Orokaiva Society


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If one asks a native what he actually does with his heratu, he will assuredly answer: "I place it on the track so that others who may follow may know I have passed that way." This, indeed, though not the only use for the heratu, is the commonest. At the juncture of two paths I have come upon eight different kinds of leaves or grass, placed there during the morning and as yet scarcely wilted. My boys, who were inhabitants of the district, were able to identify each clan by its heratu; the owners of them had passed this spot at intervals, all bound for one village as guests to a feast and dance. . . .

Among the Aiga the Honia-Noduru clan use a split stick—not a particular stick, but simply any small branch torn from a tree by the track and split halfway down its length. The Samberota clan has for its heratu a sambi, i.e., a green stick flattened or squashed at the end as a wooden peg is splayed out by hammering. The Simborota, besides their plant emblem simboro, have a habit of stamping their heel into the soft ground to leave the print of it as their mark. . . . Further instances of this nature could be given. It will be seen that all these, like the usual plant heratu, have this much in common, that they may be extemporized in a moment. A native cannot lay hold of a bird or an animal whenever he wants it; consequently birds are rarely adopted as heratu, and animals or fish, so far as my investigations go, never.1

Other uses of this identity token are to inform your neighbor that you have eaten some of his bananas, by depositing your heratu on the spot, to indicate a grudge against a neighbor whom you suspect of stealing your taro, by wearing it on your arm and eating none of your own taro in the meantime, to proclaim your wife has misbehaved or is lazy, or that you have in general some grievance.

1Williams, F.E.n/an/an/an/a, , 115, 113–114 (Oxford University Press. By permission).


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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 December 9, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8UJTBTXS5ST6MZV.

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. 9 Dec. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8UJTBTXS5ST6MZV.

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 9 December 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8UJTBTXS5ST6MZV.