Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Kapauku live in the Central Highlands of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Much of Kapauku territory is above 1,500 meters with three large lakes and diverse vegetation zones. Although they are generally treated as a single cultural group, there are variations in dialect and in social and cultural practice across Kapauku territory. Their language, Ekagi (Ekari), is in the Papuan language family. Their economy is based largely on the cultivation of sweet potato, the raising of pigs and trade. European contact with the Kapauku did not occur until 1938, when a Dutch government post was established at Paniai Lake.


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Oceania --Melanesia



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in this eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Kapauku file includes eight works, three books and five articles, all by the ethnographer Leopold Pospisil. His dissertation on Kapauku law (1958, no. 1) is included in the file. His second book was on the Kapauku economy (1963, no. 5). A smaller monograph on Kapauku society written for classroom study covers economy, sociopolitical organization, and religious and ceremonial life (1978, no. 6). Also included in the file are individual articles on political structure (1958, no. 2), warfare (1993, no.7), kinship organization (1960, no.8), internal and external changes in Kapauku legal system (1969, no. 9), changes in the legal and political system as a result of colonization (1981, no. 10). For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

This culture summary was based on the article, "Kapauku," by Nancy Gratton, from the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 2. 1991. Terence E. Hays, ed. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall & Co. It was expanded and revised by Ian Skoggard according to recommendations by Leopold Pospisil. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by Ian Skoggard, 1996.

Overview by

Ian Skoggard

DEDOMAI--pig market--443

JUWO--pig feast--574, 231

TAPA--fund gathering ceremony--574, 426


Indexing Notes by

Ian Skoggard

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