Historical Vines: Enga Networks of Exchange, Ritual, and Warfare in Papua New Guinea

Overview

Between 250 and 450 years ago, the introduction of sweet potatoes enabled the Enga people of Papua New Guinea to settle more permanently, practice intensive agriculture, and produce a substantial surplus of pigs. These changes led to the gradual emergence of some of the largest and most elaborate networks of ceremonial exchanges known in pre-state societies.

Drawing on interviews conducted over ten years with elders in 110 tribes, Polly Wiessner and Akii Tumu chart seven ...

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Overview

Between 250 and 450 years ago, the introduction of sweet potatoes enabled the Enga people of Papua New Guinea to settle more permanently, practice intensive agriculture, and produce a substantial surplus of pigs. These changes led to the gradual emergence of some of the largest and most elaborate networks of ceremonial exchanges known in pre-state societies.

Drawing on interviews conducted over ten years with elders in 110 tribes, Polly Wiessner and Akii Tumu chart seven generations of Enga history, reconstructing the ecological, social, and ideological processes that shaped these continually changing networks. At the heart of the book is an ethnohistory of the Tee ceremonial exchange cycle, which by the onset in the 1950s of the colonial era, had grown to encompass about 355 clans and involve the redistribution of up to 100,000 pigs. Wiessner and Tumu describe how Enga big-men crafted the full-blown Tee cycle by drawing on alliances to control trade in the east, great ceremonial wars in the center, and religious cult networks in the west. They also show how, by using religious cults to alter norms and values, Enga leaders mediated the tensions caused by economic competition amidst a growing population.

In this unusual collaboration between an anthropologist and a member of the society being investigated, the authors use practice theory and a vanishing oral record to argue that not only economic but also cultural needs motivated those who directed the course of change in Enga society.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560987925
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 6/17/1998
  • Series: Ethnographic Inquiry Series
  • Pages: 528

Table of Contents

List of Maps
List of Tables
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 The Enga, their Historical Traditions, and Our Approach 13
2 Environment, Population, and Subsistence in the Early Generations of Oral History 47
3 Social Organization, Leadership, and Trade in the Early Generations of Oral History 77
4 The Introduction of the Sweet Potato 101
5 Tribal Migrations and Warfare 119
6 The Early Stages of the Tee Ceremonial Exchange Cycle 155
7 Cults for the Ancestors 179
8 Bachelors' Cults: Purity, Prosperity, and Politics 215
9 War Reparations and Leadership 245
10 Yanda Andake: The Great Ceremonial Wars 265
11 Later Developments in the Tee: The Completion of the Exchange Cycle 293
12 Competition and Cooperation: A Family History of Leadership and Tee 325
13 Yandaita: Wrapping Up 353
App. 1 The Structure of Enga Genealogies 385
App. 2 Estimating Enga Population Size 387
App. 3 The Introduction of the Sweet Potato 389
App. 4 The History of the Lungupini Yakau Clan 391
App. 5 The Migration of the Yatapaki Tribe 394
App. 6 The Legend of Tiane's Kingi 396
App. 7 The Kepele Cult Origin Myth 400
App. 8 Minor Post-Sweet Potato Cults Imported into Enga 403
App. 9 The Sangai Titi Pingi of the Potealini Anae Taanda Subclan 404
App. 10 Excerpt from the Adventures of Gulu 411
App. 11 An Episode of the Malipini-Potealini versus Itapuni-Awaini Great War, 1910-1920 412
App. 12 The Making of a Great War Leader 415
App. 13 The Yae Phase of the Tee Cycle in the Lifetime of Pendaine (ca. 1910) 417
App. 14 Lambu's Exploits in Warfare 423
Notes 428
References Cited 467
Index 480
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