Orokaiva Society


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During the whole of this time [says Williams of a New Guinea ceremony] the ehamei [candidates] . . . have neither drunk water, nor, except for banana and sugar cane, broken their fast since morning. These ordeals, however, must continue throughout the night, which is occupied with singing and dancing and with the ai sumbasiona, or abusing of the women. This latter consists of highly obscene choruses and action songs, to which the women respond in kind and with no lack of spirit. It may be that under the circumstances morality is loosened. I quote a sentence of Chinnery and Beaver’s: "In ordinary circumstances an initiation is a time of somewhat general license, promiscuous intercourse being permitted between any initiated man and woman." Witnesses have assured me that such promiscuity is confined to the initiation ceremonies. The initiates bear no part in it, but between their elders it is unrestricted. No husband might object if another man made free with his wife, for, it was said, he would fear retaliation by sorcery if he interfered.1

In a Fijian initiation ceremony described by Fison,

when [the women] . . . emerge from the nanga [enclosure], the men who have been hitherto concealed rush upon them with a sudden yell, and an indescribable scene ensues. . . . All my informants agree in stating that the men and the women address one another in the filthiest language, using expressions which would be violently resented on ordinary occasions, and that from the time of the women’s coming to the nanga to the close of the ceremonies very great license prevails.1

1Williams, F.E.n/an/an/an/a, , 192 (Oxford University Press. By permission).

1 Fison, L., "The Nanga, or Sacred Stone Enclosure, of Wainimala, Fiji," Jour. Anth. Inst., 14: 24.


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Chicago: "Orokaiva Society," Orokaiva Society in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed May 28, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=121XSKZJPVBPUB5.

MLA: . "Orokaiva Society." Orokaiva Society, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 28 May. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=121XSKZJPVBPUB5.

Harvard: , 'Orokaiva Society' in Orokaiva Society. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 28 May 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=121XSKZJPVBPUB5.