Volume 88 1979 > Volume 88, No. 3 > Reviews, p 349-364
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HOGBIN, Ian: The Leaders and the Led: Social Control in Wogeo, New Guinea. Carlton (Vic.), Melbourne University Press, 1978. xi, 195 pp., figs, photos, maps. Price A$17.80.

This is the latest of Ian Hogbin's publications, quarried from his previous articles and original field notes of 1934 and emerging as a companion to his 1970 book on Wogeo religion, The Island of Menstruating Men. It has all the classic Hogbin qualities of poise, economy, and acumen, and gives convincing depth to the impression one gains from his earlier work of the great importance of hereditary headmanship in Wogeo society. The activities of headmen as leaders and of villagers as their followers are depicted, indeed, with startling individuality and freshness in the ethnographic present, which Hogbin deliberately chooses across more than a generation's lapse in time. In asides, we learn of changes, for example via comments on Bernard Dalle Gagin, the grandson of Marigum, an outstanding headman who was Hogbin's chief patron in 1934. Bernard was educated at Goroka Teachers' College, and has corrected some ethnographic points for Hogbin in recent years. The author revisited Wogeo, with help from Bernard, in 1974 (the year of his own 70th birthday), and notes, after a tantalisingly brief but incisive review of social changes, that the pagan religious system had entirely gone and his earlier book “might as well have been written about a people living in the Middle Ages” (p.11). He felt, also, despite modern-style “parties” and church services “to strengthen faith”, that “a great dullness had descended” (p.15). Young people sensed this, choosing to move away to the towns. The main account, then, belongs firmly to 1934, and the bulk of the system described has literally disappeared. The central theme is the office of headman and his role in social control–for example in disputes–as well as in organising competitive ceremonial exchanges. The middle chapters therefore deal with sorcery, marriage, adultery, and theft, both as general ethnography and to point up the ways in which headmen may intervene when community goodwill is threatened severely. Hogbin includes here, and throughout, numerous case histories involving named individuals. Perhaps the names should have been disguised or omitted. On the other hand, the materials relate to almost 50 years ago now, to the grandparental generation above those now adult. Chapters 3, 8, and 9 concentrate on headmen themselves.

The Wogeo population is small, of “Tikopian” dimensions: 929 people in 1934, segmented locally into five political districts, each containing from one to - 350 five villages. Every village, in turn, divides into two clusters, centring on separate headmen. In addition, the whole society is split into two intermarrying matrilineal totemic moieties. The moieties are not localised, so they cross-cut political divisions. A person has kin in many different places, and cognatic kin are recognised widely: “everyone counts his kinsmen by the hundred” (p.26). In such circumstances it is not surprising that serious warfare between even hostile districts is mitigated by kin ties, and that people related to both sides act as mediators, especially if they are headmen.

But headmen also have much more specific functions, arising from their office. They are thought to carry magic to control weather and occasionally to punish a whole region with famine (compare the Trobriands and Goodenough Island beliefs). Ordinary men know sorcery to cause misfortune, but only headmen are thought to control yabou, death sorcery, against which there is no protection. They can order followers to support them in a raiding party, and have the prerogative to call on resources for feasts. They control also important flute instruments, used in spirit cults, and act as diviners for sorcery killings. When a leader is angry, his followers fear not just his bad temper, but the misfortune his curse can bring. Few, therefore, are likely to oppose him

The headman's position seems remarkably powerful. It is even buttressed by a quasi-prescriptive right to polygyny, enabling him to produce and exchange more than other men. Yet autocracy is tempered by other factors. A headman chooses one of his sons as successor, and personal qualities of industry and drive are in theory looked for. In practice he may select his own favourite, thus incurring the antagonism of a rival son, as Marigum did in the case of Tafalti (chapter 8, derived from Hogbin's much earlier article of 1940). When Tafalti challenged Marigum, the father simply left the village for a while, avoiding direct combat. Clearly, his “face” was at stake, and his subtle withdrawal avoided loss of prestige. Headmen also must work hard and consume little. They must make large gardens; although followers help them, the saying is that “a stranger can easily discover who is the headman by looking for the person with dirty hands and muddied feet . . . or . . . the one who smells of sweat” (p.40). Also, that “leaders think first of their followers, and hence confine their own feasting to sucking the bones” (p.173). Their aims are set rather on symbolic victories, as when they trap a rival into obligatory acceptance of an invitation to a warabwa food festival, and aim to overwhelm him with “generosity” —of the kind that requires repayment, and is stiffened by the involvement on their own account of many followers, each with his recipient on the other side, whereas in the smaller walage occasions only the headman himself acts as the donor.

Just occasionally, the ethnographer's tone is crabbed, as when he notes that pork joints distributed at feasts became “like disintegrating balls of string, and others resembled the sole of an old boot” (p.173) or argues that “in the cold light of common sense [in his original article of 1970 this appeared as “to the economist”] festivals must appear absurd” (p.175). He knows well, of course, that such comments, crabbed or humorous, are beside the point, and he does not stress them. Their effect, indeed, as when he also mentions how he danced in 1934 but felt less inclined to do so at night in 1974 (p.182), is to reveal the ethnographer's own human side, much as he portrays his now mostly departed Wogeo friends and informants, in their human complexity—lively individuals, - 351 using their rich culture and intricate social organisation to reach their own ends. In this way, without any pretence or labouring at theoretical profundities, the author has made his account direct and relevant.

One note of critical caution, however, is to be sounded. Hogbin rightly indicates how Wogeo social structure belongs to a Melanesian pattern and is not amenable to analysis in “Africanist” terms—an issue which, as he says, can be briefly tested by comparing the arguments by myself and J. La Fontaine in The Character of Kinship (Goody 1973). But, in my opinion, he goes too far when he writes that “in the Pacific persons seeking revenge concentrate their efforts solely on the man judged to be the enemy”, and argues that this controverts the concept of jural equality of members of the kin group emphasised in the African literature (p.67, cf. p.36). For Wogeo, this is correct; but the picture may vary elsewhere. In Mount Hagen, for example, someone other than the killer may be attacked, either because the killer is unknown or because of a deliberate aim to widen the base of conflict, and this is always done on a calculus of group membership. While this does not mean we can jump to a notion of jural equality, it does show that the group dimension has to be reckoned with.

This book, written with grace and pungency, gives us the opportunity to salute again Ian Hogbin's remarkable achievements as an ethnographer. If most of his field work was done, as he tells us here (p.3), in the days of “steam anthropology”, his writing, at any rate, is done without huffing and puffing, and none shall blow down the house he has constructed. After Horace: exegi(t) monumentum aere perennius.

  • GOODY, J. R. (ed.), 1973. The Character of Kinship. Cambridge University Press.

KAEPPLER, Adrienne L.: “Artificial Curiosities”: An Exposition of Native Manufactures Collected on the Three Pacific Voyages of Captain James Cook, R.N.. Bernice P. Bishop Museum Special Publication 65. Honolulu, Bishop Museum Press, 1978. xvi, 293 pp., figs, photos, maps. Price US$27.50.

This volume is some consolation to those who were unable to visit Hawaii during the first eight months of 1978 to view the exhibition at the Bishop Museum arranged to mark the bicentennial of the visit of James Cook to Hawaii in January 1778. From the magnificent photographs, many of them in colour, a good impression is gained of the beauty and quality of the artefacts from museums and collections all over the world which formed the basis of the exhibition. It is intriguing to note how few of the objects listed are held in the countries in which they were originally collected; even the collections in Sydney, Wellington and Honolulu include many objects from islands outside Australia, New Zealand - 352 and Hawaii.

But the book is much more than a souvenir of an exhibition. It has a lasting value as a definitive discussion of objects known or strongly suspected to have been collected during Cook's voyages. The ethnographic objects brought back from the Pacific Ocean islands by James Cook and the crews who accompanied him have held a continuing fascination. Cook's contemporaries sought after these “artificial curiosities” for their cabinets or museums, as examples of the products of the newly discovered islands; more modern scholars have used Cook voyage objects to provide a baseline for the study of change in material culture in the Pacific resulting from European contact. As Kaeppler tells us in her preface, it was just such an attempt to isolate authentic Cook voyage objects from Tonga to facilitate a study of change in Tongan material culture that led her into 10 years of research in museums, libraries and private collections in many countries, the results of which are to be seen in this book. Unfortunately, museum staff have all too often allowed their scholarship to be overtaken by their desire to have in their collections prestigious Cook voyage artefacts. A large number of institutions have proudly displayed objects “collected by Captain Cook” which more careful research, or sometimes just common sense, would have indicated could not possibly have been collected by Cook. One memorable example was the label on display in a Scottish museum in 1974, and quite probably still there, which read: “Spear with flint point said to have wounded Captain Cook the explorer in the Philippines”. The object referred to was an obsidian-tipped spear from the Admiralty Islands. Such obvious inaccuracies can excite only amusement, yet far more troublesome have been the objects which might have been collected by Cook, and are assumed to have been, without a scrupulous examination of the evidence.

Much of the evidence needed to make this assessment has not, however, been readily available, and we owe a debt to Kaeppler for the detective work which has brought to light lists and drawings which have formed the basis of the documentation of the artefacts which can now be confidently ascribed to Cook and his crews. She has already published some of the results of this documentary research, and further publications are forthcoming. However, it is the artefacts themselves that are important (and what they can tell us of their makers), and it is those that are so beautifully documented, described and illustrated in this volume. “Artificial Curiosities” also contains an introductory essay providing insight into English society of the eighteenth century, the place in it occupied by many of the collectors of the curiosities, and a history of the major collections themselves.

This book will remain for years to come a definitive treatment of the material culture of the peoples of the Pacific Ocean encountered on the three voyages of Captain James Cook. The only serious criticism that can be levelled at it is that, presumably for reasons of economy, it has a limp binding that is unlikely to stand up to the wear and tear the volume is bound to receive from constant use.

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MOAG, Rodney F.: Fiji Hindi: A Basic Course and Reference Grammar. Canberra, Australian National University Press (in collaboration with Extension Services, University of the South Pacific), 1977. xxxii, 291 pp., photos, drawings. Price A$2.95 (paper).

Fiji Hindi, as the author informs us, is the home language of about 270,000 people, who constitute 53 percent of the population of Fiji. Their forefathers, who came to Fiji from India between 1879 and 1920 as indentured labourers, spoke various languages and dialects of India: several Hindi dialects, other Indo-Aryan languages, and the Dravidian languages of the south. Today, all these have been almost entirely replaced by one rather uniform language, Fiji Hindi (FH). It is, however, used in informal contexts only. Standard Hindi is used in schools, in writing, and in other formal contexts.

Moag presents in the first part of his book (pp. 1-206) a basic course on FH in six units. The second part of the book, which is of special interest to scholars concerned with the historical background of FH, contains four appendices. Appendix A (pp. 207-219) is a catalogue of FH verb forms. Appendix B (220-276) has a detailed grammatical comparison of FH with standard Hindi. Appendices C (277-280) and D (281-285) contain word pairs from FH and standard Hindi. Appendix C lists FH words which are lexically different from their standard Hindi equivalents. The FH words in Appendix D are cognate with their standard Hindi equivalents but differ due to various phonetic modifications.

According to the author, this work is directed towards three different groups: non-Indians wishing to learn FH, Fiji Indians wishing to improve their grasp of standard Hindi, and scholars interested in FH. Assuming that the readers of this journal belong mostly to the third category, I will limit my observations to the latter part of the work which is specially directed towards such scholars. I am greatly pleased to see that Moag has devoted a considerable portion of his work to a detailed comparison of FH with standard Hindi. The information presented here is invaluable for the investigation of the origins of FH. Because of various differences between FH and Bhojpuri, especially in the verb endings, Moag rejects the popular hypothesis that FH evolved from Bhojpuri. What dialect is FH based on if not Bhojpuri? Moag does not attempt to answer this question, but I think it is possible to determine the origins of FH with reasonable certainty on the basis of the ample data on FH which he makes available. Although FH bears many resemblances to standard Hindi (which is based on the Khari Boli dialect) and to its pidgin version spoken in cities like Bombay, these resemblances do not constitute evidence for the evolution of FH from standard Hindi. Given the role of standard Hindi in Fiji, massive borrowing from this source is inevitable. Even grammatical morphemes may be borrowed extensively from a closely related dialect. The striking resemblance to pidgin Hindi has to do largely with the loss of numerous grammatical distinctions. Such drastic simplification is known to be a universal tendency in pidginisation. In investigating the origins of FH; we must - 354 not be distracted by those characteristics of the dialect which are likely to have resulted from contact with the standard dialect or from universal tendencies in pidginisation. When we examine those “functor” morphemes of FH which are not attributed to the above factors, the eastern elements stand out. Some of these (such as ī ‘this’, ū ‘that’, hIya ‘here’, hUwa ‘there’, the past allomorph of the copula reh- and a few verb endings like the 3rd sg future -ī) are found in several eastern dialects including Bhojpuri. However, FH does not have the perfect suffix -l which characterises Bhojpuri and the Indo-Aryan dialects further east. This directs our attention to the region west of Bhojpuri. The major eastern Hindi dialect in this region is Awadhi. Of course, Awadhi shares with FH all the eastern elements mentioned above. More significantly, FH h∂mar ‘our’ and tUmar ‘your’ are found only in Awadhi. Further, the resemblance between FH and Awadhi in the perfect is not limited to the absence of the perfect marker -l. The FH perfect 3rd sg and pl endings (-is and -in respectively) are found only in Awadhi. The Vanua Levu dialect of FH, which is less influenced by standard Hindi, shows even more extensive resemblance to Awadhi.

The hypothesis on the origin of FH that I have presented above may be disputed, but there can hardly be any dispute concerning the value of Moag's detailed study of FH for research on this intriguing question.

PLANT, Chris (ed.): Rotuma: Split Island. Suva, Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, 1977. viii, 215 pp., figs, photos, tables, maps. n.p. (paper).

This handsomely produced volume contains 13 chapters by 11 authors on various aspects of Rotuman society and the changes currently affecting it. The book is a landmark inasmuch as it is the first published volume in which Rotumans are writing about and interpreting their own culture; all but one of the authors is Rotuman.

Following a brief geographical introduction by Anselmo Fatiaki there are chapters on “History, Superstition and Religion” (Ieli Arava), “Mission Influence on Secular Life” (John Tanu), “Kinship, Reciprocity and Society” (Ieli Irava), and “Rotuman Marriage” (Tiu Malo). There follows an essay on the mamasa (homecoming) ceremony by Aileen Nilsen, and papers on political decision making (Mamatuki Itautoka) and land tenure (Daniel Fatiaki). Vilsoni Tausia writes about “Dance as a Reflection of Rotuman Culture,” and Mosese Kaurasi describes “Rotuman Chants, Sports and Pastimes.” The final three chapters deal with various aspects of contemporary change and adaptation to new social, political and economic realities. Ieli Irava details “The Emigration of Rotumans to Fiji,” and Lavenia Kaurasi describes three Rotuman communities in Fiji and their relationship to the home island. Finally Chris Plant, the lone non- - 355 Rotuman and person basically responsible for editing the volume, discusses “The Development Dilemma” currently faced by Rotumans.

Several of the chapters are based on previously published sources (not all of which are properly acknowledged), although all contain interpretations by the authors. Others are based on personal observations and original research, constituting important contributions to the ethnography of the island. The essays describing the mamasa ceremony, political decision making, dance and chants are particularly noteworthy on this score. The chapters dealing with contemporary change together constitute a significant contribution to the literature on modernisation of Pacific Island cultures.

The initial publication of essays on a “developing” society by its own people is a profound event, and marks, perhaps, an important milestone in the process of development itself. These are all writers who have successfully negotiated their way through Western educational institutions and have the capacity to distance themselves intellectually from their own culture. They are engaged in the process of examining that culture as a codified system, and in so doing are contributing to the codification process itself (as Western anthropologists do by virtue of their writings). Several of the contributors to the volume also felt obliged to make value judgments about the suitability of specific customs or their adulteration and loss. This is a prerogative indigenous commentators are entitled to—it may even be considered their responsibility.

Occasionally, while reading through the volume, I felt somewhat uneasy about a tendency to treat Rotuman custom in a reified way—as if it were composed of a set of rigidly conceptualised rules or legal prescriptions. The search at times seemed to be to isolate the correct way to hold a ceremony or transfer land rights. Carried to extremes this pursuit holds the danger of generating an image of Rotuman society that is far more rigid and unchanging than it ever was in fact. My own impression of traditional Rotuman society, gained from 21 months of field work and archival research, is that customs were extremely flexible, and hence adaptive to new circumstances. Each event seemed to result in a negotiated solution, with several different “correct” ways claimed and counter-claimed. Indeed it was this very pragmatism that I sense to be the essence of the Rotuman way.

Still, it is perhaps a natural thing for indigenous authors to attempt to reconstruct their traditional cultures in idealised forms; after all, they are literally creating a heritage for future generations. Their writings will constitute an important part of the Rotuman ethnic charter. However, if this important process is to maintain vitality, one hopes that future Rotuman scholars will review these and other writings (such as my own) critically, that they will seek new sources of data and will reinterpret the writings of their predecessors rather than taking them for gospel. Then Rotuman scholarship will reach new planes, and a finer articulation will occur between the living culture in its struggle for integrity and the past—historical, mythical and academically interpreted.

This book represents a vital step for the Rotuman people. Its contributing authors, editor and publishers are to be congratulated for producing it.

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RALSTON, Caroline: Grass Huts and Warehouses: Pacific Beach Communities of the Nineteenth Century. Canberra, Australian National University Press, 1977. xii, 268 pp., maps, plates. Price A$10.95.

With this ambitious, much-needed comparative analysis of the origins and mutations of the five major beach communities of Kororareka, Papeete, Honolulu, Levuka and Apia, Ralston has filled a major gap in Pacific historiography. Inspiration for the topic came from Maude's (1968) celebrated essay on the role of beachcombers and castaways before the organisation of the mixed and increasingly foreign communities that are the main focus of this book. The author begins with a useful survey of first European contacts and early trade, devotes a chapter to the beachcombers, and goes on to provide what she fairly claims to be “at least in part the introductory framework for a general history of urban development in Oceania”.

Faced with the perplexing structural problem of comparing five diverse communities whose developmental stages were not contemporaneous, the author chooses a constantly-sweeping synoptic approach from a few wide angles announced in eight chapter headings such as “Consuls, Missionaries and Company Traders”. This is most successful in the chapters with stronger organising themes: “The Pattern of Daily Life” and “Race Relations in the Beach Communities”. But even here the synoptic approach is not without drawbacks, for it continually forces the author to attempt a series of scholarly generalisations that have to be so qualified to allow for exceptions that in the end they sound rather flat and obvious. Her technique can be illustrated at random from her interesting discussion of the position of islander women in the households of foreign residents. Writing by implication of all five towns she says:

Wives were usually not included at dinner parties or other social entertainments in the community and several were poorly treated, beaten and thrown out. In many ways the foreigners considered their marital relationship with an island woman in a master-servant light. . . . The island and part-island women did, however, have means of redress—they were free to leave their soi-disant husbands whenever they wished and they frequently did, some taking with them the lands they had brought into the liaison. Thus a certain balance did operate and there is much evidence to suggest that many separations were not permanent. (p.138)

While the conclusion is unexceptionable and supported by one amusing example omitted from the citation, it does illustrate the kind of academic intrusiveness that the author brings to her splendid source materials, a too-conscious organising concern to assert some kind of generalisation before the place and period and people are fully evoked in the reader's imagination. The almost total lack of simple physical description or “atmospheric effects” in her austerely detached prose, together with the constant change from one town to another, will leave the genereal reader without a sustained and vivid feel for how it really was on those - 357 tumultuous shores of European expansionism.

On the other hand, the broad patterns certainly come through convincingly and there are many dramatic, sympathetic insights into the erosion of the ability of island hosts to control the forces of change unleashed by their tolerance for foreign guests on their soil. All the subject needs now, perhaps, is the complementary pen of an artist in words to do for grass huts and warehouses what Cook's artists did for his prosaic but indispensable journals.

A major dimension of the topic that has been deliberately left for others to probe from a more island-centered perspective is the local attractive power of a town like Honolulu. As early as the 1830s it was bringing in islanders “at a suicidal rate” until they outnumbered foreigners by 20 to 1 (p.101). Ralston reminds us, en passant, that urbanisation without industrialisation has deeper Pacific roots than most would surmise; it is one of several threads that future scholars will want to draw from this pioneering work. They will be aided by her copious documentation, bibliography and index. With only a few lapses of syntax and spelling, the volume has been admirably produced, and it is much enhanced by seven maps and eight plates.

  • MAUDE, H. E., 1968. “Beachcombers and Castaways”. In Of Islands and Men: Studies in Pacific History. London, Oxford University Press, pp. 134-169.

TROMPF, Gary (ed.): Prophets of Melanesia: Six Essays. Port Moresby, Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, 1977. vi, 274 pp., figs, maps, photos. n.p. (paper).

The Ugandan scholar, Okor P'Bitek, has commented that Western social anthropologists “have never been genuinely interested in African religions per se. Their works have all been part and parcel of some controversy or debate in the Western world”. Whatever the truth of this claim may be, no Melanesian scholar could say the same about the book under review. Edited from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Papua New Guinea, it avoids all the theoretical conceits that have plagued social anthropology and deals with Melanesian religions in a sensible and straightforward manner, based on an analytical approach which, while clearly derived from Western culture, is in no way out of keeping with the material presented.

The book is organised as follows. Dr Garry Trompf, the editor, in his most scholarly introduction, outlines its general focus of inquiry: the character of the prophet in Melanesia and his place in a global context. He tells us that prophets are

‘. . . vehicles of remarkable utterances [which] are supposed to originate - 358 directly from some supra-human source, . . . primarily concern the immediate (and not necessarily ultimate) future of the peoples meant to hear them, and . . . are confirmed as decisively important by the earnestness of their bearer(s).’ (p.1)

Although the paradigm comes largely from biblical sources, he goes on to discuss it in both historical and modern sociological contexts. Finally, he sets out his rigorous standards for defining the concept of prophetism and warns us not to use it carelessly in the future, although he admits that the other contributors “do not subscribe to any fixed policy concerning appelations” (p.16).

The first five essays deal with prophetic phenomena in Melanesia. Garry Trompf himself writes about Ona Asi (about 1890-1963), who lived north of Kokoda in the Papuan Highlands, foretold the coming of the first Europeans, and struggled to come to terms with the colonial order, his interpretations verging on, yet never dominated by, cargoism. Esau Tuza describes the career of Silas Eto, who was born in 1905 in New Georgia in the Solomon Islands, embraced Christianity as result of a deep personal experience, broke away from the Methodist Mission, and eventually established the Christian Fellowship Church. Deane Fergie gives a short but pungent account of Philo and the Inawai'a Movement among the Mekeo in 1941. Philo claimed a special relationship with the Virgin Mary and prophesied the coming of European wealth. Matthew Tamoane recounts the legend of Jari, an important goddess in the area around the mouths of the Sepik and Ramu rivers, who was said to have periodically possessed his grandmother before she died in 1964. Willington Jojoga Opeba writes about his father's mother, Jenny-Genakuiya Opeiya, who is now in her fifties and lives at Buna in the Northern Province of Papua. She prophesied a cyclone before the Second World War and the Mount Lamington eruption in 1951.

In the sixth and final essay, Dr K. W. Carley (of Rarongo Theological College in New Britain) re-surveys the phenomena of prophetism in ancient and modern societies. He tells us that “. . . it is quite misleading to regard as prophets only the outstanding prophetic figures of the major world faiths” (p.240). He then analyses examples of both traditional and modern (i.e. Christian) Melanesian prophecy, and argues that they are mutually compatible.

The contribution of this book to Papua New Guinea studies lies in two fields, religion and general ethnography. It is an excellent text to supplement the more formal and impersonal monographs. Furthermore, I sincerely welcome its concentration on both traditional and modern Melanesian theology, which I have always regarded as a force eminently worthy of respect. The essays make one thing clear. Religion is not merely allegory or symbolism. To Melanesians it is above all a statement about conceived cosmic realities incorporating, yet reaching beyond, the secular socio-economic order. It is essentially pragmatic: it is concerned with the maintenance of the total cosmic order by ensuring the growth and health of crops, animals and human beings, and the supply and successful exploitation of other material resources including, in some areas, cargo or Western goods. In this context, the essays by the three indigenous contributors, Esau Tuza, Matthew Tamoane and Willington Jojoga Opeba are particularly important in that they demonstrate the falsity of the recently common charge that European anthropologists are incapable of learning about Melanesian cultures because of the biases they bring to the field with them. These authors have - 359 depicted religions in coastal Melanesia in the same general terms and with the same broad conclusions as Western scholars such as Hannemann, Burridge, McSwain and myself. I stress this point because I still believe that the anthropologist's most important duty is to present his ethnography accurately. This is particularly true in the case of religion which, as this book amply demonstrates, is of the greatest consequence to most Melanesians.

On the debit side, however, I must make three criticisms. First, although the five ethnographic essays present excellent and graphic accounts of Melanesian religions as systems of belief and ritual, in most cases, without ignoring it entirely, they pay too little attention to the broad sociocultural background that social anthropologists rightly deem essential. The authors tend to write in a philosophical vacuum: they emphasise theology at the expense of the rest of the cosmic order. This represents an interest that could be regarded as normal and natural in a Department of Religious Studies. Nevertheless, I regard it as a weakness. The exception to the criticism is Deane Fergie's paper which demonstrates anthropological awareness by making astute use of Dr Epeli Hau‘ofa's excellent Mekeo ethnography.

Second, as the editor seems to admit on p.16, there is a discrepancy between his definition of prophetism, the contributors’ examples, and Dr Carley's final analysis. Trompf indicates that Barkun, Burridge and I have used the term too loosely (p.14, n.19). Yet my own account of those I classify as prophets in the southern Madang District differs in no material respect from those given in this book. It certainly falls within Dr Carley's broad analysis. In saying this I do not wish to appear small-minded, but to point to a difficulty for Westerners in describing Melanesian religions. It is often impossible to find exact counterparts for Judaic and Christian concepts and I believe that it is generally wiser not to try too hard to do so. We are gradually learning in socio-economic studies that the only means of avoiding the distortion of ethnographic material is to keep definitions relatively flexible. I should argue the same for the analysis of religions.

Third, it is a pity that the index was not a little more comprehensive; quite a few more references should have been added. There are also several typographical and syntactical errors. But these criticisms detract very little from the book's value. I recommend it strongly.

WATSON, Virginia Drew and J. David COLE: Prehistory of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea. Anthropological Studies in the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea, Volume III. Seattle and London, University of Washington Press, 1978. xix, 224 pp., figs, maps, tables, photos. Price US$35.00.

This volume is to be welcomed as only the fourth substantial report of archaeological site survey and excavations in Highlands Papua New Guinea. Two - 360 of the previous studies were also concerned with the Kainantu area (White 1972 and Swadling 1973), offering data of direct relevance to which the results of this research can be compared. It should also be welcomed as a project to salvage the results of 12 months' field work, undertaken during 1966-7 by Cole, who for reasons of health had to abandon the analysis and writing up of his field work. As a result, Watson is the author of this volume, with minor collaboration with Cole, who was totally responsible for the field work on which it is based. This division of labour has led to inadequate documentation and interpretation in parts, but Watson is explicit about the difficulties involved, and it was clearly worth the effort because of the unusual intrinsic interest of the data.

Cole's work was a part of the University of Washington's Micro-evolution Project in the Kainantu region of the Eastern Highlands Province, a comparative study of the languages, cultures, psychological traits, racial characteristics and ecological adaptations of four language groups, the Auyana, Awa, Gadsup and Tairora. The work accomplished by Cole was inadequate to contribute significantly to so complex a comparative study, but it is a very substantial contribution to Highlands archaeology in general and shows that archaeology should have been more central to the Micro-evolution Project. It also shows the great potential of open site archaeology in the Highlands; Cole had to contend with the doubts of many of his colleagues that he would find anything but relatively recent archaeological material in Highlands open sites.

One criticism that can be made of the publication is that it would have been very useful to have had more detailed discussion of the excavations. The archaeological data presented are brief and summarised, and the division into sections focusing on site description, artefact description, analysis and comparison has led to lack of continuity. For example, the very interesting NFB site, where over 79 m2 were excavated, showing three stratigraphic components covering the past 4,000 years, is given only five text pages, and eight other pages of tables, plans and photographs. The important NFZ site, one of the earliest open settlement sites in Papua New Guinea, receives only two text pages and four pages of illustrations. Other data from these sites appear elsewhere in the volume, but it is, for example, difficult to establish the chronology of the sites and their contents without repeatedly consulting different parts of the book. One credit is some excellent photographs included, but this is marred by three photographs which have been printed on their sides (Figures 13, 17 and 18) and some (e.g. Figures 64, 67, 75 and 76) that are too blurred to be useful.

Data from 76 sites, eight of which were excavated, are discussed. These contained a variety of artefacts, structures and organic materials, but Watson devotes much of her attention to the amorphous stone flake and core industry. These tools are classified into three major groups, derived from similarity of relative frequencies of classes of tools, based on variation in four functional traits of edge shape and wear. It is claimed in the introduction (p. x), and repeated in the book's conclusions, that these groups of stone tools support the division of the prehistoric evidence of the area into two regional cultural traditions, one of which is divided into two chronological phases.

It seems that Watson has fallen into the same interpretive trap as did White in depending on the only numerically common artefacts to document variation and change. She points out (p. 151-2) that White's data can be used to demonstrate - 361 technological change similar to the change she argues is apparent in the Kainantu data, but it can be questioned what the significance of that change is. Concave scrapers were presumably used for scraping handles, digging sticks, and weapons, and their relative frequency in contrast to wavy-edged scraper/knives might have to do with the part of the site excavated, or the vagaries of the survival of the assemblages, instead of culture change. Limited as Watson is to functional features of working edge in her classification, she cannot even employ stylistic features such as the shape of the tool to search for significant variation and change.

It would seem that other data presented in this volume include some that might have been more extensively employed to document other variation and change. A variety of other stone artefacts was found, and they deserve to be given more central attention than scraper/knives. Incidentally, this work finally documents the antiquity of Highlands mortars, with two dates of about 3,000 and 3,500 B.P. from samples above and below a mortar fragment at Site NFB.

The cultural sequence of the region is oversimplified by employing the scraper/knife classes to subdivide the site data. Surface site collections and excavations are put into three phases, the Mamu phase from about 18,000 to 3,000 years ago, the Tentika phase dated to about 300-200 years ago, and a western phase, Tesanee, in a separate tradition. She also has a date of about 2,000 years for the Tentika phase, but discounts it because it is associated with pottery; on grounds of the antiquity of pottery at Walek (3,000 years ago, Bulmer 1977:68) it seems that this early date for Kainantu may be acceptable.

If the classification of structural remains (hearths, oven pits and houses) is used together with the radiocarbon dates, a more complex sequence of cultural variation and change can be suggested. These features cannot be related to the surface sites, because the structural evidence is not normally visible on the surface, but nevertheless they show much greater variation than does the stone flake and core industry. The one early dated site, NFX, was occupied from about 18,000 to 11,500 years ago. This contains a distinct form of structure, oval groups of postholes, 4-7 m across, said to be in multiple lines, and circular hearths lined with stones on the ground surface. Another later period of occupation, from about 4-3,000 years ago, is represented at two dated sites (NFB, component III, NGG, and NGH). The only structures associated with these sites are the same style of circular stone-lined hearths as at the earlier sites. Two later sites, dated to about 300-200 years ago (NFB, components I and II, and NGM), have contrasting structural remains. Both sites have Type J houses (round houses with single rows of round-sectioned large posts) and Type N earth oven pits (shallow, round-sided), and both have stone-lined hearths set into the ground. The shapes of the hearths contrast, with rectangular hearths at NGM and round hearths at NFB. Another undated site, NFC, has quite different structural remains, with Type K round houses, with lines of round posts and planks, with rectangular hearths lacking stone lining, and with Type M deep steep-sided earth oven pits. This site is near to NFB and could possibly reflect an earlier cultural period. Other undated structural features include rectangular houses at sites in the southwest of the region, thought to be post-historic, and double contiguous circular banks. This adds up to a general picture of significant variation and change in the region, although it may require more archaeological research to make the pat- - 362 terns clear. In sum, while I remain unconvinced of the validity of the use of functional classes of scraper/knives to demonstrate cultural variation and change, Watson has reported structural and other evidence which deserves to be explored further.

  • BULMER, Susan, 1977. “Between the mountain and the plain: prehistoric settlement and environment in the Kaironk valley,” in John Winslow (ed.), The Melanesian Environment. Canberra, Australian National University Press, pp. 61-73.
  • SWADLING, Pamela, 1973. The Human Settlement of the Arona Valley. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Electricity Commission.
  • WHITE, J. Peter, 1972. Ol Tumbuna. Terra Australis 2. Canberra, Department of Prehistory, Australian National University.

Polyphonies des Îles Salomon (Guadalcanal et Savo). Recordings, photographs and commentary by Hugo Zemp. One 30 cm 331/3; stereo disc. Le Chant du Monde LDX 74663 (Paris, Collection du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et du Musée de l'Homme, 1978). Notes (in French and English), 5 pp., map, photos, diagram.

Here is another, the eighth, in the steady succession of LP discs on music of the Solomons which Hugo Zemp has been issuing during the past five years. It is attractively and durably packaged in a three-leaf fold-in laminated cover and—like each of Zemp's earlier discs from the Musée de l'Homme—is of superlative technical standard. Side A is devoted to polyphonic music—both instrumental and vocal—from the coastal village of Kakabona in the Honiara region about 15 kilometres west of Honiara on mainland Guadalcanal. Side B contains vocal polyphony from Savo, a small island off the north-west tip of Guadalcanal.

Polyphony has long been known to exist in the Solomons. Parkinson (1899:16) gives transcriptions of two tetratonic tunes which he describes as “sung in harmony” and in the same article hints of drone polyphony when he refers to “a monotonous tone” accompanying songs from Buka. Guppy (1887:141) is specific about the “droning accompaniment” of choral men's songs in the Shortlands; Hornbostel (1912) notates two-part songs with panpipe accompaniment from Buka and elsewhere in the N.W. Solomons and there is occasional mention of harmony in travel literature and ethnographies. It has been left to Zemp, however, to provide us with recorded examples which make clear both the extent and the truly extraordinary nature of this richly creative music. The Savo examples, especially, are strongly reminiscent of the part songs on Zemp's earlier - 363 Guadalcanal disc (see McLean 1974) in their use of two soloists, one in falsetto who—in vindication of the early reports above quoted—sing against an intermittent choral drone. The mainland Guadalcanal songs on the other side of the disc (tracks 6-12) similarly employ two soloists, but the drone here is continuous—in effect a vocal analogue of the whistle and bamboo trumpet drone which can be heard throughout the rihe mumu panpipe ensemble music (tracks 1-5) which opens Side A. Possibly the most striking feature of the vocal polyphony is the use of a harmonic idiom characterised by dissonant clashes of M2 and M7 as a result of simultaneous use of adjacent degrees—together with their octave transpositions—of the anhemitonic pentatonic scale.

Further comment on musical characteristics would be almost superfluous. Zemp's earlier disc notes have been somewhat light on specifically musical information. This time he has done us proud with some 3,000 words of text in each of two languages together with photographs, a map and a diagram showing the scales, in cents, of the four instruments of the rihe mumu panpipe ensemble. An especially gratifying aspect of the commentary is the attention given to indigenous music terminology and details of performance practice. This disc with its accompanying notes can be unreservedly recommended as a model of its kind.

  • GUPPY, Henry B., 1887. The Solomon Islands and Their Natives. London, Swan Sonnenschein Lowrey.
  • HORNBOSTEL, Erich M. von, 1912. “Die Musik auf den Nord-westlichen Salomo-Inseln,” in R. Thurnwald, Forschungen auf den Salamo-Inseln und dem Bismarck-Archipel. Berlin, Reimer, vol. 1 pp.461-504.
  • MCLEAN, Mervyn, 1974. Review of Musique de Guadalcanal Solomon Islands. Recording and commentary by Hugo Zemp. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 83(4): 490-1.
  • PARKINSON, Richard, 1899. Zur Ethnographie der nordwestlichen Salamo Inseln. Abhandlungen und Berichte der Königlichen Zoologischen und Anthropologisch-Ethnographischen Museums zu Dresden, 7(6).

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