The Mafulu eBook

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

I could not find out who the person who buys the pig and performs the ceremony would ordinarily be, nor what motive he has for buying and paying for a pig which is about to be killed and cut up and distributed amongst other people; and I am convinced that there must be something further behind the matter, which I have been unable to ascertain.  I may say that, knowing that among the Roro and Mekeo people a brother or other male relative of the child’s mother takes a prominent part in the perineal band ceremony, being the recipient of the dog or pig which is killed, and the person who puts the band upon the boy, I specially enquired as to any similar relationship on the part of the person who buys the pig and performs the ceremony among the Mafulu, but I could find no trace of anything of the sort. [73] Nor, as already stated, could I find any system of service being rendered by a boy to his maternal uncle, such as exists among the Koita, [74] nor anything in the nature of the Koita Heni ceremony, described by Dr. Seligmann. [75]

It will be seen that this purchasing of the pig by a person who takes a prominent part in the ceremony affecting an individual appears in other ceremonies of that nature among the Mafulu.

Following this performance there is a general distribution among the people, including both visitors and members of the village, of the various vegetables and fruits, and among the visitors only of the portions of village pig.  The vegetables are eaten then and there, but the visitors take away the pig for eating in their own villages.  The actual putting on by the child of his perineal band is done afterwards without further ceremony.

The same ceremony is observed in the case of the son or daughter of a chief, except that in this case the child is more fully decorated, the family give two or more pigs, there are more visitors, and the whole ceremony is on a larger scale; also that, after the performance of standing on the dead pig and receiving the feather ornament, the child is placed standing on a platform, which may be only 5 or 6 feet high, but may be as much as 15 feet, though no further ceremony appears to be performed whilst it is on that platform.  If children of ordinary people undergo the ceremony at the same time as a chief’s child, they apparently stand on the platform also.

When the ceremony is performed at a big feast, it is substantially the same as that above described, subject to certain variations, which almost naturally arise from the change of conditions.  There is no special dancing, as distinguished from the dancing programme of the big feast.  The vegetable food provided will be included in the general stock, so that the people of the village will not share in it; and the ceremony of standing on the pig is postponed till a later day, and on that day, the child, having worn his special ornaments, other than the feather ornament, at the big feast, will not again wear them when he stands on the pig, though his feather ornament is put upon him on that later day.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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