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Aesthetic Opposites in Social Organization—
An Aesthetic Realism Discussion of Oksapmin, Papua New Guinea

Chapter 3 of
Oksapmin Society and World View
Dissertation for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

by Arnold Perey, Ph.D.,
Columbia University, 1973

First Event: Killing and Cooking a Pig

(1) Killing and Cooking a Pig in Gwe Parish, December 11, 1967. [This event was observed and described by Devorah Tarrow (1967).] A pig was killed belonging to Emgan but reared by his uma, named Iru. Iru is one of the two adult male consanguineal kin of Emgan, more precisely his MoFaBrSo.

The overall organization of this event is that the men most closely affiliated with one another are the first to be present, although they are of different clans, and as time goes on those who are more distant arrive (see Figure 16).

The pig was shot in the bush by its owner, Iru, assisted by Uba, a noted hunter of wild pigs, with Iru's wife and Emgan's children watching and assisting also. After it had been killed and was brought back to the house to be seared, scraped, and butchered, Emgan, the person who was to butcher the pig, arrived. He was the oldest man present, and so was to do the cutting. He did it with a bamboo knife about six inches long (an atora). After an hour, Masmat arrived and joined Emgan in the butchering of the pig, which took five hours. Later, Yeriit and Ogiolit arrived. Meanwhile, Lantip, Iru's wife, was present.

Lantip, who is a woman inmarried from Optema Parish, had prepared several leaf mats on which small pieces of meat were being placed. When finally the intestines and stomach of the pig were removed, they were put into an old net hag and carried by Lantip to a pool [p.98] of running water where she was going to clean them. There she was joined by Yetwes, a widowed older woman, with three sons, whose husband had been an Aniom clan member. That made him of the same clan as Emgan. Some loyalty was still felt by Emgan for he, along with Yetwes' deceased husband and her husband's brother, had fled to Gwe Parish from Kuskusap as young unmarried men. Yetwes' HuBr had given her land nearby after her husband died and she had nowhere to turn. Her eldest son had claimed his Lather's land recently too, and therefore Yetwes was an established member of the neighborhood.

Emgan, the owner of the pig, is one of the wealthy men of Gwe. He has two wives and five children, one of whom is a married daughter with a son. Iru is a man of middle wealth, but of some influence because his household is the dwelling of more newcomers than most households are. Masmat, who assisted Emgan butcher the pig, has one brother as his sole male consanguineal kin. He belongs to the Ciuna clan, of which there are about five male adult members, but his wife, Ragot, is sister to Yetwes' deceased husband, and Masmat has come to feel friendliest with the men of the Amom clan who now live near the land he inherited from his father.

Later, Yenit and Ogiolit, who are two of the people [p. 99] who found refuge in Iru's household, arrived. Yenit is a member of the Getopa clan, the same clan as Iru belongs to, though there are no consanguineal connections between the two men. Yenit was one of those whose parents fled to the Strickland River valley during the Oksapmin famine to save themselves from starvation. Yenit and others living in Iru's household are in the process of returning, after having been raised in the Strickland valley. They are reclaiming land, through the sponsorship of Iru, and at present have little wealth in either land or pigs.

Ogiolit belongs to the Optema clan, is from Optema parish, neighboring on Gwe, and is one of the last to leave the parish's relatively poor land to find better land in another parish. He joined Iru's household by migrating with his wife, who is Iru's WiSi.

When Lantip and Yetwes returned to the house with the cleaned intestines and stomach, they found two women and their children awaiting them. They roasted this meat, and everyone ate. The two women were Lantip's mother and Gara, who was an uma of Uba's wife.

Uba, central in the event, has no consanguineal connection with either Emgan or Iru, but is a close friend. His clan, the Dire clan, is in the process of becoming one clan with Emgan's—the Dire-Amom clan.

It is clear, then, that in killing and cooking the pig, neither clan nor lineage nor household were functioning as units. Rather, personal ties with the principal actors based on marriage, consanguinity, clan membership, residence, and personal friendship were active without one kind of tie taking precedence over another.

This mode of organization is present also in relations between Gwe Parish and its neighbors, as well as within Gwe when neighbors are dealt with. To illustrate this mode of organization used in another event, a bride price ceremony will be described next.


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