
the South Coast. [79]

The pulp was then carried in baskets to a neighbouring stream. At
this spot there was a natural trough, one of the big, convex scales,
which form the basis of the sago leaf. In the middle of it, a sieve
was made of a piece of coco-nut spathing, a fibre which covers the
root of a coco-nut leaf, and looks at first sight exactly like a
piece of roughly woven material. Water was directed so that it flowed
into the trough at its broad end, coming out at the narrow one. The
sago pulp was put at the top, the water carried away with it the
powdered sago starch, while the wooden, husky fibres were retained
by the sieve. The starch was then carried with the water into a big
wooden canoe-shaped trough; there the heavier starch settled down,
while the water welled over the brim. When there is plenty of starch,
the water is drained off carefully and the starch is placed into
another of the trough-shaped, sago leaf bases, where it is allowed to
dry. In such receptacles it is then carried on a trading expedition,
and is thus counted as one unit of sago.

I watched the proceedings for a long time with great interest. There is
something fascinating about the big, antideluvian-looking sago palm,
so malignant and unapproachable in its unhealthy, prickly swamp,
being turned by man into food by such simple and direct methods. The
sago produced and eaten by the natives is a tough, starchy stuff, of
dirty white colour, very unpalatable. It has the consistency of rubber,
and the taste of very poor, unleavened bread. It is not clear, like
the article which is sold under the name of sago in our groceries, but
is mealy, tough, and almost elastic. The natives consider it a great
delicacy, and bake it into little cakes, or boil it into dumplings.

The main fleet of the Dobuans started some time in the second half of
March from their villages, and went first to the beach of Sarubwoyna,
where they held a ceremonial distribution of food, eguya'i, as it is
called in Dobu. Then, offering the pokala to Aturamo'a and Atu'a'ine,
they sailed by way of Sanaroa and Tewara, passing the tabooed rock
of Gurewaya to the Amphletts. The wind was light and changeable,
weak S.W. breezes prevailing. The progress of this stage of the
journey must have been very slow. The natives must have spent a
few nights on the intermediate islands and sandbanks, a few canoes'
crews camping at one spot.

At that time I had already succeeded in reaching the Amphletts, and
had been busy for two or three weeks doing ethnographic work, though
not very successfully; for, as I have already once or twice remarked,
the natives here are very bad informants. I knew of course that the
Dobuan fleet was soon to come, but as my experience had taught me to
mistrust native time-tables and fixtures of date, I did not expect
them to be punctual. In this, however, I was mistaken. On a Kula
expedition, when the dates are once fixed, the natives make real and
strenuous efforts to keep to them. In the Amphletts the people were
busy preparing for the expedition, because they had the intention of
joining the Dobuans and proceeding with them to the Trobriands. A few
canoes went to the mainland to fetch sago, pots were being mustered and
made ready for stowing away, canoes were overhauled. When the small
expedition returned from the mainland with sago, after a week or so,
a sagali (in Amphlettan: madare), that is, a ceremonial distribution
of food was held on the neighbouring island, Nabwageta.

My arrival was a very untoward event to the natives, and complicated
matters, causing great annoyance to Tovasana, the main headman. I had
landed in his own little village, Nu'agasi, on the island of Gumasila,
for it was impossible to anchor near the big village, nor would there
have been room for pitching a tent. Now, in the Amphletts, a white
man is an exceedingly rare occurrence, and to my knowledge, only once
before, a white trader remained there for a few weeks. To leave me
alone with the women and one or two old men was impossible, according
to their ideas and fears, and none of the younger men wanted to forgo
the privilege and pleasure of taking part in the expedition. At last,
I promised them to move to the neighbouring island of Nabwageta,
as soon as the men were gone, and with this they were satisfied.

As the date fixed for the arrival of the Dobuans approached, the
excitement grew. Little by little the news arrived, and was eagerly
received and conveyed to me: "Some sixty canoes of the Dobuans are
coming," "the fleet is anchored off Tewara," "each canoe is heavily
laden with food and gifts," "Kauyaporu sails in his canoe, he is
toli'uvalaku, and has a big pandanus streamer attached to the prow." A
string of other names followed which had very little meaning for me,
since I was not acquainted with the Dobuan natives. From another part
of the world, from the Trobriands, the goal of the whole expedition,
news reached us again: "To'uluwa, the chief of Kiriwina has gone
to Kitava--he will soon come back, bringing plenty of mwali." "The
Sinaketans are going there to fetch some of the mwali." "The Vakutans
have been in Kitava and brought back great numbers of mwali." It
was astonishing to hear all this news, arriving at a small island,
apparently completely isolated with its tiny population, within
these savage and little navigated seas; news only a few days old,
yet reporting events which had occurred at a travelling distance of
some hundred miles.

It was interesting to follow up the way it had come. The earlier news
about the Dobuans had been brought by the canoes, which had fetched
the sago to Gumasila from the main island. A few days later, a canoe
from one of the main island villages had arrived here, and on its
way had passed the Dobuans in Tewara. The news from the Trobriands
in the North had been brought by the Kuyawa canoe which had arrived a
couple of days before in Nabwageta (and whose visit to Nu'agasi I have
described in Chapter XI). All these movements were not accidental,
but connected with the uvalaku expedition. To show the complexity,
as well as the precise timing of the various movements and events,
so perfectly synchronised over a vast area, in connection with the
uvalaku, I have tabulated them in the Chart, facing this page, in
which almost all the dates are quite exact, being based on my own
observations. This Chart also gives a clear, synoptic picture of an
uvalaku, and it will be useful to refer to it, in reading this Chapter.

In olden days, not less than now, there must have been an ebullition
in the inter-tribal relations, and a great stirring from one place
to another, whenever an uvalaku Kula was afoot. Thus, news would
be carried rapidly over great distances, the movements of the vast
numbers of natives would be co-ordinated, and dates fixed. As has been
said already, a culminating event of an expedition, in this case the
arrival of the Dobuan fleet in Sinaketa, would be always so timed
as to happen on, or just before, a full moon, and this would serve
as a general orientation for the preliminary movements, such as in
this case, the visits of the single canoes.

                          THE PREVIOUS UVALAKU


September, 1917         The expedition, led by Kouta'uya from
                        Sinaketa to Dobu.

                           PREPARATORY STAGE

Oct., 1917-Feb., 1918   Building of new canoes and repairing of old
                        ones, in the district of N.W. Dobu.
Feb.-March, 1918        Sago making, collecting of trade and food.
Middle of March         Launching, fitting and loading of the canoes;
                        preliminary magic.

                              THE SAILING

About 25th March        The Dobuan canoes start on their overseas
About same time         [In Boyowa: the Vakutans return from Kitava
                        with a good haul of mwali].
Same time               [In the Amphletts: preparations to sail;
                        collecting food; repairing canoes.]
About 28th March        [In Boyowa: To'uluwa returns from Kitava
                        bringing mwali.]
Same time               [In the Amphletts: news reach of the
                        approaching fleet from Dobu; of the doings in
29th March              [In the Amphletts: part of the canoes sail
                        ahead to Vakuta.]
31st March              The Dobuan fleet arrives in the Amphletts.
1st April               They proceed on their journey to Boyowa.
2nd April               [In the Amphletts: rest of local canoes sail
                        to Boyowa.]
Same day                [In Boyowa: the Sinaketans go to Kiriwina.]
3rd April               [In Boyowa: they return with the armshells.]


3rd April               The Dobuan fleet appears in Vakuta.
3rd-5th April           They receive Kula gifts, exchange presents
                        and trade in Vakuta.
6th April               Arrival of the Dobuan fleet in Sinaketa,
                        magic at the beach of Kaykuyawa, ceremonial
6th-10th April          The Dobuans (as well as the Amphlettans)
                        remain in Sinaketa, receiving Kula presents,
                        giving pari gifts and trading.
10th April              They all leave Sinaketa, receiving talo'i
                        (farewell) gifts. The Dobuans sail south (and
                        the Amphlettans to Kayleula and the smaller
                        Western Trobriand Islands).
10th-14th April         The Dobuans are engaged in fishing in the S.

                             RETURN JOURNEY

14th April              They reappear in Vakuta, and receive their
                        talo'i (farewell) gifts.
15th April              They leave Vakuta.
About 20th or 21st      Tanarere (competitive display and comparison)
                        on the beach of Sarubwoyna, and return to

Indeed, from that moment, the events on and about the Amphlett Islands
moved rapidly. The day after the visit from the Kuyawan canoes, the
canoes of the main village of Gumasila sailed off to the Trobriands,
starting therefore a few days ahead of the Dobuan uvalaku fleet. I
rowed over in a dinghy to the big village, and watched the loading and
departing of the canoes. There was a bustle in the village, and even a
few old women could be seen helping the men in their tasks. The large
canoes were being pushed into the water from their supports, on which
they were beached. They had been already prepared for the journey
there, their platforms covered with plaited palm leaves, frames put
in their bottoms to support the cargo, boards placed crossways within
the canoe to serve as seats for the crew, the mast, rigging and sail
laid handy. The loading, however, begins only after the canoe is in
water. The large, trough-shaped chunks of sago were put at the bottom,
while men and women carefully brought out the big clay pots, stowing
them away with many precautions in special places in the middle
(see Plate XLVII). Then, one after the other, the canoes went off,
paddling round the southern end of the island towards the West. At
about ten o'clock in the morning, the last canoe disappeared round the
promontory, and the village remained practically empty. There was no
saying of farewells, not a trace of any emotion on the part of those
leaving or those remaining. But it must be remembered that, owing to
my presence, no women except one or two old hags, were visible on the
shore. All my best informants gone, I intended to move to Nabwageta
next morning. At sunset, I made a long excursion in my dinghy round
the western shores of Gumasila, and it was on that occasion that I
discovered all those who had left that morning on the Kula sitting on
Giyasila beach, in accordance with the Kula custom of a preliminary
halt, such as the one on Muwa described in Chapter VII.

Next morning, I left for the neighbouring island and village of
Nabwageta, and only after he saw me safely off, Tovasana and his party
left in his canoe, following the others to Vakuta. In Nabwageta, the
whole community were in the midst of their final preparations for
departure, for they intended to wait for the Dobuans and sail with
them to Kiriwina. All their canoes were being painted and renovated,
a sail was being repaired on the beach (see Plate LIII). There were
some minor distributions of food taking place in the village, the stuff
being over and over again allotted and re-allotted, smaller pieces
carved out of the big chunks and put into special wrappings. This
constant handling of food is one of the most prominent features of
tribal life in that part of the world. As I arrived, a sail for one of
the canoes was just being finished by a group of men. In another canoe,
I saw them mending the outrigger by attaching the small log of light,
dry wood to make the old, waterlogged float more buoyant. I could
also watch in detail the final trimming of the canoes, the putting
up of the additional frames, of the coco-nut mats, the making of the
little cage in the central part for the pots and for the lilava (the
sacred bundle), I was, nevertheless, not on sufficiently intimate
terms with these Nabwageta natives to be allowed to witness any of
the magic. Their system of mwasila is identical with that of Boyowa,
in fact, it is borrowed from there.

Next day--in this village again I had difficulty in finding any good
informants, a difficulty increased by the feverish occupation of all
the men--I went for a long row in the afternoon with my two 'boys,'
hoping to reach the island of Domdom. A strong current, which in this
part is at places so pronounced that it breaks out into steep, tidal
waves, made it impossible to reach our goal. Returning in the dark,
my boys suddenly grew alert and excited, like hounds picking up a
scent. I could perceive nothing in the dark, but they had discerned
two canoes moving westwards. Within about half-an-hour, a fire became
visible, twinkling on the beach of a small, deserted island South
of Domdom; evidently some Dobuans were camping there. The excitement
and intense interest shown by my boys, one a Dobuan, the other from
Sariba (Southern Massim), gave me an inkling of the magnitude of
this event--the vanguard of a big Kula fleet slowly creeping up
towards one of its intermediate halting places. It also brought
home to me vividly the inter-tribal character of this institution,
which unites in one common and strongly emotional interest so many
scattered communities. That night, as we learnt afterwards, a good
number of canoes had anchored on the outlying deserted islands of the
Amphletts, waiting for the rest of the fleet to arrive. When we came
that evening to Nabwageta, the news had already been received of the
important event, and the whole village was astir.

Next day, the weather was particularly fine and clear, with the distant
mountains wreathed only in light cumuli, their alluring outlines
designed in transparent blue. Early in the afternoon, with a blast of
conch shell, a Dobuan waga, in full paint and decoration, and with the
rich pandanus mat of the sail glowing like gold against the blue sea,
came sailing round the promontory. One after the other, at intervals
of a few minutes each, other canoes came along, all sailing up to
some hundred yards from the beach, and then, after furling the sail,
paddling towards the shore (see Plate XL). This was not a ceremonial
approach, as the aim of the expedition this time did not embrace the
Amphletts, but was directed towards the Trobriands only, Vakuta,
and Sinaketa; these canoes had put in only for an intermediate
halt. Nevertheless, it was a great event, especially as the canoes
of Nabwageta were going to join with the fleet later on. Out of the
sixty or so Dobuan canoes, only about twenty-five with some 250 men in
them had come to Nabwageta, the others having gone to the big village
of Gumasila. In any case, there were about five times as many men
gathered in the village as one usually sees. There was no Kula done
at all, no conch-shells were blown on the shore, nor do I think were
any presents given or received by either party. The men sat in groups
round their friends' houses, the most distinguished visitors collected
about the dwelling of Tobwa'ina, the main headman of Nabwageta.

Many canoes were anchored along the coast beyond the village beach,
some tucked away into small coves, others moored in sheltered
shallows. The men sat on the shore round fires, preparing their food,
which they took out of the provisions carried on the canoes. Only the
water did they obtain from the island, filling their coco-nut-made
water vessels from the springs. About a dozen canoes were actually
moored at the village beach. Late at night, I walked along the shore
to observe their sleeping arrangements. In the clear, moonlit night,
the small fires burnt with a red, subdued glow; there was always one
of them between each two sleepers, consisting of three burning sticks,
gradually pushed in as they were consumed. The men slept with the big,
stiff pandanus mats over them; each mat is folded in the middle, and
when put on the ground, forms a kind of miniature prismatic tent. All
along the beach, it was almost a continuous row of man alternating with
fire, the dun-coloured mats being nearly invisible against the sand in
the full moonlight. It must have been a very light sleep for every now
and then, a man stirred, peeping up from under his shell, re-adjusting
the fire, and casting a searching glance over the surroundings. It
would be difficult to say whether mosquitoes or cold wind or fear of
sorcery disturbed their sleep most, but I should say the last.

The next morning, early, and without any warning, the whole fleet
sailed away. At about 8 o'clock the last canoe punted towards the
offing, where they stepped their mast and hoisted their sail. There
were no farewell gifts, no conch shell blowing, and the Dobuans this
time left their resting place as they had come, without ceremony or
display. The morning after, the Nabwagetans followed them. I was left
in the village with a few cripples, the women and one or two men who
had remained perhaps to look after the village, perhaps specially to
keep watch over me and see that I did no mischief. Not one of them was
a good informant. Through a mistake of mine, I had missed the cutter
which had come two days before to the island of Gumasila and left
without me. With bad luck and bad weather, I might have had to wait
a few weeks, if not months in Nabwageta. I could perhaps have sailed
in a native canoe, but this could only be done without bedding, tent,
or even writing outfit and photographic apparatus, and so my travelling
would have been quite useless. It was a piece of great good luck that
a day or two afterwards, a motor launch, whose owner had heard about
my staying in the Amphletts, anchored in front of Nabwageta village,
and within an hour I was speeding towards the Trobriands again,
following the tracks of the Kula fleet.


On the next morning, as we slowly made our way along the channels
in the opalescent, green lagoon, and as I watched a fleet of small,
local canoes fishing in their muddy waters, and could recognise on
the surrounding flat shores a dozen well-known villages, my spirits
rose, and I felt well pleased to have left the picturesque, but
ethnographically barren Amphletts for the Trobriands, with their
scores of excellent informants.

Moreover, the Amphletts, in the persons of their male inhabitants
were soon to join me here. I went ashore in Sinaketa, where everybody
was full of the great moment which was soon to arrive. For the Dobuan
fleet was known to be coming, though on that morning, so far, no news
had reached them of its whereabouts. As a matter of fact, the Dobuans,
who had left Nabwageta forty-eight hours ahead of me, had made a slow
journey with light winds, and sailing a course to the East of mine,
had arrived that morning only in Vakuta.

All the rumours which had been reported to me in the Amphletts about
the previous movements of the Trobriand natives had been correct. Thus
the natives of Vakuta had really been to the East, to Kitava, and
had brought with them a big haul of armshells. To'uluwa, the chief of
Kiriwina, had visited Kitava later, and about five or six days before
had returned from there, bringing with him 213 pairs of armshells. The
Sinaketans then had gone to Kiriwina, and out of the 213 pairs had
succeeded in securing 154. As there had been previously 150 pairs
in Sinaketa, a total of 304 was awaiting the Dobuans. On the morning
of my arrival, the Sinaketan party had just returned from Kiriwina,
hurrying home so as to have everything ready for the reception of the
Dobuans. Of these, we got the news that very afternoon--news which
travelled overland from one village to another, and reached us from
Vakuta with great rapidity. We were also told that the uvalaku fleet
would be at Sinaketa within two or three days.

This period I utilised in refurbishing my information about that phase
of the Kula, which I was going to witness, and trying to get a clear
outline of every detail of all that was going soon to happen. It is
extremely important in sociological work to know well beforehand
the underlying rules and the fundamental ideas of an occurrence,
especially if big masses of natives are concerned in it. Otherwise,
the really important events may be obliterated by quite irrelevant and
accidental movements of the crowd, and thus the significance of what
he sees may be lost to the observer. No doubt if one could repeat
one's observations on the same phenomenon over and over again, the
essential and relevant features would stand out by their regularity
and permanence. If, however, as it often happens in ethnographic
field-work, one gets the opportunity only once of witnessing a
public ceremony, it is necessary to have its anatomy well dissected
beforehand, and then concentrate upon observing how these outlines are
followed up concretely, gauge the tone of the general behaviour, the
touches of emotion or passion, many small yet significant details which
nothing but actual observation can reveal, and which throw much light
upon the real, inner relation of the native to his institution. So I
was busy going over my old entries and checking them and putting my
material into shape in a detailed and concrete manner.

On the third day, as I was sitting and taking notes in the afternoon,
word ran all round the villages that the Dobuan canoes had been
sighted. And indeed, as I hastened towards the shore, there could be
seen, far away, like small petals floating on the horizon, the sails
of the advancing fleet. I jumped at once into a canoe, and was punted
along towards the promontory of Kaykuyawa, about a mile to the South of
Sinaketa. There, one after the other, the Dobuan canoes were arriving,
dropping their sails and undoing the mast as they moored, until the
whole fleet, numbering now over eighty canoes, were assembled before
me (see Plate XLVIII). From each a few men waded ashore, returning
with big bunches of leaves. I saw them wash and smear themselves and
perform the successive stages of native, festive adornment (see Plate
XLIX). Each article was medicated by some man or another in the canoe
before it was used or put on. The most carefully handled articles
of ornamentation were the ineffective looking, dried up herbs, taken
out of their little receptacles, where they had remained since they
had been becharmed in Dobu, and now stuck into the armlets. The whole
thing went on quickly, almost feverishly, making more the impression
of a piece of technical business being expeditiously performed, than
of a solemn and elaborate ceremony taking place. But the ceremonial
element was soon to show itself.

After the preparations were finished, the whole fleet formed itself
into a compact body, not quite regular, but with a certain order, about
four or five canoes being in a row, and one row behind the other. In
this formation they punted along over the Lagoon, too shallow for
paddling, towards the beach of Sinaketa. When they were within about
ten minutes of the shore, all the conch shells began to be sounded,
and the murmur of recited magic rose from the canoes. I could not come
sufficiently near the canoes, for reason of etiquette, to be able to
see the exact arrangement of the reciters, but I was told that it was
the same as that observed by the Trobrianders on their approach to
Dobu, described in Chapter XIII. The general effect was powerful, when
this wonderfully painted and fully decorated fleet was gliding swiftly
over the green waters of the Lagoon towards the palm grove above the
sand beach, at that moment thick with expectant natives. But I imagine
that the arrival of a Trobriand fleet in Dobu must be considerably
more effective even than that. The much more picturesque landscape,
the ceremonial paddling with the leaf-shaped oars over the deep water,
the higher sense of danger and tension, than that which the Dobuans
feel, when coming to visit the meek Trobrianders, all this must make it
even more dramatic and impressive than the scene I have just described.

Within some twenty metres from the shore, the canoes formed themselves
into a double row, the canoe of the toli'uvalaku on the left flank of
the first row. Kauyaporu, as soon as all the craft were in position,
rose in his canoe, and in a loud voice, addressed in Dobuan those
standing on the shore. His words, preserved in the memory of his
hearers, were transmitted to me that same evening in their Kiriwinian
equivalent. He spoke:

    "Who will be first in the Kula? The people of Vakuta or
    yourselves? I deem you will have the lead! Bring armshells,
    one basketful, two baskets; catch pigs; pluck coco-nuts; pluck
    betel-nut! For this is my uvalaku. By and by, thou, Kouta'uya, wilt
    make an uvalaku, and we shall give thee then plenty of vaygu'a!"

So spoke Kauyaporu, addressing his main partner, Kouta'uya, the second
chief of Sinaketa. He did not address To'udawada, the most important
chief, because he was not his main partner.

As soon as the speech was finished, Kouta'uya waded through the water
from the beach, carrying a pair of armshells in each hand. Behind him
came a small boy, the youngest son, blowing a conch shell. He was
followed again by two men, who between them had a stick resting on
their shoulders, on which several pairs of mwali (armshells) were
displayed. This procession waded towards the canoe of Kauyaporu,
whom Kouta'uya addressed in these words, throwing the armshells on
the platform of the canoe:

    "This is a vaga (opening gift)! In due time, I shall make a
    uvalaku to Dobu; thou shalt return to me a big soulava (necklace)
    as kudu (equivalent gift) for this. Plenty more armshells thou
    wilt receive now. There are plenty of armshells in Sinaketa. We
    know there were plenty of armshells in Vakuta. By and by thou
    and thy usagelu come ashore, I shall catch a pig. I shall give
    you plenty of food, coco-nuts, betel-nut, sugar cane, bananas!"

As soon as he was back on the shore, his wife, the eldest one, with
a peta basket on her head, containing a pair of armshells, went
into the water and carried it to Kauyaporu's canoe, the boy with
the conch shell following her also. After that, conch shells were
blown on all sides on the shore, and single men or groups detached
themselves from the rest, and waded towards the canoes. The mwali
were carried with ceremony on sticks or in outstretched arm. But
the grossly exaggerated way of putting one pair of armshells into
a basket which was big enough to hold some four score, was only
done by the chief's wife. All this lasted for perhaps half-an-hour,
while the setting sun poured down its glowing light on the painted
canoes, the yellow beach, and the lively bronze forms moving upon
it. Then, in a few moments, the Dobuan canoes were partly beached,
partly moored, whilst their crews spread over the seven villages of
Sinaketa. Large groups could be seen sitting on platforms chewing
betel-nut and conversing in Dobuan with their hosts (see Plate LVI).

For three days, the Dobuans remained in Sinaketa. Every now and then,
blasts of conch shell announced that a Kula transaction had taken
place, that is, that a pair of armshells had been handed over to
one of the visitors. Swarms of people from the other districts had
assembled in Sinaketa; every day, natives from the inland villages of
Southern Boyowa crowded into their capital, whilst people from Kuboma,
Luba, and Kiriwina, that is, the Central and Northern districts,
were camping in their relatives' houses, in yam stores and under
provisional shelters. Reckoning that the number of the visitors,
that is, the Dobuans, the Amphlettans and the Vakutans, who had joined
them on their way, amounted to some eight hundred; that the Sinaketans
numbered about five hundred people, and that some twelve hundred had
come from the other villages, it will be seen that the crowd in and
about Sinaketa was considerable, numbering over two thousand.

The Trobriand natives, of course, looked after their own
provisions. The Dobuans had also brought a considerable amount of food
with them, and would receive some additional vegetables and pigs'
flesh from their hosts, while they acquired fish from some of the
other villages of Boyowa. As a matter of fact, stingaree, shark and
some other fish are the only articles for which the Dobuans barter
on their own account. The rest of the trade, in the same way as is
done in Dobu by the Sinaketans, must be done with the community who
receive visitors, that is, with Sinaketa. The Sinaketans buy from the
manufacturing districts of Boyowa the same industrial products that
they take with them to Dobu, that is baskets, lime pots, lime spatulæ,
etc. Then they sell these to the Dobuans in just the same manner and
with the same profit as was described in Chapter XV. As has been said
there also, a man of Sinaketa would never trade with his partner,
but with some other Dobuan. Between the partners, only presents
are exchanged. The gift offered by the Dobuans to the Sinaketans is
called vata'i, and it differs only in name and not in its economic
or sociological nature from the pari gift offered by the Boyowans to
their overseas partners. The talo'i, or farewell gift offered to them
is as a rule more substantial than the vata'i.

The Dobuans, during their stay in Sinaketa, lived on the beach or
in their canoes (see Plates LIV and XX). Skilfully rigged up with
canopies of golden mats covering parts of the craft, their painted
hulls glowing in the sun against the green water, some of the canoes
presented the spectacle of some gorgeously fantastic pleasure boat
(see Plate LV). The natives waded about amongst them, making the
Lagoon lively with movement, talk and laughter. Groups camped on the
sea shore, boiling food in the large clay pots, smoking and chewing
betel-nut. Big parties of Trobrianders walked among them, discreetly
but curiously watching them. Women were not very conspicuous in
the whole proceedings, nor did I hear any scandal about intrigues,
although such may have taken place.


On the fourth day, conch shells were blown again in the morning, though
on the last of the three days their sounds had almost died out. These
were the signs of the departure. Food and small presents were brought
to the canoes as talo'i, and a few mwali were given at the last, for
which the conch shells were blown. Without any ceremony or farewell
speeches, the Dobuan canoes sailed away, one after the other.

Their journey home was also interrupted by a customary halt for
fishing, but this time for fish, not shell. Some of them stop on
the beach of Muwa, but the bulk camp on a beach called Susuwa, half
way between Sinaketa and Vakuta, where they catch the fish by means
of a poisonous root, which they have brought for this purpose from
home. This time, they remained three days in Susuwa and Muwa, and
then sailed to Vakuta to receive there talo'i. Their further journey
I could not trace step by step, but afterwards I heard that quickly,
and without any accident, they had reached their homes.

Their tanarere on Sarubwoyna beach--that is, the competitive display
of the yield--gave more or less the following results:

From Sinaketa they received 304 armshells.

From Vakuta they received 344 armshells.

The total therefore was 648. As there were about sixty canoes making
the proper uvalaku from Dobu, that is, not counting those from the
Amphletts and Vakuta which joined on the way and appeared before
Sinaketa, there were at the outside some five hundred Dobuan natives
on that expedition. Out of these, however, not more than half were
grown-up, Kula making men. So that, on the average, there were nearly
thirteen armshells for every five men. Some would not get more than
one pair, some perhaps even none, whilst the headmen received large

We shall follow in a later chapter the movements of some at least
of those who had collected in Sinaketa from the other districts, in
connection with the Kula. It did not take them more than a few days
to disperse completely, and for the village to resume its ordinary
aspect and routine.




In treating of the various customs and practices of the Kula, I had
at every step to enter into the description of magical rites and into
the analysis of spells. This had to be done, first of all, because
magic looms paramount in the natives' view of the Kula. Again, all
magical formulæ disclose essentials of belief and illustrate typical
ideas in a manner so thorough and telling that no other road could
lead us as straight into the inner mind of the native. Finally, there
is a direct, ethnographic interest in knowing the details of magical
performance, which has such an overweening influence over tribal life,
and enters so deeply into the make-up of the natives' mentality.

It is now necessary to complete our knowledge of magic and to focus
all the dispersed data into one coherent picture. So far, the many
scattered references and numerous concrete details have not furnished
a general idea, of what magic means to the natives; how they imagine
the working of the magical forces; what are their implied and expressed
views on the nature of magical power. Collecting all the material which
has already been presented in the previous chapters, and supplementing
it with native and ethnographic comments, we shall be able to arrive
at a certain synthesis, respecting the Kiriwinian theory of magic.

All the data which have been so far mustered disclose the extreme
importance of magic in the Kula. But if it were a question of treating
of any other aspect of the tribal life of these natives, it would also
be found that, whenever they approach any concern of vital importance,
they summon magic to their aid. It can be said without exaggeration
that magic, according to their ideas, governs human destinies; that
it supplies man with the power of mastering the forces of nature; and
that it is his weapon and armour against the many dangers which crowd
in upon him on every side. Thus, in what is most essential to man,
that is in his health and bodily welfare, he is but a plaything of the
powers of sorcery, of evil spirits and of certain beings, controlled
by black magic. Death in almost all its forms is the result of one of
these agencies. Permanent ill-health and all kinds of acute sickness,
in fact everything, except such easily explainable ailments as physical
overstrain or slight colds, are attributed to magic. I have spoken
(Chapter II) of the several ways in which the evil powers bring
disease and death. The tauva'u, who bring epidemics and the tokway,
who inflict shooting pains and minor ailments, are the only examples
of non-human beings' exerting any direct influence on human destinies,
and even the members of this restricted pantheon of demonology only
occasionally descend among the mortals to put into action their
potential powers. By far the deepest dread and most constant concern
of the natives are with the bwaga'u, the entirely human sorcerers, who
carry out their work exclusively by means of magic. Second to them in
the quantity of magical output and in the frequency of their exploits,
are the mulukwausi, the flying witches, which have been described in
detail in Chapter XI. They are a good example of how every belief in
a superior power is at the bottom a belief in magic. Magic gives to
these beings the capacity to destroy human life and to command other
agents of destruction. Magic also gives man the power and the means to
defend himself, and if properly applied, to frustrate all the nefarious
attempts of the mulukwausi. Comparing the two agencies, it may be said
that in every-day life, the sorcerer is by far the most feared and is
most frequently believed to be at work; while the mulukwausi enter
upon the scene at certain dramatic moments, such as the presence of
death, a catastrophe on land, and more especially at sea; but then,
they enter with even deadlier weapons than the bwaga'u. Health,
the normal state of human beings can, if once lost, be regained by
magic and by magic only. There is no such thing as natural recovery,
return to health being always due to the removal of the evil magic
by means of magical counter-action.

All those crises of life, which are associated with fear of danger,
with the awakening of passions or of strong emotions, have also their
magical accompaniment. The birth of a child is always ushered in
by magic, in order to make the child prosper, and to neutralise the
dangers and evil influences. There is no rite or magic at puberty;
but then, with this people, puberty does not present any very definite
crisis in the life of the individual, as their sexual life starts
long before puberty arrives, and gradually shapes and develops
as the organism matures. The passion of love, however, has a very
elaborate magical counterpart, embodied in many rites and formulæ,
to which a great importance is attached, and all success in sexual
life is ascribed to it. The evil results of illicit love--that is love
within the clan, which, by the way, is considered by these natives
as the main class of sexual immorality--can also be counteracted by
a special type of magic.

The main social interests, ambition in gardening, ambition in
successful Kula, vanity and display of personal charms in dancing--all
find their expression in magic. There is a form of beauty magic,
performed ceremonially over the dancers, and there is also a kind of
safety magic at dances, whose object is to prevent the evil magic of
envious sorcerers. Particular garden magic, performed by an individual
over his crops and seeds, as well as the evil magic which he casts on
the gardens of his rivals, express the private ambitions in gardening,
as contrasted with the interests of the whole village, which are
catered for by communal garden magic.

Natural forces of great importance to man, such as rain and sunshine,
the appropriate alternative operation of which makes his crops thrive;
or wind, which must be controlled for purposes of sailing and fishing,
are also governed by magic. The magic of rain and sunshine can be used
for good, as well as for nefarious purposes, and in this they have a
special interest in the Trobriands, because the most powerful system
of this magic is in the hands of the paramount chiefs of Kiriwina. By
bringing about a prolonged drought, the chiefs of Omarakana have
always been able to express their general displeasure with their
subjects, and thus enhance their wholesale power, independently of
any other mechanism, which they might have used for forcing their
will on private individuals or on whole communities.

The basic, food-providing economic activities, which in the Trobriands
are mainly gardening and fishing, are also completely magic-ridden. The
success of these pursuits is of course largely due to luck, chance or
accident, and to the natives they require supernatural assistance. We
had examples of economic magic in describing the construction of a
canoe, and the fishing for kaloma shell. The communal garden-magic
and the fishing magic of certain village communities show to a higher
degree even than the cases described, the feature which we found so
distinct in canoe magic, namely: that the rites and formulæ are not
a mere appendage, running side by side with economic efforts, without
exercising any influence over these. On the contrary, it may be said
that a belief in magic is one of the main, psychological forces which
allow for organisation and systemisation of economic effort in the
Trobriands. [80] The capacity for art, as well as the inspiration in
it, is also ascribed to the influence of magic.

The passions of hatred, envy, and jealousy, besides finding their
expression in the all powerful sorcery of the bwaga'u and mulukwausi,
are also responsible for many forms of witchery, known by the generic
term of bulubwalata. The classical forms of this magic have as their
object the estrangement of the affections of a wife or a sweetheart,
or the destruction of the domestic attachment of a pig. The pig is
sent away into the bush, having been made to take a dislike to its
master and to its domestic habits; the wife, though the spells used
to estrange her are slightly different, can be made also to take a
dislike to her domestic life, abandon her husband and return to her
parents. There is a bulubwalata of gardens, of canoes, of Kula, of
kaloma, in fact of everything, and a good deal of beneficial magic
is taken up with exorcising the results of bulubwalata.

The list of magic is not quite exhausted yet. There is the magic
of conditional curses, performed in order to guard property from
possible harm, inflicted by others; there is war-magic; there is
magic associated with taboos put on coco-nuts and betel-nuts, in order
to make them grow and multiply; there is magic to avert thunder and
resuscitate people who are struck by lightning; there is the magic
of tooth-ache, and a magic to make food last a long time.

All this shows the wide diffusion of magic, its extreme importance and
also the fact that it is always strongest there, where vital interests
are concerned; where violent passions or emotions are awakened; when
mysterious forces are opposed to man's endeavours; and when he has
to recognise that there is something which eludes his most careful
calculations, his most conscientious preparations and efforts.


Let us now proceed to formulate some short statement of the essential
conception of magic, as it is entertained by the natives. All statement
of belief, found among human beings so widely different from us, is
full of difficulties and pitfalls, which perhaps beset us most there,
where we try to arrive at the very foundation of the belief--that is,
at the most general ideas which underlie a series of practices and a
body of traditions. In dealing with a native community at the stage
of development which we find in the Trobriands, we cannot expect to
obtain a definite, precise and abstract statement from a philosopher,
belonging to the community itself. The native takes his fundamental
assumptions for granted, and if he reasons or inquires into matters
of belief, it would be always only as regards details and concrete
applications. Any attempts on the part of the Ethnographer to induce
his informant to formulate such a general statement would have to
be in the form of leading questions of the worst type because in
these leading questions he would have to introduce words and concepts
essentially foreign to the native. Once the informant grasped their
meaning, his outlook would be warped by our own ideas having been
poured into it. Thus the Ethnographer must draw the generalisation
for himself, must formulate the abstract statement without the direct
help of a native informant.

I am saying direct help because the generalisation must be entirely
based on indirect data supplied by the natives. In the course of
collecting information, of discussing formulæ and translating their
text, a considerable number of opinions on matters of detail will be
set forth by the natives. Such spontaneous opinions, if placed in a
correctly constructed mosaic, might almost of themselves give us a
true picture, might almost cover the whole field of native belief. And
then our task would only be to summarise this picture in an abstract

The Ethnographer, however, possesses an even better supply of evidence
from which to draw his conclusions. The objective items of culture,
into which belief has crystallised in the form of tradition, myth,
spell and rite are the most important source of knowledge. In them,
we can face the same realities of belief as the native faces in his
intimate intercourse with the magical, the same realities which
he not only professes with his tongue, but lives through partly
in imagination and partly in actual experience. An analysis of the
contents of the spells, the study of the manner in which they are
uttered; in which the concomitant rites are performed; the study of
the natives' behaviour, of the actors as well as of the spectators;
the knowledge of the social position and social functions, of the
magical expert--all this reveals to us, not only the bare structure of
their ideas on magic, but also the associated sentiments and emotions,
and the nature of magic as a social force.

An Ethnographer who, from the study of such objective data, has
been able to penetrate into the natives' attitude, to formulate a
general theory of magic, can then test his conclusions by direct
questionings. For he will be already in a position to use native
terminology and to move along the lines of native thought, and
in his questionings he will be able to accept the lead of his
informant instead of misleading the latter and himself by leading
questions. More especially in obtaining opinions of actual occurrences
from the natives, he will not have to move in abstract generalities,
but will be able to translate them into concrete applications and
into the native modes of thought.

In arriving at such general conclusions about vast aspects of primitive
human thought and custom, the Ethnographer's is a creative work,
in so far as he brings to light phenomena of human nature which,
in their entirety, had remained hidden even from those in whom they
happened. It is creative in the same sense as is the construction of
general principles of natural science, where objective laws of very
wide application lie hidden till brought forth by the investigating
human mind. In the same sense, however, as the principles of natural
science are empirical, so are also the final generalisations of
ethnographic sociology because, though expressly stated for the first
time by the investigator, they are none the less objective realities
of human thinking, feeling and behaviour.


We can start from the question of how the natives imagine their
magic to have originated. If we would ask even the most intelligent
informant some such concretely framed questions as: "Where has your
magic been made? How do you imagine its invention?"--they would
necessarily remain unanswered. Not even a warped and half-suggested
reply would be forthcoming. Yet there is an answer to this question,
or rather to its generalised equivalent. Examining the mythology of
one form of magic after the other, we find that there are in every
one either explicitly stated or implied views about how magic has
become known to man. As we register these views, compare them, and
arrive at a generalisation, we easily see, why our imaginary question,
put to the natives, would have to remain unanswered. For, according to
native belief, embedded in all traditions and all institutions, magic
is never conceived as having been made or invented. Magic has been
handed on as a thing which has always been there. It is conceived as an
intrinsic ingredient of everything that vitally affects man. The words,
by which a magician exercises his power over a thing or a process,
are believed to be co-existent with them. The magical formula and
its subject matter were born together.

In some cases, tradition represents them literally as being 'born'
by the same woman. Thus, rain was brought forth by a woman of
Kasana'i, and the magic came with it, and has been handed on ever
since in this woman's sub-clan. Again, the mythical mother of the
Kultur-hero Tudava gave birth, among other plants and animals, also
to the kalala fish. The magic of this fish is also due to her. In
the short myth about the origin of kayga'u magic--the one to protect
drowning sailors from witches and other dangers--we saw that the
mother, who gave birth to the Tokulubweydoga dog, also handed the
magic over to him. In all these cases, however, the myth does not
point to these women's inventing or composing the magic; indeed, it
is explicitly stated by some natives that the women had learned the
magic from their matrilineal ancestors. In the last case, the woman
is said in the myth to have known the magic by tradition.

Other myths are more rudimentary, yet, though less circumstantial
about the origin of the magic, show us just as unmistakably that
magic is a primeval thing, indeed, in the literal sense of the word,
autochthonous. Thus, the Kula magic in Gumasila came out of the rock
of Selawaya; the canoe magic out of the hole in the ground, brought
by the men, who originally emerged with it; garden magic is always
conceived as being carried from underground by the first ancestors,
who emerged out of the original hole of that locality. Several minor
forms of magic of local currency, such as fish magic, practised
in one village only, wind magic, etc., are also imagined to have
been carried out of the ground. All the forms of sorcery have been
handed over to people by non-human beings, who passed them on but
did not create them. The bwaga'u sorcery is due to a crab, who gave
it to a mythical personage, in whose dala (sub-clan) the magic was
carried on and from it distributed all over the islands. The tokway
(wood-sprites) have taught man certain forms of evil magic. There are
no myths in Kiriwina about the origin of flying witch magic. From other
districts, however, I have obtained rudimentary information pointing
to the fact that they were instructed in this magic by a mythical,
malevolent being called Taukuripokapoka, with whom even now some sort
of relations are kept up, culminating in nocturnal meetings and sexual
orgies which remind one very strongly of the Walpurgisnacht.

Love magic, the magic of thunder and lightning, are accounted for by
definite events. But in neither of them are we led to imagine that the
formula is invented, in fact, there is a sort of petitio principii in
all these myths, for on the one hand they set out to account for how
magic came, and on the other, in all of them magic is represented as
being there, ready made. But the petitio principii is due only to a
false attitude of mind with which we approach these tales. Because,
to the native mind, they set out to tell, not how magic originated,
but how magic was brought within the reach of one or other of the
Boyowan local groups or sub-clans.

Thus it may be said, in formulating a generalisation from all these
data, that magic is never invented. In olden days, when mythical
things happened, magic came from underground, or was given to a
man by some non-human being, or was handed on to descendants by the
original ancestress, who also brought forth the phenomenon governed by
the magic. In actual cases of the present times and of the near-past
generations whom the natives of to-day knew personally, the magic is
given by one man to another, as a rule by the father to his son or by
the maternal kinsman. But its very essence is the impossibility of
its being manufactured or invented by man, its complete resistance
to any change or modification by him. It has existed ever since the
beginning of things; it creates, but is never created; it modifies,
but must never be modified.

It is now easy to see that no questions about the origins of magic,
such as we formulated before, could have been asked of a native
informant without distorting the evidence in the very act of
questioning, while more general and quite abstract and colourless
inquiries cannot be made intelligible to him. He has grown up into a
world where certain processes, certain activities have their magic,
which is as much an attribute of theirs' as anything else. Some
people have been traditionally instructed how this magic runs, and
they know it; how men came by magic is told in numerous mythical
narratives. That is the correct statement of the native point of
view. Once arrived at this conclusion inductively, we can of course,
test our conclusions by direct questions, or by a leading question,
for the matter of that. To the question: "where human beings found
magic?" I obtained the following answer:--

    "All magic, they found long ago in the nether world. We do not
    find ever a spell in a dream; should we say so, this would be a
    lie. The spirits never give us a spell. Songs and dances they do
    give us, that is true, but no magic."

This statement, expressing the belief in a very clear and direct
manner, I had confirmed, reiterated with variations and amplifications,
by ever so many informants. They all emphasise the fact that magic
has its roots in tradition, that it is the most immutable and most
valuable traditional item, that it cannot leak into human knowledge
by any present human intercourse with spirits or with any non-human
beings such as the tokway or tauva'u. The property of having been
received from previous generations is so marked that any breach of
continuity in this succession cannot be imagined, and any addition
by an actual human being would make the magic spurious.

At the same time, magic is conceived as something essentially human. It
is not a force of nature, captured by man through some means and put
to his service; it is essentially the assertion of man's intrinsic
power over nature. In saying that, I, of course translate native
belief into abstract terms, which they would not use themselves for
its expression. None the less it is embodied in all their items of
folk-lore and ways of using magic and thinking about it. In all the
traditions, we find that magic is always in possession of man, or at
least of anthropomorphic beings. It is carried out from underground
by man. It is not conceived as having been there somewhere outside
his knowledge and then captured. On the contrary, as we saw, often
the very things which are governed by magic have been brought forth
by man, as for instance rain, the kalala fish; or disease, created
by the anthropomorphic crab.

The close sociological association of magic with a given sub-clan
emphasises this anthropocentric conception of magic. In the majority
of cases indeed, magic refers to human activities or to the response of
nature to human activities, rather than to natural forces alone. Thus,
in gardening and in fishing, it is the behaviour of plants and animals
tended or pursued by man; in the canoe magic, in the carver's magic,
the object is a human-made thing; in the Kula, in love magic, in
many forms of food magic, it is human nature on to which the force
is directed. Disease is not conceived as an extraneous force, coming
from outside and settling on the man, it is directly a man-made,
sorcerer-made something. We may, therefore, amplify the above given
definition, and say that magic is a traditionally handed on power of
man over his own creations, over things once brought forth by man,
or over responses of nature to his activities.

There is one more important aspect of the question of which I have
spoken already--the relation of magic to myth. It has been stated
in Chapter XII, that myth moves in the realm of the supernatural, or
better, super-normal, and that magic bridges over the gap between that
and present-day reality. Now this statement acquires a new importance;
magic appears to us as the essence of traditional continuity with
ancestral times. Not only, as I have emphasised in this chapter,
is it never conceived as a new invention, but it is identical in
its nature with the supernatural power which forms the atmosphere
of mythical events. Some of this power may have been lost on its
way down to our times--mythical stories relate how it has been lost;
but never has anything been added to it. There is nothing in it now
which has not been in it in the ancient, hoary times of myth. In
this the natives have a definitely regressive view of the relation
between now and before; in this they have their counterpart to a
Golden Age, and to a Garden of Eden of sorts. Thus we fall back upon
the recognition of the same truth, whether we approach the matter by
looking for beginnings of magic, or by studying the relations between
the present and the mythical reality. Magic is a thing never invented
and never tampered with, by man or any other agency.

This, of course, means that it is so in native belief. It hardly needs
explicitly stating that in reality magic must constantly change. The
memory of men is not such, that it could hand over verbally exactly
what it had received, and, like any other item of traditional lore, a
magical formula is in reality constantly being re-shaped as it passes
from one generation to another, and even within the mind of the same
man. As a matter of fact, even from the material collected by me in
the Trobriands, it can be unmistakably recognised that certain formulæ
are much older than others, and indeed, that some parts of spells,
and even some whole spells, are of recent invention. Here I cannot
do more than refer to this interesting subject, which, for its full
development, needs a good deal of linguistic analysis, as well as of
other forms of "higher criticism."

All these considerations have brought us very near to the essential
problem: what does magic really mean to the natives? So far, we have
seen that it is an inherent power of man over those things which
vitally affect him, a power always handed over through tradition. [81]
About the beginnings of magic they know as little, and are occupied
as little as about the beginnings of the world. Their myths describe
the origin of social institutions and the peopling of the world by
men. But the world is taken for granted, and so is the magic. They
ask no questions about magiogony any more than they do about cosmogony.


So far we have not gone beyond the examination of myths and of what
we can learn from them about the nature of magic. To gain a deeper
insight into this subject, we must study more closely the concrete
data about magical performance. Even in the foregoing chapters a
sufficient material has been collected to allow of correct inferences,
and I shall only here and there have to allude to other forms of magic,
besides that of canoe, Kula and sailing.

I have spoken so far about "magic" in a wholesale manner, as if it
were all of one piece. As a matter of fact, magic all the world over,
however rudimentary or developed it might be, presents three essential
aspects. In its performance there enter always some words spoken or
chanted, some actions carried out, and there are always the minister
or ministers of the ceremony. In analysing the concrete details of
magical performances, therefore, we have to distinguish the formula,
the rite, and the condition of the performer.

These three factors stand out quite clearly and definitely in the
Trobriand magic, whether we examine the facts themselves or the
natives' way of looking at them. It may be said at once that in
this society the relative importance of the three factors is not
quite the same. The spell is by far the most important constituent
of magic. In their linguistic use, although these natives have a
special word, yopa, they very often use the word magic, megwa, to
describe a spell. The spell is the part of the magic which is kept
secret and known only to the esoteric circle of practitioners. When
a magic is handed over, whether by purchase, gift, or inheritance,
only the spell has to be taught to the new recipient, and as already
once said before, it is usually taught in instalments, while the
payment is received in that manner. When one speaks about magical
knowledge, or in inquiries whether an individual knows some magic,
this invariably refers to the formula, for the nature of the rite
is always quite public property. Even from the examples given in
this book, it can be seen how simple are the rites and how elaborate
often the formulæ. To direct questions on the subject, the natives
always reply that the spell is the more important part. The question:
"where is the real strength of magic?" would receive the reply:
"in the spell." The condition of the magician is, like the rite,
essential to the performance of the magic, but it also is considered
by the natives as subservient to the spell.

All this must be made clearer by the examination of actual facts. First
of all, let us examine the relation between spell and rite; and to
this purpose it will be best to group the various magical performances
into several classes according to the complexity of the concomitant
rite. We shall begin with the simplest rites.

Spells uttered directly without concomitant rite.--We had one or two
examples of such magic where the performer simply utters a formula
directly into space. For example, the communal magician of the kaloma
(spondylus shell) fishing performs the first act by walking on the
beach and reciting his spell towards the sea. In the moment of actual
shipwreck, before abandoning the canoe, the toliwaga launches his
last kayga'u directly into the elements. Again, he lets his voice
float over the waters, when invoking the marvellous fish, who will
bring the drowning party to some friendly shore. The final spell
of the Kula, by which the approaching canoe 'shakes the mountain,'
chanted by a trio of magical reciters, is thrown directly towards
the Koya. The clearing of the sea in the kaloma fishing is also done
this way, and many more examples could be adduced from garden magic,
wind magic, and other classes not described in this book.

The natives have a special expression for such acts; they say that
the formula is recited 'by the mouth only,' 'o wadola wala.' This
form of magic with such a rudimentary rite is, however, relatively
uncommon. Although one could say that there is no rite at all in such
cases, for the magician does not manipulate anything or perform any
action beyond speaking, yet from another point of view, the whole
performance is ritual in so far as he has always to cast his voice
towards the element, or being, which he addresses. Indeed here, as in
all other cases, the voice of the reciter has to be somehow or other
conveyed to the object which he wishes to becharm. We see, moreover,
that in all these instances, the nature of this object is such that
it can be directly reached by the voice, whilst on the other hand,
there would be some difficulty in applying any substance or performing
any action over, let us say, wind, or a shell growing on a distant
reef or the Koya (mountain).

Spells accompanied by simple rites of impregnation.--A large number
of the cases described in this book falls under this heading. We
saw quite at the beginning (Chapter V, Division II and III) how
the magician charms the blade of his adze, the ropes by which the
canoe had been pulled, the lashing creeper, the caulking, and the
paint of the canoe. Among the Kula rites, the initial magic over
the aromatic mint, over the lilava (magical bundle) over the gebobo
(central part of canoe); all the beauty magic on Sarubwoyna beach,
over coco-nuts, over the facial paints as well as the conch shell
magic, belong here. In all these performances an object is put well
within reach of the voice, and in an appropriate position. Often, the
object is placed within a receptacle or covering so that the voice
enters an enclosed space and is concentrated upon the substance to
be charmed. Thus, when the lilava is chanted over, the voice is cast
into the mats, which are afterwards carefully wrapped up. The aromatic
mint is charmed, lying at the bottom of a bag made of baked and thus
toughened banana leaf, which afterwards is carefully folded together
and bound with string. Again, the adze blade is first of all half
wrapped up in a banana leaf, and the voice enters the blade and the
inside of the leaf, which subsequently is folded over and tied over
the blade. In the magic of the conch shell, I drew attention to the
fact that immediately after the charm has been spoken, both holes of
the instrument are carefully stuffed up. In all cases where an object
is going to be used immediately, not so many precautions are taken,
but always, without any exception, the mouth is put quite close to the
object medicated (see Plate LVII) and wherever possible, this latter
is placed in some sort of cavity, such as a folded piece of leaf,
or even the two palms of the hand put together. All this shows that
it is essential to a correct performance of magic, that the voice
should be conveyed directly to the substance, if possible enclosed
and condensed round it, and then, imprisoned permanently there by
means of some wrapping. Thus, in this type of rite, the action serves
mainly to convey carefully and to retain the spell round the object.

It may be noted that in almost all cases described, the substance
harmed in the rite is not the final aim of the magic, but forms only a
constituent part of the object in view or is an accessory of it, or an
instrument used in its making. Thus the wayugo creeper, the kaybasi
(caulking), the paint, the prow-boards, all these are constituent
parts of the canoe, and the magic performed over them does not aim
at giving them any qualities, but aims at imparting swiftness and
lightness to the canoe of which they are parts only. Again, the herbs
and the colours of the coco-nut ointment medicated in the Kula are
accessories of the final end of this magic, that is, of the personal
beauty and attractiveness of the performer. The adze, the breaking
stone in kaloma magic are implements used in obtaining the object,
towards which the magic is directed. There are only a few instances
in which the simple rite of impregnation is directly performed on
the object in view. If we compare this type of rite with the one of
the previous category, we see that the difference lies mainly in the
size of the object. If you want to cast a charm over a mountain, over
a reef, or over the wind, you cannot put your object into a little
bag made of banana leaf. Nor can you put there the human mind. And
as a rule, the final objects of magical rites are not small things,
which could be easily handled. In the magic described in this book,
there is, I think, not one single instance, in which the substance
handled in the rite and impregnated by condensing the charm upon it
artificially, is the final object of the spell. In war magic the points
of the spears are made effective and the shields are made spear-proof
(see Plate LVIII) by magic uttered over them. In private garden magic,
the planted yams are made fruitful by a spell, and a few more examples
could be adduced from other types of magic.

Spells accompanied by a rite of transference.--When we compare the
rite of medicating the adze blade with the rite of medicating some
dried grass, with which the canoe is afterwards beaten, we see that,
in the second case, the magic is uttered over a something, which has
no intrinsic connection with the final object of the magic, that is,
with the canoe. It is neither to become a part of it, nor to be used
as an implement in its manufacture. We have here the introduction
for purposes of the rite, of a special medium, used to absorb the
magical force, and to transfer it to the final object. We can therefore
call rites where such mediums are used rites of transference. When a
stick is charmed to be used afterwards for the magical knocking out
of a canoe; or a mussel-shell, with which the canoe will be scraped;
or a piece of coco-nut husk, which will be thrown into the water to
remove the heaviness of the canoe; or a pandanus streamer, which will
give it swiftness, there is introduced into every one of these rites a
substance which has to play a magical rôle only. The rite, therefore,
is not the simple charming of a part or of a constructive implement,
which will enter into the composition or be used in the making of
an object. The rite here is more autonomous, possesses more of its
own significance. The beating of a canoe with two bunches of grass,
one after the other, in order first to extract its heaviness and
then impart to it lightness, has a meaning parallel to the spell
but independent of it. So has also the throwing down of the coco-nut
husk. The flutter of the pandanus streamers has direct association
with speed, as the natives explicitly state. As the bisila streamers
flutter in the wind, so should the canoe and the sail shake with the
swiftness of their going. In the case of the ginger, which is spat over
the Dobuans feigning hostility, the inherent quality of the substance,
which our pharmacopæas describe as a stimulant, makes the meaning of
the rite plain. We can easily see that some of the rites are rather
more creative than others. That is, the very act performed produces,
according to native ideas, a more definite effect than in others. So
it is with the spitting of the ginger, and still more directly the
spilling of the lime, in order to produce a mist, and shut the eyes
of the mulukwausi. These two, for instance, are more creative than
the hanging up of the pandanus streamer.

Spells accompanied by offerings and invocations.--In the very first
rite described in this book, we saw an offering being laid before,
and an invocation being addressed to the wood-sprite, tokway. There
are a number of rites, accompanied by offerings given to ancestral
spirits, whose participation in the offering is solicited. Such rites
are performed in garden magic (see Plate LIX) in fishing magic, and
in weather magic. It must, however, be said at once that there is no
worship and no sacrificial offering involved in these rites, that is,
not of the usual description, because the spirits are not imagined
to serve as agents of the magician, in carrying out the bidding of
his magic. We shall return to the subject presently. Here it will be
enough to notice that the only instance of such a spell we have come
across--that is, the invocation of the tokway--has its concomitant
offering made only as a sort of compensation for having chased him
out, or as a means of persuading him to go. Probably it is the first
rather than the second, because the tokway has no free choice left,
after he has been exorcised. He must obey the bidding of the magician.

This survey shows clearly that the virtue, the force, the effective
principle of magic lies in the spell. We saw that in many cases,
the spell is quite sufficient, if directly breathed upon the
object. Again, in what may be called the prevalent type of ritual,
the action which accompanies the utterance of the formula serves
only to direct and condense the spell upon the object. In all such
cases the rite lacks all independent significance, all autonomous
function. In some cases, the rite introduces a substance which is used
for magical purposes only. As a rule, the substance then intensifies,
through a parallel action, the meaning of the spell. On the whole,
it may be said that the main creative power of magic resides in the
formula; that the rite serves to convey, or transfer it to the object,
in certain cases emphasising the meaning of the spell through the
nature of the transferring medium, as well as through the manner in
which it is finally applied. It is hardly necessary to state that in
the Trobriand magic, there are no rites performed without the spell.


It is also evident in studying the manner in which the force of
the spell is conveyed to the object, that the voice of the reciter
transfers the virtue. Indeed, as has been repeatedly pointed out,
in quoting the formulæ, and as we shall have to discuss later still,
the magical words are, so to speak, rubbed in by constant repetition
to the substance. To understand this better we must inquire into the
natives' conceptions of psycho-physiology. The mind, nanola, by which
term intelligence, power of discrimination, capacity for learning
magical formulæ, and all forms of non-manual skill are described,
as well as moral qualities, resides somewhere in the larynx. The
natives will always point to the organs of speech, where the nanola
resides. The man who cannot speak through any defect of his organs, is
identified in name (tonagowa) and in treatment with all those mentally
deficient. The memory, however, the store of formulæ and traditions
learned by heart, resides deeper, in the belly. A man will be said to
have a good nanola, when he can acquire many formulæ, but though they
enter through the larynx, naturally, as he learns them, repeating word
for word, he has to stow them away in a bigger and more commodious
receptacle; they sink down right to the bottom of his abdomen. I made
the discovery of this anatomical truth, while collecting war magic,
from Kanukubusi, the last office holder of the long succession of
war magicians to the chiefs of Omarakana. Kanukubusi is an old man,
with a big head, a broad, high forehead, a stumpy nose, and no chin,
the meekest and most docile of my informants, with a permanently
puzzled and frightened expression on his honest countenance (see Plate
LVIII). I found this mild old man very trustworthy and accurate, an
excellent informant indeed, within the narrow sphere of his speciality,
which he and his predecessors had used to make 'anger flare up in the
nanola' of Omarakana men, to make the enemy fly in terror, pursued
and slaughtered by the victorious warriors. I paid him well for the
few formulæ he gave me, and inquired at the end of our first session,
whether he had any more magic to produce. With pride, he struck his
belly several times, and answered: "Plenty more lies there!" I at
once checked his statement by an independent informant, and learned
that everybody carries his magic in his abdomen.

There exist also certain ideas about stratification of magic, namely,
that certain forms of magic have to be learnt first, so that they
sink down, while others come on top. But these ideas are vague and
contradictory, whereas the main idea, that magic rests in the belly, is
clear and definite. This fact gives us a new insight into native ideas
about magic. The force of magic, crystallised in the magical formulæ,
is carried by men of the present generation in their bodies. They
are the depositories of this most valuable legacy of the past. The
force of magic does not reside in the things; it resides within man
and can escape only through his voice.


So far, we only spoke of the relation between spell and rite. The
last point, however, brings us to the problem of the condition of
the performer. His belly is a tabernacle of magical force. Such a
privilege carries its dangers and obligations. It is clear that
you cannot stuff foreign matter indiscriminately into a place,
where extremely valuable possessions are kept. Food restrictions,
therefore, become imperative. Many of them are directly determined
by the contents of the spell. We saw some examples of this, as when
red fish, invoked in magic, is tabooed to the performer; or the dog,
spoken about in the Ka'ubanai spell, may not be heard howling while the
man eats. In other cases, the object which is the aim of the magic,
cannot be partaken by the magician. This is the rule in the case of
shark fishing, kalala fishing, and other forms of fishing magic. The
garden magician is also debarred from partaking of new crops, up to a
certain period. There is hardly any clear doctrine, as to why things
mentioned in magical formulæ, whether they are the aims of the magic
or only cooperating factors, should not be eaten. There is just the
general apprehension that the formula would be damaged by it. There
are other taboos, binding the magician, some of them permanent, some
of them temporary, during the season of his magical performance. We saw
some permanent ones, as in the case of the man who knows Kayga'u magic,
and is not allowed to eat while children make noises. The temporary
ones, such as the sexual abstinence during the first rites of the
Kula, could be supplemented by numerous examples from other forms of
magic. Thus, in order to bring about rain, the magician paints himself
black and has to remain unwashed and unkempt for some time. The shark
magician has to keep his house open, to remove his pubic leaf and
to sit with his legs apart, while the fishing and the magic last,
"so that the shark's mouth might remain gaping." But we cannot enter
too much into enumeration of these taboos and observances, and have
only to make it clear that the proper behaviour of the magician is
one of the essentials of magic, and that in many cases this behaviour
is dictated by the contents of the spell.

The taboos and observances are not the only conditions which a man must
fulfil in order to carry out certain forms of magic. In many cases
the most important condition is his membership in a social group,
for many forms of magic are strictly local, and must be performed
by one, who is the descendant of the mythical, original owner of
the magic. Thus in every case of garden magic, a magic which to the
natives ranks first among all the other types of beneficent magic,
the performer must be genealogically related to the first ancestor,
who locally emerged from the hole. Certain exceptions to this rule
are to be found only in cases where a family of high rank has come
and usurped the headmanship of the group, but these exceptions are
rare. In the case of the several systems of local fishing magic,
the office of magician is hereditary, and associated with the
locality. The important rain and sun magic which have been 'born'
in Kasana'i, can only be performed by the chiefs of that spot,
who have usurped this important privilege from the original local
headman. The succession, is of course, always matrilineal. A man
may make a gift of such a magic to his son, but this latter may be
obliged to relinquish the privilege at his father's death, and he
never will be allowed to hand it over to his son, unless this latter
belongs again to the local group, through cross-cousin marriage. Even
in transactions where magic is sold or given away from one clan to
another, the prestige of certain local groups as main specialists and
experts in a branch of magic still remain. For instance, the black
magic, though practised all over the place and no more localised, is
still believed to be best known in the villages of Ba'u and Bwoytalu,
where the original crab fell down from the skies, and brought with
him the magic. The Kula magic is also spread over the whole district,
yet it is still associated with definite localities.

To summarise these sociological observations, We may say that,
where the local character of magic is still maintained, the magician
has to belong to the dala (sub-clan or local group) of the mythical
ancestor. In all other cases, the local character of magic is still
recognised, even though it does not influence the sociology of the

The traditional character of magic and the magical filiation of the
performer find their expression in another important feature of the
spells. In some of them, as we have seen, references to mythical events
are made, or names of mythical ancestors are uttered. Even more often,
we find a whole list of names, beginning with the mythical founder
of the magic, and ending with the name of the immediate predecessor,
that is, of the man from whom the magic was obtained by the actual
performer. Such a list links up the present magician by a sort of
magical pedigree with all those, who had previously been using this
formula. In other formulæ again, the magician identifies himself
with some mythical individual, and utters the latter's name in the
first person. Thus, in the spell uttered whilst plucking the mint
plant, we found the phrase: "I, Kwoyregu, with my father, we cut
the sulumwoya of Laba'i." Both the actual genealogical descent of
the magician from the mythical ancestors, and the magical filiation
expressed in the formulæ show again the paramount importance of
tradition, in this case acting on the sociological determination
of the performer. He is placed in a definite social group of those,
who by birth, or what could be called 'magical adoption', have had the
right of performing this magic. In the very act of uttering the spell,
the magician bears testimony to his indebtedness to the past by the
enumeration of magical names, and by references to myth and mythical
events. Both the sociological restrictions, wherever they still exist,
and the magical filiation confirm once more the dependence of magic
on tradition. On the other hand, both show, as also do the taboos,
that the obligations imposed on the magician and the conditions he
has to fulfil, are largely derived from the spell.


Closely connected with the questions discussed in the preceding
division, is the subject of the systems of magic and the distinction
between 'systematic' and 'independent' magical rites and formulæ. As
we saw in the beginning of this chapter, the whole body of magic
naturally falls into several big divisions, each of them corresponding
to a department of nature, such as wind or weather; to some activity
of man, such as gardening, fishing, hunting or warfare; or to some
real or imaginary force, such as artistic inspiration, witchcraft,
personal charm or prowess.

There is, however, an important distinction to be made within each
such division of magic; some of the rites and spells are isolated
and independent, they can be used by themselves, whenever the
need arises. Such are almost all the incantations of wind magic;
some spells of individual garden magic; formulæ against toothache,
and minor ailments; some spells of hunting and food collecting; a
few rites of love magic and of the magic of carving. When a man, for
instance, paddles along the Lagoon in his canoe and an unfavourable
wind sets in, he will utter a spell to make it abate and change. The
same spell would be recited in the village, when there arises a wind so
strong as to be dangerous. The incantation is a free, individual act,
which may be performed and is performed in any of the circumstances
which require it.

It is quite another matter with the spells belonging to what I have
called here systematic magic. Such magic consists of a connected and
consecutive body of incantations and concomitant rites, no one of
which can be torn out of its sequence and performed by itself. They
have to be carried out one after the other in a determined order, and
the more important of them, at least, can never be omitted, once the
series has been started. Such a series is always closely connected
with some activity, such as the building of a canoe or an overseas
Kula voyage, a fishing expedition or the making and harvesting of
a garden. It will not be difficult for us to realise the nature of
systematic magic, for in this book almost all the rites and spells
described belong to this class. In general, in the Trobriands, the
independent uncorrelated rites and formulæ are quite an insignificant
minority, both in number and in importance.

Let us consider one of the forms of systematic magic previously
described, whether canoe magic or that of the Kula, whether the
kayga'u formulæ, or the magical ritual of kaloma fishing. The first
general fact to be noted here is, that we are in the presence of a
type of enterprise or activity, which is never embarked upon without
magic. No canoe will be built, no uvalaku started, no kaloma fished,
without its magic ceremonial. This ceremonial will be scrupulously
observed in its main features, that is, some of the most important
formulæ will never be omitted, as some minor ones might be, a
fact which has been previously noted. The association between the
practical activity and its magical concomitant is very intimate. The
stages and acts of the first, and the rites and spells of the latter,
correspond to each other one by one. Certain rites have to be done in
order to inaugurate certain activities; others have to be performed
at the end of the practical work; others again are part and parcel
of the activity. But each of the rites and spells is to the native
mind, quite as indispensable for the success of the enterprise,
as is the practical activity. Thus, the tokway has to be expelled,
or the tree would be entirely unsuitable for a canoe; the adze,
the lashing creeper, the caulking and the paint have to be charmed,
or else the canoe would be heavy and unwieldy, and such an omission
might even prove dangerous to life. Going mentally over the various
cases quoted in the previous chapters, it can be easily seen, how
this intimate association between enterprise and magic imparts to
systematic magic its specific character. The consecutive progress
of work and of magic are inseparable, just because, according to
native ideas, work needs magic, and magic has only meaning as an
indispensable ingredient of work.

Both work and magic are directed towards the same aim; to construct
a swift and a stable canoe; to obtain a good Kula yield; to insure
safety from drowning and so on. Thus we see that systematic magic
consists in a body of rites and spells associated with one enterprise,
directed towards one aim, and progressing in a consecutive series of
performances which have to be carried out in their proper place. The
point--the proper understanding of what is meant by systematic
magic--is of the greatest theoretical importance because it reveals
the nature of the relation between magical and practical activities,
and shows how deeply the two are connected with one another. It
is one of these points, also, which cannot be properly explained
and grasped without the help of a Chart. In the appended "Table of
Kula Magic and of the Corresponding Activities," I have prepared
such a Chart, in which has been summarised the substance of several
of the foregoing Chapters. The Table allows of a rapid survey of
the consecutive activities of the Kula in their relation to magic,
beginning with the first act of canoe-building and finishing with
the return home. It shows the salient features of systematic magic in
general, and of the mwasila and canoe magic in particular. It shows
the relation between magical, ritual and practical activities, the
correlated sequence of the two, their rolling off, stage after stage,
and side by side, towards one central aim--a successful Kula. The Table
thus serves to illustrate the meaning of the expression 'systematic
magic,' and it provides a firm outline of the essentials, magical,
ceremonial and practical, of the Kula.


I--First Stage of Canoe-Building (Chapter V, Division II)

Season and      Place       Activity                     Magic

Beginning:      Raybwag.    Felling of     inaugurated   The Vabusi
June--August.               tree, (done    by            Tokway
                            by the                       (offering and
                            builder and                  spell) aiming
                            helpers);                    at the
                                                         expulsion of
                                                         from the tree
                                                         (performed by
                                                         owner or
Immediately     Same        Trimming of                  No magic.
afterwards.     place.      the
                            (done by
                            builder with
A few days      Road.       Pulling the    Helped out    double rite of
later.                      log (done by   by            lightness
                            all                          (Kaymomwa'u
                            villagers);                  and
On morning      Main        The log is     until         The magical
after arrival   place in    left as it                   act
at village.     the         is;                          (Kapitunena
                village.                                 Duhu)
                                                         the work over
                                                         the canoe.
Evening of      Main        Working out                  No magic
the same day.   place in    of the                       accompanying
                the         outside of                   it.
                village.    the log.
Several days    Main        Scooping out   inaugurated   Ligogu spell,
or weeks        place.      of the         by            over the
following.                  inside of                    havilali, the
                            the canoe;                   adze with the
Towards the     In the      Other parts                  No magic.
end of the      village     of canoe
foregoing       before      made ready
period.         builder's   by builder
                house.      and helpers.
After all                                                Concluding
work is over.                                            rite:
                                                         Nanola Waga.

All the magic of this stage is canoe magic. It is performed only when
a new canoe is built and not when an old one is renovated. The spells
are uttered by the builder and not by the owner, except the first
one. Work at this stage is done by one man mainly, the builder and
carver, with the help of a few men; except for the pulling of the log,
in which many men assist.

II--The Second Stage of Canoe Building (Chapter V, Division III)

Time          Place       Activity                     Magic
First day     On the      Fixing the     inaugurated   Katuliliva
of work.      sea-front   prow-boards;   by            Tabuyo rite,
              of a                                     performed over
              Lagoon                                   the ornamental
              village,                                 prow-boards by
              or on a                                  the toliwaga. It
              beach of                                 belongs to the
              one of                                   mwasila (Kula
              the                                      magic).
                          The            inaugurated   Vakakaya rite. A
                          following      by            magical,
                          activities                   ceremonial
                          are                          cleansing of the
                                                       canoe, performed
                                                       by the owner or
                                                       builder to
                                                       remove all evil
                                                       influence and
                                                       thus to make the
                                                       canoe fast.
(At times,                Lashing of     associated    The Wayugo spell
the lashing               the canoe;     with          (lashing
cannot be                                              creeper) rite;
done in one                                            the most
day and has                                            important of the
to be                                                  magical
continued                                              performances in
into                                                   the second
another                                                stage. Done by
session.)                                              builder or owner
                                                       to make canoe
                                                       swifter and
Second        On the      Caulking of    associated    Kaybasi
sitting:      sea-front   the canoe;     with          (caulking)
during this   of a                                     magic; spell
the           Lagoon                                   uttered over
caulking is   village                                  caulking by
done and      or on a                                  builder or owner
the three     beach of                                 to make canoe
exorcisms     one of                                   safe.
performed     the                                      Vakasulu, an
afterwards.   Eastern                                  exorcism.
              villages.                                Vaguri, an
                                                       Kaytapena waga,
                                                       an exorcism.
                          Painting of    associated    Magic of;
                          the canoe;     with          Kayhoulo (black
                                                       Malakava (red
                                                       Pwaka (white

III--The Ceremonial Launching of a Canoe (Chapter VI, Division I)

  Activity                             Magic
  The launching and   inaugurated by   Kaytalula wadola waga rite,
  trial run                            belonging to the mwasila cycle
                                       of magic.

After this, there comes the interval, filled out by the Kabigidoya
(ceremonial visiting,) by the preliminary trade and other preparations
for the expedition overseas.

IV--The Magic During, and Preparations before the Departure (Chapter

Time: some three to seven days before setting sail.

Activity                             Magic

Preparing the canoe    inaugurated   Yawarapu rite over the coco-palm
for sailing (placing   by            leaves, done by the toliwaga to
of the mats on the                   ensure success in the Kula.
platform, and of the
frames in the body);                 Kayikuna sulumwoya rite over the
                                     aromatic mint.

                                     Kaymwaloyo rite over the mint
                                     boiled in coco-nut oil, performed
                                     by the toliwaga.
Packing of the trade   associated    Gebobo rite (called also: Kipwo'i
goods;                 with          sikwabu), made over four coco-nuts
                                     by a friend or relative in law of
                                     the toliwaga, to make all the food
                                     last (the spell expresses only the
                                     desire for a good Kula.)

All this magic belongs to the mwasila, and it has to be performed by
the toliwaga, with the exception of the last spell.

V--Canoe Magic, Performed at the Final Start on Overseas Voyage
(Chapter VIII, Division III)

The series of rites starts at the moment when the canoes are ready
to set sail on the long voyage on Pilolu. They are not associated
with a progressive series of acts; they all refer to one aim: canoe
speed and reliability. They are all performed by the toliwaga.

Activity: overseas sailing,    Kadumiyala, ritual rubbing or cleansing
inaugurated by a Series of     of the canoe with leaves charmed over.
Magical Rites.
Time: morning of the second    Bisila magic; pandanus streamers,
day of the expedition.         previously chanted over are tied to the
                               mast and rigging.

                               Kayikunaveva; swaying the sheet rope
                               uttering an incantation.

                               Vabusi momwa'u; "expelling the
                               heaviness" out of a canoe by means of a
Place: the beach of Muwa.      stale potato.
Aim of Magic: imparting of
speed to canoe.                Bisiboda patile; a rite of evil magic
Performer of the Rites: the    to make other canoes slow and thus
toliwaga.                      achieve relative speed.

VI--The Mwasila, Performed on Arrival at the Final Destination

(A) Beauty Magic (Chapter XIII, Division I)

Activity: washing, anointing and      Kaykakaya--ritual washing and
painting.                             rubbing with charmed leaves.

                                      Luya (coco-nut) spell--over the
                                      scraped coco-nut used for

                                      Sinata (comb) spell--over the
Place: the beach, on or near which    comb.
the party rest before starting on
the last stage (on the way to Dobu;   Sayyaku--aromatic black paint.
Sarubwoyna beach. On the way to
Sinaketa: Kaykuyawa).                 Bowa--ordinary charcoal blacking.
Performers: the spells are uttered
usually by the toliwaga, sometimes    Talo--red paint of crushed
by an elder member of the crew.       areca-nut.

(B) Magic of the Final Approach (Chapter XIII, Division II)

  Activity: the fleet are paddling   Ta'uya--the ritual blowing of the
  (on the approach to Dobu) or       conch shell, which has been
  punting (to Sinaketa) in a body.   charmed over before.

                                     Kayihuna-tabuyo--the swaying of
                                     the front prow-board while the
                                     spell is being uttered.

  Performers: in each canoe,         Kavalikuliku--the spell by the
  simultaneously, the toliwaga and   toliwaga.
  two members of the crew.
  Aim: to "shake the mountain," to   Kaytavilena mwoynawaga--the
  produce an impression on the       incantation uttered at the stern
  partners awaiting on the beach.    towards the Koya.

(C) Magic of Safety (Chapter XIII, Division III)

  Activity                        Magic

  Entering the Dobuan village     Ka'ubana'i, charm uttered over
  (This magic is performed only   ginger, which is then ritually spat
  when Boyowans come to the       over the Dobuan village and the
  Koya).                          partners, and makes their hearts

(D) Magic of Persuasion (Chapter XIV, Division III)

  Activity                          Magic

  The wooing in Kula (wawoyla) of   Kwoygapani--a spell uttered over a
  the of the overseas partner by    piece of areca-nut, given
  the visitor.                      subsequently to the partner.

VII--A Canoe Spell, Uttered on the Departure Home (Chapter XIV,
Division III)

Activity                                  Magic

Loading of the canoe with the its gifts   Kaylupa--a spell to make the
received from overseas partners, with     canoe lighter, to "lift" it
the trade gain, and with the provisions   out of the water.
for the home journey.

Within each department of systematic magic, there are again various
systems of magic. Thus we saw that, although the type of rite and
formula is the same in all villages, the actual details, let us say,
of the wayugo magic, are not identical, but vary according to the
system with which a given reciter is acquainted. The differences are,
as a rule, less pronounced in the rites, which are generally very
simple in the Trobriand magic, and are identical in all the systems,
but the formulæ differ completely in their wording. Thus, in the wayugo
magic (Chapter V, Division III) we found only a slight difference in
the rite, but one or two wayugo spells, which I have also recorded,
differ essentially from the one given in the text.

Each system of magic has a more or less developed mythological
pedigree, and in connection with it a local character, a point which
has been elaborated in the previous Division. The wayugo spell given
in Chapter V, and all the spells of canoe-building quoted in this
book belong to the Kaykudayuri system of canoe magic. This system is
believed to have been known and recited by the mythical builder of
the flying canoe, and to have been handed down to his descendants,
that is, as we know, in an incomplete form. As has been said in the
previous Division, the knowledge and the use of this magic and of
other systems does not abide strictly within the original clan, but
it spreads outside of it, and it becomes known to many people who
are connected with the original owner by a sort of magical filiation.

According to native belief, all these people know identical formulæ. In
fact, in the course of years and of repeated transmission, considerable
differences have been introduced, and nowadays many of the 'real
Kudayuri' spells differ from one another completely.

A system of magic is therefore a number of magical formulæ,
forming one consecutive series. The main system of canoe magic
is that of the Kaykudayuri, which is associated with the place of
the same name in Kitava. This system comprises the whole series of
canoe-building spells, from the expelling of the tokway to the final
exorcisms. Another comprehensive system is called Kaykapayouko, and
is localised in the island of Kayleula. An important system called
Ilumte'ulo is nowadays claimed by Sinaketa, but probably hails from
Dobu. The mythological data of some of these systems are not known to
me, and some of them seem to be exceedingly rudimentary, not going
beyond the assertion that such and such a system originated at such
and such a place, and was originally the property of such and such
a clan. Of the systems of mwasila, the best known in South Boyowa is
that called Monikiniki, to which belong the majority of the formulæ
here quoted. This system is sometimes loosely associated with the myth
of Tokosikuna, who is sometimes said to have been the original owner
of the system. According to another version, Monikiniki is the name
of the original owner. The Dobuan mwasila is called Kasabwaybwayreta,
and is ascribed to that hero. From Muyuwa, hails the Momroveta system
of Kula magic, while in Kiriwina the system of Monikiniki is usually
recited, and only a few formulæ are inserted into it, belonging to
a local magic, called Kwoygapani (a name not to be confused with
the name in a formula quoted in Chapter XIV). In the light of these
remarks, the many references to 'magical systems' given in the text,
will become clear, so there is no need to add more here.


We saw before in the chapter on mythology that magic bridges
over the cleavage between the super-normal world of myth and the
normal, ordinary happenings of to-day. But then, this bridge itself
must necessarily touch the super-normal, it must lead into that
domain. Magic surely, therefore, must partake of the supernatural
character? There is no doubt that it is so. The effects of magic,
although constantly witnessed, and although considered as a fundamental
fact, are regarded as something distinctly different from the effects
of other human activities. The natives realise quite well that the
speed and buoyancy of a canoe are due to the knowledge and work of
the constructor; they are well acquainted with the properties of good
material and of good craftsmanship. Yet the magic of swiftness adds
something more to even the best constructed canoe. This superadded
quality is regarded very much like the properties of the mythical
canoe which made it fly through the air, though in the present day
canoes these properties have dwindled down to mere surpassing speed.

The language of spells expresses this belief through the constant
allusions to myth, similes in which the present canoe is invited to
imitate the mythical one. In the explicit comments on the Kudayuri
myth, the natives also state definitely that the prodigious speed
which well-charmed canoes develop is the legacy and counterpart of the
old flying speed. Thus the effects of magic are something superadded
to all the other effects produced by human effort and by natural
qualities. The same is to be found in love magic. The importance of
a fine face and figure, of ornaments, decorations and nice scents,
is well recognised as being of attractive value, yet almost every man
ascribes his success to the perfection of his love magic. The force of
magic is considered as something independent of, and surpassing even,
the power of all other personal charms. A statement very often met
with expresses this quite well:

    "Look, I am not good looking, yet so many girls want me. The
    reason of that is that I have good magic."

In garden magic, soil, rain, proper work, are given their full
due. None the less, no one would dream of making a garden without the
full magical performance being done over it. Garden magic is thought
to make just this difference, which a man hopes for from 'chance,'
or 'good luck,' when he sees everybody round him working as hard
as he can, and in all other respects under similar conditions to
himself. So we see that, in all these cases, magical influence runs
parallel to and independently of the effects of human work and natural
conditions. It produces these differences and those unexpected results,
which cannot be explained by any of the other factors.

So far, we see that magic represents, so to speak, a different
sort of reality. When I call this different sort 'super-natural'
or 'super-normal,' one of the criteria which I use here lies in the
emotional reaction of the natives. This, of course, is most pronounced
in the case of evil magic. The sorcerer is not only feared because
of his bad intentions. He is also feared as ghosts are feared by
us, as an uncanny manifestation. One is afraid of meeting him in
the dark, not so much because he might do any harm, but because his
appearance is dreadful and because he has at his bidding all sorts
of powers and faculties which are denied to those not versed in
black magic. His sweat glows, night birds run with him to give him
warning; he can become invisible at will and produce paralysing fear
in those he meets. In short, the same hysterical dread, associated
amongst ourselves with the idea of haunted places, is produced by
the sorcerers in the minds of the natives. And it must be added that
the natives have no such emotion of dread at all with regard to the
spirits of the departed. The horror which they have of the bwaga'u is
even stronger in the case of the mulukwausi, to whom all sorts of most
uncanny properties are attributed. Their ghoulish feasting on corpses,
their capacity of flying, of making themselves invisible, of changing
into night birds, all this inspires the natives with extreme terror.

The other magicians and their art do not inspire such strong emotions
in the natives, and of course in any case the emotion would not be
that of dread. There is a very great value and attachment to systems
of local magic, and their effects are distinctly considered as an
asset for a community.

Each form of magic also has its associated magical portent,
kariyala. When a magic formula is spoken, a violent natural upheaval
will take place. For example, when garden magic is performed, there
will be thunder and lightning; with certain forms of Kula magic,
a rainbow will appear in the skies. Others will produce shower
clouds. The portent of a mild storm, accompanying the opening of
the magical bundle (lilava) has already been quoted. The kayga'u
may produce a tidal wave, whereas an earthquake will be the result
of other forms of magic. War magic, in an unexpectedly bucolic way,
affects only some plants and birds. In certain forms of magic, a
portent would take place whenever the formula is uttered, in others,
this will not be so regular, but a kariyala will invariably occur
when a magician dies. When asked, what is the real cause of any of
these natural phenomena enumerated, they will say:

    "Magic is the real cause (u'ula); they are a kariyala of magic."

Another point, where magic touches the super-normal or supernatural,
is in the association of spirits with certain magical performances. A
special type of magical payment, the ula'ula, is at the same time an
offering to the baloma (spirits). The magician will detach a small
bit of the large quantity of food brought to him, and put it down on
some special place, with the words:

    "Partake, O spirits, of your ula'ula, and make my magic thrive."

At certain ceremonies, the spirits are supposed to be present (see
Plate LIX). When something goes wrong with magic, or it is badly
performed, 'the spirits will become angry,' as it is often expressed by
the natives. In some cases the baloma will appear in dreams and advise
the magician what to do. As this is the most active interference of
the spirits in human affairs, as far as magic is concerned, I shall
quote in free translation some statements obtained on the matter.

    "The owners of fish magic will often dream that there is plentiful
    fish. The cause of it is the magician's ancestor spirit. Such a
    magician would then say: 'The ancestral spirit has instructed
    me in the night, that we should go to catch fish! And indeed,
    when we get there, we find plenty of fish, and we cast the nets.'"

    "Mokudeya, the maternal uncle of Narugo," who is, the main fishing
    magician of Oburaku "comes to his nephew in a dream and instructs
    him: 'Tomorrow, cast the nets for fish in Kwabwawa!' Narugo then
    says: 'Let us come, the old man instructed me last night.'"

    "The kaloma (spondylus shell) magician of Sinaketa dreams about
    a plentiful patch of kaloma shell. Next morning, he would dive
    and knock it off on the reef. Or he dreams of a canoe, and he
    then paddles and casts the anchor at that place. To'udawada,
    Luvayam, Sinakadi dream that they knock it off in plenty. When
    next morning we go there, it is plentiful."

In all these examples (except the last) we see that the spirits act as
advisors and helpers. They fill the rôle of guardian of the traditions
when they get angry because of a bad performance, or as associates
and sympathisers when they share the magician's ula'ula. But they are
not agencies which get to work directly. In the Trobriand demonology,
the magician does not command the spirits to go and set to work. The
work is done by the agency of the spell, assisted by the accompanying
ritual, and performed by the proper magician. The spirits stand
in the same relation, as the performer does, to the magical force,
which alone is active. They can help him to wield it properly, but
they can never become his instruments.

To summarise the results of what we have learned about the super-normal
nature of magic, it may be said that it has a definite character
of its own, which differentiates it from the non-magical actions
of man. The manner in which the magical force is conceived to act,
parallel to the ordinary efforts but independent of them; the emotional
reaction to certain types of magic and magician; the kariyala; the
intercourse with spirits during the performances, all these properties
differentiate magic from the ordinary activities of man.

In native terminology, the realm of the magical is called by the word
megwa, which describes the 'magical performance,' the 'spell,' the
'force' or 'virtue' of magic, and can be used as adjective to describe
in general everything which presents a magical character. Used as a
verb, the words megwa, miga-megwa, miga, all of which are variations
of the same root, mean: 'to perform magic,' 'to utter a spell,'
'to carry out a rite.' If the natives want to express that certain
actions are done in connection with magic, and not with work, and that
certain effects are due to magical forces, and not to other efforts,
they used the word megwa as a substantive or adjective. It is never
used to describe any virtue residing in a man or a thing, nor for
any action which is independent of a spell.

The associated concept of taboo is covered by the Kiriwinian word
bomala (with suffixed possessive pronouns). It means a 'prohibition,'
something which a man is not allowed to do under any circumstances. It
is used for magical taboos, for prohibitions associated with rank,
for restrictions in regard to food generally considered as unclean,
as, for example, the flesh of lizards, snakes, dogs and man. There
is hardly any trace of the meaning of 'sacred' attached to the word
bomala. If anywhere, it can be found in the use of the word boma,
for a tabooed grove where men usually are not allowed to enter, and
where traditional spots, often original holes where men came out and
whence magic issued, are to be found. The expression toboma (to-,
prefix denoting personal noun) means a man of high rank, but hardly
a sacred man.


Finally, a few words must be said about the sociological or ceremonial
setting of magic. Reference has often been made to the simplicity of
rites, and to their matter-of-fact character. This has been mentioned
with reference to canoe-building, and in garden magic we would have
found equally simple and purely businesslike performances. In calling
a magical action 'ceremonial' we imply that it was done with a big
public attendance; under the observance of definite rules of behaviour
by the spectators as well as by the performer, such as general silence,
reverent attention to what is being done, with at least a show of some
interest. Now if, in the middle of some work, a man quickly performs
an action whilst others talk and laugh and leave him entirely on
one side, this gives a definite sociological stamp to the magical
actions, and does not allow us to use the term 'ceremonial,' as the
distinguishing mark of the magical acts. Some of them, it is true,
do have this character. For instance, the initial rite with which the
kaloma fishing begins, requires the assistance of the whole fleet,
and a definite type of behaviour on the part of the crews, while the
magician officiates for all of them, but with their assistance, in the
complex evolutions of the fleet. Similar rites are to be found in two
or three systems of fishing magic, and in several rites of the garden
magic of certain villages. In fact, the initial rite of garden magic
is everywhere connected with a ceremonial performance. The garden
rite, associated with the ceremonial offering of food to spirits,
and attended by a body of villagers, a scene of which is shown on
Plate LIX, has been elsewhere described. [82] One or two rites in
war magic imply the active assistance of large numbers of men, and
take the form of big ceremonies. Thus we see that magical rites may
or may not be ceremonial, but that the ceremonial is by no means an
outstanding or universal feature of Trobriand magic.


We found that taboos are associated with magic, in so far as it is
the magician who has to observe them. There are, however, certain
forms of restrictions or prohibitions, set up for special purposes,
and associated with magic in a somewhat different form. Thus, in an
institution called kaytubutabu we find a ban made on the consumption
of coco-nuts and betel-nuts, associated with a specific magic to
make them grow. There is also a protective taboo, used to prevent
the theft of ripening fruits or nuts, too far away from the village
to be watched. In these cases a small parcel of medicated substance
is placed on the tree or near it, on a small stick. The magic spoken
over such a substance is a 'conditional curse,' to use the excellent
term introduced by Professor Westermarck. The conditional curse
would fall upon anyone who would touch the fruits of that tree, and
would bring upon him one form of disease or another. This is the only
form of magic, in which the personal agency is invoked, for in some
of these spells, the tokway (wood-sprite) is invited to take up his
abode on the kaytapaku, that is the stick, with the substance on it,
and to guard the fruit. Some such small divergencies from the general
trend of native belief are always to be found. Sometimes they contain
important clues, and a deeper insight into the facts, sometimes they
mean nothing, and only emphasise the fact, that it is not possible to
find absolute consistency in human belief. Only a deeper analysis, and
a comparative study of similar phenomena can decide which is the case.


In order to complete the survey of all the characteristics of magic,
I shall rapidly mention here the economic aspect of the position
of magician, although the data referring to it have already been
given, scattered through the previous chapters. I have spoken of the
matrilineal inheritance of magic, and of the deviations from it which
consist in inheritance from father to son, and in the transmission
of magic by purchase (Chapter II, Division VI, and Chapter VI,
Division VI under (5)). This latter transaction may take place under
two names, which really cover two essentially different operations;
the pokala or payment to a maternal kinsman from whom one is going
to obtain the magic, and the laga, which is the purchase of magic
from a stranger. Only certain forms of magic can freely pass from
one clan or sub-clan to another, and are purchasable by the laga
system. The majority of magical systems are local, and can descend
only in the same sub-clan with an occasional deviation to the son of
a member, from whom, however, the magic must return to the sub-clan
again. A further economic feature of magic is the payment, which the
magician receives for his services. There are many types of payment;
some given occasionally by an individual for a definite act of magic,
as in the case of sorcery or healing magic; others, paid at regular
intervals by the whole community, as in the case of garden and fishing
magic. In some cases the payments are considerable, as in sorcery,
in rain and fine weather magic, and in garden magic. In others,
they amount to little more than a mere formal offering.


In all this, we have been dealing with general characteristics of
Boyowan (Trobriand) magic. This has been done mainly on the basis of
the material presented in this volume, with only a few examples from
other branches of magic. The result so far can be set down thus: magic
to the natives represents a special department; it is a specific power,
essentially human, autonomous and independent in its action. This power
is an inherent property of certain words, uttered with the performance
of certain actions by the man entitled to do it through his social
traditions and through certain observances which he has to keep. The
words and acts have this power in their own right, and their action is
direct and not mediated by any other agency. Their power is not derived
from the authority of spirits or demons or supernatural beings. It is
not conceived as having been wrested from nature. The belief in the
power of words and rites as a fundamental and irreducible force is the
ultimate, basic dogma of their magical creed. Hence we find established
the ideas t