Orokaiva Society


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[There are in New Guinea periodic exchanges of hospitality in connection with marriage, initiation, burial, etc.] All ceremonies . . . are accompanied by feasting, for the primitive virtue of liberality is not less strong among the Orokaiva than others. Food will have been gathered from the gardens and bountifully displayed on platforms. The guests, arriving in their several parties, come striding single file into the village, each party headed by its man of first importance, befeathered club on shoulder. No smile adorns his face, but rather an expression of fierceness, which, however unsuited it may seem to the hospitable occasion, is nevertheless Orokaiva good form. Tempestuous shouts of welcome greet the visitors, which they accept without a flicker of weak-minded gratification, unless it be on the part of some silly girl; and so they file majestically through the village until they reach the place allotted them, when they seat themselves somewhat abruptly and relax into a more sociable attitude. Meanwhile, the women have been busy at peeling and chopping the taro, and the pots are cooking in rows. If it be an occasion of any importance the pigs are slaughtered and, having been dismembered, lie in reeking heaps on the high platform where the butchering is performed in rather studied publicity. The stench may soon be almost nauseating to a European, though to Orokaiva nostrils it has no doubt a pleasant and promising savor. An onlooker who would appreciate the gaiety and charm of the scene must not be too fastidious.

Towards the end of the day comes the formal distribution of food. The master of the feast, conferring anxiously with his friends, has been setting out the taro in heaps, making them correspond by laborious arithmetic with the number of his principal guests. Now that the tally appears satisfactory, he turns, with an enthusiasm bordering on violence, to the distribution. With loud shouts he and his assistants rush back and forth depositing, or often rather hurling down, bunches of taro before the guests, who accept them with a fitting appearance of indifference. In the same way the pig flesh—legs, quarters, chines, and entrails—are bestowed on top of the taro heaps, and the guests are ready to depart. They have been sufficiently regaled throughout the day; the food thus finally distributed is to be carried home. The women pack it into their string bags and prepare to move off. Men and children will bear their part. One remembers the spectacle of a diminutive child bearing away the blood-spattered head of a huge pig, balanced with difficulty and pride upon his own small crown. Thus laden with proofs of friendship the guests depart to await the time when, in a year or so, they will make a similar return of hospitality.1

1Williams, F.E.n/an/an/an/a, , 137–139, 29–30 (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 July 7, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9KE1XKLAZTGM6BP.

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. 7 Jul. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9KE1XKLAZTGM6BP.

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 7 July 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9KE1XKLAZTGM6BP.