Tools, Weapons, Machines, Utensils, Musical Instruments, Etc.
Explaining Pei Material Culture.
The primary tools used by the Pei are Bush knives of various sizes
’ulafe, Bows and arrows
salapi, hilemo of various size and decoration, Matches and Lighters of various kind
yapulilati, Long and short Oars
hlauhe made of various kinds of available hard wood, and some instruments for preparing sago. All of these tools each have many uses, ranging from cutting trees and removing saksak thorns from feet, to hunting pigs and shaping canoes. There are a variety of machines here in Pei that address primarily transportation and entertainment: Cell Phones, Stereos, Speakers, Portable DVD Players and a single 40 HP Yamaha Outboard Motor. Additionally, The average Pei household has a combination of Spoons, Forks, Large Plastic Bowls, Aluminum Pans, Small Steak Knives, Plates, cups and other dishes. Some have been obtained by purchase and others by trade. The Pei have limited access to purchase of such utensils via Wewak and Hauna.
The Pei also have a few Musical instruments (witnessed in Houses and Bush camps). Most are made from bush material: Jews Harp
petgihe, Bamboo Drums, Ukulele Type Guitars
gitamo, and Garamuts
plo’umo. All get occasional use, and some serve more of a purpose than just amusement. Those that have been introduced are Guitars, Cell Phones and MP3 Players.
The Pei have no native way of constructing any textiles. Some of the older men do know how to weave the fronds of certain leaves to make decorations, but even Pei ancestors didn’t use such woven decoration to actually cover their bodies. Mats and baskets of woven material are typically traded for in places closer to Hauna and the Sepik (Sanapian seems to be a major trade partner in this area). String bags are constructed chiefly by women, and there are various native kinds of string bags constructed for various tasks around the village. Traditionally, these bags are made from string made from the bark of a ‘Mangas’ or ‘Tulip’ tree. Spun and woven into bags by the mothers and wives in the village, these bags are often dull in appearance, and ‘coloring’ options are scarce. The Pei, however, love to decorate their bags with available materials… all kinds of bird feathers, pen ink, and shells can be seen throughout the village. Colored wool and polyester string is highly prized for the construction of string bags, and colorful and tightly woven bags are highly valued possessions among the Pei as they conceal the contents from prying eyes. It is typical for every single person to carry a string bag with them wherever they go, and expected especially of older men and boys. String bags are where nearly everything one needs for the day is held close at hand, and small stashes of tobacco and rolling paper and lime are often pulled out and enjoyoed communally dozens of times in any given day. In addition to the wool and plastic string, some fabrics, old trousers, canvas, or flour/rice/coffee bags have also been introduced and are often repurposed into bags with varying functions.
The Pei use a few different types of net made from synthetic or imported cordage. Mosquito nets
taulemehe are used to sleep under, and the second are large plastic nets purchased from Town or Hauna used for fishing. They recently have used scraps of fly wire missionaries brought in during allocation and these are used for straining sago. Two modern sports have taken root: Volleyball and Soccer. There are several volleyball nets and volleyballs in Pei, as well as soccer balls and team jerseys. Other children games include various size sticks
witufe and small seeds
oulemasi from a non fruit bearing tree and used like marbles.
The Pei use many tools and weapons that they themselves produce from bush material. Canoes
wagehgu are shaped by hand using axes
ulafe, tagolelafe. Bow and Arrows
salapi, hilemo are shaped and decorated by hand using a strong limbum, pitpit and vine
wliho. Long and short oars
hlaulafiehe, hlauilagihe are also shaped by hand using mainly Kwila
plo and Garamut
plo’u, the local hardwoods. Multi-purpose tongs
heihe for holding anything hot are shaped from the bark of buai trees. A scraper
so’ou for pulverizing saksak is also made out of bush material with a stone or piece of steel or pipe at the head. Handles
‘usalehe for spades and axes are often shaped from a strong tree found in the swamps. Most Pei are expected to know how to make the tools necessary for their corresponding genders’ work, and they begin shaping these tools at a young age - initially out of material not suitable for work, and primarily for the purpose of learning the basics of the process as it is modeled for them.
There are no traditional ‘craftsmen’ in Pei culture. All members of the community are expected to know and understand all aspects of subsistence, and total skill diversification is considered desirable. In Pei culture, there is diversity in male and female work, but there are no ‘butchers’ or ‘carvers’, ‘guilds’ or craftsman sub-communities. There are people that are better than others at certain jobs, but the Pei do not distinguish any ‘craftsman class’. Recently, however, the idea of becoming a ‘Kapenta’ has become the aspiration of some of the younger population, though not because of a desire to pursue that particular line of work, but out of a desire for the perceived monetary compensation.
In the past, especially musical instruments were ascribed certain powers, or use of them in a certain way was believed to impart the player with special magical appeal or power. One of the older men in the village in 2014 (Saimon Kama, sadly, died that year), claimed to have lured his wife into having relations with him because of his skill with bamboo flutes. It is said that this is why they got married. Guitars are strummed out of boredom, but most associate the guitar with church services. Learning to play musical instruments was a skill taught only to men during initiation into adulthood when the local cult was still very prominant. Because access to music has broadened considerably, much of the allure surrounding making it has dwindled, and it is for this reason that the ‘magic’ associated with music in antiquity has been all but forgotten by the younger generation of Pei. Similar trends towards westernization are observable in the replacement of nearly all ancestral tools and materials with modern platcs, metal or electronic alternatives.
Men, Animals & Vegetation
For the most part, Humanity is differentiated from animalia. The secular-humanistic idea of ‘man as animal’ has been introduced, as has evolution, though the topic usually incites only laughter and mockery. Dogs and pigs are fabled to have some element of humanity, and some believe them to assume the forms of men and women when not actively observed by humans, however the implications of such a view are not actively explored or sought by Pei minds.
Humanity is viewed as ‘top of the food chain’, and supreme over animals and land and vegetation. Value of human life is considered to be higher than that of any animal, as is the case with vegetation. Among human affairs, however, women are not respected or valued members of society with few exceptions. Social exertion by women is not disrespected or frowned upon overall, however, females in Pei society are often quite timid. This submissive posture has enabled the males to exert dominance and encouraged prejudice. Women are not considered property in the same way a dog might be considered property, however, there is definitely an ownership attributed to husbands and male siblings and family patriarchs. Such is perhaps most clearly observed in the civil proceedings surrounding marriages.
Animals carry significant meaning throughout Pei Culture. Animals are active characters in everything from ancestor and origin stories, to daily life activities such as eating and hunting. Some are used only as food, while others are domesticated and used to find food – some are even elevated to a spiritual status. For example, wild fowl are used only for food, and not kept or used in any other capacity. Dogs are not eaten, but used to hunt pigs. Pigs and dogs are both thought to have powerful spirits associated with them, and some birds and bats are thought to actually be the physical forms of certain spirits. The various animals the Pei interact with regularly are considered to have specific uses, and they are used for those purposes.
Linguistically, the Pei language differentiates four different kinds of animals with noun classes (More detailed information on this particularly unique feature can be found in Pefiyahe Grammar). The four class-specific articles used in Pei to describe animals are mo, he, sto, and to.
As with nearly anything else, any animals that have been recently introduced to native Pei speakers will either take a transliterated and slightly adapted Tok Pisin name, or will be called by the name of an animal considered similar, further adjectivized by the
yapu- prefix (meaning something between ‘of a devil’, ‘magical’, and ‘of a white man’). For example, domesticated cats are often called
yapu-’itemo, which means, literally ‘devil-dog’, and use the first Noun Class Article
mo. The second classification is rodents and some marsupials
hatisto which are referred to by the article
sto. While the marsupials in this class aren’t truly rodents the Pei do think of them as such. Nearly all mammals are eaten, with the typicall exception of dogs and cats. There are some taboos surrounding each mammal for consumption and best explained in further sections of our Cultural Analysis.
The average Pei can list over 30 birds, part of daily life. Birds
apeto play varying roles in Pei life, and depending upon the type, are enjoyed for their song, eaten as food, considered to mark the beginning and end of seasons, and some are even considered active spirits. One bird
ape wesiso’a in particular is believed to have the ability to speak all languages and has been known to call out warnings, the names of the dead, or to notify listeners of who might be coming to the village, and from where.
Most Pei men and women can name about fifteen types of fish & shellfish. Water snakes (eels), turtles, and river shrimp among them. The most common fish caught and eaten is the relatively newly introduced Pirhana Hybrid (ha pe su he), a ‘maus’ fish (ha ya i), and the ‘wait’ or ‘kol’ fish (ha atun), and the catfish like nil pis (ha sa wia). The larger of the two sizes of eel (ha ma ia) is said to help with curing certian sickness, and is killed and smoked for the smoke made from its juices dripping on coals. It is this smoke that is claimed to be medicinal. The small (ha ta lgu) papa fish is forbidden from consumption around menarche.
Reptiles and Amphibians are also classified in Pefiyahe into 3 major categories in order to identify species. For all snakes, skinks and Monitors the Pei use
swa’u- prior to identifying the species. For instance a python would be
swa’ulogomago. Because all lizards are considered ‘snakes with legs’ they too are identified as such. A river monitor is
swa’u gutugu. Skinks and small lizards follow suit. The Amphibians of Pei’s immediate environtment are identified with
sou- preceding the given species. This is true with the exception of turtles. They fall into the third classifcatio where only their species is identified. For instance big river turtles
ta’ula and small river turtles
helepo are identified by their species. Turtles and certain frogs are consumed for food where as only the older generation have or still eat certain snakes as well.
Insects in Peifyahe are given the noun class article-to. Each individual species has its own name with this NCA as its suffix. Many insect such as bees
’au, grub worms
ho’a ect. have a large genous name and an individual species name. For the sake of story telling, the memory of the speaker and recounting events often the ‘Big name’ is used in place of each individual species.
Pei territory is surrounded by swamp land on three sides and the river on the fourth. It is all rain forrest part of the National Solame Preserve, and vegetation is plentifully dense and over abundant. The Pei have a complex classification system most apparent in their naming of vegetation (see Pefiyahe Grammar for further explanation). Some fruit bearing trees are designated
-sgo, anything ‘bundled’ (leaves, sticks, or fronds) are designated
-pi, many of the common and ‘stalky’ staples of the Pei diet (i.e. Sago and bananas) are designated
-ho, as are jungle vines and bamboos. Other fruit bearing trees are given the class ending of
-hgi, and the fruits and produce of the vegetation never matches, and are classified differently. Foliage and grasses and bushes are designated
-he, most standing trees that the Pei typically use for construction are designated
-fe, and many straight and fronded trees are designated with
-fage. Vegetation with special spiritual or medicinal uses is designated
-ou (Tangat, Marijuana, Mushrooms, and Tobacco). Overall, noun classes seem to be assigned primarily by physical features of the particular item, and the world of Pei Vegetation is no different. The Pei have names for nearly all vegetation in the swamps, at their mountains, and along the river’s edge, though it is difficult to assess conclusively what vocabulary is true Pefiyahe and what has been borrowed from other languages in the area.
Geography, Topography & Community Settings
The geography of the the Pei area is mainly Swamp, River and Hill. This is representative of their hunting and gathering boundaries. They have bush houses and gardens in the mountains. Their Sago trees are seldom planted and grow wildly in the swamps. Their homes and some small gardens are built along the Walio River.
This Map identifies the 18 primary landmarks of the Pei. Each individual Clan has designated hunting and farming land and each has a system of naming. Each area with its own name is identified by each individual clan.
⚠️ !!! INSERT MAPS AND IMAGES
Food and Food Customs
The Pei diet is not very diverse. Typically, the staples of their diet are in constant supply from the bush, and during various other seasons of plenty, certain other seasonal foods may be in abundance. In recent history, access to canned fish, rice, and Ramen Noodles has changed diets minimally, and mainly with respect to physical location and relative wealth. Attempts at growing cash crops have been made, and may well represent some future change in diet, however, crops are not perceived by the Pei to be a sustainable, predictable source of income.
The Pei are traditionally Agrarian Hunter/Gatherers. Among the population of the community are some members that seem to garden with more success than others, and certain other members have more success hunting. The staple here, as in most areas in the Sepik Basin, is saksak
pouhe. Prepared in a variety of ways, ‘fried’ in the form of ‘pancakes’
pou’la’uhe, Mixed with hot water into a gelatinous paste
ya’ale, baked in a stone mumu with screwpine
aliamapou, sago is the primary source of caloric intake for every member of the Pei community.
Because of the proximity to water, we would consider fish
hahe a protein staple of the Pei diet as well. Additionally, while the Pei do not eat pig
tgimo everyday, it is another protein consumed on a somewhat consistent basis. Some of the other proteins in the Pei Diet that are available to hunt, but even less common than Pig and Fish are various game birds
apelguapeto, various rodents and marsupials
hatilualu, hatiwale, hatliyasto, sago grubs
apegefito, and still others.
A variety of greens are available, and to the Pei are considered staples: Aibika
wdi, Pumpkin Greens
papaki lugu, and Kumu
piau are among the most commonly eaten. Other varieties of greens include:
howete and Green Beans
hesisi as well, are mainly seasonal and retrieved from gardens. Other seasonal foods are the screwpine
pefamo, Sweet Potato
stafo, Sugar Cane
mapia’o, and some other tree-fruits.
The main source of water for the Pei is the Walio River. Shortly after we moved into Pei we attached a water spigot to one of our water tanks to provide the people with rain water, and while many will use the spigot for drinking water or for boiling and cooking, many (who are often just too lazy to wait for the spigot) still fill pots from the river. Coconut water is given to travelers or guests as refreshment when available, and is enjoyed by all without cultural restriction, though supply is somewhat limited as the local silty soil is not conducive to growing coconut.
Spices available to the Pei are very limited, and there is virtually no concept of any sort of ‘spice trading’ (though they are aware of certain asian foreigners that will purchase cassia, cocoa and vanilla). Commonly used spices are: Salt
tauwase and Hot Peppers
lambo. Ancestors would make a ‘salt’
’ose which is now seldom used to flavor meats, greens and other foods. This ‘tumbuna sol’ is not used as often as it once was (because of the time it takes to make, and access to ‘table salt’), but is still made by some members of the older generation. Made from the ?screw? of the saksak plant
’ose’afo, ladies will take the outer parts of the plant and dry it in the sun for at least a week. After it has completely dried, it will be cooked on the fire until it’s ash, when it is ready to be used.
Recreational substances are commonplace in Pei though limited to the use of tobacco, buai, and marijuana. Tobacco is a cultural staple, and is not considered dangerous or malicious, and is often consumed after a meal or used as something to stave off hunger, open the eyes, or lubricate conversation. Tobacco
mlamesou is grown here in the village but is mainly grown in hill gardens because sporadic flooding’s potential to devastate tobacco plants. Likewise considered, Buai is also very social, and has limited uses beyond freshening breath and perking attention. Chewing buai is used to solidify agreements between two parties, mark that a dispute is settled, adorn a bride price or gift, and given in a sign of respect or friendship. Occasionally, empty beer bottles make an appearance, but because of our location and the relative cost, alcohol is scarce. Few do have limited understanding of fermentation and distillation, but because of the lack of equipment and information, this too is difficult for the Pei to enjoy. Parties and big events are often prepared for in advance by the acquisition of yeast and sugar to make a fermented alcoholic drink used only to get drunk. Marijuana is the least often used, and consumed chiefly by the younger men in the village, most often in secret. The introduction of Lotuism has demonized consumption of all of these substances in nearly all of ther various forms, shaming most individuals for their use, and prohibiting them in certain circumstances.
Cannibalism is a practice associated with, in the Pei worldview, witchcraft. There is a certain horror associated with consuming human flesh or blood in Pei thought, and even mentioning that a food item has the appearance of flesh or blood might cause some to lose their appetite or become afraid they are actually being fed such things (there are several stories of such occurences). The concept of ‘Sanguma’ is very prominant, and a very real fear to the Pei (that they will be hunted and eaten by a witch or sorcerer). It is believed that such individuals learn to enjoy eating the meat of human beings, but there seems to be several different ideas and concepts amalgamated from many different places explaining the reasons for such.
The Pei are slowly starting to produce items agriculturally for reasons besides personal consumption, and currently are considering putting effort into Cocoa production and gardening. Tobacco, vanilla, sandalwood, sago, buai and rice have all at some point in recent history been grown for the express purpose of trade, though rice and buai has been the only thing consistently traded for money. Gathering for personal consumption happens on a very individual basis - if you are hungry, you gather. There is very little organization or system to the gathering of items for consumption.
We have not noticed any extreme variation in season throughout the year, and the Pei don’t track time more than about 5 days ahead of or behind ‘today’. They do seem to acknowledge a ‘rainy season’ and a ‘dry season’, though we witnessed a ‘dry season’ go by in two weeks, and the same months in adjacent years have been nearly perfectly opposite in the amount of rainfall, flooding, heat, and ‘dryness’ in our limited experience thus far.
During particularly rainy and flooded ‘spell’ however, there are jobs that are made significantly easier to do. Cutting any heavy trees or house posts is often done when most convenient, and the trees are felled and cleaned in preparation for a flood, when they will be easier to move when they are afloat. If it is possible, creeks are fenced during high water (‘wet’ seasons), and when the river goes down again, large numbers of fish will have been trapped and easily caught.
Dry ‘seasons’ are helpful to detect early on, to ensure the health of your lowland garden, which can be easily damaged by flooding. Corn, tobacco, melon, and cucumbers do not often survive flooding, thus dry spells are particularly valuable for growing these items . Whenever the Walio river’s level is particularly low, the ratio of fish to fish-able water is particularly helpful for catching fish. Low water times are often fraught with trips to set nets, to high returns on your physical investments.
Both men and women can posess gardens and gardening grounds, and even in the lowland sepik basin (as aopposed to the traditional hill topography used by Pei ancestors) gardening is a common activity in Pei life. Because of the erratic water levels along the Walio, the Pei are hesitant to trust the riverside ground with too much of an investment of garden food, as flooding can destroy most types of planted food. In supplement to riverside and lowland efforts, Pei gardens can also be found in either of two locations, Wainame (Pefiasapmo) or Ati (Yaskumo); the two hills bordering the north and south of what is now considered Pei Village (note Palu garden plot distibution varies). The Pei occasionally also maintian gardens in more distant areas (closer to Palu, yet still considered Pei teritory) very near Hauna and Kupkein, but these more distant plots are not a dominant source of food. It seems to us that when out on gardening and collecting trips, most food is eaten while living in bush camps, and small amounts are brought back to the village for later consumption there.
Whether in a bush camp or in the village proper, gathering is part of the daily routine for the Pei. Women will often gather firewood, seasonal tree fruits, leaves and vines, or greens - sometimes multiple times in a day. Fish too are gathered daily. Men and women, young and will often redeem a walk back to the village, or any ‘down time’ by throwing a hook
sase or setting a fish net. Before the Pei were able to purchase nets and hooks, kanda thorn baskets
hafe lafe would often be set and checked at palm screens built into creeks, or baskets made from leaves
hapufo would be set or checked for prawns. A more effective method for catching fish, the ‘poison rope’
ha wdi, usually requires more time than typical gathering trips require, but occasionally a special trip is made to a nearby creek to poison it, causing all of the nearby fish to come to the surface where they are easy to catch in nets or baskets.
Hunting & Trapping
It is said that the ideal Pei man is one who is not lazy, can build strong houses, and find plenty of meat to provide for himself and his family (both immediate and extended). Hunting and trapping is a large part of Pei culture, and very important to the Pei diet, as proteins are notoriously difficult to come by otherwise. Pig and Cassowary are the main ‘large game’ that are hunted… the Pei equivalent to the english ‘wild game’
tgi’ape literally means ’Pig and Muruk’… though several (nearly all) smaller animals are killed occasionally. Pig is the most common game to be actively hunted and trapped, and is the work of grown men only. Smaller animals, frogs, bats, Cuscus, bush rats… are all hunted by teens and pre-teens as more of an elementary exercise in the skills required to successfully hunt pig. Muruk and other wild birds seem never to be actively hunted, but if by happenstance someone feels particularly lucky, or has ammunition for an airgun, or has recently heard the calls of good gamebirds locally, a trip will be quickly scheduled and executed.
The primary method of hunting pig is to construct a lure and blind, and check it often for signs of activity. Usually, a small trough is made from a fallen sacsac, and hunters will confine it with a small fence
tgi pouho hefo made of sacasc palm fronds. They will wait until night to sneak up on an eating pig, and shoot it with either a Bow and arrow or a long spear. Another method it to drill out a fallen sacsac with and small hole
pou tlemo and a few 5–6 inch pointed sticks at the mouth. The pig will then go into the opening of the tree to feed on the pith, and the intentionally placed sharpened sticks prevent the pig from backing out of the trunk of the tree. This trap gives a big advantage to the hunter, as more noise can be made on the approach to the trap, and the pig’s sense of hearing is obstructed while it’s head is fully inside the tunk of the tree. The tree is hit repeatedly, and as the pig slowly backs out, the hunter can easily kill it. Lastly, a noose is often set on a game trail, and a pig will be trapped, its neck or chest stuck until a hunter checks the trap. Dogs are also sometimes used to chase a pig toward a hunter. When dogs catch the scent or trail of a pig, they will often and without training follow the trail ahead of the slower hunter. Pursuit will often tire the pig, and once cornered, the hunter will order the dogs off to shoot the animal.
Game birds are also commonly trapped. Wild fowl is often caught with a spring trap using bush rope
apewli. A feeding bird trips the trap’s switch and will be caught by the leg, awaiting the hunter’s patrol. Use of a counter-weighted trap
lugupou using the head of a sacsac tree is also common. Bait is set and a small forked stick is set as a trigger holding the weight of a heavy limb that is tied off to the head of a sacsac. When the prey touches the stick the weight is released and the sacsac frond fall on top of the prey trapping it until someone checks it.
Caring for animals seems only to occur at the whim of the individual. Some animals have very explicit benefits to ownership, while others seem only a burden. Piglets are often fed and cared for to make them easier to capture later when they are big enough to eat, Chickens and ducks are also kept for food, as the investment into care for these creatures is negligible. Cats are valued for their mousing ability, and dogs are helpful in certain pig-hunting situations, but the various other birds and small mammals that are occasionally cared for are kept for no other reason save amusement.
A small pack of good dogs is very helpful to have when tracking a pig, but no man in the village has a small pack of his own at his disposal. We have heard of hunting trips where dogs are used to actually hunt pigs, but have never witnessed such a trip. Dogs too require little care, and fend for themselves mostly, eating scraps, and rifling through rubbish heaps for food. Nearly all of the dogs in the village are in poor health, being thin and overcome with mange. There is a desire within the village to make serious effort towards raising a domesticated pig population for food, but the education and capital to starts such an endeavor are not adequate. Chickens are occasionally considered, and scraps of dry sago are sometimes thrown to feed them, especially when there are chicks, but they are valued for their independence, and ducks are treated much the same as chickens (it is believed that ducks and chickens can interbreed). Occasionally baby cassowaries, wallabies, or cuscus will be kept, though they don’t seem to last long due to abuse, malnutrition, or domestic dogs.
Food preservation in the humidity and heat of this particular geographic region is quite difficult. Without excesses of salt to absorb moisture and inhibit bacterial activity, nearly all meats will spoil shortly after butchering. The shelf life of meats are commonly prolonged by being stored on a rack made above a cookfire, and occasionally when fish are plentiful they will be smoked on specially made racks specifically for that purpose. Protein is scarce here, however, and meat rarely ever needs to be stored, as it is prized and quickly eaten. The staple of this entire region of the country, the sago palm, once scraped and washed can last nearly a month stored in plastic tarpaulin, or tied bundles wrapped in leaves and covered with limbum.
Food preparation is done primarily by the women of Pei. Children, to varying degrees, will help as well. Cleaning and preparing any meat is most often done at the site of the kill, in the bush (pig or muruk) or at the rivers edge (anything smaller). The women will often prepare in a haus kuk
ipumo (if they have one) or inside their homes, whatever seems to be most convenient, as there is no particularly culturally appropriate place to prepare. Cooking is done over fire pits in the house or portico using aluminum pots
sesemalahe and frying pans purchased in town, and any clear space on the floor in their homes or cooking houses is utilized for cutting greens and make saksak in any of its many forms. If men are alone, they will often boil their own fish and fry their own sago pancakes, though a female relative will be recruited for this type of work if nearby. Serving is usually done by whomever cooked the food by dividing prepared fare between the number of available plates or the number of people in the house when it’s finished cooking (whichever number happens to be smaller). Once divided, it will be distributed for everyone to eat. It is considered rude to not offer a guest food, even if you weren’t planning on feeding them. Hospitality and ‘gutpela pasin’ is a recurring and important theme in Pei culture, and for this reason, food will always be given to guests, even at the expense of the family’s food supply.
When the Pei people are ready to they eat they will place their food on a banana leaf
hotita’ahe, another large leaf
loapeyei, a piece of limbum
luhasi or a dish. Each house hold has at least one dish in the house and maybe a spoon, but it still seems that the preferred way to eat is off leaves and limbum.It is completely taboo to put your food directly on the floor. It is dirty and they would not set their food on the floor. A Pei individual generally eats everything using their hands. Screwpine
aliama is the only exception. This is to be eaten with a spoon or small piece of limbum which is used like a spoon. When someone is eating they will eat inside the house. It is risky to eat outside because people would see and ask you for some. They will sit anywhere in the open area of the house. It is unacceptable to eat in your bed, under your net, or in a room, you must be in the open area of the house. When finished eating dishes and trash are placed in middle of the floor and the mother or the young woman in the house will clean it. Kids and men are not expected to clean their dishes but they can if they like.
The Pei eat when they are hungry, thus there is not really a set schedule or a time where people will be eating together. Often if someone is hungry and sees something available in the house they will eat it. If a woman catches a fish she eats it, and if people are around she will offer them some. If a woman’s husband or a young woman’s brother is hungry they will cook for him. Mothers and young woman have the responsibility of prepping the food for everyone in the house. When she is finished preparing it she will skel it out and then she will eat last. When the food is given to you you may eat. The prpoer thing to do when you are finished is to pile your dishes and trash into the middle of the floor. The cook or woman of the house will clean up. This will mean that they will heap the trash and bad food onto a piece of limbum and at the end of the day or when is smells or acctracts too many flies they will throw it into the river. the plates will be rinsed in the river (without soap) and set to dry in the sun.
Clothing & Personal Adornment
Until only recent generations, the Pei people were without clothing and would use plants or animal hide to cover themselves. The men would use bat wing skin
apegafimaluape or coconut husks
hesofo, and women would go topless, tying a grass skirt
feauple around their waists. When they do want to buy clothing, they have several ‘local’ options. Ambunti, Wewak, Maprik, Hauna, and Okusai, while anywhere from 1 to 5 days of travel away, these villages and settlements are frequented for purchasing goods unavailable in the swamp. The typical Pei adult has 3 sets of clothing: one for normal life in the village, some ‘spotwea’ for working the bush, sweating in or playing in, and lastly some ‘nais’ clothes for church events or wearing into town.
Men typically wear shorts or pants with a t-shirt. Most ladies will wear shorts under more ‘appropriate’ skirts, and an oversized t-shirt. Young boys will wear shorts and young girls will wear a skirt with no top, or a large t-shirt that doubles as a dress.
Flip flops and tennis shoes are a highly prized, special item for the Pei. Most adults in the ples have a pair of flip flops but most walk barefoot.
There are about 10 sewing machines here in Pei that are used to repair tattered clothing, to make new clothing, or to mend bags made from reclaimed textiles. The only time these machines are used is when the ladies have needles and thread available. A few Pei women know how to make skirts and blouses, but typically clothing is purchased or traded for, and not made. The Pei use older and damaged fishing net crumpled into a ball to scrub clothing, and will use soap when it is available to add a pleasant smell to the garments. Garments are then hung from a vine to dry in the sun.
Nudity among adults is very uncommon, however, babies and young children without clothing is quite normal and acceptable. Parents are constantly encouraging their young boys to wear shorts or their young girls to wear skirts, but because of the heat most kids prefer running around naked. There is significantly more pressure and effort that goes into keeping the young girls covered, but the utility and comfort of nudity usually wins out.
‘Tattoos’ and scarification are common here, and are considered a way for the individuals to express themselves and in decoration. Access to batteries is where the current iteration of the Pei tattoo began. After cutting the top off of a Zinc Carbon battery, and mixing some water, it is common to use anything sharp to scratch or mark the skin with a design and smash the battery fluid into the new wounds. Before introduction to this method, the only known ways to mark their bodies was with fire and ash, or scarification
lisisia. Similar to other people groups in the Sepik Basin, some Pei individuals do scar themselves. Merely cosmetic, and not associated with the Lower Sepik Crocodile cult traditions, these markings are made with the spine of the limbum frond. It is lit on fire, and its tip placed on the desired area of skin. It is held in place momentarily, and then is brushed off to reveal a line of burned flesh. Naturally, a sore forms and is and then nursed to form an obvious scar. We have witnessed this performed on the forearms, biceps and even faces of women, though no men have been noted to perform this kind of modification. Men will typically just burn patterns of ‘dots’ on their forearms with coals.
Men also commonly modify their foreskins, often slitting only the top of it along the length of the penis, giving the ‘appearance of the neck of a rooster’ to the genitalia. Though the true reasons for this have proven difficult to uncover, some have said it is done to remove old ‘bad’ blood (blood from your mother, as she gave birth to you), while others seem to indicate it will give females ‘feelings’ (orgasm) during intercourse. Modern elements of this practice are undoubtedly assimilated without complete understanding of original meaning and stories. Pornographic material as well has shaped some of the worldview behind some of the modern iterations of genital modification among males. For the most part, modern beautification seems to be just that, and an expression of ones’ individual ‘style’.
The desire to see the children clothed has likely been introduced, and is not native in Pei culture. Since the introduction of access of t-shirts, and ‘trousers’, the standards of what are considered ‘acceptable’ coverings have definitely changed. It is no longer ‘acceptable’ to use traditional methods of covering except for traditional celebrations, and even then, the men consider that kind of dress as ‘nakedness’.
Personal decoration and adornment in Pei culture seems not to have any specific standard associated with it. The older women can be seen with cassowary or bat bones hooped in their ears, and occasionally put something in their septum piercing, though these traditional adornments have been neglected by the younger generation. Twisted thread or random scraps of wire, metal, or anything ‘flashy’ can be acceptably made into earrings, and are commonly worn here in Pei. Necklaces are made from beads obtained through trade, or purchased in Hauna or town, and glass beads shaped into butterflies seem commonplace. Ladies constantly ask for ‘medicines’ from Wewak that will straighten their hair, and common containers for keeping lime are used hair oil containers. Nail polish too is valuable to Pei ladies, and is very rare. Rubber ‘gumies’, while not prominent or common, are also worn by some. Gumies are exchanged by the younger individuals to express romantic interest, and are used by older ladies to signify widowhood by wearing them on their wrists and ankles. Men and women both also commonly wear inexpensive metal rings bought in Hauna, and Men sometimes even tie rings meaninglessly around their necks. There seems to be an inferiority complex among the Pei, and they seem to compare themselves to other villages closer to ‘town’ and find themselves lacking in one way or another.
Houses & Shelters
The types of buildings typical of a Pei village are purposed mainly for cooking, sleeping, eating and ‘personal relief’. Buildings are all patterned similarly in construction, and modified slightly respective of outbuilding designation. The Men of Pei are expected to collect raw materials and construct all buildings, although we have witnessed minimal female participation.
The Construction methods applied to these structures are similar to those of the surrounding area. Along the Walio River, houses begin with strong House Posts
howilgagehe planted deep into the silty ground. The posts are tyipacally made of Kwila and Garamut or other hardwood, although we’ve witnessed other variaties of trees as well. Next come giant ‘Rollers’
hotlesife or ‘Bearers’ to bear the weight of the house; these are leveled and crossed atop the Posts. This is typically a made of Pge saplings gathered from the local swamps. Houses are then framed with any timber or wood readily available, and Rafters
howatifo for the roof are then cut and collected for construction of the house’s roof. Construction methods can deviate and no particular order seems to be necessary for the Pei to build a ‘proper’ house. Lastly, Thatch
hofi for the house is gathered from the swamp.
Made from the leaves of the Sago Palm, here are two ways in which the Pei thatch thatch their roofs. The first, is applied by breaking the sago palm frond down the middle
hofita’ehe, and to cross these half fronds across the length of the house in alternating orientations to provide optimal water-resistance. This is often seen as a ‘bushier’ style of house building, and is not as highly considered as the second method, which is considered more ‘refined’. The second methon implemented takes considereably ore time and effort, involving removing and sewing of a bundle of sago leaves into 3 foot panels
hofi helego before application to the roof of the house.
Following the Thatch, the equivalent of ‘Floor Joists’
hoso’upe are laid, which are often made from trees of any type, as there are often many to distribute the weight applied to flooring, which is laid directly on top of these. Lengths of Limbum palm bark
homasta’ehe are then collected, cleaned, and laid down to tie the floor together. Every joint and intersection is lashed and tied together with a jungle vine
howli for strength and rigidity, though some have limited access to nails via purchase elsewhere or from missionaries. Usually last to be applied to the structure, are the outside walls. These are ‘Pangal’ Panels
fikumasi that are lashed together in bundles, for carrying from collection sites, and then fastened in a number of varying ways to the house framing.
⚠️ INSERT SKIN DIWAI METHOD HERE .
Most Houses have windows
ho tutumoand some even have rooms
Inside a typical Pei house, is often found a mud stove. made from four ‘planks’ broken from an old canoe, limbum bark lines at the base of the stove and the stove itself shaped with a mix of local clay, mud, and water gathered from the Walio river nearby.The clay ovens are the common family meeting place, and where social life happens in the home. Cooking, drying meat, drying tobacco and finding warmth are the practical uses.
Many houses have rooms dividing them, and some even have flooring laid across rafters to add more sleeping and lounging space. Pei homes are used for such humble purposes as sleeping, cooking and eating, and such exotic purposes as ceremonial singsings and mourning. As long as the house is large enough it can be used to hosting visitors as well. A Bush House
hgamohosapo is also important in Pei culture. It provides all the same benefits of a village house while an individual or family are in their gardens, at their creek, or in the bush. This seems to be where married couples (and adolescents) go to do “married” things with privacy, as the village houses don’t afford much of that. The ceremonial ‘Huas Tambaran’, while it does have roots in historic Pei culture, has never been erected here on this particular plot of ground. The introduction of ‘Lotuism’ and the influence that exposure has had on Pei Culture has rendered this traditional house and nearly all associated practices culturally obsolete.
Other buildings here in Pei house the various other regular activities of Pei life. The Haus Win
’ipumo is a regular place for socialization, minimal cooking and the occasional public event. The Huas Win is typically covered, and has seating and an informal fire pit, but not often more than that. The Toilet
ho’amousapo is constructed a safe distance behind each individual house or group of houses, as each house line is expected to have at least one constructed for their use. These are small structures not much bigger than a western portable toilet unit and styles seem to vary depending on the outside exposure of the makers of each unit.
Another building traditionally more common among the Pei was the ‘Sik Mun Haus’
ho’ate. These are no longer constructed, but were typically made for girls by their brothers and would be no bigger than a normal haus win. Similarly, the ‘Haus Child Birth’ is typically a small area (usually no bigger than an 8’ x 8’ room) covered with either tarp or leaves
hofi for privacy and protection from the elements. These shelters are constructed underneath the house of the pregnant woman and serve as delivery and recovery room for the woman.
Regarding specific instances of taboos we ourselves have encountered first-hand, our fairly limited time living among the Pei must be considered a factor in the function of exposure to such instances. We have witnessed only a small number of events likely better explained in the Worldview section of this document. It is, however, worth mentioning that the Pei do not continue or begin big projects or house building during any time of ‘hevi’ (such as a death or a public civil disagreement). During the mourning ‘wari’ period after a death in the village, nearly all local work stops. For instance, if an individual is involved in a dispute that has not yet been settled publicly, it is common for him to halt all construction on his house for fear of some negative circumstances befalling him. We suspect that, at a worldview level, there are impersonal (and ‘unacknowledged’) forces similar to ‘karma’, ‘fortune’, or ‘luck’ that are at work in the minds of the Pei. Some Pei men will not plant kwila posts in the ground if they have a new borne, for fear the baby will get ‘skin hot’. While many of the younger men in Pei do not follow this taboo, they all agree that there are still some who will and do. Additionally, creating a second entrance for a females who has recently given birth is commonplace, and most houses will be retrofitted for this utility to accommodate this cultural importance.
Traditionally, the typical Pei house
hosapo, of which there aren’t any standing today, would have appeared different than current iterations. The primary reason for this is the village migration to the edge of Walio River. Traditional Pei homes were built in a fashion similar to what would be considered a ‘highlands style’ house. Pei houses are now built to be more accommodating to vastly varying water levels.
Also worth noting, is that building taboos are likely formed over decades or centuries of building houses in a certain way, and passing certain knowledge and customs down to progressive generations. That said, the way the Pei currently build their houses is brand new to the oldest members of our village. The older individuals, before they were displaced to the river’s edge in the 70’s, lived in ‘match-stick houses’ of a very different style we have not witnessed first-hand. The taboos and customs associated with the life the Pei left in the hills have likely been dying a slow death since then, violent blows dealt withe the expiration of each old villager.
Travel and Transportation
The Pei are considerably limited when it comes to transportation options. Because there is not notable ‘production’ occurring, transportation is a very ‘personal’ matter (in this instance, I use ‘personal’ not to refer to ‘private’, but to a state of individuality). The reasons for travel seem to be mainly for social visits to other villages where individuals likely have family, more ‘local’ (neighboring village) parties or celebrations, sporting events, or outgroup-organized events. Because the Pei live (at least) an hour of travel (to and from) traditional gardening grounds and village mountains, it is also very common to regularly make the smaller treks to either Wainame Hill or ’Ati Hill to work and hunt there. These high-ground areas are even more often frequented during especially flooded wet seasons.
Walking the bush and game trails is the most common way the Pei travel. Most destinations are accessible via trails and swamp hiking, and nearly every one knows how to get to villages multiple days’ walk away. Most seem to dislike sleeping ‘on the road’, however, the ‘sleeping spots’ between commonly further destinations are common knowledge. Traditionally not a river people, the Pei are now more inclined to use dugout canoes to travel nearly everywhere.
The dugout canoe is nearly a necessity in the Pei culture. Even children practice cutting these when they are old enough to swing an axe, and will row themselves to riverside camps and gardens. Families typically will have larger canoes for nearly everyone to travel in on longer journeys, and sometimes have two or three slightly smaller canoes for the same purpose. Canoes move food gathered from bush and garden locations back to the village proper, and are extensively used in fishing efforts. More than just a mode of travel, a Canoe is used in much the same way a machete is… for everything. Necessary to the operation of a canoe, the oar is also commonplace in Pei. Men, who typically stand at the front of canoes when traveling, have longer hardwood oars frugally (and nearly meaninglessly) decorated, while women and children (who typically sit in canoes in transit) have shorter oars that are easier to manage in a seated position. The dugout canoe, however, is a relatively new addition Pei culture. Since only the 70s, when the Australian Government Patrols requested they move from their local land-locked hills, the Pei have had to adapt to a waterfront lifestyle - subsisting more frequently on fish, and learning to shape and pilot dugout vessels.
Lastly, the ‘moto’ is typically a dugout canoe with a fastened transem and Yamaha Outboard motor, though any boat is also considered similarly. The general perspective among the Pei (and not necessarily incorrect) is that only wealthy people use or travel using watercraft with outboard motors. Petrol is too expensive for the average Pei to secure on a regular basis, making it difficult to justify use of it for anything but a very long journey. Thus, travelers by any route other than on foot or traditional canoes are very highly regarded, and considered very rich individuals. All travelers, however, are often warmly welcomed by the community with the exception of certain members of communities at odds with the Pei (namely, Walio, however, certain individuals and groups from Hauna are not as kindly regarded).
Recording, Communication, Reckoning & Measurement
Among the Pei, oral traditions have been passed down from generation to generation for as long as any surviving members of this people group can remember. While a few stories of ‘creation’ do exist, nearly all the Pei believe such events to have occurred in relatively recent history, and it is said that there is a man upriver from another village who has not died since the creation of humanity (This man is cited as proof of the truth of some of their epics, as he is credited with having seen ‘everything’, and that nothing is new to him. He apparently witnessed such primordial events.). There are no methods of recording traditional to native Pei society, aside from memory of the spoken word.
Measuring weeks and years as well is a new and assimilated concept. The Pei have 5 names for days, 1 for ‘today’, and 4 for successive days into the future or the past. Months, or ‘moons’ are noted, though the days have not in known Pei history to ever have been numbered. However, when the ancetors of Pei would agree to a make a raid on another village with members of the Saniyo communities (Yabutawe, most notably), men would seal their agreement with two tangats, each with a matching number of leaves. Each ‘sun’, the two holding the tangats would remove a leaf from the tangat, thus tracking the time to the agreed upon day for making the raid. This was often only done for lengths of time longer than five days, as it becomes exceedingly confusing to count numbers of anything higher than that in Pefiyahe.
The common way of numbering things more than two is now typically the TokPisin adjective method, as it is far fewer syllables, and takes much less energy to refer to values using the pidgin without forsaking any meaning. The traditional way of numbering in Pei is a ‘pairing’ system, which is a base–2 method of counting. A Pei speaking person would typically say something like ‘the two dogs, and the two dogs, and the two dogs’ to indicate six dogs, though remnants of a more complex system to surface from time to time. The Pei do call ‘five’ of anything a ‘thumb’, and the older generation will often count twelve dogs like, ‘dogs this hand thumb, that hand thumb, and this leg, a pair’ or something very similar. Essentially counting off fingers and toes. This method has deeper roots in a more complex number system in which certain body parts indicated a specific number, counting off fingers, wrist, crook of the arm, bicep, shoulder, neck and ear, across the face, and down the other side of the body, but this method is all but lost. Some older people claim to still know it, however, there are as many ways to count off body parts as there are knowledgeable men to count them!
Traditionally, intentional ‘marks’ were made on the memories of the people with events (food and parties) and singsing festivities, and that tradition’s effectiveness has carried itself through into today; nearly all big events are marked with some anticipation, festivity and ‘feast’ often accompanied by songs and dance appropriate to the occasion.
Individuals about 35 years and older (at the time of this writing) seem more interested and knowledgeable regarding Pei songs and chants. These older men and women likely remember their parents actively engaged in these chants and it left an impression. Nearly every member of that generation knows dozens of songs, and most have passed some of those on to their children. The youngest living Pei know only a few of these traditional songs now. Pei Ancestry would often engage in raids and battles with neighboring villages over women, witchcraft and territory, and upon a successful raid, a ‘singsing’ would ensue, and it is said the people would sing and dance in celebration until dawn. When asked if he could think of any songs in Pefiyahe, Pilip could only produce two. Saniyo/Hiyewe speaking men often accompanied the Pei on these raids, and it seems that the Pei have assimilated the foreign songs and chants into their own tradition.
(see sociolinguistic survey for info regarding tok pisin influence in this area)
Non-Linguistic Cues; hand motions… talk action, certain facial expressions: sighs, sucking wind, hoots/yells, ‘fart noise’ and hand-shake for ‘nogat’.
Measures of Weights ; they understand the concept of ‘heaviness’, but don’t have any units of measure. Tok Pisin will use ‘kilos’, gold gets measured in ‘grams’… but there is no clear understanding of units of measure in this respect. The Pei do commonly measure things in very basic ways. For example they will say it’s heavy
hoimoto or it is light
hotage; a lot
segi or a little
sagi. Reckoning and Measurement ; They have a pair-based counting system, older people did at one time know a body-part counting system, but it is lost in favor of the more recent and easier TokPisin system.
People will use their hands or other objects around to count. Their pretty hands on so if there is a hand of bananas often they'll pick the bananas one by one to count them. Some of our older men and women will use an older method of counting that includes fingers, arms, legs and toes.
These days most of our men have cell phones that tell them what time and date it is. Without this technology they go off of the sun to figure out if its afternoon, late afternoon or evening. Every once and a while you’ll find someone whose gotten their hands on a calendar but usually its not even for the right year.
Nobody knows how old they are - some older men think they are 4, many think there is a man alive that witnessed the very first man and woman ever created.
Typically only ‘days travel by method X’ is the only kind of distance measure… geographical features (mountains, swamps) serve as a rough measure as well.
Money is the universal measure of value, but it is poorly understood.
Good and bad, soft or hard… there are few qualitative adjectives, and quality is somewhat individualized in that regard.
Now, the ability to read and write in Tok Pisin is regarded highly, and considered somewhat prestigious, though aside from a minority of youths that have been to school in Ambunti, literacy’s value as a sort of record and retrieval system is not apparent. Rather, it is seen as a means to the end of persuading government and religious entities to give them monetary attention.
Sun, Moon, Stars, Clouds, Seasons, Elements, Weather
Investigating the origin of the cosmos has proven difficult here, as the Pei do not actively seek any explanation or meaning in celestial activity. Since the extinction of the customary Haus Tambaran, many of the stories to have vanished and are now only shadows of what they once were and persist only in the memories of the oldest living Pei. The general consensus now is that the god of ‘lotu’ created these things, but the Pei do not maintain any explanation of the means or purpose of these things, claiming only that ‘We cannot know’.
There are two traditional stories explaining where the moon came from, but no stories explaining the sun, stars or weather. It is believed that the elements are controlled by angry spirits, though not created by them. The first moon story explains events surrounding a man who had cut all his sago trees during the day and left them at night to come and wash it the next day. At night, an old woman living in the trees came down and washed the sago and took back up the tree. In the morning, when this man found a large portion of his sago washed and missing, he resolves to hide in a fallen sago to observe the nocturnal activities that cost him so. That night, the old woman again comes down the tree and washes his sago. When finished, she pulls the moon, wrapped in banana leaves, out of her bilum, and uses it as a flashlight to help her to see at night. Upon seeing this, the man decides to steal the moon the following night. When he he tries, and tells her to hang it in the sky to help everyone in the village to see at night, a fight erupts and there are resulting retribution killings that take place, and the moon ends up thrown to the top of a tree, from which it drifts up into the sky where it now ‘hangs’. The second story employs a similar plot, but is scattered and lacking in detail. When asked which story is really true, all reply that neither is, and that the god of lotu actually made the moon.
There are many dead ancestor spirits that, when they become angry or want retribution, are believed to cause heavy rains, winds, and thunder or lighting. Thus, the Pei are afraid of flashes of lightening and thunder believing that an ancestor my be angry and seeking recompense. Often such activity is thought to be accompanied by some manifestation of the spirit responsible, to the family or clan to which the spirit belonged. During public meetings on several occasions, the leader would point to rain clouds or thunder and lighting, making a point that a certain ancestor is angry with some event or activity. It is also believed that certain heavy weather can be avoided by appeasing controlling spirits with certain rituals and that some powerful men can influence the weather with spoken spells, causing heavy rain, winds, flooding, or thunder and lightening to befall other villages. Any work or travel during such weather is thus avoided, as it is difficult to pinpoint the cause, and assess the danger posed to the individual.
Crafts and Trades
The Pei are strangers to the concepts of Metallurgy and Ceramics, and have only a very elementary understanding of weaving and spinning fibers for string bags, or leaves for mats and baskets. Most Pei villagers sleep on woven sleeping mats obtained through a trade relationship maintained with Sanapian (near Hauna), but know only how to weave decorative bracelets themselves. The Pei do construct string bags from vegetable fiber, but basketry is mysterious, and baskets are traded for from other villages, usually for excess garden food. Some have heard of ‘saucepans’ made from earth (a reference to ceramics), but there are no ceramics in the village that were made indigenously, and none of the Pei have any idea of the concepts involved with the process.
Glass, most often indigenously produced as a byproduct of ceramics or metallurgy kilns, is also a mysterious substance to the Pei. In its naturally occurring forms, local quartz or obsidian deposits, if they do exist, are not currently exploited by the indigenous as a raw material to be refined into tools. Traditionally, the ends of saksak scraping tools are made from stone (a flint or chert shard shaped to the desired proportions). These too, are traded for, and the living Pei do not know how to construct these items from the raw material…
Art & Play
1.1 Types of Art
There are a number of guitars that were brought into Pei with the Nazarene Pastor, but only a few men know how to play them. They were taught by the current pastor or saw men in another village play their guitars and did what they saw them do. No ladies have been taught to play. Guitars are mainly played during lotu, but often men will play them in their houses in the afternoons and evenings to pass time.
Drawing is not necessarily ‘new’ to the Pei, children draw designs and write names in the dirt, and likely did before any of the members of this community knew what letters and numbers even were. It is said that the ancestral battle shields did have carvings on them, and that they were decorated with different colors of mineral soils, though the practice of making shields for use is perhaps permanently lost. Pei men do wood carvings on canoes, doors, axe handles, garamuts, etc. Men traditionally make the instruments ladies use for sak saking but on occasion a lady will carve her own design into her sigarap-er
sifulafe. There may be one or two men left living who have seen real Pei shields made, but the practice of carving wood seems to be relatively new, and it is now practiced in efforts to make sales of carvings to ‘tourists’ that never seem to come. Our people like to add tattoos to their face, arms and legs. They will typically put dots, straight and squiggly lines, butterfly and their names on themselves. Some people will attempt to draw more complex things that they have seen but the dots and lines are a safe bet. It’s something they start to do in their pre-teen and teen years.
Singing is very segregated. Girls sing a lot when working, not often with men around. Men hoot and chant when working, everyone sings in church but this is pidgin, and very new and introduced.
Howling/chanting/wailing is common during funerals. The wailer will ask questions like “where are you?” “who is looking out for you?” They will also add in statements about what they have done for the deceased such as “I made you food”, “I staped with you”, “I was your…(fill in kinship relation). This verbal and public display is to show the spirit that they are worried and sad.
‘Artisanship’ is not a concept in Pei culture, and its value is minimal. there is, in pei, a potential value in such skills, as they would bring money if tourists were ever to come and purchase artwork. For that reason they are respected, and a skill is addressed, and perhaps a reverence for the traditional abilities… but more immediate needs are not addressed with artwork, and killing pigs consistently is a skill of higher value in such a subsistence society. Art is seen more as ‘decoration’ which will not fill one’s belly.
Because of the level of exposure and education, carvings and ‘images’ are much more anchored in a percieved reality’ than they are in the west. For example, carvings of faces are not first considered ‘likenesses’, but ‘real faces’. There is little exposure to high quality representations or likenesses, and ‘the unexpected’ too carves deep imprints on the psyche of the less exposed. the Pei are quick to ascribe spiritual significance to anything and everything they do not understand, and this is linguistically evident in the use of the prefix ‘yapu’
Older meanings tied to more involved spirit interaction, and very tied to battle and raids (and likely cannibalism and hausboi tradition)… likely came from higa traditional lore/worldview.
2.1 Types of Play & Sport
Volleyball, soccer, hunting, (new games, uno, mancala) cards, ‘tops’, stickball, sotball, mini-motors, pinwheels (balus prop), hopscotch, four square are all types of play here in Pei.
2.1.1 IndividualThere are many varieties of play and sport among the children of Pei. Most games are newly imagined and defined, then played with bush materials (sticks, rocks, the skin of buai, leaves, kanda, etc.).
2.1.2 Group Most of the young boys and adult men enjoy playing soccer, and volleyball is played regularly by both men and women, though the main group drawn to this sport are teens and young adults.
2.2 Varieties of Play & Sport (Singing, Games, Competitive, etc.) Certain people are more competitive than others. It seems there is a desire to win and excel while playing group sports but never enough to put themselves in a ‘better than others’ position. Our people are very group oriented and don’t like to out shine all the others.
2.3 Varieties of Entertainment (Joking, Drama, Story-Telling, TV, etc.)
Solar panels, DVD, generator, and cell phones equal high status (wealth). Playing music and games on your phone and having flex is status. People are always looking for a flex card. ‘Famous’ people that make music, the artists of the tok pisin music or radio tok are as much as they know about fame. They are all into music videos from PNG and their national people, they don’t know any actors or famous people in western entertainment. 2.3.1 Entertainment According to Age/Gender
The sexuality of dance causes segregation. It’s not uncommon for girls to want to get together to listen to music and dance.
2.3.2 Entertainment According to Social Status/Economic Status
DVD/pawa equals high status (wealth)
Nationals who make music in PNG are well liked and thought of highly.
Pilai laki and poker (nobody knows how this works enough to make it happen… exposure to raffles via cell network)
2.5 Rest Times/Days & Holidays
sabbath, holiday (krismas/new year), independence… rest whenever you want. schedule is a new thing - monday equals gov’t day for work’.
In the western sense, there is no concept of a work-less ‘retreat’. They do make short periodic ‘rauns’, but these are not for ‘rest’ but for visiting relatives, and maybe mooching on the hospitality of others for a while when people are sick of working their own food.
2.7 Status of Player/Sportsman/Entertainer/Gambler
‘workers’ and ‘travellers’ who make money consistently from finding employ for money… Pei see skill in certain sports as a ‘way out of the bush’, as they hear about government programs that will purchase travel to other places for competitions.
Traditionally, there was likely even less of a divide between certain classes of recreational activities and classes. In the past, there was plantation work offered to bush people, and individuals were very revered for bringing back radios, pots, knives, axes…
Systems of Production
The people of Pei are constantly working. Their labor mainly revolves around hunting and gathering. Some work harder and more often than others as in any society yet all contribute in some way. There is much work involved in each project in Pei, wether it be building a house, collecting firewood, digging out a canoe, or clearing a garden the Pei must labor to accomplish each task. There is structure and system to this work and it is deeply rooted in their culture. These patterns only typically break when something outside the norm influences them. For instance a death of a husband, the introduction of missionaries, or the acceptance of a non native Pei person into the community.
Divisions of Labor (the Outcome of Social Ideas)
Male Oriented Labor would include:
Preparing all materials for house building, falling trees, house building, tillage, land clearing, hunting, fishing, farming, gathering, teaching, looking after kids as well as nieces and nephews, cutting grass, building fences or fence lines with tangets.
Female Oriented Labor would include:
Chopping fire wood, fishing, setting fishing nets, cooking, collecting leaves for food preparation, cutting sac sac, scraping sac sac, washing sac sac, making bilums, sewing clothing, washing clothing, washing dishes, sweeping the house, grass cutting, gardening, teaching, watching kids, getting water.
Labor Done by Children:
Because everyone is taught by doing work themselves or observing it’s not uncommon for children to do any of the above jobs. Children don’t have a huge load of responsibility but they are expected to help here and there. You can usually find young girls: scraping sago, fishing, gathering food, gathering leaves, watching babies, checking nets, frying sac sac, cooking, filling pots with water, running errands for adults.
Our people divide their work up mostly by gender and age. But everyone is expected to work until they are physically unable to. The older people work less often then the young, The handicapped are left in the place to do whatever they want. They are treated poorly and looked down on. We do have a couple men in the ples that have motors and try to be hired by outsides lines. Most all of our men have gone to the mines to work and when they return they feel like they have status. People who have left the ples and worked feel like they are more experienced and entitled. Hiring workers for money ‘youths’ and ‘youth groups’ and ‘kru’ and ‘tim’ mean that you have money to spend. This would make you have status in the comminuty and the one in which you are hiring from as well. Our ‘youths’ and adults are quick to jump at an opportunity to be hired and make money. Even if they only end up making some toya after it’s all divided they are content with that.
Status of ‘carpenters’ and bringing in ‘carpenters and sawmill’ for working house of others is a new concept, but starting to understand this as we did it during house building. 22.214.171.124 Labor Divided According to Status
Hiring workers for money ‘youths’ and ‘youth groups’ and ‘kru’ and ‘tim’ status of ‘carpenters’ and bringing in ‘carpenters and sawmill’ for working house of others… New concept, but starting to understand this.
Youth is acknowledged for having more energy, and are frequently employed for work that requires speed or spurts of energy.
126.96.36.199 Labor Not Divided by Gender, Age, Status, etc.
Minimal gathering, grass cutting, ‘government work/community work’, fishing, are all examples of Labor that is not divided. Everyone is expected to do their part and help. All things are not divided up by status, gender or age.
1.1.2 Specialists & Craftsmen
188.8.131.52 Status of Specialists & Craftsmen
1.1.3 Labor Supply and Employment
1.1.4 Labor Management
The committee concept… organizing and marking time for work. Pastor, missionaries.
1.2 Economic Leadership
1.3 Ritual (See ‘Types of Ritual’)
1.4 Work Habits and Philosophy (See ‘Philosophy’)
People usually know what they are supposed to do. Time is not usually considered, and work is done on a schedule that keeps the most peace… and new work involving exotic tools or machinery is done with excitement, as novelty is valued.
1.5 Compensation for work done
‘kampani wok’ money is highly prized… exchange of labor, providing food for workers, ‘buying krew’
Commercial capital is not a concept.
1.7 Symbolic Significance
The Symbolic Significance of this work and hunger and peace/res is kind of a traditional cycle that is observed even today.
No money… providing food and promises of future help
Systems of Exchange and Distribution of the Rewards from Production
The Pei acknowledge two markets (ingroup and outgroup) of exchange, demarcated by relational influence. Ingroup exchange is characterized by fewer governing ‘rules’ and often less concerned with turning any monetary profit, and more focused on tending a relationship. A Pei individual is likely to trade goods at some monetary loss to secure favors or relational status, as relationship is a more practical currency in such remote areas than real money. Outgroup exchange, conversely, places more value on the outcome of the exchange itself, as outgroup interpersonal relationships are exponentially more difficult to maintain. Both markets exist to, in some way, better the lives of traders, though the tangibility of the former is less obvious to those accustomed to western trade ideals.
Ingroup exchanges are typically less rigid with regard to tangible trade outcome. There is less ‘law’ dictating type or equality in exchange, or any debt repayment timelines, leaving interpersonal tensions to govern the specifics of each exchange. Common ingroup exchanges are: tobacco (and associated accessories) or betel nut (and associated accessories) in exchange for money or favors; food (and associated accessories) in exchange for money or favors; and women (wives) in exchange for money, favors and/or traditional shell money. The ingroup exchange system does maintain a certain balance and equality among the individuals and clans keeping any kind of class distinction from social expression, but clearly differentiates the hardworking from the lazy (though western definitions of the terms do not completely overlap). Outgroup exchanges are seen as a way to primarily increase monetary holdings or community status, and are more structured and dependent on the percieved value of money. Money is the medium of most of these kinds of exchanges, most often for either canoes, edibles, domesticated animals, trade goods, or women.
Because there is not really a separation of craftsmen in the Pei’s immediate surrounding area, bartering is more based around natural resources of the area. For instance Betel nut grows very well in the Pei gardens because of this they will often trade betel nut to lines that do not have the same access along the Sepik River. Another example is Iron Wood Kwila used to make oars for men and women. It grows well here and so the Pei have more access to it as opposed to the Sio River VIllages. But the Sio River villages have more access to Limbum, used to make Bows in Pei. The obvious solution is that a Pei Man will shape a few oars out of iron wood and barter that work for some material to make a bow from a Sio RIver man, and vice versa. This is about as far as bartering goes in the Pei culture however. It stops with out-group exchange.
The exchange of goods for currency does happen. Although though primary item within the Pei community to be sold is tobacco it will sometimes happen with store bought goods such as batteries, noodles and salt. The in-group exchange of goods for currency will definitely not make anyone rich. This is because everyone is related some how. And, since the main point of exchange is to maintain relationship often a Pei person will take a financial loss rather the a relation hit. Attempts have been made to buy and resell store bought goods, unfortunately most of the items were simply given away for relationship sake. Sometimes a debt is taken, an agreement that at some point the lender will be compensated. Often times though the borrower sets the time in which the debt will be paid, and sometimes it never is. The out-group exchange of goods for currency is a bit more rigid. If a canoe comes ashore with trade good it is simply a money for an item trade. If the seller is related or associated with a Pei individual, they may or may not give a better price but it is not guaranteed as in the in-group exchange. If a Pei individual goes to Hauna or Ambunti with garden food to sell they too may set a price and give flex or not based on relationship as well.
While a missionary team has been present in Pei since 2012, we have not witnessed the exchange of Traditional Currency. We do know however it is still used in the purchase of women as brides and in the compensation/ recompense after a death. Typically it is kept hidden away in houses. There are three type the first is cowrie shell money
’usale / wisi. These are either salt water seashells
’loklo or local mountain creek shells
wale’i. The second is a long rope of shells strung together to create a long strand necklace
gi’mo. Another type is stringing rows of shells that are short
gi’he. Another is an ‘X’ shape vest decorated with many different types of shells and is considered the least valuable type of traditional currency
fipafge. Another is using the teeth of a pig to decorate a head dress
tgilefe. Another is a salt water shell that has a hole in the middle
Many of the Pei have kina in their pockets currently. They use it, but do not really understand it or how it gets its value. A few Pei men have bank accounts and limited access to their funds in those accounts. The government does pay a wage for some of the Local Level Government positions such as Council, Magistrate and Local Police (these terms have a much different meaning than that of a western definition). The most a position is paid here in the Pei immediate area is K350/ year. The Pei have names for Kina notes in Pefiyahe: T.10-
hatiwale stotomla, T.20-
hafowaliheto mla / hafeitomla, K1-
tlemoto mla, K2-
tgi tifo, K50-
tgo tifo, K100-
While there is not really an exchange of goods for service, an individual who hires a group to help with his work is expected to provide food, tobacco, beletnut and lime for the workmen. But the concept of giving goods for work is all but lost on the Pei. We as a missionary team have introduced this idea as we do not deal in National Currency under any circumstances so as not to inflate a non existent or semi non existent economy. This idea is slow going and moving forward. However some of the school aged kids are glad to oblige.
This type of exchange does happen but it is more closely tied to kin groups and the responsibility associated with being a member of a particular clan line. For instance brothers will often help brothers with projects and sisters with sisters and so on. If a job is particularly large the extended kinship relationships are called upon, at this point relationship is currency. Cousins, in-laws, ect. will be asked to help with the expectation that the man with the project will help them back during their time of need of laborers. Often time though you will see individuals working alone so as to avoid the potential conflict that could arise from this type of exchange.
The giving of gifts as a western mind would understand does not happen. There is no such thing as a free gift. Gift giving for no reason in Pei does not exist. There is always a motive and usually it has to do with the line of the gift giver and receiver. There is usually a balance in gift giving, but it does tend to flow much more heavily towards the individuals that are financially stable. They tend to give more yet receive less. There is a benefit however to this position they also carry much more influence in the community and are relied on and looked to for important decisions, and are given favored status in many circumstances.
There is no hard and fast rule to the initiation of giving. If an individual is in need of something they can and will send word to another person asking them for help with a particular need. Often times to avoid being seen as stingy an individual will give items away as the initiator.
The etiquette and obligations have changed in recent times. There is no longer designated trading partners. If an individual would like to exchange they can ask or provide goods first and ask for their particular request. There are certain relationships you simply would never ask to exchange with.
There is a slight separation of status between the giver and receiver especially if the giver is known to often give and the receiver is known to often receive. Many time if a person is known to have a good manner of giving
hisafimiwlaya then people will actually say that even during the time of giving. Many times this person does take more of a material loss, but in-term of his relation account he is filling it up. Inversely when a person is always asking for items but rarely giving he too will be identified as such. This is how the separation of status begins. The normal way to avoid this stigma then is to keep your favors balance. The one exception to this rule is that if some one is suspected to have power or magic that is strong and could potentially harm the giver such as a Sanguma, then they would rather give without hope of anything in return. This however is more generated by fear of ill or misfortune. Regardless it is a strong motivating factor that separates the status of the giver and receiver.
The Pei buy their women during time of marriage. The exchange the National PNG Kina for a woman as well as cultural forms of money. This cultural money is given value by how long they have been circulating in time, and how much decorative shell that has been added to it. In the recent past the Pei have moved heavily away from exchanging a woman for a woman. They have left this custom largely because of the fact they had previously sent their women to marry in other villages with the hope and promise of having women sent to theirs in exchange, this however never happened. Sometimes children are exchanged to satisfy unpaid debts as well, whether monetary or material debt.
2.3 Determination of Value
FEMALES - Hard working, baby-making, status of village she comes from (higher status equals higher $$ value). Value is often set by parents of female based on their own perceptions… Other villages might have more formal ways of setting a value on a wife.
value of other items is often set emotionally… if something sounds like a good exchange or a good deal, it is percieved to be valuable. A granular dollars-and-sense approach to setting value on anything that doesn’t already have a dollar value attached to it is not a concept to the pei.
2.4 Internal Exchanges (within the In-Group)
A new and recent development is monetary exchanges in Pei. Trades of shirts, or tobacco/paper, buai/daga… these are common, and given little attention.more recent exchanges with money, however, are as rare as money is in this region.
2.5 External Exchanges (outside the In-Group)
Exchanges outside of Pei are more often made with money (excluding hospitality… which is always given with the expectation of reciprocation)
Court compensation is also rare (pei lacks the organization or ability to enforce anything, and often has a hard time starting a court case)
2.6.1 Timing Involved in Compensation
little enforcement possible socially (outside enforcement only)… compensation must be immediate for the community to really feel the effects of it.
2.7 Validating Exchanges
exchanges are often one-sided, and are made for an expectation of help later. kinship connections often imply ‘trade-routes’ and it is common for a relative to insist something must be given freely.
2.8 Status of Barterer/Persons Involved in Exchange
big men are more often asked for things, because it is believed that they can ‘absorb’ any losses incurred…
personality is also a significant factor… prideful or dominant personalities will express entitlement, and be less ashamed to ask for anything.
When a big man asks for something, however, his prestige is a reason for obliging (as well kinship may be depending on context).
2.9 Symbolic Significance
traditionally, money was ‘shells’ (lit. KINA), and obtained only by trade with people exposed to salt water (where kina is available). Kina, however, has intrinsic value as decoration, in addition to ascribed value, as it can be used to purchase female wives. The practice of buying women with kina is witnessed throughout the Island of Papua, and its origins, thus, are not local. Kina is still a respected form of currency for the purchase of females.
3.1 Property System
Ownership is kind of shared among members of a family, but ownership is considered on a case-by-case basis. Family connections are respected more than others in any disputes.
3.2 Kinds of Property
Land, motors, money, houses, are all examples of property here in Pei. 3.2.1 Real Estate
Bush ground is important because it is equated with sustenance. In a hunter gather society planting and harvesting food is a daily job. Plots of village banis-ground is not as important. Houses will often be tore down and rebuilt elsewhere banks-ground is almost considered as real-estate.
Land/nature/bush ground are all closely related. If something is on my bush ground, it is mine - or I am entitled to (at least) some of it if it is the result of your work.
You build it, it is yours… but if you used material from my bush ground, I have a claim to it. If it is on ‘my’ ground, then i have a claim to it. these claims, however, are often purchased with other things of value.
3.2.2 Household Effects
Ownership of certain things is disputed (pots, pans, spoons, plates) occasionally. Usership though, is often just a matter of necessity and availability.
3.2.3 Personal Effects
Clothes are often ‘owned’ but freely exchanged. Combs, thongs, bags/purses, towels, are also freely exchanged.
3.2.4 Ritual Objects
Only older men seem to own these things, some older ladies own pulpuls and headdresses for dances.
Domesticated pigs are ‘owned’ by a papa or a family. They may or may not be in the village proper, usually they are raised in the village and then released into the bush.
3.2.6 Rights to Economic Utilization (Hunting, etc.)
Everyone has free reign to hunt wherever they like, but killing another’s marked pig could be cause for dispute, and expectation of sharing any caught meat is also possible.
3.2.7 Rights to Human Services
Elderly and unmarried people expect to be provided for with sago from relative females.
3.2.8 Incorporeal (Non-material property, songs, magic chants, etc.)
People buy spells and enchantments for special powers.
3.2.9 Status of the Owner
If you own a lot of cargo, you are a big man.
3.2.10 Symbolic Significance
It is assumed that you know some secret something if you have a lot of money. Money is hard to come by out here, so secret knowledge is assumed.
Not much has changed in this regard. The missionaries are bringing huge change by not conforming to pre existing standards. The advance of the west has increased dramatically the different kinds of things one could own.
3.3 Inheritance Rules
3.3.1 Status of the Heir(s)
3.4 Loans: Borrowing & Lending
Charging for the chance to borrow (interest) is not a concept. There is no social ‘stigma’ to borrowing, though poorly supplied people who are reduced to often borrowing common tools or effects are considered annoying. Often times they will make comments on their own pitiful status so that the borrowed item might be given.
3.4.1 Methods of Initiating Borrowing & Lending
Often people will ‘shame themselves’ trying to influence you to give them something. If a person is brave enough they will outright ask but usually the shame method is their go to.
3.4.2 Repayment of Loans
Loans here are just borrowed goods, no ‘interest’ necessary.
3.4.3 Etiquette & Obligations
It is shameful to exhibit carelessness with another’s property. There is shame in property damage. It is expected that you will look well after the property. Some things are considered more disposable than others, however.
3.4.5 Status of the Lender, Borrower
3.4.6 Symbolic Significance
The process has not changed much. The items and value of items has changed.
Consumption of Resources and Commodities
4.1 Personal Use
Ownership is consulted first. Children are often given seeds to plant or things like little oars and saksak handles so they can practice ownership. Other things are known to have more communal usage… pulls, canoes. The big deal is inconvenience (of potential owner) or ripping off that owner (using a tree the owner could have sold or made money on). These things are not completely understood, and there is risk in nearly every usury of something that is not expressly ‘yours’.
4.2 Sold or Exchanged
Selling brus is a newer practice among our people. Often people will go to HNA or Maprik Market to sell fish and sago. Sometimes people trade for canoes or axes. Occasionally people will make trades for trees or land use rights.
4.2.1 Used to Incur Liability
4.3 Lavishly Consumed or Given Away
Luxury items include: radios, speakers, solar panels, screens… These aren’t often traded or given. The usage of the above depends on fuel and batteries. Luxury foods are consumed on special occasions, and those include chickens, rice, and magi noodles.
4.4 Consumed by Kin
4.5 Consumed in Marriage Relationship
Food consumed by kin is pretty standard as storage is not often possible, no repayment is often needed. This ideal extends into the thinking on hospitality. There is some distinction between ‘staple, garden, and protein’ foods.
4.6 Consumed in Mortuary Rites
Hospitality is depended upon each family line. Each line supports their own, and contributes. Close family of the deceased is often leaned on slightly harder (for organization at least), not necessarily for providing a bulk of the food. Perception is that everyone is expected to work to find meat and provisions.
4.7 Savings/Saved or Stored for Period of Time
Storage of tobacco is not uncommon, but storage of food is usually only for special events, marked work, or for sales opportunities.
4.8 Consumed in Ritual or Sacrifice
4.9 Consumed as Result of Fines or Compensation
Usually a wanbel kaikai (peace offering) will happen which consists of buai.
4.10 Consumed in Warfare
4.11 Symbolic Significance
Obviously some of the things that are obtainable. The ideals have not really changed.
Traditional grounds have traditional boundaries. Geographic features mark bush ground boundaries and villages. Our village has ‘banises’ separated by flower lines, but our village is on walio ground. There are some boundary disputes in regards to usage of resources on ground (kwila, timber, sago, gardenable ground…) but there is a separation between considering ‘village’ and ‘bush’ ground.
Christian names, ples names, and nicknames are all given. The ‘cool’ factor is a driving force for nicknames.
Your ples name is important, but losing ground and root in the psyche of individuals. The older generation will have more reverence for ples names. We have seen usage of ples names as a way to ‘court’ to attain material gain (money).
2.2 Status, Role and Prestige
Population, the amount of children, material posessions, the ability to give (generosity), the ability to give meat (hunting skills), the ability to earn money, and buy things (women), the ability to support and provide for more than one wife, age, and religious-ness can all be signs of prestige.
Widows, old maids, old singles all have distinct social roles. Old singles have less responsibility. Single dudes have gardens, but get free sago from marrieds. They also get free room/board in hausboi. Older singles have more time to be ‘artsy’. Old maids have to collect firewood, but don’t HAVE to work saksak. They probably ‘should’ (age and sanity permitting), but aren’t required to. They do get somewhat taken care of, but not well. They have small shantys built for them. Ability is constantly evaluated, and if you aren’t perceived to be pulling your weight, you will be ridiculed.
2.2.2 Increase of Prestige (and desirable status)
One way for the increase of prestige would be through excellence at any skill. The better you are at something the more people will know you and will up your name. Another way to gain prestige not only in this community but all of PNG would be by having many children. The bigger your family the bigger your name and influence.
2.2.3 Loss of Prestige (and desirable status)
An example would be Tokas. She’s a widow who fell on the social ladder due to her husbands death but is a woman who is respected in the community. Losing a motor, though loss of prestige might not be taken well, especially by younger people. ‘getting out’ of Pei would be prestigious. Moving to the ‘city’ or a ‘ples moni’ or finding some sort of employment could also be a desirable status.
Before life was very dependent upon your ability to provide food (garden success, pigs), produce offspring, build multiple houses. These things are still important but we’re seeing more of a rise in our younger generation to be independent.
3.1 Age Stratification (or levels)
Older people are respected for having more experience, children, and ‘wisdom’.
3.2 Sex Stratification
Marriage changes women and men, women more noticeably. Socialization patterns change as responsibilities seem to mount. Married women will remain social, but responsibilities of foraging and provision take precedence. Marriage does change men more minimally, providing canoe and house and things (money) for family and clan. Relational expectations do seem to change with marriage.
3.3 Ethnic Stratification (Race, Aliens, etc.)
Our people don’t have problems accepting outsiders, as long as you meet expectations, you are welcomed. Breaching the peace is a cardinal offense among the Pei. Rodney is committee here which is a big deal because he’s an example of an outsider who stepped up into the ranks.
3.4 Social Stratification (Social Classes, etc.)
There are kind of invisible classes, they like to believe in a classless ‘everybody equal’ society, but there are divisions that will bubble to the surface during stress or crisis. Jealousy is a very serious problem (the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’), and causes many a conflict. Depending on the situation during a time of stress, a division will be drawn on a contextually defined basis.This has somewhat isolated the Bamboo clan and the missionaries from the rest, as they have the most material possessions (motors, stereos, etc.)
3.5 Interpersonal Relations
Friendship has an effect on social structure, social structure too has an effect on friendship. The closest thing to western friendship that you’d see is the ‘amalu’ relationship, and the relationships between children.The relationships forged even in childhood are very sexually segregated, and those relationships do remain strong through into adulthood, however, it does seem that everyone knows things will change when marriage happens.
Friendships are formed at a young age and usually stay within the same age group. Friendships seem to be the strongest during the younger years. Because of the lack of responsibility children and teens have, they have more time to commit to building those friendships. These friendship that are started during childhood last past marriage but again once a person is married their main responsibility is to their spouse and then their children.
Cliques (Groups of intimate friends) that exist within the place are typically made up of young singles. Once a person is married they are no longer able to come and go as they please (or as much as they did before). There is a clique of young boys, who are known as the naked
malowalo group. There is also a group of young girls around the same age who will often play or work together. The other clique consists of late teen girls and guys. They are 2 distinct groups, but are around the same age. They also spend lots of time playing, relaxing, talking, and working together. As soon as these young teens get married their time is no longer given to these friendships/cliques, but to their new marital responsibilities.
3.5.3 Visiting and Hospitality
Hospitality is expected, and honored. People visiting expect good treatment from those they are visiting. Westerners are very much the opposite they will often try to help ease the burden of hospitality. Traveling is easier work than finding your own food, in that all you have to do is continue to walk from one place to another to get free sustenance… whereas when you are living in the village, you must find food for yourself, as well as provide for any obligation imposed by hospitality.
Expectations of culturally appropriate cleanliness, maintaining certain sexual segragation, certain scheduling with regard to bathing and locations, hospitality, certain things are ‘humiliating’. For example, going to toilet, flatulence (especially in intersex company), and nudity can all be shameful and humiliating. 3.5.6 In-group Antagonisms (within the society)
Death can spur in-group antagonism as suspicion of witchcraft or sorcery (any kind of magic use that would malign another would be cause for antagonism). Sexual deviance (adultery is insulting and can cause fights). Disrespect, honor/dishonor, reputations can cause in-group antagonism. Suspecting one of theft, or deviance can tarnish a reputation, and be cause for fights. Names are kind of your essence, uttering a ples name in earshot of a sorcerer could be ‘very bad’. Land is considered a source of sustenance thus it can cause dispute.
3.6 Family (See also 6.9)
Extended family makes keeping peace very high priority as many live close together. Living together is mainly based on fear and for the ability to lean on family in times of need.
(3.7.1 Kinship Terminology)
# INSERT CHART
3.7.2 Kin Relationships (Most Important Aspect of Kinship)
Tambu relations are very important. Continually appeasing your in-laws (husband to wife’s family), as it seems that having kids that will bear your clan’s name is a privilege that could be disputed.
Adding females to your number increases future pay-off from selling brides, and increasing males in your clan can increase potential work to be done.
184.108.40.206 Real Kin Relationships
220.127.116.11 Artificial Kin Relationships
Missionaries have integrated into the clan system, always tapped for ‘brideprice’ cash (fake-jokingly). Missionaries are also asked to help when hevi’s come up (ex: a death in the village or for help getting someone to a haus sik).
Pastor is an outlier. He hasn’t been adopted into a clan but is looked after by all of the lines because our people asked him to come. 3.7.3 Behavior Toward Non-Relatives
When new people come to the village they are treated with friendliness and hospitality, but immediate curiosity as to ‘what they are here for’ or ‘what is our relationship with these people supposed to be like’ takes hold.
3.7.4 Kin Groups
18.104.22.168 Nuclear Family
22.214.171.124 Extended Family
Clan ties, intermarriage in other villages complicates things. There are always benefits to having extended family all around but there are always expectations from both sides in times of hevi’s. The nuclear family is kind of the ‘banis’, then extends to the village commoners. It’s the communities job to raise kids. Family members are often expected to look after or discipline kids. Sisters and brothers (aunts and uncles) of children are often expected to help with the teaching of good ‘pasin’.
126.96.36.199.1 Consanguinal Relationships
188.8.131.52.2 Affinal Relationships
Most often men will not relocate but wives will. Women married into other villages will leave and live in those other villages, men will rarely relocate.
184.108.40.206.3 Fictional Relationships (e.g., Adoption, God Parenthood, Blood Brother)
When a child is not wanted, it will be left to die, and rescue does occasionally happen, and child will thus be adopted. This child is then often claimed by both parties (adopting/surrendering), depending on the benefit brought on (bride price, asked for labor/food).
220.127.116.11.4 Overlapping Relationships (related to another in more than one way)
Overlapping or more distant relations are usually connections tapped for reasons of hospitality or to get a portion of a brideprice, or more recently a payout from a company for land rights
18.104.22.168.1 Rules of Descent (Patrilineal, Matrilineal, Bilateral. Occas: Double)
Typically children are assimilated into a father’s clan but not always. If a brideprice is not provided, there is grounds for a dispute, and compensation. This can change expectations on brideprice if the child is a female, or on demands and ground rights if it is male.
22.214.171.124 Clans & Sibs (think also of Phratries: groups of 2 or more sibs)
126.96.36.199.1 Totems & Totemism
Members of the same clan and generation (or younger) can call each other brother and sister. Matrilineal connections would likely be honored in disputes over ground, but likely only because nobody would know how to handle such disputes, and there is an expectation that peace be kept.
188.8.131.52 Moieties (Division of Tribe into 2 Major Groups; Half-Tribes)
Pei and Palu are half-tribes. They even at one point had different dialects of Pefiyahe.
184.108.40.206 Tribe & Nation
220.127.116.11 Society (operates at differing levels: i.e within tribe; also groups of tribes)
Mainline PNG culture is creeping in. Kandre relations are now becoming more important because everyone feels like ‘that’s what everyone else is doing’ but tambu relations seem to be more traditionally important.
Both Western and Pei standards and frequency of ‘delinquency’ nearly completely overlap. The Pei culture (and absence of Truth in it) breeds apathy and indifference that often leads to misconduct and lawlessness. There are effective social pressures in place to prevent such occurrences, however, as is the case in the west, delinquency can never be completely squelched in human community. We have witnessed theft both first and second-hand, and promiscuity among the youth (of both ‘Pei-Culturally’ and the ‘biblically’ defined sort) is rampant. While the heavy influence of ‘Lotuism’ has shamed sexuality and effectively pushed these types of offenses further from public attention, Lotuism has not dealt with what seems to be the primary motivation; Angling oneself to become part of a more influential clan by forcing some form of marriage.
The Pei rarely consume alcohol or drugs. The remoteness of Pei restricts supply to the extent that it has become too difficult to obtain either regularly. If there happens to be an individual with transportation and money, cases of SP Brown bottle will likely find their way into the village, though we would not consider any individual here an alcoholic. We have also witnessed consumption of Cannabis in Pei. On one occasion a small amount was mixed it with regular tobacco and rolled it with newspaper to be shared among a small group of village boys. The sheer number of individuals, probable poor quality, and mixture of paper and tobacco didn’t seem to have the desired result the boys had heard so much about. In regard to this drug we would conclude that there is no addiction present in Pei. These substances and situations are very rare, due again to the isolation of the village. In mining areas, drugs and alcohol are more readily available, and excursions to work in these places seems to be the point of exposure to these influences. By testimony, these substances are consumed most often by the youth of Pei.
With regard to financial and monetary status, poverty is rampant in Pei. At most, individuals or families have only a few Kina to their name, however, a few individuals have made significant strides in this direction. The concept of a currency, and how it gets its value is poorly (it is not) understood, and stories about the ancestral totems being associated with the power and value of money (the pictures of pigs, muruks, and crocodiles are imprinted on coins and bills) are at the root of the Pei belief system in this area. We avoid dealing with cash as much as possible, as we feel that only after a proper foundation of truth is laid, can stewardship of money be taught effectively in Pei.
The Pei have witnessed disease and local endemics ravage their community in the past, natural disasters have not been as historically prevalent. Thunder, lightning, and the occasional earthquakes cause fear because of deep rooted belief in spirits that control these phenomena, and not because of potential damage and catastrophe these events can cause. Aside from trees struck by lightning, and local earthquakes and associated damage, we have not heard of any disaster this area. National disaster seems to be of no consequence due to the isolation of Pei Village. While the Pei village currently has no invalid population, based on testimonies of experience from years ago, the Pei do seem to have a system for looking after such people. It is the responsibility of every person in Pei to help with and care for a disabled community member.
The burden of transportation (both for the invalid population and the rest of the community) seems always to fall to the strongest men of the community, as they are often the most well off financially, and capable of providing the necessary fuel. However, providing food, washing, supervising, and sheltering an invalid would seem to be the burden of immediate family members. We would not classify ‘invalidism’ as a ‘social problem’ as the treatment of such individuals is not in any way considered privileged.
The elderly population in Pei seems to have grown since our coming. Most often, they live in the house of a biological child or a child they looked after. It is through this relationship that most of the elderly procure food, shelter and the few commodities afforded the population of such isolated villages. The elderly do not seem to be considered a burden to the community, and are valued for their knowledge and experience with matters of language and culture.
Overall, the Social Problems in a community like this do seem to have changed drastically within the lifetimes of the living generations. A virus (likely measles) wiped out nearly half of the Pei population years ago, but access to a vaccinations via the government has changed the landscape of vulnerability to such malevolence. Whereas traditional recreational substances were limited to betel nut and tobacco, the younger Pei actively pursue the experiences drugs and alcohol have to offer. The crimes of old (murder and pillaging) are becoming obsolete as the penalties for such offenses too high, and the younger generation try to sleep with individuals that relationship with will cement status by association and in-law relations in order to build a name for themselves. While the superficial symptoms (the Problems) have changed, the deep rooted venereal disease (the worldview and values system) has not.
Health and Welfare
While there is a local and sophisticated medical station and ‘Hausick’ nearby in Hauna (roughly 1 day of slow drifting in a dugout canoe, or 2 hours & 5 gallons one-way with a 2-stroke outboard motor), rumors of black magic and malicious forces ward off the Pei from pursuing services at that location. Government funded medicine dispensaries are located much closer by (Walio and Nein), but pervasive lack of education has led to serious misconceptions regarding the effectiveness and use of medicines to treat ailments. Medicines are typically hoarded for later use, and binged upon when any serious pain or affliction arises. Pol, a local Pei man, has been trained in Hauna to distribute medicine (primarily for diagnosis and treatment of malaria), and at the time of this writing, he is working by himself to erect a medical dispensary here in Pei. No outside funding or help is being provided for this project, and we are often asked to contribute nails to the cause.
Pol was trained to dispense medicines appropriately by checking weights and figuring dosages (most often for treatment of Malaria). Trained also to administer Blood Litmus tests for Malaria, when he returned from his training program, he proceeded to test nearly everyone in the village at the same time. There is a grave and dangerous misunderstanding of the effectiveness and use of Medicine here in Pei, and it is more or less treated as a kind of amulet, believing that mere proximity to pills will help relieve symptoms of a sickness. This trained individual, in addition to our presence here, is the extent of medical services in Pei, however Walio and Nain as well have stocked medical dispensaries Quinines and Amoxicillin are available. In addition to Hauna, there is a trained medical worker available in Yabutawe, which is a day’s hike away, or approximately 6 hours away via motor canoe.
In Pei and Palu Village the ‘Gavman Sevis’ is something left to be desired. It seems as though since, both small villages with relatively small populations, have been assimilated into different ward numbers (under other villages: Pei equals Walio and Palu equals Sio) that Government service is non existent. There is a small mission outpost in Hauna who has reached out to the Pei to train one individual to test and give treatment mainly for malaria. This however is the only Program we have witnessed to date. Neither village has the ear of the government nor the clout to viably warrant government intervention in to Health and Welfare or Social Issues.
Among the Pei, ‘the senis’ is often a topic of conversation, and is often equated with the ‘divelemen’ (development) that they perceive government to be promising. There is a strong desire throughout the village to see Pei become a hub of commerce and social life along the Walio river, and nearly every visit from police, census workers, anyone associated with the ‘carbon trade’, any visitor with a proclaimed association with any ‘company’, or any affiliation with ‘church’ or ‘mission’ is looked upon with great anticipation and the unspoken question, ’Will they bring the ‘change?’ While government is not the only road they imagine change coming from, it has historically been the most fruitful of their relationships.
Social Life of the Individual
Living Standards and Routines
The Pei people never seem to have enough. There is always a longing and desire for more. Even if they have everything they could need to be comfortable and able to live and work well, there’s a lack of contentment. The typical items you’ll find in every house here in Pei are: mosquito nets (almost every adult has there own- and if not they’ll share with someone who does), some sort of mat or tarp to sleep on, at least one saucepan for cooking and one for holding water, a pan for frying sago (usually made from the lid of a saucepan), at least one sturdy dish for turning sago, plates for serving food (some houses have more than others), a cup to drink out of, some houses you’ll find spoons for serving, every individual has at least an outfit or two to change into, every adult women has at least one netted bag (which they make out of bush materials) for carrying food and at least one purse (that they make out of string) for carrying personal items, almost every adult has a flashlight for night.
Almost every adult has a canoe to be able to visit other villages, fish, to go to their gardens, or to go to the tais to cut sac sac. If someone doesn’t have a canoe and needs to go somewhere they will either borrow someone else’s or go along with someone. Having a canoe is a big standard for living here because our people are always coming and going and have work all over the place. To not have a canoe means that you’ll have to stay in the ples more or hike wherever you want to go. The basic tools that are used for working and can be found in every house are: irons for scraping sago, bush knifes, axes, shovels, irons (for making canoes and oars).
Nobody really seems to have a scheduled sleep pattern. Once night comes children and adults begin going to sleep whenever they’re tired. They usually wake up at dawn when the chickens begin to sing out. Most people tend to nap during the hottest part of the afternoon but again, sleep is based on the desire of the individual. Everybody sleeps under a mosquito net. Children share with their parents or family members and if adults don’t have a net they’ll find someone to share with. (6.1.3 Sleeping)
In the bush, especially at night people will go wherever it is convenient. During daytime people are more willing to find a ‘pekpek haus’ to go to the bathroom. Females seem more embarrassed than males with regard to elimination. Most adults will use their left hands to “wipe” and will sometimes rinse their hands with water or wipe with a towel. Rinsing a baby with water is common after they’ve gone to the bathroom.
6.1.5 Personal Hygiene (See also ‘World View’ 1.783)
Because of the harsh living and working conditions, the Pei ladies’ menstrual cycles are not regular. Most tend to begin menstruating between 13–15 years of age. Cycles last 3–4 days and seem to occur bi-monthly. Traditionally, a girls’ brother would build her a small ‘sik-mun haus’ where the girl would spend a month sleeping, eating, and living. Only other females would be allowed to go inside this house to visit or sleep. During menstruation, she would not be allowed to cook any food and would rely on family and friends to for sustenance. Girls were taught by their mothers and aunts that when a chicken had sung out three times in the morning, they would have to go to the bog to wash themselves. They would be instructed to wash and hurry back so they wouldn’t be seen. They were not permitted to wash in the Walio river. The girls would typically eat in the morning and afternoons only. Traditionally, she would then be given a long necklace (and sometimes earrings) as a celebratory gift from her mother.
Conception & Contraception
Our people have a severely limited concept of time, and believe that each woman can be pregnant for different lengths of time. Gestation is commonly estimated to last anywhere from 4 to 7 months. The Pei women typically menstruate every other month, which results in a slightly longer time before realizing she is pregnant. Some woman will get sick and feel nauseous, but most will notice weight loss and breast swelling indicating pregnancy. The woman will also notice typical swelling of the midsection, and even movement of the fetus, but until she is in labor, pregnancy is a very private matter. Once a Pei woman discovers that she is pregnant, certain dietary restrictions are applied to safeguard her health and that of the unborn. She is forbidden to eat meat (pig or crocodile) that a man other than her husband has killed. It is believed that doing so will have a negative effect on her health, and that her labor will be long and painful. It is believed that this can also cause the baby to be sickly or die. Additionally, a pregnant woman is forbidden to eat the meat of a cassowary bird, believing the baby will carry ‘the muruk sick’ (likely epilepsy).
When a woman goes into labor, her husband, his sisters, and her brothers are usually the ones who construct a privacy screen under the house for her to labor and deliver the baby in. This is usually made from woven Saksak palm branches
hofi. Young and unmarried females may not come into this area during labor, and men will usually be far from here as well. Very young girls (~10 and under) will be in and out of this shelter throughout the entire process, but the younger boys are forbidden to go inside. Traditionally, the husband’s sisters are burdened with midwifery, and they are the ones who collect and heat the tangat leaves for application to belly and back during strong contractions. Older women with experience are also welcome during this time, except the woman’s mother.
Traditionally if the woman’s mother helped out with the birth then the husband would have to pay for her work and time. So it is taboo for the true mother to be involved unless properly arranged. While in labor the woman will sit on a piece of limbum under the house in the fenced off area. Someone will have also made a handle
lu’amou out of kanda
wli and a stick
witufe for her to hold onto during her contractions, while people are pushing her belly downward. When her water breaks the ladies get ready, knowing that the pain will get more intense and the baby is coming soon. When it’s time to push one lady will be behind the woman in labor holding her around the waist while she’s holding on to the hanger
lu’amou. Another lady or two will be helping by holding her legs and relaying the information to the lady behind the mom to be. When the baby comes out it will be on the limbum set out from before. The baby will fall into the pile of whatever is there: blood, urine, feces, etc. While the baby is lying there the woman there will grab some of the used tangat leaves stems to tap the baby and get it to respond. If the baby does not respond, sometimes a woman will pick it up and try to get it to breathe but usually no one likes to get their hands dirty.
When the baby comes around and begins moving or crying someone will get a razor blade and cut the umbilical cord. After that is cut someone will proceed with the ‘Post-natal Care’ while the mother delivers the placenta. Once the placenta
otoho luhugu comes one of the sister in-laws
hele yawase will get the placenta wrapped up in the limbum she delivered it on. She will then take it into the bush and bury it. Now the mom is ready for her ‘Post-natal Care’. Typical care following birth includes retrieval of several buckets of water for washing mother and baby, right outside of the house that the child was delivered in. Both stripped and rinsed full view of the public. At this time, the infant will not be with its mother, but another woman will assume responsibility of washing it, nursing it and putting it in a bilum near a fire back underneath the house where is was delivered. The mother will finish her rinse and someone will bring her fresh clothes to change into, and a new limbum to lie on near her baby, and the two will be left to sleep.
Abortion and Infanticide is not very common these days but there are still remedies and ideas for getting rid unwanted babies. The main method for abortion is to find kanda rope from the bush and tie it tight around your stomach. The person trying to abort the baby will tie the kanda as tight as she can around her stomach multiple times in a day as often as she can. To kill your baby you can also drink the water from the root of a papaya tree or drink coffee. Woman who have kids outside of marriage are frowned upon. It is expected that when she delivers the baby she will stay under the house on the ground for an additional night. The mother will nurse and look after the baby until it is old enough to leave her and join the new family. The baby is usually given to an uncle or cousin. Before Pei used to build another house for the woman to have children in. They would stay in this house for 3 weeks before washing sak sak and returning to her own house and resuming her responsibilities. Now a woman will stay under the house for one full sun, wash and then go up into her house, through a new entrance made on the back of the house. She will use a separate ladder
plimo and doorway to get in and out of the house. The thinking is sill the same although the form and time restraint has changed. If a woman were to enter the house through the front door it would cause some sort of sickness to someone. Either the mom, baby or father would get sick, possibly die or it will hinder the man’s ability to hunt pigs. The boss of the house will be compelled to work this sickness onto the family.The woman will usually take 3–5 days before going to wash sak sak for the first time and then coming home. This sak sak will not be eaten but it is a ritual that they do after having a baby. The first wash is dirty and no one can eat from that. When she goes again, she may bring that home to her family to eat.
Infanticide is definitely frowned upon now but not long ago the killing of unwanted babies was practiced. Typically the mother would put the infant in a piece of limbum and let it go in the Walio River. This was the quickest and easiest method. Now a days if a baby isn’t wanted then it will be given to another line.
Infancy and Childhood
When a baby reaches a milestone, like getting a tooth, learning to walk, etc. the mother will give an amamas gift to the babies kandre
ofai or lukaut Papa. This gift will usually be food and sometimes kina. Babies are fed when they cry or when they are tired and need to be put to bed. We would call this ‘on demand’ feeding. Women are the ones who take care of the babies. A good mom will nurse her baby, put it in a bilum to sleep, hold it when it cries, clean/wash it when it pees or poops, and raun with it. This kind of care is also frequently done by little kids, sisters or aunts. When the child is an infant it will stay in the bilum and be wherever the mother is. When is grows a little it will be passed around to anyone who feels like playing with a baby, from the age of 6 and up. Childcare is very communal. The older will look out for the young ones and help them with cooking food and straightening fights that come up between kids. Often times kids are as young as 5 are left in the village with no one to look out for them and no idea where Mom went.
A child’s physical needs (like food) are met by it’s mother, aunts and older siblings. A child’s skills are developed and taught by their parents, kandres, and aunts. A girl will follow her mother and learn by example. A mother/aunt will show the younger girls how to scrap sago, to find greens, leaves for wrapping and eating their food on, how to chop firewood, where to get it, how to fish, tie nets, how to find limbum, how to fry sago and turn hot wara. These are things that the child will learn by shadowing the older woman many times till they can jump in themselves. These are the responsibilities of the girls in the ples. The boys will do similar shadowing with their father and kandres. The responsibilities and skills the boys will learn are chopping and shaping a canoe, shaping an oar, clearing gardens, building a house, how to shoot a bow and arrow, how to hunt for a pig, set traps for large birds, and how to spear fish.
6.3.7 Childhood Activities
(6.3.8 Status of Children)
(6.3.6 Development and Growth)(18.104.22.168 Expectations & Responsibilities)
6.3.7 Childhood Activities
(6.3.8 Status of Children)
6.4.1 Techniques of Teaching and Training
Demonstrations and modeling are the main ways to teach. Everything is very tactile and hands-on. Skills often evolve from repetitious play. More formal instruction and training is preformed by an older relative with the knowledge to instruct. All ‘formal’ instruction is new and most often takes the form of school or church.
22.214.171.124 Printed Materials
The printed materials in Pei are school materials our younger children have received, church materials such as tracks and bibles and the material we have been using for our literacy program. Literacy materials include primers and readers and are for the benefit of teaching our people how to read and write Pefiyahe.
6.4.2 Weaning and Food Training
Food training seems to starts at a young age and is usually happening while the child is still breast feeding. Kids are given bananas, pieces of pumpkin, pre-chewed food. Weaning is usually dependent on the child and practicality. If a child is still breast feeding and another baby is born then the older will be weaned sooner. We’ve seen many last borns breast fed well into their 4th and 5th years. Weaning and food training is very informal, and there are few social expectations with this regard.
6.4.3 Cleanliness Training
Children are constantly told and yelled at to bathe. Young kids are manually dunked by parents or older relatives after soiling themselves, or when they need to bathe. Shame is used to control behavior in these situations. Children tend to follow their parents lead when it comes to cleanliness. If their parents are sloppy or smelly people usually their children are too. It’s rare to see a clean child who comes from an unclean family.
6.4.4 Sex Training
Porn is becoming more readily available so its easier for adolescent boys to learn this way. Adolescent experimentation seems to be the most common method of sex training but the exchanging of stories and spying on females are other outlets for sex-ed. We’ve heard of 12 year olds engaging in sexual activity. Girls learn from stories as well, and are often motivated by pursuit of marriage (motivation in sexual encounters). Girls typically learn from girlfriends, boys from boyfriends, but females also learn from abuse.
6.4.5 Aggression Training
Shame, respect and reputation are not even words in Pei, but the concepts are there and felt deeply. Anger and shame have been witnessed many times following someone being called out. These patterns are often copied by the younger generations. Verbal aggression, assertion, and domination are not always wanted but at times can be respected.
6.4.6 Independence Training
Independence training is very minimal. Most children are taught to conform to the ways of the community. There is a hint of independence training as far as parents wanting their children to go to sleep on their own or to go find food when they’re hungry. But this type of training is more for the benefit of the lazy parents. Even though independence isn’t taught it can be valued. There are certain advantages and benefits that come from a man or woman whose independent.
6.4.7 Teaching of Cultural Norms
The teaching of cultural norms starts from birth and is usually taught through shaming and yelling. No one is too old to be corrected or shamed for wrong behavior.
6.4.8 Teaching of Skills
Mimicry, play, and hands on learning are how skills are taught and developed.
6.4.9 Teaching of Beliefs
6.4.10 Teaching of Philosophies
Listening in church is one example of how philosophies are taught. This is not a conscience process, people hear and assimilate with time. They listen to stories, and apply as they observe others applying. The closest thing to a philosophy here in Pei would be ‘road/custom’. These are physical patterns or practices that reveal underlying thinking, but these ‘road/customs’ are really patterns that have been ingrained since birth.
6.4.11 Acculturation & Culture Contact
‘custom em custom’ is a philosophy that came from a funny movie about PNG culture. This saying has encouraged our people not to challenge any of their customs. They are ‘constants’ and shouldn’t be questioned. Church culture is newer here in Pei. This culture says, ‘Just don’t do it’. By abstaining from evil things (like buai, tobacco, sex, etc) God will look down on you with favor.
The more traditional ways of teaching are gone. For example sex training used to happen in the haus boi. Custom stories are hortatory texts where people are told what they should do. There are also myths and fables, believed to have hidden meaning as well, that teach truths, or explain the way the world works.
Education (More formal: Gov’t schools, etc.)
# See Pei: A Sociolinguistic Survey
Government schools and religious schools, are harder for our people to be involved in because of the school fees and the locations of the schools. Education is valued in Pei. There are a handful of younger men who are in elementary school now but hope to go on to high school one day. There is prestige that comes with being educated and not a ‘bush kanaka’.
Adolescence and Adulthood 6.6.1 Puberty and Initiation/Rites of Passage
Menstruation in any girl is a celebratory time because the girl is at the age to get married and have children. The cutting of foreskin is a remnant of a hausboi tradition. The mystery and exclusivity is captivating, and this might be part of the reason this remnant is preserved. Facial hair is an indicator of a boy becoming a man. Pubescent boys are weaned from ‘the house’ of their parents. They are expected to start migrating to the hausboi. They are expected to start doing ‘real work’ (cutting canoes, hunting, building houses).
6.6.2 Status of Adolescents
6.6.3 Adolescent Activities
126.96.36.199 Expectations & Responsibilities
6.6.4 Legal Age
Legal age is not really a concept however marriageable age is a concept. This comes into play when girls begin menstruation or when boys go through puberty. 6.6.5 Adulthood
188.8.131.52 Expectations & Responsibilities
There is a distinction between the expectations for a single man and a single woman. A single woman is expected to live at home under her families roof while still helping with all the daily responsibilities and caring for the family at large. A single man will live in a hausboi and only have to care for himself. He really doesn’t have any responsibility or expectation put on him other than that which comes internally. If a single man doesn’t work a garden then he won’t have garden food. If he’s too lazy to fish then he won’t eat fish.
Marrieds are expected to be hospitable, to provide for their family, and to exhibit ‘pasin’ (sharing attitude). Reproduction is an expectation given to marrieds.
New customs are coming into play when it comes to puberty and adolescence. There’s less adherence and importance when it comes to old customs.
Sex (Be cautious) 6.7.1 Ideas and Concepts about sex
Men have ideas about sex that come from tambuna stories (ex: hati am’ou - hausboi story). Porn, stories from others experience and joking around all add to the ideas that men have about sex.
Women have ideas about sex that come from stories they’ve heard. Girls are promiscuous from a young age but generally as they get older they desire to be married.
6.7.2 Normal Relationships
Sex is socially acceptable and normal within marriage but a blind eye is turned to unmarried experimentation because everyone does it. The rule is to be discreet and not get caught.
6.7.3 Sex Restrictions and Taboos
Consequences are taboo. Many men don’t experiment with sexual positions, only missionary style. It’s taboo for a man to ‘be covered’ so women on top doesn’t happen. Pregnancy sex and after-pregnancy sex is dependent on each couple according to the Pei.
6.7.4 Pre-Marital Sex Relations
Pre-marital sex is common and socially acceptable as long as the people involved don’t get caught. Those who are caught unintentionally are often shamed and ostracized.
6.7.5 Extra-Marital Sex Relations
Extra-marital relations are very common and are only socially unacceptable if it ‘upsets the peace’ with their married partner. If it causes trouble, it is frowned upon. It’s considered wrong, but consequences of getting caught is a bigger deal than the actual act. Traveling to other villages to find an extra-marital partner is very common.
6.7.6 Homosexuality & Bisexuality
Both homosexuality and bisexuality are new concepts. They have been introduced with porn and western stories. Traditional homosexuality (and possibly ingestion of semen) is likely a part of old traditional hausboi culture. 6.7.7 Miscellaneous (Prostitution, etc.)
The basis of marriage within the Pei culture is threefold. Primarily it is a way to find a good partner who has relatively good conduct. The second is for the physical needs of an individual so as to be satisfied within the acceptable way of marriage. And, last but not least is the angling to align oneself with a more powerful clan or family line so as to receive the benefits of being associated with such a line.
A partner with good behavior and good conduct in life is very desirable. For men they search for a lady who is a hard worker and will maintain her responsibilities well (i.e. collect firewood, care for the family, work lots of sago, look after visitors well etc.). For a woman she is looking for a hard working man that will maintain his responsibilities and be skillful (i.e. house building, a good hunter, won’t beat her too often etc.). The mutual benefit of sharing the work load that accompanies the life of hunter gatherers is important and the way and manner in which one carries themselves during this life of work is vitality as important. Most fights that happen between married couples revolve around either side avoiding their responsibilities or simply being lazy.
The physical needs of a Pei are evident at a young age as promiscuity among the youth is rampant. To be in a marriage doesn’t necessarily mean those needs will be met, however it is a slight bit more secure than the single life. Inside a marriage it is expected and desired that both sides be faithful. While it is not guaranteed it is a least a little more concrete for the relationship sake. Sex within marriage happens and albeit less often than maybe one side desires it is at least a guarantee an individual won’t have to go elsewhere to meet this need. Unfaithfulness happens all the time, and is pushed extremely far underground but a big desire to be married is to see a more faithful relationship in terms of sex.
A Pei individual is constantly trying to earn favor and power in the eyes of the community, while balancing so as not to rise too far above anyone else. Marriage is a perfect opportunity to align oneself to a larger more prolific line without too many people suspecting otherwise. One would receive the benefit of being associated more closely to a powerful line by simply being an in law. The manner and conduct toward an in law is very evident as the married into line has a huge responsibility to treat well and speak well of and look after well the new addition to the family.
Lastly but worth mentioning here is the concept of population control. One way a community can up their population is by having a man and woman from the same community marry each other so as to keep all the offspring in the village so as to raise the chances of a larger population. (6.8.1 Basis of Marriage)
In Pei, because of the small size everyone is closely related somehow. This makes it difficult to find eligible marriage partners. Almost all of our oldest generation (abe & selah, pita & selah, jekob & matrina, jon & anna) have broken custom marriage taboos by marrying a cousin. This in turn create a weird decision for the younger Pei wanting to marry. It forces them to look elsewhere and other tribes and language groups for eligible spouses. This type of marriage runs the risk of losing men and women alike to other places for various reasons (i.e. not being able to pay a bride price, trying to align oneself with a more powerful line in another village etc.).
We are currently witnessing marriage age girls and guys (aluis & sabet, smith & helen) also breaking customary taboos so as to marry locally and help with the small numbers in Pei. It is looked down upon and not the ideal. (6.8.2 Eligible Partners)
There are two methods of marriage the Pei utilize. The first is less frequently used. This would be to exchange ladies from other tribes and language groups. This method was more widely used in times past and now is almost outlawed. The Pei have seen many of their ladies leave and have not seen the same influx of ladies into their own community and village. The second and more acceptable method is the purchase of a woman. This would involve the payment of PNG Kina as well as some customary money given value by both parties involved. Initially a sort of down payment of several hundred kina is required while the balance is due at the desire of the woman’s family. The average price of the first down payment is K300-K600. The average full price of a woman along our water is K2000-K3000. Most young men in our village still have a large portion of their bride prices to be paid. In these instances a large threat of their first born son or first born daughter going to live with their wives family is present. This is a motivating factor to make payment. They desire especially to keep their firstborns as they are a type of social security later on for marriage and hard work they won’t be able to do with age. (6.8.3 Type of Marriage (Buying, Exchanging, Dowry, etc.)
The arranging of marriages in the past happened, however nowadays the youth of the Pei find their own spouses. Sometimes with the blessing of their parents and sometimes without. The most prominent way to secure a marriage partner in this sense is to be caught having sex. Almost always if the two desire to marry they won’t hide their pre relationship. They will allow their relationship to become public as to stand before a court and express their desire to marry. With the two sides of the family in public view there will be some explanation and scolding for this pre marital sex but likely will result in the agreement of marriage. There are some ways to avoid the marriage if the sides are not in agreement, some money will be paid for the nights of sex and then it will be settled that the two won’t do it again (although this rarely happens). (6.8.4 Arranging a Marriage (Courtship, Arrangement, Engagement)
Eloping is essentially realized when two go to the bush to have sex and don’t necessarily hide it. It sort of secures the marriage talks so as to have their desire be heard and outed in public. This is a strategy of some who may have expressed interest and been met with resistance from the others family or parents. There are stories of other villages along the Walio River where two people went to the bush for weeks, living as a married couple and ran away to do so. In Pei Village, this hasn’t really happened to the same degree. Most individuals will disappear for a night or two till it is noticed the two are gone simultaneously. They often return together and await the court, payment agreement and marriage ceremony to follow. (6.8.5 Eloping)
As a Church Planting team we have not witnessed an actual marriage ceremony. We have however compiled many individuals stories of their marriage ceremony. It is generally agreed that the marriage ceremony has changed to reflect more closely the traditions and customs of the language groups along the Walio River and moving Northwest toward the Sio River. There are two types of ceremonies. The first would reflect two individuals being married within the Pei community and the second would be that of one Pei individual and another person from an out group.
After a public meeting has been held to determine the price in which a lady will be sold or bought, a day is designated in which to actually exchange money, food and gifts for the woman. Within the group the marriage ceremony starts with discussion about the bride price. Followed by the supporters of the man piling their contribution to the bride price. Often times the real price is not achieved. But the exchange will happen anyway. Followed by the collection of the money and payment to woman’s family line, gifts will be exchanged. Typically the woman’s family will collect clothes and mosquito nets and tools for the woman’s new life and present them to her. They put them in a bag and hang them around the woman’s neck. Normally she is decorated with different types of customary money in the form of shells. After this event food is prepared for the community to eat as a sort of party. The family line of the man is responsible for bring a substantial amount of meat, while the woman’s family line is responsible for the Sago and edible greens and any other type of food.
The out group marriage ceremony is slightly different. There will likely be a big fight during the discussion about the bride price. Often it will escalate into physical violence. Many times it is because the true price of the bride is not realized. When thing cool down, the collection of money and the giving of the bride gifts follow. Many time the Grooms family line will stay a night for the party and meal. However in most recent cases the Pei group has just taken the bride back to Pei village to eat and party there.
When the balances of the bride are unpaid on the day of the ceremony a debt sort of looms over the groom. His in laws can demand the first born male or female to cover the balance or if they are more understanding will give the groom time to collect the necessary funds to pay them back. We have not heard of a story where a woman was purchased for the agreed upon bride price on the day of the ceremony. It seems to be more of an ideal rather than a reality. (6.8.6 Marriage Ceremony)
6.8.7 Resultant Relationships
The Termination of a marriage can come about in two ways. The first would be divorce. The second is death on an individual. In both instances it would be appropriate and culturally acceptable for either to remarry, although often times the Pei don’t. Especially in regard to a death. The termination of a marriage does carry with it some kind of monetary cost so both individuals often times will remain married so as to avoid such a burden. For instance if a man is yet to pay a bride price there is a huge potential for the woman’s family to demand from him extra payment. This would affect the Pei community as a whole and in a way take away from the mans status within the community. Also the man most likely didn’t spend his own cash in order to purchase a woman and he will likely have a few brothers, uncles and cousins looking to recoup their investment. Even if there is trouble in a marriage two will remain married so as to avoid a potential bigger conflict with the community in which they live.
Divorce can come from either the man or the woman. Divorce however most often is initiated by the man. Many times it is as a result of a lack of offspring. There is incredible pressure to produce kin and if this is not happening within a marriage a man will likely divorce his wife (David and Doroti). Whether it is on the part of a the man or the woman the lack of child bearing will always be attributed to the woman and her thought of discontentment, irritation or contempt for her husband. If a woman wants to terminate a marriage she is likely to run away, or have extra marital relations with someone from an out group that has a bigger standing or stronger family than her husband. At the point the man will realize and most likely tell her the marriage is done. Remarriage at this point would have more costs associated and there would be much less scrutinizing of potential brides. But it culturally would be acceptable. Death too will obviously terminate a marriage. We do have five widows. In all five instances the widows promised the spirits of their husbands they would not remarry. This does not seem to have any more connotation other than the appeasement of the spirit of the dead man. It is generally agreed however that if a woman doesn’t make this type of promise it is acceptable for her to remarry (Ruth and her first husband). (6.8.8 Termination of Marriage)
6.8.9 Secondary Marriages
Our first observed secondary marriage in Pei was with Daniel and Senika… This got the attention of the whole community here in Pei and caused some issues with his first wives family in Sio. Almost everyone was opposed to him taking his second wife. He still hasn’t fully paid the bride price for his first wife and that brought up a hevi in the community as well.
Traditionally things were a bit different with regard to paying for women. Available items were exchanged, and greed was not quite as apparent as money wasn’t available. Pigs and other valuables would be given as payment. Now, land and debt have caused social problems and increased obligation. It is easier to put a few zeroes on the end of a demand, and there are no standards for prices of females.
Family (see also 3.6)
For most houses, there is a ‘mama and papa’ of the house, ‘papa’ is the one who actually did most of the work to build it, the ‘mama’ is usually that guys’ wife. The wife ‘rules the stove’ more or less. All of the couples children will live in the house with them as well as extended family members who need a place to stay. Houses are built in the ‘sepik style’ which are different from traditional Pei style houses. Our people have learned how to make these from their exposure to the ‘outside’. They frequently make subtle changes and modifications in their building styles.
6.9.2 Household (as different from family)
Houses are where people primarily cook, eat, and sleep. Some socialization does happen here as well. Many people will sleep in this house, and it is almost forbidden for the house ‘papa’ to kick anybody out. Usually people with some claim to a family name will ask the favor of sleeping in another’s house. Complete outsiders will not usually ask, but will not often refuse if offered. There is an epidemic of laziness in Pei, and when a papa’s house breaks, or he is suddenly found without, he will lean on siblings or family members to house and feed him. Until he is able to build a new house.
6.9.3 Nuclear Family (1 husband, 1 wife)
The house is typically the home of a husband-wife nuclear unit, and their children. Boys are urged to move out with puberty, and girls will often live with parents until marriage removes them from the household. Social standards have not advanced or matured, though. Nuclear families will mature and share a small yard, packing more houses into the same small space.
Polygamy is rare in Pei. In other areas along the Sepik where a husband has two wives they will usually live in the same house (often have two different stoves for cooking though). Depending on the personalities at play, the children won’t notice too much of a difference having another woman helping to raise them.
6.9.5 Compound Families (Step-Relationships due to multiple marriages)
These compound families are handled similarly to adoption. There are few standards, but it depends a lot on the context of the relationships involved. For example an ideal and well-working polygamous relationship would likely involve some favoritism (the woman favors HER children…) but would function much like aunts/uncles raising the children of a sister/brother.
6.9.6 Extended Families
Extended families are often in close living proximity to their clans. Most often family lines will build their houses on one banis together.
Adoption occurs when a child is rescued from certain death, or from un-wanting parents. Adoptions are seen as investments. The family or person doing the raising will get to reap the future benefits. Often, a child born out of wedlock will be adopted by family. Some families will be saturated with children of a certain sex, and adoption will allow the to disperse some of those children. A child will be weaned by a birth mother, and then be handed off to the adoptive parents. Birth parents will always have a claim to any benefit the child will bring, but the bulk of the benefits will go to the adoptive parents.
6.9.8 Irregular Unions and Celibacy
6.10 The Aged/Elders
6.10.1 Activities of the Aged
6.10.2 Status and Treatment of the Aged
Elderly are respected and valued. Some are more burdensome than others, but they are likely seen as kind of a luxury/status item by outsiders. It is expected that children will look after elderly parents (food, housing). Some older people can contribute more than others, but people don’t usually get upset with old people that claim they cannot contribute. Some old people are senile, and treated like children. 6.10.3 Old -Vs- New
There is no such thing as an accidental death in the minds of the Pei. While the Tok Pidgin word ‘aksident’ has made its way into the Pefiyahe vocabulary it carries quite a different meaning. Death
ga hale iya is always the result: of some kind of sin or infraction, of some spiritually malicious force, or of the magic of a Sanguma
tgolualumiwe or soothsayer. Death is shrouded in mystery and fear ultimately because the true cause of death can only be conjectured about, and the ultimate destiny of the dead is truly unknown. Especially since the introduction of ‘loutism’, the place ‘hel paia’ is cause for great fear.
Death is a constant reality the Pei live with. Sickness and natural causes has been to our witness the main reasons individuals have died since we have been on site. Some may have been preventable some definitely not. But in both instances the Pei have explained them all away as a result of Sanugma. The concept is strong throughout the country of Papua New Guinea, but its root in the Pei worldview is tremendous. Lengthy discussions about sanguma reveal that once an individual has been marked by death, or shot with a spear, Sanguma have no choice but to kill that person. Their death will be imminent. The avoidance of death at this point would prove pointless to the Pei mind. If a Pei individual suspects they have been marked but not shot with a spear they will do as much as possible to avoid death. They will send bribes for potential sanguma men or women as far as several days hike away, they will pay and consult glass men, they will apologize to their community and surrounding for ill-thoughts or speaking ill of individuals.
On the flip side of the death conundrum the Pei see life as something they have figured out. They pursue relative power and prestige in the community so as it remains out of the public eye enough to avoid the jealousy of one who might want to give them hardship or wish ill of them. Their goal is to have a ‘gut sindaun’. This would be representative of not having to work too hard for food, or that their building materials would be located close in proximity to where they’d like to construct. The younger Pei would like to see the cargo of the ‘wait man’ in their homes as their barometer of a good life. Both are the pursuit of the Pei. (6.11.1 Beliefs & Philosophy Concerning Life and Death)
We have only heard stories of individuals along the Walio river committing suicide. However from the oldest to the youngest Pei we have not heard such a story occurring here. A lady from another village tied a bush rope around her neck and threatened to kill herself to a group of school girls. The reasoning was because her husband mistreated her as well as the Pei community. The threat of suicide as a story is the degree that the Pei understand or even talk about suicide. (6.11.2 Voluntary Deaths and Suicide)
One man we witnessed die in Pei had a slow and terrible death process. He suffered from 2011 (possibly even before) until 2012. We suspect of congenetive heart failure. The People of Pei would leave him in his own mosquito net. Some would come near him to offer help with food and some labor. His wife was daily helping him. His ability to relieve himself in a proper out house had long since left him. The process of dying is sad to watch but often the Pei seem disinterested in the dying. And, they see the dying as a burden. The reality of limited resources in helping the dying may prove this statement true. Nonetheless, they are still treated as a member of the community.
Dying itself is surrounded in uncertainty and almost every visit to this dying mans house he was asking for the secret we had. The Pei know they will age and they know death is going to happen. Some with body ailments of habitual sickness maybe more aware than others. They don’t believe however they are currently dying. Death only comes if they have been marked. If their ‘sins’ or infractions are pushed far enough underground most don’t worry about dying. Rather they fear more being found out! (6.11.3 Dying)
Funerals are a time for public mourning, and disposal of the dead body. There are some taboos surrounding the time of a funeral that mainly have to do with not working and not eating particular types of food. The steps before the burial of the body are hugely important however. Primarily the body must not be buried prior to all the dead’s kin (within reasonable distance) being able to view and mourn him publicly. Often the coffin will remain unburied up to 4 days to accomplish this task. Many young men will be called upon to perform some laborious work (for compensation) and the family experiencing the loss begins preparing for an influx of money of food. First a coffin is made for the body, typically out of the sides and bottoms of old canoes. It usually is big enough to put a sleeping mat in and the body. Some of the dead individuals personal effects are also put in the coffin, such as a mosquito net, bed sheet, clothes, etc. During this time runners are sent to different villages to announce the death so any mourning family can come. After the coffin is made and sealed it will be put in a certain house so all can come and mourn. After a day or two of mourning a burial site is prepared. These sites vary in size and location. Certain men (with compensation) will carry the coffin to the site where they will bury it. Close relatives will pour dirt first on the coffin in the open grave while crying and mourning. Then extended family and so forth. When the grave is covered a flower fence line is planted around the coffin, to mark the grave site for future generations. Sometimes a small Sago palm house is constructed to cover the site. Some immediate relatives will mourn for a night near the grave site, while abstaining from certain foods. (6.11.4 Funeral)
Mourning is another particularly important part of the death of an individual. The practices range from money and gift giving to wailing and covering in mud, all of these practices are to appease the spirit of the deceased. From the time a body is realized dead, a horrible wailing and crying begin throughout the village. Most of the time tears are not accompanying wailing. Individuals will cover themselves in mud, roll around on the ground, wail, cry, destroy things belonging to the deceased. All in a very public manner and as an outward demonstration to show remorse to the dead and to show their innocence. Most often it is an act of expression to absolve oneself from being implicated as the reason this death occurred. Many times people from villages all over will bring food and money to show they had no ill will toward this person and cannot be responsible for their misfortune, illness and death. There is no work to occur during the time of mourning, if someone does work it could implicate them as being careless of this person and a reason they died. Often times property, houses and garden of the deceased are destroyed so as to show the spirit just how sad and remorseful for the loss the people are. Sometimes this can be avoided if the individual has sons, and they can use these things later in life. Mourning is ultimately a way for other people to preserve themselves. (6.11.5 Mourning)
6.11.6 Different Funeral Practices (from the norm)
6.11.7 Funeral Specialists
Elderly seem to be ‘custom specialists’, and lead in charge with respect to funerals. Certain lines have more experience and exposure to ‘what to do’ in certain situations.
6.11.8 Social Readjustments to Death
Depending on the individual that died, the social repercussions will vary. Old people that didn’t do much, won’t have a large workload to distribute. There seems to be an expected ‘mourning period’, which seems to last a week. It’s all dependent on the family.
6.11.9 Cult of the Dead (See Supernatural)
Not too much ‘cult of the dead’ activity. Seances do sometimes happen to divine ‘who killed who with magic’. These are performed with uncertainty.
1.1 Concepts regarding Political Territory
Nobody really knows exactly how political territory works, they just know ‘government’ dudes come and take votes. LLG functioning, however, is lost on them. They kinda know there is some order, but their primary interest with regard to government is how to get money, or how to get ‘sevis’ or ‘senis’ or ‘stuff’.
1.2 Territorial Hierarchy (homesteads hamlets villages communities land & resources, etc.)
Each village usually consists of a magistrate and a committee who over see any and all disputes, organize work teams, etc. The magistrate serves as the villages trained peace keeper. The government is a resource to our people but it’s not understood enough to actually be a viable resource. The government is also very slow to give assistance.
Government (Leadership and Internal Order)
2.1 Chief Executive
2.1.1 Paramount Chief, King, President
No paramount chief, king or President. It’s every man for himself out here. The big men in the village are the ones who influence others. 2.1.2 Degree of Authority (Supreme, Nominal, Depends on Personal Qualities)
Authority and following rules and tok of another are newer practices, they came with the white man. Even this practice was adopted because of fear of what the whites could do. Even the biggest man here can’t force another to do what he wants. He can give advice or tell someone not to do something but ultimately its that persons decision whether or not to heed their advice.
2.1.3 Mode of Selection (By Descent, Seniority, Election, Overcoming Others)
New ‘leaders’ are selected by a very misunderstood ‘voting’ system. Our people are asked to be in Pei to vote during voting season. The role of government is believed to have something to do with the foreign concept of an army, permission to go or come to PNG, and most importantly its thought that government will help promote development and services in our community.
2.1.4 Sphere of Influence
Heads of household are kind of the ‘executives’ in Pei. Most decisions are made with attention paid to the communal effects of such decisions.
2.1.5 Prerogatives and Obligations
Culturally to command some sort of work and coordinate large groups of people to do work relational ties are stretched in the name of obligation. There may be some compensation, but the ‘bekim bek’ system is huge here in PNG.
2.1.6 Assisted by Others, Councils & Officials
2.3 No Supreme Clan or Tribal Authority
2.4 PNG National & Lower-Levels of Government (Introduced into PNG)
Traditionally, things were likely different before the australians came and enforced certain standards upon the indigenous populations. Maintaining government work days, and gov’t positions (committee) to enforce the imposed standards are all new.
2.5 Government Activities
2.5.1 Clan & Tribal Government
2.5.2 PNG National & Lower-Levels Government (Introduced into PNG)
3.1 In Relation to Political Organization
Politics and war are not understood in the same context.
3.1.1 Inter-group Relationship
Pei are traditionally allies with Sanapian, Kupkein, and Higa people groups. Our people are friendly with most neighboring others. The AlesouAlesou is a fabled clan of Sorcerers that plague many battle stories and are all thought to be dead at this point.
3.2 Military Organization & Leadership
Military is a foreign concept. The ‘defence force’ is a myth, and nobody understands how it works.
War is becoming a foreign concept to the Pei. Traditionally it saturated every aspect of culture, and those times are referred to as the ‘birua times’.
3.3.1 Instigation of War
Raids or battles were usually the result of some sort of perceived injustice, trespass, or accusations of witchcraft or sorcery.
3.3.2 Conduct of Warfare
Our people would go on raids with a group of allies (higa lain would help with raids, and after they would all celebrate singsing). These stories were from long ago. 184.108.40.206 Strategy
There are remembered stories of making carvings and bow & arrow shield lines. There are also stories of spear and muruk-dagger killings.
220.127.116.11 Head Hunting
3.3.3 Results of Combat
Results of combat would have been decimation of a perceived evil, or the retreating due to fear of not being able to prevail over said evil. Another round would then be planned.
No stories of ancestors peacemaking that we know of.
Peacemaking now usually involves some sort of compensation or exchange. Occasionally things can get heated, and result in physical violence but the days of traditional wars, raids or battles are over.
Standards of Control 1.1 General Principles
Shame and fear (of the ‘unknown’ and of assumed spiritual realities), maintaining peace and harmony are all general standards of control.
1.2 Areas of Control (For each area consider proper regard & conduct, offenses, wrongs, non-fulfillment of obligations, crime)
1.2.1 Regard for Human Life
Human lives are supposed to conform to certain cultural standards, which are imposed by individuals in attempts to benefit from personal relationships. People want to be happy, full, and live lives of ease. They see community as a step that direction, and while everyone is perceived to be trying to move that direction, life within community provides access to the resources of others. Community is a veneer, and is considered a road to individual happiness and fulfillment. There are genuine relationships, however, and friends will often rejoice and enjoy the success of another, but even such enjoyment will fade, and soon attention to personal status will be paid again, and success of the friend scorned (now it is my time to shine!). Everyone likes the peacefulness inherent to the idea of equality and classlessness, but they also have personal greed that bubbles to the surface, and then the desire to pull ahead is acted upon.
1.2.2 Regard for the Person
1.2.3 Regard for Marriage and Sex
With regard to marriage, sex, and family, sexual needs are definitely acted upon. The personal burden that this puts on an individual leads individuals to pursue sexual relations wherever they might be found. Men and women have different felt needs in these areas, and the intersections of these often cause conflict. men typically will have sex whenever it is available. When a wife, for whatever reason is not available, more interpersonal considerations are made by the male when seeking sexual relations. Women are typically less promiscuous. They often have less motivation and time for extramarital sexual encounters. Their felt needs are also likely along different lines than males (typical human behavior). Married women are more likely to be approached by males other than their husbands for a sexual encounter but this is a very private and taboo subject. The effects and relationship of Sex on family relationships are not often considered. Being caught is a bigger deal than any promiscuity.
1.2.4 Regard for the Family
Displays of anger, discipline, and intimidation are pretty much the only ways parents control kids. Crisis or cultural stress bring instances of such correction to an abnormal head. These instances tend to imprint themselves on the memories of the young. It is often the young children who need active shaping, older teenagers are often very submissive to ideals and standards imposed in such situations. They have learned already by this time.
1.2.5 Regard for Economic Relations
1.2.6 Regard for Property
1.2.7 Regard for Communal Life
1.2.8 Regard for Chieftainship/Leadership
1.2.9 Regard for Persons of Status
Success and abundance is a Pei ideal. Those who are hospitable, have a good reputation, and are ‘big men’ in the community are persons of status.
1.2.10 Regard for the Dead
Shame and fear are used to keep the standards that are expected when it comes to death. There is social pressure, exerted in the form of ‘hype’ or sensitivity with death and there comes a very chaotic series of events. Wailing, angry yelling, crying for hours on end, are all expected during a time of death.
1.2.11 Regard for the Spirit World
1.2.12 Regard for Religious Observances
The same process is employed to develop religious respect, and we’ve seen recently the results of the ‘newness’ of religion in Pei. There was a fight about respecting the sabbath among the older men and the young adults and it lasted almost a whole day. People hitting and kicking each other. The younger men for whom religious presence is new, were insistent that they be able to play volleyball on a sabbath in front of the church ground. The older men were serious that the young ones wouldn’t listen and that’s when the fight broke out. As this particular situation is new to Pei, the youths were not disciplined or instructed as children in this regard, and the older youth now were rebelling, as t hey are physically capable.
1.2.13 Regard for Ethical Ideals and Individual Virtue
Incentives & Pressure for Conformity (to Standards)
2.1 Means of Promoting Conformity
2.1.3 Conscience (Degree conscience leads to integrity-VsViolating standards with goal of not being detected, thus leading to shame)
2.2 Social Rewards and Penalties
There is social praise for those who make public sacrifices in the name of ‘pasin’. The reward is in everyone thinking highly of you. 2.3 Religious Rewards and Penalties
Religious ‘holy men’ enjoy a certain ease, reverence and status.
2.4 Effectiveness of Incentives & Pressure for Conformity
2.5 Security Arrangements/Types of Policing
Traditionally, threats of death and fighting were the only means of social control in the adult population. Children and wives were controlled by the rod of a patriarch. Fights to the death within the community was how things were handled in the past. ### Reactions of Society to Violations
The common court system is essentially a public forum to air your concerns, and give the opportunity for the public to chime in.
Often the result of a court case is ‘toksori’ from both sides, and then some sort of handshake to indicate agreement or dismiss the troubles caused. This is performed, but feelings often still harbored, as is evident in the gossip that continues to fly after a court case has been heard by the community.
18.104.22.168 Judge(s), Witness(es), Evidence
The more witnesses you have in regards to your complaint the better. The magistrate is in charge of finding a suitable punishment or compensation for the wrong committed.
3.2.2 Determination of Guilt
The magistrate and the community are the determiners of guilt. 3.2.3 Degree of Guilt
3.2.4 Other Judgment/Court Proceedings
3.2.5 Verdict & Sentencing
3.3.1 Types of Penalties
Penalties would include: saying sorry for any wrong you
caused, compensating the wronged with money or work, or having to provide food to the wronged.
22.214.171.124 Compensation for Death
126.96.36.199 Compensation other than Death
Wanbel kaikai is a social standard as well as a handshake.
3.3.2 Enforcement of Penalties
3.3.3 Delinquency in Fulfilling Penalties
They don’t know how to handle delinquency. Often a penalty might be reduced to the point where both sides will agree to exchange a tok sori for the sake of peace.
3.3.4 Rights of Asylum
Language is not just for communication in the Pei worldview. Language can be powerful. Power, in fact is rooted in language and knowledge in Pei worldview. Desire, secret knowledge, and words are a motivating factor in pei to explore new relationships with outsiders. They are grasping for understanding and answers to life, power, cargo, status and control. Words inspire them to act or not act. They have desires they want to see fulfilled and believe that this is achieved by using specific words/chants learned by way of secret knowledge. There is no clarity about where this secret languages come from or how they come about. There is some mystery in the written word that cannot be understood at this point. Ginger has a magic quality that can cause a woman to be captivated by the man who holds it, like a “love potion”. It can also be used to poison or curse someone. Kambon is also a vessel used to work “poison” on people along the river. Money and gold are the most precise concepts, everything else is really roughly measured. Recording time and distance is best understood by marking the amount days it takes to travel, suns/days, muns/months, years. Weight by how many men it takes to lift something. There are two time periods indicatied in Pei; the birua time, and the christian time. This is how these things are communicated although these precise concepts and exact amounts are known vaguely. Counting system is pair-based. Lack of precision and education is not a Pei attribute as result of the lack of formal education. Value is different in the bush. People have all they NEED at their disposal, food, water, shelter, and clothing all for free as the land provides. But they have a greed inside them that stirs up a desire for more. And with the coming of us missionaries with all our stuff, it has led them to want more than they dreamed of.
Cosmology, Seasons, Elements, Weather, Calendar
1.4 Geography and Topography
1.6 Men and the Animal Kingdom
Most have never seen anything but sepik lowlands. The educated have heard the earth is round, but don’t understand it or the importance of it. The edges of their world is Wewak, and Moresby. The ocean forming a distinct border is not in their scope of thinking. They cant’ comprehend a different type of bush or environment. The bush is life’s backdrop in their mind…. anything beyond the salt water might as well be outer space.
They’ve survived, and know survival in the context of the jungle and have difficulty framing existence in other terms.
Men have a slightly more expansive experiential context to draw from traveling around and finding work in mines and with other company lines. They have had more exposure to medicine and doctors, ideas of germs, surgery, medicine, etc. Although they have interacted with these roles ‘sickness’ is still framed in the context of their worldview. A sickness is the result of someone else causing them the symptoms. Because of the limited interaction pertaining to health and wellness the Pei think that there is a limited variety of sicknesses. They diagnosis as they hear the symptoms and the variations in intensity. Always general such as; headache, fever, back pain, cough, running nose. Once they hear cough, for example, they can deal with it. Currently, the treatment method is take white man medicine first. If that works, it works! If it doesn’t then they will turn to traditional “natural” remedies. If it progresses to get worse even still then they will seek help from “prophets” and glass men along the river.
Controlling the weather and elements is believed to be possible. It is a hidden knowledge but anyone is able to attempt it. They believe men and woman can read or understand the river by dipping a specific leaf into the river. This will allow you to know if the river will rise or fall. Some men have the power to make the river rise and fall by using tangats, incantations, and throwing objects into the river. Along with that if you find the right object of the person who made it rise or fall, you can reverse it by throwing the right item in the river.
1.7.6 Drugs Natural drugs? Tumbuna Booze? We already wrote a bit about pot and alcohol and brus…
1.7.7 Poisons I’ve heard there are no poisons from Phllip (like chemicals or plants that’ll kill you), but there IS susu on certain frogs… let’s do more research here.
188.8.131.52 Preparation of Food
184.108.40.206 Bodily Cleanliness (See also S.O., Personal Hygiene 6.15)
220.127.116.11 Disposal of refuse and sewage
18.104.22.168 Insect Prevention: flies, mosquitoes, ticks lice
22.214.171.124 Contagion Prevention
gross- poo snot, pee (kinda… if you smell, are drenched with it…) sewage IS believed to get you sick… food dirty is just unsightly. the smells of humanity are normal… they kinda even like them, and think them normal… if not appealing (bad breath, BO,) Farts are gross….
Gross food… uncooked meat… the idea of drinking blood…
Walio water can clean anything # ???????
Some men understand the concept of pulleys from their experience with mining operations and chopper hoists, but we rarely if ever see them used in the village. They know how to use axes and wedges (for tree cutting), but don’t understand physical principles explicitly. Men make and use levers on heavy posts. They cannot fathom moving or cutting stone or the idea of heat hotter than fire.
Gravity is implicit, it is not something they think about. They don’t understand birds or planes, they just do what they do. Often the unexplainable is attributed to a kind of magic. The idea of ‘swimming air’ is something I have introduced as I try to bridge their knowledge of how a boat prop works, and they’ve seen props on planes.
Inertia. The spin a bucket full of water without spilling trick is new to them too, nobody could figure it out.
Measuring the natural forces is not in their life. Apparently in the 90s there was a horrible drought and again one here this past year (2015). The water was extremely low but our people were convinced not to worry unless the river water went completely dry. They don’t pick these seasons out in their minds as more stressful or marked events of “disaster”. Earthquakes are frequent but never destructive or big enough to cause concern to the Pei. The coldest they experience is when they are wet or if a wind blows when they are wet from water or from their own sweat. They don’t quite understand that ‘context’ is needed to take accurate measurements, and they don’t quite see the need for measurements in regular life. Closest thing is house building). They ‘divide’ as equally or “fair” as possible when they distribute anything.
They do make friction fires with kanda, a stick and dry leaves to catch the spark. So the concept of friction resulting in heat does make sense, although they do it without realizing that they are demonstrating these facts. Pei generally understands that gas is combustible and dangerous so they handle with caution. The word for battery is the same word for ‘meat of the fire’ along with the action of ‘hotting’ a battery. The battery’s ‘heat’ is synonymous with its power. The same goes for solar panels. Heat equals electricity, which carries implications in magic and ginger/peppers.
Humidity is constant in the swampy climate here in Pei. Our people can’t imagine ‘dry air’ and would equate the absence of humidity with cold. Things drying and water evaporating are perceived to ‘get hot’ resulting in dryness
They understand simple distance/size like the sun and moon are big and far away. Not as much thought go into that stars. This affects worldview, as everything then directly modifies experience and their experience becomes their measuring tape. Newer life IS more precise.
History, Stories, Sayings, Songs
History has been passed down orally from generation to generation. This method has been considered reliable until we have recently. We have pointed out the miscommunications and ways a story is changed as its passed on from one person to the next. Since our people don’t consider ‘death’ even when people are clearly dying many stories, secrets, hidden talk and histories will be lost frequently with the elderly. Now are confronted with contrast to traditional stories. Different standards are hoisted to the truth of someone’s memory of stories. Some of theses stories and histories are a bit hard for the school mangis to believe although they don’t have another idea or explanation to replace it with.
Songs are often in the Higa language. Typically songs were sung in celebration of headhunting or revenge raids, 3 or 4 men alive today even remember revenge raids.
Time is not reckoned. They don’t know how old they are, or how long women will be pregnant before they give birth. This is a huge reason for the fast shifts as culture and tradition is lost. They kinda understand lapun, and that lapuns die but can’t quite get their heads around a timeline for all that because they don’t believe that people die of old age, its always a result of someone else magic.
there are a plethora of stories for several facets of life in Pei culture… creation myths… ground stories, clan stories…
Very little engagement whatsoever on a philosophical level.
They work the ground to feed themselves, they grow their families, they want to make a name for themselves, and live the ‘good life’. They can’t imagine too much independence (that is their world), so community will always be a part of their philosophy and ideals in this regard. Live in the community in peace, be a ‘good person’ in a ‘good’, ‘generous’ AND ‘HOSPITABLE’ manner.
A fear in the hearts of the people is tied to the activities of the departed ancestry spirits and the activities of the sangumas. The people have only one control over these things and that is "to be being a good person”. People will say that they are good because they haven’t died yet. When questioned about ones sin or wrong doing it is just excused away for one reason or another. For instance after a big fight here niether consider his part in the fight wrong because he was defending what he considered to be right.
His wrong actions therefore were justified by his right thoughts. Of course this leads to the conclusion that there is no solid standard among the Pei for right and wrong. When we question the people about why some people live longer than other inevitably they say that the person is good and has not lived a bad life. This whole system of thinking has naturally been syncronized with the teaching from up river. The ones involved up there have never seen that the standard of right and wrong does not lie in man’s mind, but in God’s Word. The people also fear many secondary things like rivers, some mountains, some swamp, and certain trees. One swamp near here is said to have a man living in it. He will beat you with a stick if you enter the swamp. One explanation for the reason for man’s existence is to stay where he was born and do the work that the creators gave them to do.
2.1 Philosophy in regards to Material Culture
2.2 Philosophy in regards to Art & Play
2.3 Philosophy in regards to Economic Activities
2.4 Philosophy in regards to Social Structure
2.5 Philosophy in regards to Political Structure
2.6 Philosophy in regards to Social Control
My ancestors did it this way. So I am going to do it this way. Yell, shame, fight and cry till i get my way.
2.7 Philosophy in regards to Knowledge, Wisdom, & the Supernatural
The more you know about the mysterious spiritual world… the more ‘weath’ you can attain. Personal attainment is a HUGE theme in Pei culture today… and checked only by public opinion and social interaction (i have to share when you ask me, or there will be consequences…)
School knowledge is not valued for it’s inherent value… rather it’s social prestige. the inherent value is not percieved by most Pei. Wisdom is not really a concept in Pei… people live to hand-to-mouth to think beyond “doing-this-gets-you-this”. Multiple steps in any process is difficult for the Pei to handle. There is a potential ‘market for wisdom’ in the Pei psyche… but at this point there aren’t any connosueirs of that particular delicacy.
The Pei are Polytheistic Animistic Syncretists, and project a veneer of typical PNG Lotuism. For the sake of clarity, we have chosen to use the most widely accepted definition of each term (3.1 Religious Beliefs). Pei Religious ideology can be accurately described by expounding each of the following 7 categories: Pei Souls, Human Nature, Worship of Ancestors, The gods, Other Spirits, Inherent Power, The Kinship of Man with Nature. (3.1.1 General Character of Religion).
⚠️ (EXPLAIN THOSE 7 FACETS??)
126.96.36.199 Myths of Creation
188.8.131.52 Epochal Myths (Flood, etc.)
184.108.40.206 Cultural Myths
220.127.116.11 Myths about the Origin of Evil and Death
18.104.22.168 Nature Myths
22.214.171.124 Totemic Myths
126.96.36.199 Ancestor Myths
3.1.4 Ideas of the Soul
Cultural myths and totemic clan stories. Ancestor myths (regarding battles and fighting sorcerers… ) and of some creativity (snakes/muruks having humans… Kapul and female genitalia…) Some of the villages and geographical features have ‘creation stories’ associated with them, some claims are even bolstered with ‘sacred objects’ that apparently prove a land claim, or relics to bear witness to the truth of the account in the story.
There is some worldview level relevance in the snake/man brothers story… the two beings fight, and part ways… Humans are believed to have several spirits… a ‘watch’… it is believed that some spirits live in trees and other things and spirit possession is a reality. They believe spirits of the dead can roam, and help or hinder efforts of humanity on earth.
Heaven and hell are new concepts that have taken root in the ples though these are very poorly understood. The clash with worldview in this current adult generation is apparent in conversations. Nobody claims to really know where spirits go, come from, or are truly capable of. Spirits have personalities, and some are more or less involved in humanity, and more or less benevolent.
They notice certain similarities in children with one parent or another. Like the have the same nose or ears or color skin. They also note a ‘mix’, especially ‘black and white’ in dogs, pigs and humans. They’ll notice black, white and anything in the middle is vague. They acknowledge there is something tangible to these kinds of ideas, however, they have not explored details to develop specific terminology, or ideas.
When paternity is in question it is believed that looking at the face of a baby, the father can tell whether or not the child is his. 3.1.5 Ideas of Soul Substance
Very prominent, but undeveloped (no explicit vocabulary)… knowledge of working voodoo is lost in Pei… and people will leave hair, nail clippings and buai skin in the open, however… when traveling to other places, fear of the sorcery and ‘poison’ is reason to hide such things. They don’t throw their baui skins in the water while traveling for this very fear of someone getting it and making them sick, even die. Manes are thought to carry some soul substance as well. These can be used to target individuals for sorcery or witchcraft.
(or Survival and Career of the Soul - Include Worship of Departed )
Souls are believed to go to heaven or hell. These ideas and toks have been recently introduced and have left everyone in confusion.
3.1.7 Spirits and Gods (Include Totems) (Ancestors)
spirits and gods… there are lots of spirits and masalai and monsters…
Almost like Karma, good fortune can be ‘bought’ with good deeds and bad repaid with bad. Do good and the universe will give good back to you- success in planting, avoidance of sickness, meeting game in the bush, etc.
Sacred Objects and Places are very lost ideas here. Sacred objects are gathered all the time, new objects are given special status, bibles, books, clothing, etc. Nearly everything that isn’t made from bush material has some special status. Though more common tools are not as holy as they likely once were when less common.
The idea of gaining sacred knowledge that can be used to achieve money and success is very prominent worldview theme. They don’t know how to achieve this knowledge and they are not a powerful line. They know this, but they hide it from each other, and secretly hope they are striking karmic gold all the time.
Sacred places are phased out… There is a definite change now… and even the older people realize it and attempted to make a clear distinction… The ’Pei are no longer tumbuna battle savages, they now follow God…" though they do not know how.
3.1.10 Theological Systems
This is a new concept, introduced with lotuism, and very undeveloped as of yet. No pantheons, no sacred scriptures (as we understand them)
Deep at the heart of the Pei religious experience is the desire to gain favor with a higher power. This power in turn will ‘luk save’ and provide fortune and ‘gutpela samting’. If a Pei doesn’t work toward favor then the higher power will become angry and bring about misfortune and pain. At its core the Pei religious experience is an attempt at appeasement. The thinking is similar to the US mentality and it goes like this: if I do good, good will come my way. If I do bad, bad will come my way. Their practices and outward worship follows suit. Because the Pei are incredibly empirical they trust experience over logic, or pragmatism, etc. This leads the Pei to allow themselves to be manipulated by generalities and is why they believe this line. For instance, if a man has planted dozens of kwila posts over the course of his life with no ill effect but hears that if he does it while he has a newborn that something bad will happen than he will avoid planting even a single post. This is because he believes the experience of another who had seen adverse effects on a newborn and the man in discussion won’t be willing to risk that.
Their experience still remains pretty relative. Often times they are willing to live on borrowed experience. If something didn’t directly happen to them or they didn’t directly experience they are still willing to assume it as their own. This is why many of the Pei have crazy stories, even when they were never a part of it. This to lends itself well to the ability of the Pei to create stories and experiences and pass them off as truth even when they aren’t.
Much of the religious experience in Pei is now borrowed from the Nazarene Denominational Laws as presented by the representative Pastor here. Yet many of these remain a veneer of their core worldview. The outward actions look different but the belief more importantly is the same. The points of similarity in the outward actions occur only to the point that they are trying to work for their good standing in the Nazarene lotu and in their own tribal spiritual economy. Whether it is carrying a ‘buk bible’, attending a lotu service, or praying before eating the Pei try to appease a greater power for good fortune.
Lastly heavy in the Pei worldview is the CC mentality. They’re thinking that there is a key to gaining possessions and cargo. They have been inundated with businesses and other missions that bring airstrips, cargo and stuff. The Pei, along with many other villages along the Walio River have a prevailing belief that there is some way to manipulate or use religion to gain these material possessions. It has been reinforced for decades in there area, but really now it is beginning to show fruit here in Pei village since our arrival. During lotu services a point is to be made that the high being must be happy since the people have a motor and a drum of petrol. And, if they continue to worship correctly then the rest of the change will come. (3.2.1 Religious Experience)
3.2.2 Propitiation (Prayer, Offerings, etc.)
3.2.3 Purification and Expiation
3.2.4 Avoidance and Taboo
‘ofa’ is a universally accepted idea to make spirits, ancestors, or even living humans ‘happy’ with you. This is associated with the happiness of eating and any ‘offering’ is usually consumed or believed to be consumed by spirits or humans. The pei believe in these ‘court encounters’, where problems are straightened, this is a very human activity, and newly introduced. The ideas birthed there carry over into Pei interaction with spirits. They orient themselves in these ‘event stories’, where arguments can be made, proofs, witnesses presented and cases made (even before spirits… this is likely an imposed ideology) these encounters are storied of often.
Chickens are the most often sacrificed items… big things would be pigs (to cover big sins, big fights, etc. ) Both parties will typically eat the offering of the other party and then ‘wan bel’ will come up. This is the ‘wan bel kaikai’
The glass man. The prominent theme is that some people are believed to have special powers, mostly divination and special revelation is sought to help understand deaths or sicknesses. There are not men with such powers in Pei so these diviners are bought in for their expertise in these areas. Séance’s are performed often but without the presence of a really holy man the outcomes are believed to be questionable.
3.2.8 Ritual Action
3.2.9 Ritual Language
3.2.10 Ritual Objects
The séance language used was Higa!!! WTF?! ritual action… seance… certain little routines, taboos… nothing very prominent or official. the belief in a power of the ground is very prominent… this is not understood well in pei… this is different than poison… there is basically this belief in a spirit world, and that can kinda be manipulated to effect reality.
There was more understanding and interest in this stuff when there was a housboi but now they are all ‘christians’ and avoid this stuff.
Types of Ritual
3.3.1 Ritual in Medicine and Therapy
This is where we’d write about ‘cooking tangats’ and ‘tumbuna medicines’, a little bit about the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ too.
Child bearing… sicknesses. You get your clans leaf, and cook it, and this is thought to pull the sick out of the human.
Getting spit on… (related to mouth-wind)
Medical professionals are typically trusted, but the nurses that are in the area also have a similar worldview that Spirits can control their sickness. Often times if whatever medicine doesn’t work they “medical professionals” will advise them to go back to their ples because it is a “hevi blo ples”. We have heard many things from popel are talking bad about you, you need to tok sori or someone needs to tok sori to you to things like it being a result of not fulfilling your bride price. Glass men/prohets are consulted for diagnosis work as well.
Diagnoses are not often sought as sicknesses and their symptoms are usually synonymous. There are some pasin-taboos such as, lots of sex with different women will make your knees or back sore, short wind will result from eating certain taboo foods..
There is medical advice sought and generally followed when things get too out of hand. People are always sick and the idea of preventing sick is limited to the new ‘banis shot’ (vaccine), but the only other way to prevent sick is to be a good person, and avoid forbidden foods and activities. If you don’t make anybody mad, they won’t ever make you sick with their magic.
Certain tok or activities (stick crosses) are believed to affect the water levels, rains, even certain animals can be made aware of human presence (earthworms alerting pigs…). Specific tangats are used to predict the rise or fall of the river. Also some men in other village up river from us have the power to make the water rise or fall. The man will get a stone, say magic words and throw it into the river in secret. IF he is caught then that person can reverse it by finding the “right” object of his to throw in the river. Works every time, sometimes.
3.3.3 Ritual & Beliefs Concerned with Material Culture
Accruing wealth is a huge theme here. There is believed to be some secret to achieving this, and most in Pei don’t know the secret. So there are no real rituals defined, however, they are being sought.
Names, carving names, and marking names is believed to be a way that sorcerers could target you if your name is left marked or carved somewhere.
Tumbuna singsings were typically victory parties after successful raids. Now just any special celebration is an excuse for tumbuna garb and singsing. They will also do them for tourist I there is a way to be compensated with money. Carvings were shields for war but now are decoration and used for dances.
3.3.5 Ritual & Beliefs Concerned with Economic Activities
3.3.6 Ritual & Beliefs Concerned with Social Structure
Economics is slowly devolving into a ‘luck’ kind of mentality. Praying to god will help your luck. If you are hunting for money (not common), traditional methods and rituals would be employed to help your success in this area.
Rituals for marriages and dispute settlements have been changed slightly in recent generations as money has been introduced and courts being introduced. This has changed things.
188.8.131.52 In Relation to the Life cycle
Births are handled in a traditional manner. The lady will use a traditional kanda handle to hang from throughout labor. The ladies and children who are there for the labor will use tangats to heat on the fire and rib on her belly and back to ease the pain. It is forbidden to use a red tangats leaves because they are spiritual leaves. And if the labor is long and the woman’s skin gets burned they will switch to cool lepe leaves once the sun has set and dew begins to form on them. A woman can also chew on bits of ginger as a pain suppresser during the labor. Since the introduction of lotu ladies will commonly shout out “gote” “sisus klais” or “tank yu papa”. The pastor has shared that we need to thank god and he will make you have the baby quickly. When a labor goes on for an extended amount of time the people will begin to suspect. The mother must have eaten meat from another man, or people are talking behind her back. IF you have talked bad about her you will have to have her come out from the birthing spot and the people (typically men) who have said unkind things will take a mouth full of water and spit it onto the pregnant lady’s body.
184.108.40.206.3 Puberty and Sex
Cutting skin for men, (old skool was house boi… they’d learn to fight and pull women with bamboos)
Women used to give necklaces to their daughters, and tell them stories in the sikmun house. Now it is left up to the individual family to decide if they want her to follow traditional customs or not. The young girl will tell her mom and then the mom will let the father and kandre’s decide. They can have her sit in a ghetto house for 2 weeks or not. Some young ladies will not tell anyone and try to by pass the whole situation. That seems to be a new thing among the ladies in their 30s and under. We did experience a “traditional” sikmun experience with Seni in 2015.
court proceedings, exchange and price setting meetings…
Seances… burial, letting the house go… new rituals introduced with Lotu…
220.127.116.11 In Relation to Other Aspects
see naming maybe… certain medecines (salad, tea, tangat…)
18.104.22.168.2 Dual Organizations
22.214.171.124.3 Culture Heroes
126.96.36.199.4 Secret Societies
3.3.7 Ritual & Beliefs Concerned with Political Structure
3.3.8 Ritual and Beliefs Concerned with Social Control
The court system… shame and public humiliation of offending kids…
Before people would just kill each other, according to the stories. This made ritual and custom more volatile, as there wasn’t a rich recorded history for people to draw upon. Now things are changing as history kind of piles up. Stories are more common and prominent, and take on more meaning as successive generations adopt and cling to the ideals represented there.
Old rituals revolved around hausboi, war, and those things have been left in recent decades in pei at least.
Witchcraft and Sorcery
3.4 Witchcraft and Sorcery
Sanguma: It is believed that sanguma are these individuals more connected with the spirit world. they perform cannibalism, and enjoy inflicting fear. they are not really known… but known of. the fear of this unknown-ness is very prominent, and controls many aspects of Pei life… especially at night.
It is believed sanguma men and women will ‘shoot you’ with an arrow, that will slowly make you sick and eventually kill you. all sorts of crazy stories exist and have been experienced by individuals… the effects of sanguma arrows and spears are varied, but all cause some sort of necrosis.
the comparison of humanity to pigs or game for these sanguma is common… and is apparent in people’s talk about how sanguma pursue humans, where they shoot humans…
⚠️ !!! LIST All the spirits…
witchcraft and sorcery is believed to be able to control and influence spirits to make sick… usually sorcery is more direct though… power of an individual to actually affect another.
though these thoughts arent explored by the pei often.. this is knowledge that is believed to come from special ‘schooling’ at a house boi that no longer exists.
alesou alesou was a clan of sanguma that were killed off (though urban legends of the surviving remnant do exist)
Already mention often in this document is the presence of a Pastor from the Nazarene Denomination. This is to whom the term lout is attributed. He is a single man in his 30’s that has some education from the Nazarene Bible College and he is the one who has introduce much of loutism to the Pei. He arrived in 2012 and has been present form most of our time here as well. His name is Isaiah Anduwa and he hold loth services 3 times a week. There is a governing church in Wewak headed by Yambe Sike and this is who the pastor is accountable to, albeit a very loose accountability. The people do listen to him often but it is apparent they question his knowledge.
There is a group referred to as the ‘loth lain’ here in Pei that meet and follow the pastor. However the Biblical definition of Church is seriously challenged. The group would be called the ‘church’ here, but as missionaries we know the regenerative work that must take place for one to be a true member of this family or body. To this point we have 100 percent doubt that even one falls into the Biblical definition.
There have been groups such as the AOG, and SCM, and SSEC that have spent a week at most in this village and on paper in some report somewhere they too may claim a congregation of theirs exists here. Again, after nearly 2 years on site we would conclude that even those Denominations would not classify this people group as part of their own.