The Papuan-speaking Siwai reside in South Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Siwais have long been horticulturalists, subsisting largely on taro (sweet potatoes after World War II), supplemented with a variety of other vegetables, pigs (particularly important in ceremonies), fishing, and tree crops. Cocoa was introduced in the late 1950s and has become a major cash crop. Most adult men have since been employed as plantation laborers or as copper miners in other parts of the island. Households are comprised of nuclear families. Many Siwais go on to secondary and tertiary education, and some participate in the local, regional and national democratic government. Prior to the establishment of wage labor and a cash economy, women held some sway through matrilineage control of agricultural and hunting lands, and enterprising men amassed prestige and power through organizing multi-village feasts.
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Papua New Guinea
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Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication, and title where necessary.
The documents in the file are all written by two ethnographers working a generation
apart. The earlier ethnographer Douglas Oliver (1955) wrote the classic monograph on the leadership institution of Siwai big men (
For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.
kaposo – men’s house – use PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)
mara – spirit – use SPIRITS AND GODS (776)
mikai – sorcerer – use SORCERY (754)
mumi – big man – use STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)
tuhia – tokens (bundle of twigs) accounting for a loan – use ACCOUNTING (451)