The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 290 pages of information about The Mafulu.

The Kuni houses differ from those of the Mafulu, being more or less round or oval in apparent shape, even though the floor is rectangular.  Also according to Father Egedi, Kuni kufu are of several various sorts, and some of them are constructed in specific ways, and have specific carved and painted decorations, some of which are imitative of animals and objects held in veneration; and these different types of club-house, which include one used only by elderly bachelors and widowers, have specific names—­all of which is quite different from what is found in Mafulu.  Among these club-houses Father Egedi includes one built at feast times higher up the ridge, outside the village, for guests’ accommodation, which, though apparently somewhat similar in purpose to the guests’ houses at a Mafulu feast, differs from them in form.  Indeed, as regards building construction, the only point of strong similarity between the Kuni and the Mafulu which I can trace is the long fireplace extending from front to back of the building, which with the Kuni is apparently very like that of the Mafulu.

Father Egedi’s statement as to Kuni cannibalism, that speaking generally it appears to be confined to the bodies of people killed in war or in private vendetta, and that, though other cases are recorded, they are regarded as a violation of a custom and are detested, might be equally well said of the Mafulu; though I did not actually hear of any known record there of the other cases mentioned.  Again his statement that the actual killer must not share in the feast holds good with the Mafulu; but I believe that this idea exists elsewhere also.

Concerning the Kuni implements I can only refer to Dr. Seligmann’s statement, [127] that they do not appear to use bows and shields—­which, if correct, is a point of difference between them and the Mafulu—­and to a few other things referred to by Father Egedi in his articles.  From his descriptions I should imagine that the Kuni pig-bone implements and their bamboo cutting knives are similar, and that their wooden vegetable dishes are somewhat similar to those of the Mafulu.  But the Kuni have cooking pots (which they get from the coast), and use forks and spoons and various other implements and utensils which are not found in Mafulu, and their mode of producing fire is quite different from the Mafulu mode.

I recognise that the above comparative notes on Kuni culture are only of a very fragmentary character; but Father Egedi expresses the general opinion that, though the language of the Kuni people is Melanesian, their habits and customs “may be considered as making one with those of the Mafulu people.”

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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