Known as the hungry season, during this time the Kaulong rise from their self imposed hibernation and return to the jungles to plant gardens and begin to hunt and fish. The families also resume traveling and trading. In the jungle, a garden is the most reliable source of food supply. A healthy garden will support an entire family, and ensure that the family members to not suffer due to poor hunting or fishing. A garden is planted and tended for 9 to 15 months while the crops are planted and harvested. After the harvest, the garden is allowed to return to the jungle, and the family tribe moves on to another area, and repeats the process again.
Claiming a garden from the jungle for 15 months is a community effort. The trees are cut and cleared by hand. They are laid on top of one another to create a barrier fence around the garden. These fences are meant to keep out predators, in particular roving wild and domestic pigs. A pig can devastate a garden which contains taro, the main plant grown for both food and cultural ceremonies. The Taro, as will be discussed later, is held as a socially important artifact and a source of magical power as well as a food source. Protecting these gardens is part of the responsibility of the family that plants them, and is essential for the family's survival. Once the land is cleared, the Taro is and a few other vegetables are planted. The jungle environment makes tending these gardens a constant task. New plant and 'weeds' must be cleared weekly, or the garden will be overgrown in a short period of time. By the time 2 seasons have passed, (15 months) the logs used as fences around the garden are deteriorating, and rather than repair the wall, the family will move onto another garden to begin the process again.
The final season, the gutpela taim, is the season of plenty from February to May. Like the harvest time in the northern hemisphere, Taro has grown to full size and is harvested. During this season the rivers are beginning to recede, and fishing for shrimp and fish is a more profitable enterprise.
The following chart which records seasonal activities of the tribes.
Activity in the garden
Sleeping - hibernation
Harvest and plant
Travel / trade
Hunt pig, cassowary, fish and fruits
May adapted from Goodale, p. 68.)
Tribal hunting is done with sharpened spears, in the case of a pig hunt, and long blow guns for smaller animals, such as cassowary, fruit bats and birds. The blow guns are often 15 to 20 feet long, and are used to propel a 3 ft long dart. The dart, once lodged in the hunted animal, often does not kill it, but the dart length makes it impossible for the animal to run, allowing the hunter to catch and kill his prey.
The activities of the tribe revolve around these seasonal activities. Ceremonies are scheduled in tune with the seasons. But the culture of the tribes exists on a level completely apart from the seasons. Other indigenous tribes have been known to have festivals which worship season-controlling deities. The Egyptian, north and south American Indians all have ceremonial importance ascribed to natural phenomenon, but not the Kaulong. The culture of these people is built around knowledge of the individual, and knowledge management.
Knowledge management, and the Identity of the Self
Fro the Kaulong, the idea of whom they are as individuals, and their chosen means to attain that selfhood envelopes their entire social structure. The ideas of 'self' is and the knowledge that is the means for gaining and developing selfhood is held in the person, not in the community or extended family for the Kaulong. Knowledge, experiential knowledge, is the basis for the Kaulong's selfhood, and the knowledge, both practical and magical, must be gained in order for a person to have worth within the tribe. For the Kaulong, this is called being potunus, or human. The idea of self comes from a threefold identity of the person. The person is made up of:
The mind, which is wholly contained in the person. This includes the emotions and desires within a person. The mind is the locus of control for the individual.
The body, which is the sum total of the skin, bones, organs, blood, etc.
The self is the person's identity, the spirit or soul of a man. In the Kaulong culture, the self, or enu can leave the body and travel to other places. The enu can inhabit or control others. (will be discussed further in the section on sorcery) The self is powerful, and can travel outside of the body in order to gain knowledge and experience that in turn develops the person's identify within the tribe.
For the Kaulong, the mind and he self are independent of the body. The body is merely the container for the mind and self. While a mind is the center of control for a person, the mind can also be taken over by, or influenced by the 'self' of other persons. Just as a westerner catches the common cold, the Kaulong identify the state of 'menge.' A person with the 'menge' is under the influence of another self, another spirit, of a person either dead or living. Like having a cold, the person must rest in order to gain strength in his self to overcome the menge.
The spirit or enu is seen as an entity separable from the body. Much of the Kaulong knowledge is gained through the enu which can travel outside the owner's body in order to seek information, or gain control over others. The enu can transfer to other people and control them if they are weaker. However, any person 'convicted' of casting his enu into another in order to control them is called a sorcerer, and can be put to death if convicted.
The extensive beliefs regarding the enu are very similar to the voodoo practices of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Some of the other individual facets of enu abilities are:
Enu's walk through the jungle, and can attack individuals who encounter them Enu's walk alone while the person is sleeping. A sudden wakening can bring a person to consciousness before his enu returns, and cause great sickness, or dementia.
The enu can be 'knocked loose' from a person by a frightening or dangerous experiences, such as walking in the jungle and having a tree unexpectedly fall nearby.
Because sickness is seen as a result of dysfunction between the person and his enu, all sickness (unless caused by sorcery) is believed to be preventable. Sickness is the result of person's actions that upset the balance between himself and his enu.
The high degree power attributed to the Kaulong is very similar to the pantheistic beliefs of the Greeks, and the north American Indians. Each of these cultures attributes power to 'deities' or 'spirits' outside of their own control. Fort he Indian the spirit inhabited the sun, wind, nature, earth and animals. For the Greeks, the spirits did not inhabit individual articles, but were at Mt Olympus, and has specific control over different aspects of their lives. The Kaulong believe system focuses on self, and in order to provide a sense of control over self, and the indomitable aspects of nature, the Self is ascribed with supernatural powers. Goodale described the Kaulong's lives as a 'poker game.' Each person was dealt a hand of cards, or a level of enu power. The person had the ability through magic, experience, and the course of his life to gain a 'better hand.' Or gain power. But other individuals could possibly have a 'better hand' and thereby affect the life of another, positively or negatively. The Kaulong's desire, therefore, was to progress form the level of an animal (having no more enu than an animal) at the time of birth to the status as 'big man' or 'big woman' of the tribe. The 'big' men and women were those with significant knowledge, power, and experience, and were venerated as the leaders of an individual collection of homes. Some of the traits of the 'big' men and women are in the table below. These are some of the traits ascribed to big men and women in the Kaulong's ceremonial songs
Gives talks, spreads messages and knowledge
Digs wild yams
He jokes, and lies
He steals axes (valued artifacts
He recruits for a feud
He stands and travels with his shield (ready for fight)
He calls pigs
He is toothless
He is a craftsman…