Aesthetic Opposites in Social Organization—
An Aesthetic Realism Discussion of Oksapmin, Papua New Guinea
Chapter 3 of
Oksapmin Society and World View
by Arnold Perey, Ph.D.,
Columbia University, 1973
Dissertation for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Second Event: A Marriage
(2) The Giving of Bride Price, January 3, 1968. The Qksapmin practice is for the igira of the groom to present brideprice to the igira of the bride after she has been living with the female relatives of the groom for some months and decides to stay. The marriage is not consummated until after this ceremony.
The bride price given January 3, 1968, was presented by the igira of Gon, a Gwe Parish man, to the igira of Mep, a Nerura Parish woman at the place where the path near Iru's house widens into a clearing.
Gon, who appeared with vertical black lines painted on his face, is a member of the Getopa clan who, like
Yenit of the foregoing "Pig Cooking," has obtained refuge and sponsorship with Iru. However, both Gon and his brother Ona are consanguineal kin of Iru—his MoFaBrDaSo.
About twenty-five men and twenty women from Nerura appeared, representing three igiras. From Gwe seventeen men, eight women, and about eight children appeared. The men from Gwe who attended the bride price giving to contribute to it can be found in Figure 16, within ovals 2C and the ovals 3.5D, 1.5B and 2H, which overlap 2C.
Figure 16. Gwe Social Organization
The names of the men were:
After the igira of Gun had counted the money it was going to give as bride price, the men moved gradually towards the brid&s party out of the area screened by pitpit they had been in. They grouped about twenty feet from the nearest member of the party opposite them, but the groom remained behind the vegetation (pitpit), hidden from view. He was accompanied by Tendat, Ona, Yibit, Iru, and Tolimat, taking turns.
One by one the men of Gon's igira presented money—about twenty-five dollars in all—bringing it forward to a central place, putting it down in a dignified way, and returning. The final amount, which also included two axes and two large bundles of salt, was judged not enough by the Nerura people and about as much as they could manage by the Gwe people.
Interceding between the parties was Xab, himself a man from Nerura who had married into Gwe. It was he who assisted in the distribution of money to the Nerura members.
When the distribution was complete, the Nerura men coming forward one by one to take, and the woman being given what was theirs, a young man of Nerura raised a bow without its arrow to the west, and shot it.
Following this, the senior man of Nerura spoke at [p. 103] length, and after he had spoken, people began to disperse. He remained, and with Emgan and Tolimat, also wealthy senior men, broke sweet potatoes, shared the pieces, and ate them. This marked the end of the giving of bride price.
The way Gwe Parish is subdivided shows not only in the giving of bride price but in fighting as well. In the following two instances of Oksapmin fighting, first the subdivisions of Gwe Parish will be shown and, second, the network of allies and enemies in Oksapmin as a whole will be shown.