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"The People of A lor describes a piece 
of research which is unique in the 
range and variety of psychological 
techniques applied to the study of a 
primitive group.'* 

During her stay on Alor, Dr. Du Bois 
obtained detailed autobiographies of 
eight Alorese men and women -fill- 
ing what Dr. Kardiner calls "the lam- 


entabfe gap in the study of the rela- 

f The People of Aicr, says Ruth Bene- 
dict of Columbia University, Coffers a 
pioneering contribution to the study of 
personality in an alien culture/' 

Aided by grants from both the Ameri- 
can Council of Learned Societies and 
the Coolidgc Foundation, the publica- 
tion of Dr. Du BoiV study represents a 
contribution not only to anthropology 
but to psychology and, less directly but 
significantly, to economics and political 

Enlightened administrators of the post- 
war era will also find this study of val- 
ue, offering as it does background for 
the better understanding, psychologi- 
cally, of primitive people. 

Miss Du Bois, professor of anthropol- 
ogy at Sarah Lawrence College, is a na- 
tive of New York City. She took her 
doctorate at the University of Califor- 
nia, and did much field work among 
the West Coast American Indians. 

Dr. Du Bois has written several scien- 
tific monographs, among them ** An- 
thropological Perspectives on Psycho- 
analysis," which has direct bearing on 
this book. Articles about her experi- 
ences on Alor have appeared in Asia. 

PRESS, Minneapolis 


Call No. Si H . 1 <\ xa I TXtlf^ccession No. 2o & 


This book should be returned on or before the date last marked below 


A Social-Psychological Study of an 
East Indian Island 



The University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis 

Copyright 1944 by the 

AM right* reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in 
nit form without the written permission of the publisher. Per- 
mission is hereby granted to reviewers to quote brief passages 
in a review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper. 






To Mattie and Richard 


IN THESE days when books on parts of the world formerly consid- 
ered remote have become commonplace, when journalists are writing 
in the first person of experiences on Pacific islands, when travelers 
dabble in anthropology and anthropologists write travel books, it seems 
justifiable, perhaps, to identify this volume. 

Anthropological field work among American Indians on the West 
Coast had shown me repeatedly the blind alleys encountered in investi- 
gating social processes, if psychological orientations and techniques 
were not employed. Furthermore, the obvious differences between 
peoples of different cultures challenged explanation. The false doc- 
trines of racism not only failed to give such explanations; they patently 
posited the question falsely. In the field of anthropology the work of 
Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and Edward Sapir was opening a new 
and suggestive formulation of the problem of differences between hu- 
man groups. In 1935 a National Research Fellowship gave me a year in 
which to explore .clinically and theoretically the bearing of various 
psychiatric approaches to personality formation within our own so- 
ciety. Analytic psychology seemed to offer the greatest number of 
concepts with which the anthropologist could operate, although much 
of its theory, particularly in the field of social phenomena, seemed 

In the spring of 1936, at Dr. Kardiner's invitation, we collaborated 
in a joint seminar at the New York Psychoanalytic Society. The semi- 
nar was repeated the following spring. At the beginning it was neces- 
sary to discuss why the greater part of Freudian sociology was 
unacceptable to the students of society. From there we progressed to 
descriptions of cultures based on the literature. For each culture we 
attempted to identify the factors, both institutionalized and informal 
but none the less stereotyped, which seemed to be the most formative 
for individuals in that society. It was a good exercise, but there was 
no opportunity to check our conclusions. Were individuals predomi- 
nantly what we might suppose them to be from the institutions under 
which they lived, the childhood conditioning they received, the values 
they shared, the goals for which they strove? 

Too often descriptive material gathered with other ends in view 
gave no data on points which seemed vital, and none of them gave an 
adequate description of character structure and its dynamics. We had 
talked ourselves out, and only field work could test the procedure. 

vi The People of Alor 

Dr. Kardincr at this point contributed funds to the Social Science Re- 
search Council of Columbia which that Council supplemented to per- 
mit me to undertake field work. Meanwhile, he continued the seminar 
with Dr. Linton for the two years that I was away, and from these 
four years' experience Dr. Kardiner wrote The Individual and His So- 
ciety. In the meantime, others in the field of depth psychology and 
anthropology were working eagerly on the rapprochement between 
these two fields, to the mutual benefit of both disciplines. Historians, 
sociologists, and political scientists contributed also to the breadth and 
depth of inquiries in this area. Increasingly pertinent questions were 
asked and increasingly satisfactory solutions suggested. Differences of 
viewpoint arose, as they will in any new, vigorous, and still inchoate 
discipline; but these differences served only to sharpen the sophistica- 
tion of those who were convinced of the far-reaching practical as well 
as theoretical importance, for the modern world, of understanding 
what gives groups of people common character structures. 

In looking for an area in which to pursue such studies, I searched 
for one in which gross pathologies were reported to be present, since it 
seemed to me at the time that by the very grossness of its manifesta- 
tions pathology could be more clearly understood than normality. 
Siberia, with its Arctic hysteria, and the East Indies, with lata and 
amok, suggested themselves. Linguistically, climatically, and politically 
the Indies seemed more practical than Siberia. Consultation with Dr. 
Kennedy at Yale and Dr. Josselin de Jong at the University of Leyden 
led me to select the island of Alor for field work. Actually, Alor pro- 
vided neither of the Indonesian pathologies which I had anticipated, 
but the culture was immediately so interesting and challenging, so little 
affected by European contacts, that my preconceptions were fortu- 
nately swept aside. 

When die choice of field fell upon die Netherlands Indies, I began 
studying Dutch and then, via Dutch, Maky, which is the lingua franca 
of the area. Neither language went very fast until I reached Alor in 
1938. There I was forced to use what passed for Dutch with the seven 
or eight Netherlands officials on the island. Ali, die Javanese boy I had 
brought from Batavia, understood only Malay. For better or for worse 
both languages had to be used and in them I developed fluency if not 

Ali stayed for only six months before returning to his family in 
Java. Like myself he was a foreign influence in die village, which, for 
my purposes, was best left as little disturbed as possible. He was, more- 

Preface vii 

over, a gentleman of wealth and prestige to the Alorese, and he was a 
Moslem. It was evident that the villagers had an eye for lidgation where 
their women were concerned, and that was a source of trouble it 
seemed wise to avoid. To Ali I entrusted all the care of establishing a 
household in an island unfamiliar and remote to us both. This duty he 
discharged with such skill, tact, and devotion that I have never lived 
so carefree a domestic existence in areas replete with what pass for 
civilized conveniences. To Ali was entrusted also the training of five 
Alorese boys, one from each of the five villages in the valley where I 
worked. Five boys may seem an excessive staff, but in this way no one of 
them had too much unaccustomed work, and each was free to play a 
normal part in village affairs, and I had the inestimable advantage of an 
informant and host in each community. Also, as I learned later, the 
impartial distribution of cash wages stood me in good stead. 

The choice of the village in which I was to work involved long ses- 
sions with the radjah of Alor and several horseback trips into the in- 
terior. When I chose Atimelang, the radjah was obviously reluctant. 
He feared and distrusted these savage mountaineers who had been em- 
broiled in the murder of his uncle, the former radjah, some twenty 
years before. His "kapitan," however, was willing to vouch for my 
safety, and two hours after the decision was reached, I had purchased 
the corn crop growing on the land where my house was to be built 
overlooking the dance place. The floor plan of the kind of house I had 
designed in terms of local building ability was staked out a veran- 
dah, a living room, two bedrooms, and a store room. To one side was 
to be the kitchen and bath house. From the hill rising sharply back of 
the village, water was to be brought in a bamboo "aqueduct" from a 
spring which was reported to flow all year. I was assured that in two 
weeks the miracle would be wrought. When the Dutch controleur re- 
turned at the end of two weeks with me and the twenty-eight carriers, 
the house was not completed; it had barely been started. The contro- 
leur had to go back but I stayed on in the government rest shack to see 
the job through. The next two weeks of cajolery improved my Malay 
and gave me a start at the local language. 

This language had not been studied before and, of course, had no 
written form. It seemed useful to give it some name, so I called it Abui, 
which is the word the local people used to designate themselves as 
opposed to the coastal people. From the beginning vocabularies and 
texts were taken down phonetically, and by the time that autobiograph- 
ical material was recorded a year later, I was able to translate directly 

viii The People of Alor 

into English as the informants gave their life histories, although I never 
felt sufficiently secure in the language to dispense with the translation 
into Malay which Fantan, the interpreter, furnished. Myths and other 
tales were recorded in Abui and given interlinear translations in English 
which I later checked with Fantan in Malay. Certainly the linguistic 
handicaps were great and only incessant care reduced the possibilities 
of gross errors. 

With the completion of the house, the village assisted me in dis- 
charging the obligations of a house-building feast. The slaughter of two 
pigs and a goat clearly indicated that this was a house deserving a 
lineage name. At the all-night dance preceding the feast, the chief, 
after considerable deliberation with me, decided Hamerika was suit- 
able. Here a peculiar linguistic feature entered. When I was asked the 
name of my lineage, I said that I came from America. In Abui this 
name means "your" Merica and became a gracious gesture of hospi- 
tality to the chief. He then called the house "her" Merica (Hamerica). 
My nation and their lineage concepts were all satisfactorily blended, 
unfortunately through sheer misunderstanding. 

A daily "clinic" served further to acquaint me with the people and, 
more importantly, to acquaint the people with me. My first patient was 
Rilpada the Seer. By good luck two old ulcers healed rapidly under 
daily treatment and thereafter we exchanged the courtesies of two 
medical specialists. He sent me people with wounds, infections, fevers, 
and intestinal ailments. I sent him people who needed charms or cures 
for supernatural ills. Daily I bathed infections, dispensed quinine or 
castor oil or aspirin, and gradually even the women and children were 
sufficiently used to my touch to forgive me the size of my body, the 
whiteness of my skin, and the blue eyes, which looked so frighteningly 
blind to them. That my nose was long and sharp was, however, to the 
very end of my stay, a never-ending source of merriment. That I took 
no offense at their amusement they discovered only later and to the 
considerable relief of the older persons concerned with the proprieties. 

Gradually life assumed a familiar and intimate character, as it will in 
any village the world over. The Dutch on the coast rarely entered 
my mind, except twice a month when one of the boys went to meet 
the mail boat and make small purchases at the Chinese store. The 
people of Atimelang no longer found me their chief source of enter- 
tainment, and, although I could never wander about unnoticed, at least 
I was ignored when engrossing matters were afoot. My awkwardness 
in handling a betel quid was always a chance for diversion. The clumsi- 

Preface ix 

ness of my dance steps was politely ignored and when my hair grew 
too long, some friendly neighbor would tell me that it was the custom 
in their village for respectable women to keep their hair short. 

It is therefore to those friends in Alor, to their shrewd but tolerant 
acceptance of my peculiarities and to their vigorous engrossment in 
their own affairs that any contributions which this volume may make 
to an understanding of the varieties of human character are primarily 

To the kindness and interest of many other persons I am also in- 
debted, since no ethnographer undertakes field work without making 
many new friendships and incurring innumerable obligations to both 
new friends and old ones. The work reported in this volume is no excep- 
tion. My greatest obligations for both intellectual stimulus over a num- 
ber of years and financial assistance on this field trip are gratefully 
acknowledged to Dr. A. Kardiner. To Dr. Ruth Benedict, who made 
possible the professional backing and financial support of the Social 
Science Research Council of Columbia University, I am again indebted 
as I have been so frequently in the course of professional work. Dr. 
Ralph Linton was kind enough to place at my disposal his joint seminar 
with Dr. Kardiner during the winter of 1939-40. The spirited discus- 
sion of field data by this group is a debt difficult to acknowledge ade- 

At the University of Leyden, Professor Josselin de Jong was a 
consistently kind and helpful adviser, a role he continued to play by 
mail throughout my sojourn in the Indies. It is difficult to thank suffi- 
ciently the many officials of the colonial government in the Nether- 
lands East Indies, without whose intelligent and forbearing assistance 
there might have been insurmountable difficulties. This debt is particu- 
larly great to Assistant-Resident Koster of Timor and to Dr. and Mrs. 
Bruynis of Alor. Their hospitality, unfailing helpfulness, and consistent 
solicitude made my residence during the first year on Alor a singularly 
happy one. The missionary, Mr. Fuenekes, was distinguished for his 
tolerance toward an ethnographer, whose presence in any primitive 
community is apt to fortify interest in customs that missionaries try to 

Dr. Margaret Mead, Dr. Gregory Bateson, and Dr. Bruno Klopfer 
provided encouragement and guidance. Dr. Porteus gave unstintingly 
of his time and interest in evaluating the maze test which bears his 

To Dr. Emil Oberholzer no adequate acknowledgment can be made 

x The People of Alor 

for the heroic energies he invested in evaluating the Rorschach data. 
Fortunately Dr. Oberholzer is generous enough to find compensation 
in the contributions his work makes to the advancement of our knowl- 
edge of human behavior. 

Dr. R. H. Lowie, whose critical acumen and broad interests have 
been an inspiration to so many generations of students, was good 
enough to lend these assets to the reading of parts of the manuscript. 
To the Department of Anthropology at the University of California I 
am grateful not only for my original training in ethnology but also for 
the working space furnished me during the summer of 1940. Mrs. 
Sager's prolonged efforts in typing and retyping the manuscript have 
greatly facilitated the arduous task involved in preparing this book. 

Thanks for financial assistance in publishing this volume are gratefully 
tendered to the American Council of Learned Societies and to the 
Coolidge Foundation. The infinite care and patience expended on 
the manuscript by the staff of the University of Minnesota Press is 
gratefully acknowledged. 

To Margaret Wing I owe a debt of gratitude for the rime, the skill, 
and the excellent advice she contributed during the final preparation 
of the manuscript. Without her unstinted enthusiasm and confidence 
in this endeavor during the last frantic weeks, this volume would have 
been delayed even longer. 

March 1944 

Table of Contents 

Part /. Introduction 

Chapter i. THE PROBLEM i 


Chapter 2. THE SETTING 14 

Part 2. Psycho-Cultural Synthesis 














xii The People of Alor 

SIONS, 175. 

ESE CULTURE, by Abram Kardiner 176 


Part 3. Autobiographies 



Chapter 1 1. RILPADA THE SEER 233 






Chapter 14. TILAPADA 396 


Chapter 15. LOMANI 438 


Chapter 16. KOLANGKALIETA 47' 


List of Illustrations xiii 

Chapter 17. KOLMANI THE SEERESS 501 


by Abrcan Kardiner 548 

Part 4. Descriptive Norms and Ranges 

Chapter 20. WORD ASSOCIATIONS 556 

Chapter 21. CHILDREN'S DRAWINGS 566 

ESE, by Ennl Oberholzer 588 



INDEX 641 

List of Illustrations 

Between pages 52 and 33 

Kebola (Kalabahi) Harbor from the northwestern hills. 
Kebola (Kalabahi) Harbor with villages on the ridge. 
Looking down on the valley of Atimelang during the dry season. 
Precipitous countryside near Atimelang. 

The radjah of Alor on the coastal road from Kalabahi to Benelang Bay. 
The main dance place of the village of Atimelang. 
The dance place of Maniseni the Financier, in Alurkowari. 

xiv The People of Alar 

Weaving a house wall of split bamboo. 

Pulling in a floor beam. 

Placing a floor beam on the house posts. 

Laying the floor beams of a large lineage house. 

Thatching the roof of a field house. 

Frame of an old house about to be dismantled. 

Thatching the roof of a large lineage house. 

A group of girls and women cutting weeds. 

The first weeding of the new corn crop. 

A rice-pounding bee several days before a death feast payoff. 

The largest rice cones of two ceremonial seasons. 

Talkalieta, the oldest woman in the village. 

Padafan's mother gathers the bean crop and his grandmother shells it. 

Fuimai, the village trollop, measures loops of cord for her belt. 

An old grandmother spends a quiet morning at home weaving a basket. 

Padamai is a satellite who is proud of his carving and his tobacco crop. 

Manimau prefers a mechanical guard against the theft of his coconuts. 

Fantan the Interpreter has faith in the charm of the "evil bow." 

Theoretically, a brother is your strongest supporter. 

A brother and sister, children of a successful financier. 

A vantage point from which to watch a ceremony. 

The photographer frightens a child. 

Awonmai takes a midmorning nap on the verandah of the gong house. 

A boy helps with the butchering of a pig. 

A boy drinks from a bamboo water tube. 

A little girl practices weaving. 

Seven little girls share a calabash dish of corn and greens. 

Boys spin tops on a banana leaf. 

Padafan begs food from a child in its mother's carrying shawl. 

List of illustrations xv 

He loses his balance but continues to beg. 
He tries rage to attract the woman's attention. 
He thinks the matter over. 
He sees his mother gossiping with another woman. 

He goes to her and throws himself on the ground kicking and scream- 

The mother laughs, picks him up, but does not feed him. 

Padafan sees a toy balloon that I gave some older children. 

He says, "Mo" (give), one of the few words he has mastered. 

It is his! He immediately examines the ear of this cat-faced balloon. 

He nurses on it to the delight of older children. 

The Alorese prize mokos above everything else. 

His young sister in a carrying shawl, a boy accompanies on the gongs 
the communal work of building a lineage house. 

If gongs and mokos are beaten for days ahead of time, the sound will 
soften the hearts of debtors, and wealth will flow into the village at 
the forthcoming feast. 

Accompanied by the beating of gongs and mokos, a pig and some corn 
arrive as a dowry payment preliminary to a larger death feast payoff. 

In the morning three or four men butcher the pigs that will be used 
in the house-building feast that afternoon. 

In the late afternoon each woman brings her basketry platter of food 
to display at a house-building feast. 

In the late afternoon women arrive with rice baskets (baleti) in their 
carrying packs to display at a payoff feast. 

A husband must greet his wife's kinsmen with derogatory remarks as 
they deliver a dowry payment. 

Maliseni the Financier protests the payment being made him. 

On the verandah of the gong house old men wait for advance tidbits of 
a pig that is being butchered for the afternoon's feast. 

A crowd listens to an argument over a dowry payment. 
Women privately gossiping over the value of a dowry payment. 

xvi The People of Alor 

Boys furnish a musical accompaniment on gongs and mokos to the 
communal labor involved in building a lineage house. 

The largest currency display of two seasons was made at the tumukun's 
death feast payoff (baleti) for his father-in-law. 

Children hurrying home in their raincapes of a late afternoon. 
The third morning of a divorce debate. 

The people of Atimelang prefer their circle dances (lego-lego) to last 
from dusk to dawn. 

One of the most elaborate carvings of Atimelang is the ancestral beam 
of the lineage house Tilalawati in Folaf eng. 

The most elaborately decorated familiar spirit house of Atimelang be- 
longs to Fanseni Longhair. 

A village guardian spirit (ulenai) to which a pig and rice have just been 

Fanseni Longhair carves a village guardian spirit figure. 

Rilpada the Seer. 

Malelaka the Prophet. 

Fanseni Longhair, brother of the tumukun. 

Manifani, a financier from Dikimpe. 

An Alorese youth. 

A young widow much admired in Atimelang for her beauty. 

A young girl whose teeth have just been blackened and filed. 

Fantan the Interpreter. 

Fantan's attire is influenced by his contacts with a foreign culture. 

In full regalia this man strikes a pose that he considers suitable. 

This pseudo-Semitic type is often found on Alor. 

Maniseni the Financier's second wife and child. 

Maniseni the Financier's third wife, with a rice pestle. 

An affectionate debusing scene. 


Chapter i 
The Problem 

STUDIES of primitive peoples have been put to almost as many uses as 
there are theories in the social and psychological sciences. Essentially 
the problems of anthropology are the same as those of the other sci- 
ences dealing with human beings. Anthropology differs from these only 
in its subject matter, which is primarily the cultures of nonliterate 
^peoples. This subject matter is of paramount importance, however, 
since it presents a series of independent attempts by men to live gre- 

No culture values equally all human potentialities; rather every cul- 
ture selects certain of them and rejects others in order to create its own 
particular configuration. This point of view has long been a platitude to 
most anthropologists, but the other sciences, naturally, have been slower 
in reaching the conclusion that cultures are selective: that some stress 
maternal care, some value competition, some are preoccupied with sex, 
and still others with the acquisition of wealth, and that the resultant 
personalities are conditioned accordingly. 

History and the biological sciences were among the first to draw on 
the findings of anthropology. Now sociologists, economists, and psy- 
chologists of many persuasions are making use of the data which an- 
thropologists bring back from the field. Needless to say, influences have 
been mutual. This volume is directed primarily toward the relationship 
between anthropology and psychology, and it has leaned on the tech- 
niques and concepts of several schools of psychological thought. Be- 
cause of the financial nature of the culture discussed, economists should 
find much of interest here, and the implications seem fertile also for 

It is accidental that these problems have been studied on an island of 
the Netherlands East Indies. That the Netherlands Indies now bulks 
large on the political horizon should enhance interest in a study which 
was conceived and executed without regard to the present situation. It 
is also accidental, but none the less instructive, that the island of Alor 
should have a culture that at first sight seems almost to caricature some 
of the salient values of our own. 

The primary purpose of this book is to discuss the relationship be- 
tween people and their institutions in a village complex called Atime- 


2 The People of Alor 

lang on the island of Alor. This is not an exercise in the esoteric, but 
rather an attempt to understand a problem so basic that our own social 
development will continue to be faltering and awkward until the ques- 
tions involved are clearly understood. In its simplest form the question 
is: Why is an American different from an Alorese? That they are dif- 
ferent is a common sense conclusion, but explanations, from the climatic 
to the racial, have proved lamentably inadequate in the past. The ex- 
planations to be investigated here do not categorically deny all factors 
previously used to explain such differences; instead they seek the subtle 
processes which research in the social sciences and the psychologies has 
formulated and which we may use for the time being as operational 

With such a purpose it is evident that this book will not even ap- 
proximate a complete cultural description, since it is not feasible to 
present here more than a selection of the material collected over a 
period of eighteen months. It should be complete enough, however, to 
represent the many contradictions inevitable in social institutions and 
personal lives, in order that any reader who may disagree with the con- 
clusions will be in a position to dispute them from the documentation 

Certain assumptions and points of view should be clearly stated at 
the beginning. The most important of these for the purposes of this 
book is the concept of "modal personality." It is a relatively new one, 
for which a variety of terms have been devised and around which many 
views, both favorable and unfavorable, still cluster.* It seems desirable, 
therefore, to state as dearly as possible my personal formulation of 
modal personality. 

First, I assume the psychic unity of mankind.! By this I mean that 
there are certain experiences and certain physiologically determined 
tensions, felt subjectively as desires, which no human being escapes, 
however differently he may seek to satisfy them and however different 
the level of satisfaction may be. Birth and death, growth and sexual de- 
sire, fatigue, laughter, and hunger are some of these experiences. No 
groups of people exist among whom these factors and many others 
which it would be pointless to enumerate are known to be congeni- 

* A discussion on basic personality, for example, is found in Abram Kardiner, 
The Individual and His Society (New York: Columbia University Press, 1939). 
The works of Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Ralph Linton, Karen Horney, and 
Eric Fromm (to name only a few outstanding investigators in this area) all bear 
more or less directly on the concept of modal personality. 

tThe evidence for this assumption need not be recapitulated here. For a dis- 
cussion of it see Cora Du Bois, "Some Anthropological Perspectives on Psycho- 
analysis," Psychoanalytic Review, 24:252-54 (1937). 

The Problem 3 

tally absent. The Freudians have stressed sex among such tensions; 
others may be of equal importance. 

For our purposes the interest lies in the way such experiences are 
met. For example, all human beings feel hunger. In our society a man 
may be satisfied by eating toast and coffee at eight, a salad and dessert 
at midday, and a three-course meal of carefully balanced foods at seven. 
In Alor a person may satisfy his hunger with two handfuls of boiled 
corn and greens after sunrise and a calabash full of rice and .meat at a 
feast in the late afternoon, with casual nibblings between times. That 
both men have felt the pangs of hunger and possess means of satisfying 
them seems to be as important as die way they did it, perhaps even 
more important. The point is that the basic similarities of human beings 
the world over are the foundation on which I believe any comparative 
study of culturally determined personality structuring must rest. This 
is a basic assumption. 

A discussion of the superstructure raised on such foundations in Alor 
may give the impression that we are more concerned with the differ- 
ences than with the similarities among human beings. To an extent this 
is true. But differences are profitably examined only within a single and 
true category. If an Alorese and an American were fundamentally 
and categorically different psychological beings, any problem of differ- 
entiation would be a false one. In addition, the ethnologist, who is 
forced to use himself and his human experience as instruments of inves- 
tigation, would find himself without means of approaching the subject 

Modal personality, then, is the product of the interplay .of funda- 
mental physiologically and neurologically determined tendencies and 
experiences common to all human beings acted upon by die cultural 
milieu, which denies, directs, and gratifies these needs very differently 
in different societies. We are very intimately concerned, therefore, with 
the adaptive processes in human beings, and until we know what these 
are and how they function, the manipulation of institutions qua insti- 
tutions will at best remain inept, and at worst may result in the destruc- 
tion of the very ends desired. 

The study of adaptive processes is related to the research done by 
psychologists in learning and conditioning, but as it is here conceived, 
adaptation is more inclusive than either or both as they have so far 
been investigated. Furthermore, adaptive processes continue to function 
throughout life. In any investigation such a problem, particularly when 
linked to the question of social interactions, cannot be considered 
solved when it is traced genetically to some single childhood experi- 

4 The People of Alor 

ence. The changing influences during growth are met by changing re- 
sources in the individual. These must be carefully traced. As Kardiner 
has said, "It means a different thing to the growing child to get excel- 
lent maternal care during the first five years than it does to get the 
same care limited to the first two years. And the reason is that the re- 
sources of an. individual at two are different from those at five." An 
infant who is on a four-hour feeding schedule has been given a very 
different initial attitude toward food from that of the infant who is 
offered the breast whenever it is restless. This does not mean, however, 
that this single experience, alone, will determine the adult's attitude 
toward food. It is important to stress that a single experience, traumatic 
or otherwise, is rarely sufficient in itself to explain the whole adult 
personality. Repeated experiences in different behavioral, value, and in- 
stitutional contexts are essential to create personality constellations of 
such force and consistency that they become apparent to the ethnolo- 
gist, who, with the best will in the world, can never have more than 
superficial insight into peoples of an alien culture. 

In a study of the modal personality in any culture, the task consists 
of tracing through with as much consistency as possible the repeated 
and standardized experiences, relationships, and values which occur in 
many contexts and to which most individuals are exposed during vari- 
ous stages of their development, when their resources vary. Important 
as childhood experiences may be, they do not exclusively determine the 
mature character of the individual. 

It is evident from the foregoing that the concept of modal person- 
ality is an abstraction and a generalization, comparable, for instance, to 
those made by anthropologists on the physical level when defining race. 
This means that the modal personality will not necessarily coincide pre- 
cisely with the psychological structure of every individual in the so- 
ciety, except as an individual may accidentally approximate the norm. 

The importance of this point is that when one operates with the 
modal personality concept, one is in no way attempting to reduce in- 
dividuals to a level of uniformity. My own inclination, founded not on 
scientific proof but on impressions, goes so far as to admit the possi- 
bility of innate personality types. Some ethnologists have claimed that 
individual variations are less pronounced in primitive groups than in our 
own more complex society. It is quite possible that some societies per- 
mit the individual less leeway and pattern him more highly than do 
other societies. But in Alor both the results of test material and my own 
impressions indicate a wide range of variations. Ranges, however, are 
measured on a common base line. On such a base line data will show 

The Problem 5 

central tendencies that constitute the modal personality for any par- 
ticular culture. This volume will deal, all too impressionistically, with 
.both the range and the central tendencies of personality in Alor, and in 
addition it will attempt to explain the genesis of the central tendencies. 

The following, then, are my assumptions: First, there is a psychic 
substructure, perhaps physiologically determined, which is common to 
mankind. Second, this may be further elaborated by individual, innate 
personality trends. Third, these potentialities are acted upon by com- 
mon cultural pressures and result in central tendencies to which the 
term modal personality has been assigned. It might be added paren- 
thetically that when this type of study is made more frequently and 
with greater refinement, much light will probably be shed upon these 
assumptions and their validity. 

The question of procedure arises in trying to isolate the modal person- 
ality type from among all these more or less justified assumptions. First, 
the definition of common and characteristic factors of personality in 
any culture might be established by a series of psychological tests and 
observations of cross-cultural applicability. Here we are faced immedi- 
ately by the limitations of such techniques. There is need for further 
research along these lines, and fortunately the psychologists of many 
schools, as well as the anthropologists and the sociologists, are increas- 
ingly aware of this frontier area. 

However, the task of working with modal personality is not only a 
descriptive one; it is even more importantly a dynamic one. Here cul- 
tural analyses, combined with the better established psychological proc- 
esses of the analytic school, come to our assistance. One criterion, in my 
opinion, of the success of such a psycho-cultural synthesis is the range 
and variety of phenomena that can be brought into coherent relation- 
ship. If, for example, one can establish a coherent trend in methods of 
infant feeding, in sex attitudes, in attitudes toward food, economic ac- 
tivities, sacrifices and myths, in such a fashion that it has meaning on 
both cultural and psychological levels, then one will have achieved a 
functional synthesis of unusual importance for the comprehension of 
cultural processes. In determining how and to what degree social forms 
may be invested with emotion and how emotional investments may be 
transferred from one social form to another, we shall have made signifi- 
cant advances in understanding cultural change and stability. Only 
when we have some comprehension of the link between institutions 
which the individuals bearing those institutions may make on an emo- 
tional level, shall we begin to grasp the repercussions involved in social 

6 The People of Alor 

In the work that ensues I have reversed the descriptive and analytic 
procedure because it seemed easier in that fashion to make the picture 
clear. Therefore Part 2 will try to account for the modal personality in 
Atimelang, and Parts 3 and 4 will consist of autobiographies and test 
materials, which are essentially descriptive in purpose. 

One final caution. A psycho-cultural synthesis such as the one in 
Part 2 is inevitably no better than the observer. Judgment in this re- 
spect must rest with the reader. In the autobiographical data there is 
less likelihood of distortion by the ethnographer, although it is obvious 
that his personality and that of the informant have acted selectively. In 
tests the distortion resulting from the observer's personality is almost 
entirely eliminated, although there is still some selectivity because cer- 
tain natives are unwilling to offer themselves as subjects. When test 
material is interpreted by persons knowing nothing of the culture, as 
was the case with the Rorschach and Porteus tests as well as the chil- 
dren's drawings, the chances of distortions introduced unconsciously 
by the field worker are reduced still further. When one considers the 
inadequacy that still exists in training and techniques for such problems, 
as well as the complexity of the problem, a total correlation between a 
psycho-cultural synthesis, autobiographies, and test material would ap- 
pear highly unlikely. If they corroborated each other only partially, I 
should consider the result gratifying. The discrepancies will be equally 
important since they may reveal either inadequacies of techniques or 
actual inconsistencies or diversities within the culture. 

One concluding comment should be made. Although psychological 
matters are discussed repeatedly, I have tried throughout to avoid psy- 
chological terminology. This terminology has become so fraught with 
different connotations in the minds of both the layman and the special- 
ist that to use it would serve only to confuse. There is, however, one 
exception; I have used the word ego. By this I mean that function of the 
personality which adjusts, with greater or lesser adequacy, the instinc- 
tive drives of the individual to the demands of the environment. 


The description of the customs and practices of primitive society can 
be put to a large number of different uses. One of these is to study the 
relationship between the individuals that compose the society, the in- 
stitutions under which they are molded and live, and finally the rela- 
tionship of the institutions to each other. When such an enterprise 
meets with a measure of success, these data can become the groundwork 
of a basic social science. The difficulties of such an undertaking are very 

The Problem 7 

great indeed. In previous studies I have undertaken with the kind col- 
laboration of several anthropologists we were confronted mainly with 
the problem of incomplete material. If by completeness is meant an ex- 
haustive ethnographic account which covers all phases of the lives of 
the individuals who compose the society, a history of the society as far 
back as it is traceable, and a series of biographies of both sexes of vary- 
ing statuses and ages, then even the material in this book must be 
considered incomplete. However, in comparison with previous studies 
the material presented in this volume is the most complete for the pur- 
pose of studying the relationship between personality and culture that I 
have ever encountered. 

The history of the endeavor to study the relationship between cul- 
ture and personality is not a very long one. The need for it was fore- 
seen as far back as 1913.* 

Dr. Ruth Benedict, in her Patterns of Culture, established the fact 
that such an endeavor could yield important orientations for the com- 
parative study of human society, though much in her assumptions and 
technique is open to some question. My own endeavors, incorporated 
in a recent book, The Individual and His Society, were based upon the 
application of psychoanalytic principles. In contrast to the procedure 
of Freud, whose chief operational concept was that of instinct and 
whose chief orientation was historical, the procedure followed in my 
book is somewhat different. Here the orientation is that of an ego 
psychology in which the operational concept is not the instinctive 
drive but the integrational units or action systems through which 
the drive is consummated. Furthermore, the orientation is systematic 
rather than historical. This does not mean the exclusion of a historical 
orientation, because the study of all integrational systems must be ge- 
netic and therefore historically oriented. 

The present study, although it supplies us with very scant historical 
background, is most complete in that it fills in gaps left in other studies 
by the absence of biographies. These biographies, moreover, not only 
give us an opportunity to check on the reliability of the conclusions 
drawn from the previous studies, but also furnish us with new orienta- 
tions for the study of culture and personality. 

The present study by Dr. Du Bois was undertaken with the fore- 

* Constructive efforts in this direction were begun by Goldenweiser, Malinow- 
ski, Sapir, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Ralph Linton, and Lloyd Warner. On 
the side of psychology the first effort of this kind was made by Freud in 1911 in 
his Totem and Taboo, and later in his Civilization and Its Discontents and The 
Future of an Illusion. His work was followed by Thcodor Rcik, Geza R6heim, 
and most recently by myself. 

8 The People of Alor 

knowledge that biographical material was essential to prove the conten- 
tion that institutions affected and molded the growth of the individual 
in certain prescribed directions. Moreover, such biographical studies 
can furnish us with the opportunity to observe the interplay of needs 
and institutions within the individual and enable us to pursue the results 
of these impacts on the integrative processes in the individuals con- 
cerned. Such interplay cannot be detected either by the observer who 
is accustomed to the interplay in his own society or from the study of 
the institutions by. themselves. Unless such conclusions are based upon 
the study of biographies, any conclusions drawn from the study of in- 
stitutions alone must fall into the category of guesses, more or less ap- 

An additional feature of Dr. Du Bois' work is that the conclusions 
drawn from the institutional interrelationships and the interplay be- 
tween man and institutions is backed up by other psychological tech- 
niques, notably the Rorschach test. Although the information yielded 
by this test may be different in kind from that supplied by the study of 
institutions and biographies, its conclusions should stand comparison 
with those derived by other techniques. 

In her presentation of the material at the seminars at Columbia Uni- 
versity Dr. Du Bois exercised great caution to avoid the possibility of 
collusion, unconscious or otherwise, between the several operators, and 
in this way to prevent the abuse of her material to prove a theory. Dr. 
Oberholzer was acquainted neither with the technique that I pursued 
nor with its conclusions, nor did I know what the conclusions of the 
Rorschach tests were likely to be. When these conclusions were finally 
presented, the correspondence between the characteristics common to 
all Alorese and the reconstructions of the "basic personality structure" * 
was truly remarkable. Furthermore, the differences between Alorese 
and Western man demonstrated by the Rorschach test were equally 
striking. The procedure therefore in studying this culture was ( i ) pres- 
entation of the institutional setup; (2) analysis of the basic personality 
structure; (3) study of biographies; and (4) analysis of the Rorschach 

* This concept was first described in The Individual and His Society. Though 
the concept has been used by others it has been used under different names, such 
as modal personality ', tribal personality, average personality, and summary person- 
ality. There will probably be several more names. The use of these various names 
to describe the same concept is decidedly confusing. The original name was chosen 
because it described most facets of its connotation, since the concept is structural 
and basic, generic and integrative. Obviously all these connotations cannot be in- 
scribed in one word. 

The Problem 9 

Since one of the uses of this material is to see whether individuals 
who grow up under the influence of similar institutions produce per- 
sonality traits that resemble each other within a certain range, a more 
precise definition of the concept of basic personality structure is in or- 
der. This concept is nothing more than a common sense conclusion. 
We quite naturally expect an Eskimo to be different from a Marquesan. 
We assume this to be the case because they have each lived under dif- 
ferent conditions. Our concept tries to define precisely just what these 
conditions are and just what these differences are. Common sense takes 
us only a short distance along the road of defining these differentiae. 
In a general way we know that customs have something to do with the 

The concept of basic personality structure is founded on certain 
observations concerning formation of the adaptive weapons of man by 
a process of growing, learning, and by certain laws concerning integra- 
tive processes as influenced by various factors, especially failure and 
success. By growth we mean the alteration in adaptive capacity. The 
operational value of this concept is sustained by certain assumptions. 
First, that the need for nutriment and conditions for maintaining body 
temperature are quite uniform to all men. Second, that certain drives 
directed toward such goals as sex and prestige are universal but variable 
and hence can be played up or down in different societies. Third, that 
there are certain types of need which are entirely social in character, 
namely, the need for approval, recognition, esteem, affection, and so 
forth. Our assumptions therefore concern certain universal biological 
needs, drives, and other needs which are not so constant but which can 
be encouraged or played down in any given society. One of the ways 
in which a series of differentials can be established in the comparative 
study of culture is to see exactly how these drives, impulses, and needs 
are controlled, satisfied, frustrated, substituted, and channelized. A sec- 
ondary series of variables can then be charted which indicate the con- 
sequences engendered by the controlling procedures, how they are 
resolved, and what are the secondary effects of these now completed 
constellations on the future working through of the personality. 

In order to satisfy this program there is another variable that must 
be counted upon, namely, that no two individuals in the same society 
are alike; that is, they each have an individual character. This would 
make it appear that it is erroneous to speak of a basic personality 
structure where there are so many variations in character. But it must 
be remembered that these variations in character are all to be con- 
strued as different reactions to the same situation. Each individual is 

io The People of Aim 

presented with these cultural influences by individuals all of whom are 
different. No two individuals subjected to exactly the same cultural 
influences will utilize them in exactly the same manner. This can be 
very clearly seen in the study of twins in our own society. In other 
words, the concept of basic personality structure describes an ambit 
within which the character of the individual is molded. Furthermore, 
it is a genetic concept, for it can be arrived at only through the study 
of influences imposed on the individual synchronously with his growth. 
For example, it means a different thing to the growing child to get 
excellent maternal care during the first five years than it does to get 
this same care limited to only the first two years. And the reason is 
that the resources of the individual at two are different from those at 
five. A child upon whom no sexual restraints are imposed, explicitly or 
by implication, at any time during his growing period will have a dif- 
ferent conception of himself and of the activity in question than a child 
who is subjected to an endless series of implied and explicit prohibitions. 
The constant that we are dealing with here is the presence of the sexual 
impulse. The variables are how this irfipulse is controlled. The result is 
that the individual develops certain attitudes consequent upon the entire 
constellation. These now become his operating weapdns, at least as re- 
gards this impulse. But such isolation hardly ever exists. Attitudes de- 
veloped in connection with the sexual impulse are rarely if ever limited 
to it alone, because attitudes thus engendered have a tendency to spread. 
A general modification in the ego takes place, and perceptions of the 
outer world acquire aspects other than those of the situation which gave 
rise to them. 

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of operating with the concept of 
basic personality structure is the one which deals with the identifica- 
tion of integrative units. There are two viewpoints that can be adopted 
in dealing with these integrative units. The first is a historical orien- 
tation, and the second a systematic orientation. These two viewpoints 
are based upon two different interpretations of the influence of the 
past on the individual. The historical orientation assumes that a given 
incident, or series of incidents, in childhood leads to certain reactions 
which then acquire a momentum such as we assume in the operation 
of habit. The systematic point of view is less rigid. It assumes that 
an incident of the past does condition the individual in a certain way, 
but that this conditioning is not limited to the particular situation which 
gave rise to it. It influences the personality as a whole and has been 
instrumental in creating a new kind of individual who sees the world 
in a certain way and behaves toward it accordingly. In other words, a 

The Problem 1 1 

systematic approach to the concept of integration does away with the 
assumption of habit formation, which is essentially tautological. The 
concept "habit" assumes that its continuation depends on a kind of 
momentum; the systematic treatment of integration assumes that the 
entire action system, which includes perceptual, coordinative, and exec- 
utive constituents, has been modified and that the reaction which appears 
habitual is adaptive, even though automatized. 

The technique for applying the concept of basic personality struc- 
ture consists of following the fate of certain key integrational systems. 
In the present state of our knowledge this series is likely to be incom- 
plete, for we have learned how to follow only a few of these integra- 
tional systems with assurance. Those we have learned to follow with 
some thoroughness are the ones which we are acquainted with through 
the study of neuroses and character defects. 

To illustrate this technique let us choose a series of conditions with 
the idea of outlining the resulting integrational systems. Let us begin 
with a society where maternal care is inadequate. This term inadequate 
immediately leads us to a question. How can one standardize adequacy 
or inadequacy of maternal care? To judge by our own society the ques- 
tion of maternal care would hardly seem a point of departure; it so 
happens that in our society maternal care is by comparison exceedingly 
good. The function of this care is to permit the most favorable devel- 
opment of adaptive patterns compatible with the child's resources at 
any given time. Maternal care is adequate if it is synchronous with the 
increase in these resources. 

If we bear in mind that the human infant is an exoparasite with very 
limited capacity for independent adaptation, then we can form a gen- 
eral idea of what good maternal care is likely to be. First of all it is a 
question of feeding. Is it enough in quantity? Are the conditionings 
devoid of confusion? (The importance of this can easily be shown if 
the feeding person is frequently changed, in which instance the child 
has to become accustomed to new body odors, shape of breast, charac- 
ter of nipple, and so forth.) Adequate feeding, in other words, does not 
mean merely a sufficient number of calories put into the stomach, be- 
cause even in the nursing period conditions can favor or disfavor the 
active continuation of the nursing process. A child may get sufficient 
calories, but the conditioning, if it is confusing, will cause a disturbance 
in the whole feeding complex. Good maternal care includes consist- 
ency; that is, certain tensions arising in the child can arouse certain 
anticipations of relief or failure of it. Moreover, feeding includes such 
things as fondling, handling, coaxing, and playing. All these are factors 

12 The People of Alor 

which encourage the child to response and also to new enterprise. We 
can see therefore that poor maternal care can be centered not about the 
question of calories but about the consistency with which the child can 
expect the mother to relieve not only hunger but also the tensions re- 
lated to it. 

Once we have decided that maternal care is poor and have isolated 
the particular conditions responsible for it, we can then trace the effect 
of this situation upon the integrational system pertaining to the mother. 
Let us use for our illustration the case in which maternal care is good 
until eighteen months and then changes abruptly. The result is first that 
the conception of the mother changes from good to bad. This means 
that certain expectations previously freely entertained must now be 
suppressed and compensatory activities invented. The failure of this 
latter must give rise to anger toward the mother, which must likewise 
be suppressed. Then follows an alteration of the child's conception of 
itself with respect to its mother, namely, the feeling of not being loved, 
a lowering of self-esteem, and either an increase in its independence or 
an accentuation of dependency. In the latter we have an instance of the 
end result of a certain integrational unit which from the same situation 
can terminate in at least two different ways an individual of increased 
enterprise and independence can result, or one with diminished enter- 
prise. This characteristic is now utilized not only with respect to the 
mother but to a great many other situations having no relation to her 
in any way. 

In other words, the concept of basic personality structure is geneti- 
cally oriented but permits systematic treatment at any time in the life 
trajectory of the individual. The whole matter can be schematically 
represented thus. 

I helplessness 
Poor maternal care r mistrustfulness ^ ^ do everything ,, _ 

<4 I can't do anything" 

can do ever} 

low self-esteem 
Inecessity for compensations 

The character trait mistrustfulness may originate with bad maternal 
care, accentuated by the persistent lying and misrepresentation of other 
elders. The trait mistrustfulness now becomes a defensive attitude which 
is no longer related to the mother alone but has become an organization 
point for new adaptive maneuvers. If the attitude becomes "I cannot 

The Problem 13 

trust anyone," there may be a reinforcement of the attitude "I must do 
everything myself." This may lead to an exaggeration of self-esteem or 
a lowering of it, depending upon success or failure. 

This is a general indication of the procedure to be followed. As has 
been pointed out in another place, no single event in childhood can be 
unequivocally made responsible for traits in the adult unless it is sub- 
sequently reinforced. In other words, in dealing with the concept of 
basic personality structure we must become accustomed to identifying 
both reinforcing elements and elements that effect the cancellation of 
attitudes previously established. 

The concept of basic personality structure can be confirmed through 
the study of the autobiographies. In this connection it must be remem- 
bered that this concept is a modal concept. This means that when a 
given integrational system is investigated in eight individuals, certain 
variations will appear. These variations are due to the variations in indi- 
vidual reactions to the same situations and to the fact that the institu- 
tions are conveyed by the behavior of specific individuals. For example, 
the institutionalized behavior of the mother to the child may be con- 
ditioned by her economic activities. The mother may, however, have 
many excellent surrogates in the form of relatives who happen to be 
living in the same village. The resulting effects on the child will* be 
different in this case than if the mother had no dependable substitutes. 
Or the father may be generally weak and passive; however, if the father 
is strong and enterprising the effect on the growing boy will be differ- 
ent in each case. But, in addition, this factor will exert a polarizing in- 
fluence on the factor of maternal care. 

Notwithstanding all these variations, the development of character 
in Alor is contained within a certain orbit prescribed by the institutions. 

Chapter 2 
The Setting 

ALOR is a small and obscure island in the Netherlands East Indies. It lies 
directly north of central. Timor at the end of that long string of land 
fragments called the Lesser Sundas. More specifically, it is 8 degrees 
south of the equator and between 124 degrees and 125 degrees longi- 
tude east of Greenwich. This places it about halfway between Java and 
New Guinea in an east-west line and about halfway between Australia 
and Celebes in a north-south line. 

Alor's climate and vegetation reflect its proximity to the Australian 
land mass. There are prevailing southeast and northwest winds, with 
severe monsoon storms as the winds change. The wet season begins 
with a few thunder showers at the end of October, then works up to a 
crescendo in January, February, and March, when rains fall in a steady 
downpour each afternoon, sending spates rushing down the deeply 
gouged river canyons. This is the period of planting and intensive 

With the gradual cessation of the rains the temperature falls slightly, 
and as the rainy season ends, first corn, then rice and beans are har- 
vested. Later still comes the sweet potato season. By the end of the dry 
season the whole countryside is brown and parched, and finally many 
of the springs and small rivers dry up. The only important crop of this 
period is cassava. At this time natives burn over the land to destroy the 
weeds they have been cutting in their fields and to drive wild pig for 
communal hunts. Little survives the annual burning-over except euca- 
lyptus trees and a kind of blady grass known throughout the Indies as 
dang alang. 

Alor is therefore not lush jungle country. Rich tropical growth is 
found only in the ravines where there is moisture the year round and 
where the land is too steep for cultivation and to natives, land too 
steep for cultivation means nothing short of the perpendicular. 

The terrain is so precipitous that one drops easily into accepting it 
as an explanation for the remarkable diversity of language and culture 
on this small island. Alor is only about fifty miles long and thirty wide, 
but it supports a native population of approximately seventy thousand, 
who speak innumerable dialects of at least eight different languages. 
Abui is the name given the language of the area from which most of 
the subsequent descriptive data were drawn. It is fifty miles from the 



1 6 The People of Alor 

port of Kalabahi on the western bay to Kolana on the east coast, but by 
pushing himself a native can walk the distance in some four days. The 
usual time allowed by officials on horseback is five. It does not seem 
improbable, therefore, that linguistic variation has been fostered by the 
difficulty of communication. 

Culturally too, changes grade from one into the other as one passes 
from village to village. The only sharp demarcations are between the 
ten thousand coastal Mohammedans and the pagan mountain peoples of 
the interior. These two groups hold each other in mutual distrust and 
fear. At the end of the nineteenth century Chinese merchants began 
trading on the coast. After the arrival of the first Dutch official in about 
1908 coastal men have been designated as radjahs by the Dutch and 
have been given control over the interior. This control was only gradu- 
ally extended and was considered by the Hollanders still to be in proc- 
ess, since Malay is not yet widely known in the interior and taxes are 
still reluctantly paid. Prior to the Hollanders' arrival no such areas of 
political organization existed; social control centered about kin and 
village groups. Certainly the coastal people exercised no power over 
the mountain population, despite brisk trade contacts at stipulated mar- 
ket places. 

At present the island is divided into four radjahships: Alor proper 
(including the islands of Pura and Pantar), Kui, Batulolong, and Ko- 
lana. These political divisions cut across both culture and language. Un- 
der each radjah are kapitans who, with the assistance of a handful of 
field police, administer smaller districts. The principal functions of the 
radjahs and kapitans are collecting taxes and hearing litigations. A chief 
called the kepala (Malay for head) has been appointed for these tasks 
in each village, and groups of friendly villages have been unified under 
a headman called a tumukun. This hierarchy is a Dutch innovation, but 
it has been quite heartily accepted by the native population, with 
whom it functions successfully. The system of litigation, however, has 
been far more completely accepted than the system of taxation. 

The government of the Netherlands East Indies is represented by a 
civil administrator of controleur rank and by a military authority of 
lieutenant's rank in charge of a garrison of some seventy Indonesian 
troops. Two or three patrols of fifteen men are constantly on the move 
through the island, often cutting across the most difficult terrain and 
always without announcing their route of travel. In addition there is a 
military doctor, who is responsible for the health of the entire popula- 
tion. He has a hospital in Kalabahi and a small corps of Indonesian as- 
sistants with limited training. 

The Setting 1 7 

Lastly there is a Protestant missionary, whose task is largely adminis- 
trative. Under him are the casually educated missionary teachers, called 
gurus, who have been drawn mostly from other islands and who estab- 
lish the actual proselytizing contacts with the mountain people. It is 
they who give the rudimentary instruction in Malay and in the three 
R's furnished in the twenty-five schools scattered throughout the high 
country. Such a school was in existence from 1925 to 1931 in the vil- 
lage area to be discussed. Then the school disintegrated owing to the 
hostility of the people to new gurus who replaced the original one. 
After 1933 on ty wandering preachers passed through the area. Their 
influence was minimal since they had no command of the local language 
and scarcely twenty of the mountain boys understood Malay. 

The material that follows in this volume is drawn from a group of 
mountain people at Atimelang in the Barawahing district. This commu- 
nity lies above the northwest coast in the radjahship of Alor proper. It 
is only about five and a half miles from the port of Kalabahi as a crow 
flies, but by trail it is some fifteen miles, which take six to eight hours 
to cover on foot. 

It is native custom in Alor to locate villages on mountain spurs and 
crests. This formerly furnished some degree of safety in warfare, but 
it makes water a problem, since springs may be as many as several hun- 
dred feet below in the ravine. Villages are usually small; a large one 
seldom has more than one hundred and fifty inhabitants. Since the paci- 
fication of the island by the Netherlander, there has been some pres- 
sure on the natives to move their villages into more accessible locations, 
preferably on level stretches near the main horse trails that have been 
built across the island for official use. 

The Atimelang complex is such a transposed group. In 1918 the area 
was embroiled in Alor's most serious war of pacification, which grew 
out of the murder of the radjah. The government then insisted that the 
five villages constituting the Atimelang complex move down from 
the ridges to the floor of an enclosed valley, which gives the impression 
of being an old volcanic crater. The floor of the valley is at an altitude 
of some 2500 feet, and the surrounding crest of hills rises between 300 
and 500 feet higher. Since in the tropics temperatures drop rapidly with 
altitude, the thermometer registers usually between 70 and 80 degrees 
Fahrenheit. During eighteen months of recordings the minimum tem- 
perature was 59 degrees and die maximum 86 degrees. The humidity, 
however, even when the rains are over, is surprisingly high, and during 
the dry months from June to October the unclad mountain people 'suf- 
fer appreciable discomfort from the cold. 

1 8 The People of Alor 

Before going into detail about the nature of the Atimelang village 
complex, a few comments should be made on the physical type of its 
inhabitants. No generalizations are possible for the island as a whole. 
The Atimelangers are predominantly Oceanic Negroids although nat- 
urally strains of Oceanic Mongoloid blood may be detected. In any 
event, they cannot be thought of in terms of Indonesian populations. 
Their physical composition has been studied by Dr. Brouwer,* and it 
is in part cm his description that the next few statements are based. The 
average stature of males is about five feet one inch, that of females be- 
tween four feet nine and four feet ten inches. Hair varies from wavy to 
kinky, skin color from light bronze to black, and red pigmentation in 
hair and skin is detectable in many individuals. Noses are short and of 
medium width, heads are long, and faces are often pentagonal. A com- 
bination of features and stature suggests a pygmoid strain in many in- 

There is no conclusive .evidence that the population of Alor is in- 
creasing, although the government tax list shows an augmentation of 
about ten thousand in the last decade. It is quite probable that this rep- 
resents only better census taking, not a true increase. But certainly the 
population is not decreasing; my own rather inadequate statistics from 
Atimelang indicate that four children per woman grow to adulthood. 
This is more than enough to maintain the population level, despite a 
mortality rate of 48 per cent before adolescence. The excellent health 
program instituted by the government has probably reduced the death 
rate; certainly smallpox epidemics no longer sweep the island as they 
once did. At present the most common diseases are dysenteries, respira- 
tory infections, malaria, and yaws. The last, though seldom fatal, is 
extremely common in Atimelang, and few children escape the devas- 
tating skin lesions of its first stage. The possible effect on personality of 
these debilitating diseases, often suffered in acute form during child- 
hood, is worth bearing in mind. 

. Atimelang is often called the Five Village district. It lies in large 
part within the valley described above and has a relatively dense popu- 
lation. Within a radius of about one mile there are some six hundred 
people scattered among four major villages and their offspring hamlets. 
On the eastern side of the valley lies Atimelang and its two hamlets of 
Folafeng and Faramasang, with a total population of approximately 180 
inhabitants. Closely allied to Atimelang by intermarriage is Lawatika, 
the fifth village of the complex, with about 100 people. Its population 
is scattered through three hamlets lying on the difficult slopes of the 

*D. Brouwer, Bijdrage tot de anthropology der Aloreiknden (Amsterdam, n.d.). 

The Setting 19 

Limbur ravine below the valley floor. These villagers played a smaller 
part than the others in my observations. 

On the western side of the valley are three closely allied villages with 
contiguous boundaries: Dikimpe (both the old and new sites) and its 
hamlet of Maiyamasang with a population of 114, Alurkowati with 95 
people, and Karieta with 56. The remaining 50 of the approximate total 
of six hundred people on the valley floor and adjacent slopes occupy 
isolated field houses or are quite constantly absent on visits to other 

Although the villages are not rigorously stereotyped, in ground plan, 
a general description can be given that covers the main features of all 
of them. Each village has from one to seven dance places, the number 
being roughly equivalent to the number of patrilineal lineages (hieta). 
On each dance place is located at least one of the large lineage houses 
(kadang), which is occupied by one branch only of the lineage. Around 
the edge of the dance place are the flat gravestones of the prominent 
dead of the community. From one dance place to another runs a nar- 
row trail, along which other houses are sometimes strung. 

Each village has a "head" and a "tail," where properly is located a 
carving of the village guardian spirit (ulenai). The gardens and fields 
run to the very eaves of the houses, and during the rainy season corn 
and tobacco frequently screen the houses from each other. The fields 
then spread outward to spots an hour or more distant from the main 
village. Throughout these fields are temporary shelters, which are in- 
habited at the convenience of the owners. The tendency to decentral- 
ize habitation has undoubtedly been encouraged by the cessation of 
head-hunting in the last twenty years. 

It is not necessary here to go into detail concerning either the social 
implications of village planning or the structure and types of houses. 
Neither of these aspects of living is rigorously formalized a statement 
that holds true for almost all phases of Atimelang life. However, a gen- 
eral picture is necessary for orientation. The lineage houses and dance 
places are manifestations of a primarily patrilocal residence and the 
basis of social clusterings. The outward expression of such social group- 
ings around the lineage house are the other less pretentious buildings 
(fala and tofa), the guesthouse (neng tofa), and various spirit sheds of 
the family group. 

The larger houses of the kadang and fala types are pyramidal thatched 
structures raised on four piles protected by massive wooden disks, which 
prevent rats from climbing up the posts into the house. Beneath each 
house is a low verandah generally used for lounging but sometimes also 

20 The People of Alor 

for feast cooking. Alongside, but still under the overhanging eaves, is 
the pigpen. From the verandah a ladder leads up through a hatchway 
into a corridor, and from the corridor a doorway with a high threshold 
opens into the main living room under the eaves. The right half of the 
room, as one enters, is called the woman's half and the left, the man's. 
The latter is on slightly longer posts, so that there is an imperceptible 
slant to the floor, but there is no functional difference in the use of the 
two halves of the house. 

Above the living room are two lofts in which rice baskets and corn 
bundles, as well as some valuables, are stored. Paralleling the entrance 
corridor, on the opposite side of the living room and above the pigpen, 
is another corridor, which is used as a privy. The flooring throughout 
is made of slabs of split bamboo laid across widely spaced rafters, so 
that it squeaks and sags as one moves. 

The living room itself is divided down the center by a long, rec- 
tangular hearth of earth enclosed in a wooden frame. Along the two 
sides of the room where there are no doors, shelves are built under the 
eaves. These are used for storage and sometimes as sleeping balconies. 
Usually, however, the sleeping as well as the cooking is done in the 
main room. At night pandanus sleeping mats are spread on the floor 
with one end free to be pulled over the sleeper. Additional warmth is 
secured by having a sleeping partner and by keeping the fire going. 
The bamboo rafters and walls of the room are blackened with soot 
from a fire that smolders day and night. The air is close with smoke and 
the odor of human beings. In addition, the interior is so dark that it 
usually takes a few seconds to adjust one's eyes to the gloom when one 
comes in from the sunlight. 

In each house there generally lives a biologic family supplemented 
from time to time by other kin, bilaterally reckoned. In direct address 
the tendency is to equate all kin of the same generation, however re- 
mote, with siblings, all kin of the ascending generation with parents, 
and all the descending generation with children. The kinship system is 
of the simple Hawaiian type. There are three major kin groups whose 
existence is not reflected in the nomenclature. First, there is the patri- 
lineal lineage called hieta plus a personal name prefix Lethieta or 
Maughieta for instance. There are about fifteen of these in the Atime- 
lang district. No major village, excluding dependent hamlets, has less 
than three or more than seven. Descendants of the eldest brother in a 
lineage are grouped together under the term Eldest House (fing fa/a); 
descendants of the youngest brother are called the Youngest House 

The Setting 21 

(kokda fala)\ descendants of the other brothers are simply called middle 

Second, there are the Male Houses (neng fala). This is a literal trans- 
lation of the native term. Each individual has six Male Houses, which 
will be designated in this volume as Male House I, Male House II, and 
so on. These relationships are reckoned as follows: Male House /, the 
ego's mother's brother and male offspring; Male House II, father's Male 
House I (i.e., father's mother's brother and male descendants); Male 
House Illy mother's Male House I (i.e., mother's mother's brother and 
male descendants); Male House IV, father's Male House II (i.e., father's 
father's mother's brother and male descendants); Male House V, 
mother's Male House II (i.e., mother's father's mother's brother and 
male descendants); Male House VI, father's Male House III (i.e., father's 
mother's mother's brother and male descendants). 

It becomes obvious at once that the mother's brother is the stressed 
relationship but that it is stressed bilaterally with a slight weighting on 
the paternal side. Another aspect of this kin group is that it includes 
all the bilaterally reckoned lineages other than ego's for three ascending 
generations on the father's side and two ascending generations on the 
mother's side. It is to be noted that every son has slightly different Male 
House affiliations from his father. The Male Houses function in ex- 
change relationships especially in connection with death services. A full 
description of form and function must await subsequent publication. 

Third, there is the Female House (rnayoa fala). This is also a literal 
translation of the native term. This is a group in which are included all 
bilaterally reckoned kin who appear neither in the lineage nor in the 
Male House. It is not subdivided as is the Male House group nor is 
the concept so sharply defined. However, basically it hinges also on 
descendants of pairs of siblings, i.e., on the father's sister and the 
mother's sister. In it are also included descendants through females of 
Male House kin. The functions of this group are not sharply defined 
but it is composed in a general way of the people on whom one may 
call for supplementary assistance in ceremonial and financial exchanges. 

There is no trace of brother and sister avoidance, nor are there for- 
malized joking or respect relationships. This negative point may have 
importance for what follows, since one of the characteristic features of 
life in Atimelang, as I see it, is the absence of formal structure, espe- 
cially in interpersonal relationships. 

According to the house-to-house census, the number of occupants 
to a dwelling ranges from one to eight. In this, as in other phases of 
social organization, there is no rigidity. Theoretically, residence is pat- 

22 The People of Alor 

rilocal, yet there are several instances in which it is matrilocal. Theo- 
retically too, the brothers of the family form the powerful or secure 
in-group and live around a common dance place as a lineage complex. 
Actually, brothers who cannot get along amicably will scatter. For ex- 
ample, Manifani of Dikimpe, as the eldest brother, lived on his lineage 
dance place in New Dikimpe; the second brother lived on the dance 
place of Old Dikimpe; the third had moved to the offspring hamlet of 
Dikimpe called Maiyamasang; and their two half brothers, by the same 
father but a different mother, lived at opposite ends of their mother's vil- 
lage of Atimelang. This example is not important in itself, but it does illus- 
trate nicely the flexibility of residence that exists in practice. It can of 
course be balanced by several instances in which brothers follow the 
traditional pattern. Expediency and interpersonal relationships outweigh 
theory and dictate arrangements. 

Expediency and the industry of the child also determine the inherit- 
ance of land; a child is usually given a garden plot as soon as he is old 
enough to work productively. Both men and women own fields in- 
herited from their fathers or mothers. 

Dry rice is in all probability the oldest staple of the area, but at pres- 
ent maize has replaced it as the daily food and rice is reserved largely 
for feasts. There is a local belief that "rice makes you fat and corn 
makes you strong." A fat body is the criterion of health. In addition to 
rice and corn there is a large range of other foods, including millet, 
beans, sweet potatoes, cassava, taro, and a wide variety of tubers. Fruits 
include oranges, mangoes, papayas, breadfruit, jack fruit, and many 
kinds of bananas. 

Theoretically, women are responsible for the cultivation and collec- 
tion of all vegetable foods, and theory is reinforced by giving them 
ownership of all plant produce, regardless of the land and labor men 
may have invested in its production. Men, on the other hand, control 
the financial system and the three currencies through which it oper- 
atespigs, gongs, and metal kettledrums called mokos. Arrows too are 
used for money but only as small change. The monetary value of pigs 
is highly inflated in relation to their consumption value. Their flesh is 
rarely eaten except at feasts, in order that their value may be added to 
the interminable and complex monetary accounting that is basic to 
ceremonial procedure. In fact, should a pig be killed accidentally, a cere- 
monial feast of one sort or another is improvised to justify its con- 

Of the three currencies, mokos are undoubtedly the coin of the 
realm. They range through unequal steps from the value of one rupiah 

The Setting 23 

(50 cents) to that of 3000 rupiahs ($1500).* Pigs are usually estimated 
in terms of moko values. Thus a pig (fe) is called a Piki fe, meaning it 
is worth a Piki moko, or in East Indies currency, about 5 rupiahs 

Currency is invested in three primary directions: first, the purchase 
of a wife, which is not a single negotiation but a series of extremely 
complex familial exchanges that last as long as the marriage itself; sec- 
ond, a series of burial feasts that may drag on for a generation or two 
before the series is completed; third, the building of the lineage houses, 
entailing financial elaborations that may take several years and delay the 
completion of the dwelling far beyond the actual building time. 

There are many kinds of smaller investments in which flesh food 
such as pigs and goats is used; most frequently chickens suffice. Such 
outlays are made as sacrifices on several occasions: when die village 
guardian spirit (ulenai) is snared and dragged into the carving erected 
for it; when any one of a whole host of personal familiars is placated; 

* These mokos are shaped like hourglasses. Actually, moko is not the Alorese 
word but the most widely used Malay term. The mokos are not of local manufac- 
ture; they were formerly imported from Java by Makassarese traders who ex- 
changed them for goods. Since importation of the drums stopped half a century 
ago, the supply is no longer adequate and their value is rising. A government census 
taken some twenty years ago reported the presence of twenty thousand mokos 
throughout the island. 

The natives have assigned to each of the various categories of mokos a value in 
rupiahs, the monetary unit of the Netherlands East Indies. For readers who may be 
interested in estimating the worth of the mokos named in this book, a list of the 
categories and their assigned values is given here. Rupiahs were maintained at the 
same exchange rates as Holland guilders (florins). The currency values when given 
in dollars have been translated at the rate of two rupiahs to a dollar. Monetary 
values for mokos became stabilized in the early 1920*$, when money was about twice 
as cheap as it was in 1938. Therefore, to get the cash price of a moko in 1938 it 
would be necessary to halve the listed worth. 

Mokos Rupiahs Dollars Mokos Rupiahs Dollars 

Lasingtafa i .50 Kolmale 13 6.50 

Salaka 2 i.oo Hawataka 15 7.50 

Fatafa 21/2 1.25 Yekasing 25 12.50 

Kabali 3 1.50 Fehawa 30 15.00 

Piki 5 2.50 Aimala 65 32.50 

Tawantama 5 2.50 Afuipe 70 35.00 

Hiekbui 6 3.00 Makassar 130 and up 

Tamamia 8 ,4.00 Djawa 500 and up 

Maningmauk 10 5.00 Itkira 1000 and up 

This list is incomplete, and from the Kolmale on, the values are only approximate. 
There are many subdivisions of these higher bracket categories and considerable 
variation in prices given by informants. The sequence of relative values, however, is 

24 The People of Alor 

when gardens are cleared, planted, and harvested and the good will of the 
souls of their previous cultivators must be solicited; and when sacred 
lineage hearths (iva ara) are "fed" at the time of harvesting the new corn 
crop. At such times it is the men who contribute the flesh food and who 
officiate. Women contribute rice or corn, which is supplementary in 
importance but not in bulk. 

If an Atimelang man plays with gusto the financial role his culture 
assigns him, the major part of his time will be taken up with the ma- 
nipulation of these three types of investments. Concepts of profit, inter- 
est, credit, and reciprocity are all present, and since currencies are not 
strictly standardized in value sequences and in commensurability, there 
is ample play in the system for endless bargaining. In addition, debts are 
rarely paid except under the pressure of dunning. It is quite evident that 
a man in the financial swim will have to devote most of his time to 

The elaborate and interesting economic system of Atimelang as 
well as most of the other aspects of the culture briefly described in this 
chapter will be discussed again and in more detail in the course of 
this volume, but for the moment the following summary will do. Sub- 
sistence economy is in the hands of the women and gives them real 
power and status, which are not stressed in the ideological system. The 
men are primarily responsible for financial dealings, which are the hon- 
orific occupation of the society. The divorce between subsistence and 
finance is not so complete as the ownership of property on a sex basis 
would indicate, nor is labor in either of these realms so divorced in 
practice as it is in theory. Many men are passionate horticulturalists and 
many women have financial skills. No onus is attached to preoccupa- 
tion with the economic function of the other sex; in fact, it is rather 
admired as a supplementary skill. 

In the realm of religion sacrifice is the chief form of worship. Using 
the term worship in this sense may be misleading because it gives a con- 
notation of. sacredness and awe that does not exist. Prayer is to all 
intents and purposes nonexistent; the nearest approach to it is a rare 
type of invocation (ahang). Divination in five or six major forms is 
used frequently. 

All individuals have personal familiars that they have inherited from 
parents and grandparents or have acquired themselves through some 
visionary experience. The inheritance of these personal familiars is not 
rigorous or exclusively in the patrilineal line, so that new ones are con- 
stantly being imported by women who marry into the Five Villages. 
The prevalence of fevers, especially malaria, which is endemic, may 

The Setting 25 

account for some of the "visions" leading to individual acquisition of 
personal spirits. These spirits are of many different types. Loku and 
timang are the commonest inspirational familiars of seers. la-wari (liter- 
ally means moon-sun; also called aisala) are inherited and are usually 
nonpossessional. They serve in a variety of "good fortune" capacities. 
Nera are primarily wealth-bringing spirits and are associated with the 
sea, frequently manifesting themselves as fish, crabs, crayfish, and eels. 
One person's familiar may be another person's evil spirit (kari, a generic 

The whole countryside is populated with genii loci whose good or 
evil influence depends upon the personal relationship established with 
them. They are all reasonably well known within a radius of two to 
four miles and are called by personal human names, usually paired. These 
couples are either siblings or spouses. They may be represented by carv- 
ings all of one type, a crocodile-like figure called naga in Malay. These 
carvings may be erected on a pole, placed on a platform-like altar, or 
kept in the loft of a small shed. 

There are also "Good Beings" (nala kang, which literally means 
something good) associated with either the sea or the sky and envisaged 
in human form. Persons who have disappeared mysteriously or, in rare 
instances, children who have been lost may be invested with the qualities 
of Good Beings. The bulk of what the Atimelanger considers his myth- 
ology deals with such supernatural, who are sometimes thought to be 
lineage ancestors. There are many contemporary anecdotes of prophets 
who predicted the imminent advent of Good Beings. The disappearance 
of disease and of death and the financial obligations accompanying it are 
usually part of such prophecies. This whole concept will undoubtedly 
become the center of revivalistic cults when Alorese culture crumbles 
as it inevitably will under the impact of foreign colonization. 

There is also the village guardian spirit (ulenai), a being whose attri- 
butes are vague and confused but who is connected somehow with the 
dark area in the Milky Way and whose presence and good will insure 
crops and wealth for the village. This spirit is often equated with a 
vaguely conceived supreme being called Lahatala, which is probably 
a word of Mohammedan origin, and with the Christian God, called by 
the Malay term Tuan Allah. It is represented by a large crocodile-like 
carving similar to the smaller ones made for all kinds of personal fa- 
miliars. The village guardian should receive sacrifices every year or 
two at which times an expert is called to search him out where he 
lurks somewhere underground near a dance place and drag him to the 
carving where he is to be fed. The responsibility for this ceremony 

26 The People of Alar 

rests with the eldest male of the founding lineage of the village, but the 
whole community usually assists. There may be two guardian spirits in 
a village, one at the head and one at the tail of the community. 

Witchcraft, poisoning, magical curses, oaths, and ordeals are all pres- 
ent in Atimelang religion, but are undeveloped or unstressed. 

Sacred hearths of various types (ara foka, wa ara, mani ara, je ara, 
kuya ara) belong to lineages and are kept in the lineage house when it 
exists. They are simply four pieces of wood like those that form the 
frame of the ordinary household hearths. The sacred hearths should be 
fed once a year. As food is offered the hearth, the lineage ancestors, in 
so far as they are known, are named. The sacrifices are usually made 
in February or March when the new corn crop is about to be har- 
vested. The owner of the hearth should abstain from a varying series 
of foods prior to the sacrifice. 

At the season when the hearths are being fed, there are also four 
minor village ceremonies whose general function is to assure plentiful 
crops. They are given in the course of two months, February and 
March, and are in order of performance: Hopuina (spit on it), Yetok 
(water pours), Bol (strike), and Ading (also called Kuya, both of which 
are untranslatable). Responsibilities for certain duties in these ceremonies 
descend in the male line. 

Connected with some of these ceremonies and with the feeding of 
certain hearths are quiet, or taboo (ft), periods, during which vigorous 
work, shouting, and quarreling may not take place. Any breach requires 
a gift to the owner of the ceremony by way of atonement. Usually these 
taboo periods last only one day but the most important of them lasts four 
days and comes at the end of the dry season just before the men of the 
Five Villages set out for the one communal hunt of the year. During the 
hunt, which is primarily for wild pig, large grass fires are set Men stay 
at special hunting camps on the edge of uncultivated grasslands while 
the women remain quietly at leisure in the home village. 

There are also more or less elaborate garden sacrifices to the souls of 
former cultivators of the site. If the site is a new one, sacrifices are 
made to the genius loci, which has been disturbed. The number and 
size of the sacrifices depend on whether the garden (uti) is a small one 
frequently used and planted to corn, or a large field (pining) at some 
distance from the village and usually reserved for rice. 

Death feasts, although largely financial and closely allied with pres- 
tige, may also be considered part of the religious ritual, since their ulti- 
mate objective is to dismiss the souls of the dead from the vicinity of 
the village. During the first ten days after death a series of obligations 

The Setting 27 

are created: in the burial services, in two death feasts called Hevela- 
berka and Hevelakang, and in an indefinite number of all-night gong- 
beating memorials (sinewai). These obligations are then repaid over a 
period of years in feasts called Rolik, Baleti, and Ato, each of which, 
and especially the last, is subdivided into a number of parts. The last 
climactic feast involves the slaying of either a carabao or a sheep, de- 
pending on which is traditionally used in the lineage. For those who 
die violent deaths, however, special observances including the spirit-bird 
(kari rua) ceremony are used instead. For those killed in head-hunting 
expeditions there were observances similar to those for the victims of 
accidents or certain dreaded diseases. 

Remarks on religion in this volume, either here or later, do not 
exhaust the range of spirits recognized or the variety of observances 
connected with them. An indication of the diversity, as well as die 
amorphism, of spirit relationships is that in twenty-one households of 
Dikimpe and its associated hamlets there were at least fifty-six known 
spirits, altars, carvings, and the like. Obviously details must await sep- 
arate publication, since it is not the purpose of this account to give a 
thorough ethnographic description, but only to include such material 
as is pertinent to the general problem described in Chapter i. 


THE purpose of this portion of the volume is to draw together the ma- 
terial on childhood and child training and to attempt to show how it 
can be synthesized with adult behavior and values as well as with insti- 
tutional forms. Formalized and unf ormalized behaviors are discussed in 
the order in which the growing Atimelanger encounters them. It will 
be necessary .to interweave the strand's, many of which will have to be 
carried continuously throughout the material. However, certain age 
groupings and associated emphases are possible. For example, the period 
of infancy lends itself to a discussion of the influence of orifice psychol- 
ogy and the gratifications or frustrations of physiological needs and 
tensions. Early and late childhood are best associated with the discussion 
of discipline. Adolescence in this culture is the period when adjust- 
ments to adult values begin to loom large. Adulthood presents the pos- 
sibility for working out early conditioning and cultural values in terms 
of institutions and status positions. 

Chapter 3 
Infancy : From Birth to Walking 

THE physiological theories of conception and fetal life in Atimelang 
will be discussed later in a section on sexual behavior and attitudes. Pa- 
rental attitudes and behavior immediately before, during, and subsequent 
to birth will be described here only in so far as they impinge on the 
development of the infant. Within the infancy period Atimelangers 
recognize a series of stages: from birth to the first smile, from the first 
smile to sitting up alone or crawling, from crawling to walking. The 
actual age in months or years is of no concern. In fact, it is very difficult 
for the average mother to count back through the number of gardens 
she has planted, in order to tell you whether her child was born even 
three or four years ago. Therefore, ages given throughout this volume 
are only rough estimates. 


Pregnancy and actual birth are not surrounded with many observ- 
ances, and precautions vary with individuals both in kind and in the 
strictness with which they are followed. For instance, intercourse be- 


Infancy 29 

tween husband and wife should stop as soon as the wife knows she is 
pregnant, that is, when she ceases to have monthly periods. With a very 
young wife who becomes pregnant before her first menses, intercourse 
should stop when she first notes the physiological changes accompany- 
ing pregnancy. In actual practice, however, a husband sometimes has 
intercourse with his wife until the last month of pregnancy. This is 
often true for young men who do not have second wives. Older men 
who have been able to afford a second wife and they are in the mi- 
nority usually take up residence with the other woman. The result in 
such polygynous families may be the birth of offspring to alternate 

A woman works all through her pregnancy, often doing fairly heavy 
field labor. It is recognized, however, that work which is too heavy may 
produce miscarriages, so that women who want children are careful not 
to overstrain themselves. Food preferences during pregnancy also are 
recognized and indulged. 

There is a series of prenatal taboos, knowledge and observance of 
which vary greatly from individual to individual. They apply primarily 
to the mother, but there are one or two applicable to the father as well. 
For instance, a pregnant woman should not place a new pot on the fire, 
because if it blackens, her child will be born with patches of darker 
pigment. A pregnant woman should eat only the less desirable belly 
portions of rats. If she eats the hind- and forequarters, her child's limbs 
will spread at birth like those of a rat spitted for roasting. A man should 
not straighten arrows during his wife's pregnancy, for the child would 
then be born with eyes rolled to one side. However, after straightening 
an arrow shaft the father can rub it on his wife's abdomen and the 
child's eyes will straighten. 

There are many such superstitions, but their weight and importance 
seem no greater than comparable ones in our own society. It is worth 
noting, however, that these prenatal influences indicate a sense of close 
intimacy between children and parents and that often there are anti- 
dotes for harmful acts. The sense of intimate physiological connection 
between mother and child persists after birth, so that mothers who 
were nursing sick infants came to me for medicine they could take in 
order to cure their children. I could discover no parallel native medica- 
tion, however. 

When labor pains begin, the mother goes to the house of a kins- 
woman if possible. If no kinswoman's house is near by, she may give 
birth in her own home. Usually the husband is not present, merely as a 
matter of good form, although there is no strict rule on this point. The 

30 The People of Alor 

woman's attendant is preferably her mother, but here too expediency 
will dictate the choice of midwife. Actual birth occurs in the privy- 
corridor just off the living room, where a group of interested kin, both 
male and female, may have gathered to chat while awaiting the birth. 
Children too form pan of this group. 

Meanwhile the mother sits with her legs spread and tugs at the 
rafters overhead to help her in her labor. The midwife sits directly 
opposite with her legs outside of, and parallel to, those of the mother. 
Between them lies a piece of pandanus mat on which the child is placed 
as soon as it is born. The midwife cleans the child with the thick juice 
squeezed beforehand from banana bark. When the afterbirth is ejected, 
the midwife measures a length of the umbilical cord reaching to the 
child's knees and severs it with a sharp sliver of bamboo. The end of 
the cord still attached to the child's body is coiled up on its abdomen. 
The birth fluids have meanwhile drained through the floor boards to 
the pigpen below. The afterbirth is placed in an old areca basket and is 
left to disintegrate in the bamboo thicket on the village boundary. A 
stillborn child is treated like the placenta. It is interesting that this type 
of disposal parallels that for human heads and spirit-bird bundles when 
their ceremonial treatment has been completed.* 

After completing birth the mother picks up the child, wraps it in 
the softest piece of woven or bark cloth available, and joins the group 
of friends and visitors in the living room. People present suggest vari- 
ous names; those of maternal and paternal grandparents are preferred. 
If a child begins to urinate or to nurse after a name is suggested, that is 
the one adopted. Given names are feminine or masculine. For further 
identification both men and women carry their father's given name as 
surname. They never take the stepfather's name. 

One gathers the impression that birth is considered an easy and casual 
procedure and that problems in beginning nursing are not a matter of 
formal concern. This does not mean that difficulties never occur, but it 
does indicate that the society has not emphasized such difficulties. There 
is also no emphasis on modesty in connection with birth, although on 
other occasions there are strong feelings about exposing the genitals. 
Birth is definitely women's business, but men are not completely ex- 

In this connection, and despite my emphasis on the casualness of the 
procedure, it is an interesting contradiction that many men feel a cer- 
tain disgust if they are offered food prepared by a woman who has 
served recently as a midwife. When I discussed this matter one day 

* See pages 1301-31 and 160-61 for descriptions of these ceremonies. . 

Infancy 3 1 

with Fantan the Interpreter in the presence of his sister and a female 
cousin, he expressed strong feelings about it and his face wore an un- 
mistakable expression of disgust. His sister and cousin began to tease 
him, referring to his own birth. The discussion ended laughingly as 
do many of the good-natured arguments on sex differences with the 
comment by Fantan's sister, "Men are bad; women are good." 

The midwife who assists at a birth is given a small gift, usually a 
moko, whose value may range from one to three rupiahs. The longer 
and more difficult the birth, the larger is the fee paid. Midwives who 
have had to manipulate the child by reaching into the mother's body 
expect larger fees. 

There are few anecdotes of difficult births. One woman of about 
forty, well informed in such matters, could recall only four deaths 
in childbirth. This is certainly no measure of maternal mortality, but it 
does indicate both that childbearing is relatively easy and that the cul- 
ture does not stress the importance and difficulty of the occurrence. No 
mother died in childbirth during the eighteen months that I was in the 
village. In the half-dozen births I witnessed, the mothers at no time 
showed signs of pain beyond acute discomfort. They groaned softly 
and perspired freely but seemed on the whole to give birth with little 
difficulty. In one case where the afterbirth was long in coming, the 
woman massaged her abdomen, scratched her loins, and combed the 
knots out of her hair devices that were all believed to assist her in 

After giving birth the mother stays in the house from four to six 
days, which seems to be the time necessary for the end of the umbilical 
cord to dry up and drop off. Naturally, infected navels occur fairly 
often and are treated with poultices of mashed leaves. The dried end of 
the umbilical cord is saved in an areca basket. When the child is able to 
crawl, the cord is placed on a bundle of corn, which is presented to the 
maternal grandmother, or, if she is dead, to some equivalent kin. When 
the grandmother accepts the gift, the bit of cord is flicked off and ig- 

During the four to six days spent in the house, the mother rests and 
devotes herself exclusively to fondling and feeding the infant. At this 
time the child's warm water baths are begun. Depending on the solici- 
tude of the mother, these warm baths are repeated at least every two 
or three days, until the child can walk. After that it is bathed in cold 

The mother's material needs during the period of confinement are 
primarily the concern of her brother and secondarily the concern of 

32 The People of A lor 

her sisters and mother. Here again the father is excluded. The mother's 
brother should carry firewood for her and bring presents of food. In 
general he is expected to dance attendance, and his failure to do so may 
lead to resentment and reproaches from his sister. The gifts and atten- 
tion the mother receives at this time are considered an encouragement to 
care properly for the child, as though she would otherwise be neglectful. 
They also serve to assert the claim of the woman's family on the infant. 
There are instances of affinal kin's having been so enraged at what they 
felt to be the negligence of parents that they have taken violent action. 
(For a case in point see Mangma's autobiography, page 212.) 

The father of the child, meanwhile, is supposed to refrain from any 
vigorous work such as digging, chopping wood, or rat hunting. He idles 
about, inactive and without any definite function, in a household cen- 
tering around his wife and child, who are in the hands of his affinal kin. 
Should the child be sickly in the early weeks of life, the mother is sure 
to question the father about his activities during this period of seclu- 
sion. He will rack his brains to recall any infringement of the prescribed 
precautions. Once he remembers, it is easy enough to undo the harm by 
picking some leaves at the place of transgression, confessing his error, 
and at the same time urging the soul of the child to enter the leaves. 
He then goes home and strokes the sick child's head with the leaves, 
after dipping them in water. The straying soul returns and the child 

The father is obviously in a peculiar position. Although he is respon- 
sible for the child and has an intimate connection with its well-being, 
he is at the same time without any positive functions and has only re- 
strictive obligations. 

The extent of the father's responsibilities in the face of his disfran- 
chisement is illustrated by a case where the child died in infancy. Fan- 
tan had already lost two sons shortly after birth. His lineage was 
deficient in males and he was unusually worried when the latest child, 
four days after birth, began to cry excessively and refuse the breast. 
His wife's kin and interested neighbors divined to discover which spir- 
its might have been offended. The process was repeated several times, 
and each time it was Fantan who had to pay for the divination and for 
the animals necessary to placate the offended supernatural^ It cost him 
approximately two rupiahs and five chickens. Since he was working for 
wages in my service, he was particularly liable to be asked for payments 
in Dutch currency. The outlay represented about two weeks' work, 
yet he was hardly ever present during these efforts to discover and 
treat the source of the child's illness. 

Kebola (Kalabahi) Harbor from the northwestern hills. 

Kebola (Kalabahi) Harbor with villages on the ridge in center foreground. 
The island of Pura is in center background at the entrance to the bay. 
Kalabahi lies in the background to the right, near the entrance to the inner bay. 

Looking down on the valley of Atimdang during the dry season when the 
countrysl ,s denuded. The riDaga of Karieta, Alurkowat, and D.hmpe are 
at the base of the ridge. A hamlet of Karieta lies on the ridge. 

Precipitous countryside near Atimelang. 

The radjah of Alor on the coastal road from Kalabahi to benclang my. 

'I 'he main dance place of the 
village of Atimelang. 

The dance place of Maliseni the 
Financier, in Alurkowati. 

Weaving a house wall of split bamboo. Similar strips are used for 
flooring on bamboo crossbeams. 

Pulling in a floor beam. 

Placing a floor beam on the house posts. Note the rat disks like wooden 
collars on the house posts. 

Laying the floor beams of a large lineage house. 

Thatching the roof of a field house. 

Frame of an old house about to 
be dismantled. The lowest story is 
the living room; the two upper ones 
are for food storage. 

Thatching the roof of a large 
lineage house. Note the gongs, which 
are played at intervals during the 
course of the work. 

A group of girls and women cutting weeds at the end of the dry 
season preparatory to burning over. 

The first weeding of the new corn crop. 

* W^Ur* 

if ' 4 - 

f Jt 31 f..i t : . ' '--Tys 

f M ' ~*a^ #. . 

^Wft*' a <S w '= 

tSlli I stk W **' ' . iT^v 

A rice-pounding bee several days before a death feast payoff. 

m 4 

The largest rice cones of two ceremonial seasons, prepared for a 
lineage house-building feast. 

Talkalieta, the oldest woman in the 
village, with three orphaned grand- 
children to support, works daily in 
the fields. 

Padafan's mother gathers the bean 
crop and his grandmother shells it. 

Fuimai, the village trollop, meas- 
ures loops of cord for her belt. Note 
the bean-threshing mat. 

An old grandmother spends a quiet 
morning at home weaving a basket. 

Padamai is a satellite who is proud of his carving and his tobacco crop. 

Manimau prefers a mechanical guard 
against the theft of his coconuts. 

Fantan the Interpreter has faith in 
the charm of the "evil bow" against 
the theft of his areca nuts. 

Theoretically, a brother is your strongest supporter. 

A brother and sister, children of a successful financier. 

A vantage point from which to watch a ceremony. 

The photographer frightens a child. Note the mother's lax support. 

Awonmai takes a midmorning nap on the verandah of the gong house. 

A boy helps with the butchering of a pig while a second pig is 
"^ J>eing singed in the background. 

A boy drinks from a bamboo 
water tube. 

A little girl practices weaving. 

Seven little girls share a calabash dish of corn and greens at the noon 
meal during a day of communal field work. 

Boys spin tops on a banana leaf. 

Padafan begs food from a child in 
its mother's carrying shawl. 

He loses his balance but 
continues to beg. 

He tries rage to attract the woman's attention. 

He thinks the matter over. 

He sees his mother gossiping with 
another woman on the far side of the 

He goes to her and throws him- 
self on the ground kicking and scream- 

Noticing my interest the mother 
laughs, picks him up, but does not 
feed him. 

Padafan sees a toy balloon that I 
gave some older children. Note the 
first lesions of yaws on his chest. 

He says, "Mo" (give), one of the 
few words he has mastered. 

It is his! He immediately examines 
the ear of this cat-faced balloon. 

He nurses on it to the delight of 
older children who urge him to con- 
tinue after his first disappointment. 

The Aloresc prize rnokos above everything else. Here the top of one is 
being fastened on with rattan strips and pieces of corncob. 

His young sister in a carrying shawl, a boy accompanies on the gongs 
the communal work of building a lineage house. 

if gongs and mokos arc beaten for days ahead of time, the sound will soften 
the hearts of debtors, and wealth will flow into the village at the forthcoming 

Accompanied by the beating of gongs and mokos, a pig and some corn 
arrive as a dowry payment preliminary to a larger death feast payoff. 

In the morning three or four men butcher the pigs that will be used in 
the house-building feast that afternoon. 

In the late afternoon each woman brings her basketry platter of food to 
display at a house-building feast. Each ceremony has its preferred style of 
food display. 

In the late afternoon women arrive with rice baskets (baleti) in their 
carrying packs to display at a payoff feast. 

A husband must greet his wife's 
kinsmen with derogatory remarks as 
they deliver a dowry payment. 

Maliseni the Financier protests 
vigorously the payment that is being 

On the verandah of the gong house old men wait for advance tidbits of a 
pig that is being butchered for the afternoon's feast. Between them a boy 
who danced all night snatches a nap. 

A crowd listens to an argument over a dowry payment. Tilapada, whose 
autobiography is given in this volume, is the first woman at left center. Her 
head is thrown back as she makes a telling point. Back of her stand her 
oldest daughter and at her left her youngest daughter. The serious people are 
partners to the gift. The ones who are laughing are not involved in the exchange. 

Women privately gossiping over the value of a dowry payment that 
has just been brought to Atimelang. 

Boys furnish a musical accompaniment on gongs and mokos to the 
communal labor involved in building a lineage house. 

The largest currency display of two seasons was made at the tumukun's 
death feast payoff (baleri) for his father-in-law. The mokos and broken gongs 
are ranged in order of value. On the dance-place altar are quarters of pigs, 
which will also be paid to the debtors. 

Children hurrying home in their raincapes of a late afternoon as the rainy 
season begins. Note the house post and rat disk at the extreme left and in 
the background the fields of corn. 

The third morning of a divorce debate. 

The people of Atimelang prefer their circle dances (lego-lego) to last from 
dusk to dawn. Dandies wear tubular headdresses and carabao parrying shields. 
As the group circles in unison men find women try to slip inconspicuously 
into the circle next to their favorite partners. 

One of the most elaborate carvings of Atimelang is the ancestral beam of 
the lineage house Tilalawati in Folafeng. It was carved recently for the new 
structure. The white figures were chalked to bring them out in the photograph. 

The most elaborately decorated familiar spirit house of 
Atimelang belongs to Fanseni Longhair. 

A village guardian spirit (tilenai) to which a pig and rice 
have just been sacrificed. 

Fanscni Longhair carves a village guardian spirit figure. 


Malelaka the Prophet. 

Fanseni Longhair, brother of the tumukun. 


An you tli. 

A in 

for her 

A young girl whose teeth have just been blackened and filed. 
Her molars are occluded. 






Fa n tan's is influenced by his 

with a culture, 

In full regalia this man strikes a 
pose that he considers suitable. 

This pseudo-Semitic type is often 
found on Alor. 

Maliseni the Financier's second wife and child. 

Maliseni the Financier's third wife, with a rice pestle. 

An affectionate debusing scene. The man and woman are distant 
cousins but call each other brother and sister. 

Infancy 33 

Fantan was obviously distressed by the situation but insisted on 
working with me each day, saying there was nothing he could do at 
home. When finally wailing was heard from the direction of his house, 
he knew the child had died. He went home immediately, but it was not 
considered good form for him to enter the house crowded with wail- 
ing women. At last a neighbor went in, took the dead child from its 
mother's arms, and hurried off alone to bury it in a near-by field. At 
this point Fantan put his head down on his knees and broke out into 
hard dry sobs, which he tried to suppress. Weeping is considered un- 
manly by the culture and therefore he had less outlet than his wife, of 
whom wailing was expected. Characteristically enough, however, Fan- 
tan was able to transform his grief into anger almost immediately, for 
at that moment a friend arrived to report that his brother-in-law had 
just killed one of his penned pigs in order to force him to give a death 
feast, an expense quite unwarranted for so young a child. Fantan said 
as he started toward his pigpen, "I have had enough expenses." Why 
should my brother-in-law kill my pig, since he didn't even come to be 
with his sister when her child died?" 


Four to six days after the birth the first descent of the mother and 
child into the outside world is marked by a trivial ceremony in which 
a few neighboring kinswomen may assist. The maternal grandmother, 
or some surrogate, plants sweet potatoes and piles stones near the house 
verandah. The plants and stones may be represented by weeds and 
pebbles. By this act she releases both the mother and the father from 
the restrictions on vigorous labor. A few other precautionary measures 
may be taken, all within the range of sympathetic magic. The mother 
then leaves the house and is bathed for the first time since giving birth. 
Tubesful of water are poured over her back, arms, and legs. That after- 
noon the father gives a small feast to repay the wife's kin for their con- 
tributions and services. For a few more days the mother is inclined 
to stay near the house and perform only the easier household tasks. 

The descent from the house marks the beginning of a wider diet for 
the child. At this time premasticated roasted bananas and vegetable 
gruels are added to breast feeding. The gruel is poured into the mouth 
from a coconut-shell spoon. The premasticated bananas are given the 
infant either with the hand or directly from the adult's mouth. 

At this time, too, the infant's contacts expand. He begins to be a 
center of interest and is passed from hand to hand. Everyone seems en- 
tranced by small babies and many people will ask to hold and fondle 

34 The People of Alor 

them. My impression is that young men were even more inclined to 
fondle infants than young women, although I made no quantitative 
study of this. The impression if accurate and not simply an exaggera- 
tion born of the contrast with attitudes in our own culture might be 
explained by the greater leisure that young men possess. 

The effect of this handling on the psychological development of 
the child may be expected to vary with the size of the community in 
which it lives. An infant who spends its life in a remote field house will 
have fewer contacts with strangers than one brought up on the edge of 
a dance place in a large community. How far parents recognize this is 
unknown, but I never saw one who was unwilling to surrender the 
child to an interested adult and who did not seem pleased at the atten- 
tion lavished on the baby. Only if the child showed fright or cried vig- 
orously would a parent take it back, usually with a deprecatory smile 
and the comment that it was afraid. 

Fondling in Atimelang consists largely of rocking and joggling the 
child and of mouthing it. Kissing is not known for either adults or 
children, but an infant's arms, legs, and whole trunk will be caressed 
with mock bites of the lips. The procedure is quite evidently, con- 
sciously, and significantly an eating gesture. This connection between 
food and affection is one that recurs repeatedly and in many contexts. 


Since women are primarily responsible for garden work and the 
subsistence economy, mothers return to regular field work ten days to 
two weeks after the birth of the child. It is not customary for the 
mother to work with the child on her back or even near her, as it is in 
some societies. Instead the infant is left at home in the care of some 
kin, for example the father, an older sibling of either sex, or a grand- 
mother whose field labor is less effective or necessary than that of a 
younger woman. 

This practice results in great variation in the amount of attention 
and satisfactory feeding that infants get during this first period of life. 
Some women have fewer responsibilities than others in the number of 
people for whom they must provide and are therefore less occupied 
with field work. Others may have given birth during the early part of 
the dry season when labor is relatively slack, so that two or three 
months may pass before they have to resume intensive gardening. Still 
others may be lazy and use the care of the child as an excuse to slight 
their field Vork. But if an infant is left daily in the care of a substitute 
mother, it is going to be hungry pan of the time. The person caring for 

Infancy 35 

the infant may give it premasticated food or gruel more or less con- 
scientiously, but the frequency with* which infants spew out such 
nourishment suggests that the feeding is neither very effective nor sat- 
isfactory. One repeatedly sees infants trying to nurse at the breast of a 
father or immature sibling, who pushes them away gently with an atti- 
tude of mild embarrassment. 

Sometimes the mother may have a sister or other near kin who also 
is nursing a child. For a day or two at a time the other woman may take 
over the care and feeding of both infants, nursing the two simultane- 
ously. I have seen this occur only three times. It is worth noting, how- 
ever, that other women's breasts are accessible to a child. Certaiftly 
every child has been nursed by a number of adult women at one time 
or another. But these substitutes are no more consistently available 
than the mother herself. 

During the prewalking period the child spends most of its day half 
sitting, half lying, in a carrying shawl that is slung over one shoulder 
and under the opposite arm to form a sort of elongated pouch. The 
carrying shawl supports the infant's head and legs. Here it frequently 
sleeps as the caretaker wanders about the village. If sleep becomes 
sound, the child may be laid on the verandah in its shawl. Proper care 
demands that it should not be left alone even though it is asleep. If it 
wakes and cries it should be picked up as soon as possible. "Children 
should not be allowed to cry for long because it makes them sick.' 
People say children's voices are not strong and if they cry for long 
they get sore throats." To place a child on the ground is considered 
gross neglect. One of the pieces of evidence adduced to prove that an 
outcast woman called Matingma was "crazy," was the fact that she 
took her child to the field with her and permitted it to sleep on the 
ground. This convention may have its origin in the recognized danger 
to infants from pigs, dogs, and pig lice, which are plentiful around any 
house verandah, but it has been so generalized that Matingma's treat- 
ment of her child was strongly condemned even though these hazards 
were not present in the fields. 

When the mother returns from the field in the late afternoon, she 
usually takes the child immediately to nurse and fondle. For the rest of 
the evening the child is either in the mother's carrying shawl or on her 
lap. When the mother is at home and not too busy, she will offer the 
breast whenever the child is restless. Unfortunately, I made no inquiries 
about devices the women use to relieve themselves of the pressure on 
their breasts during the day. I never heard a woman speak of the pleasure 
of nursing, which probably means no more than that the culture has 

36 The People of Alor 

not emphasized this particular source of physical satisfaction. Of six- 
teen women who were asked directly, fifteen did say that they pre- 
ferred having children to intercourse, but almost invariably they 
added, "Because my children will give my funeral feasts." There were 
several women who said they did not want any more children, because 
feeding them meant so much work. Economic habits, therefore, react 
directly upon behavior and attitudes of mothers. 

At night the child shares a mat with its mother. It sleeps alone with 
her until the father resumes intercourse with his wife. This is sup- 
posedly when the child is old enough to sit up alone or even to crawl 
about. It may be significant that no effort is made to hasten the child's 
development in these respects. It should be noted that the baby is not 
necessarily displaced when its parents resume intercourse. It may still 
be kept on the same mat. In fact, rather scandalized gossip had it that 
the death of one child was due to its being crushed accidentally by its 
parents during sex relations. In addition, if the father has more than one 
wife he may spend at least half his nights in another household, and 
then the child sleeps undisturbed with its mother. If the parehts do not 
permit the child to share the sleeping mat with them, the infant is placed 
with some other adult or an older sibling on a sleeping mat in the com- 
mon living room. 

The time at which a man resumes intercourse with his wife after 
childbirth varies greatly. So far only the time recognized in formal 
statements has been mentioned. In sex histories given by women it be- 
came apparent that men might resume relationships with their wives 
much sooner and much later, depending on other sex adjustments open 
to the man. It is true that women, particularly when burdened with 
large families, sometimes reproach their husbands for undue haste in 
this respect. Again we have a reflection of economic pressure upon sex 
attitudes. Since there is a very clear idea of the connection between the 
sexual act and childbearing, and since each additional child places extra 
subsistence burdens on the woman, there is ample reason for her to 
develop reluctance after a time toward both intercourse and child- 
bearing. This attitude of reluctance, although far from consistent, is 
evident in ways that will be referred to later, when sex practices are 
discussed in more detail. 


So far in discussing the infancy period, we have been concerned with 
the role of the mother and father, the feeding of the infant, and its 
experiences in bodily contacts and support. The early sex experiences 

Infancy 37 

of the children themselves are also of interest here. Certain points may 
be made in connection with the sleeping habits and any disturbances 
the child might be supposed to feel at being displaced by the father. 
First, the child's dependency on the mother is less marked than in our 
culture; second, the child is given genital satisfaction through delib- 
erate masturbation. One of the favorite substitutes for offering the 
breast in an effort to pacify a child is to massage its genitals gently. 
It was my impression that this device for pacifying children was used 
even more by siblings than by adults. If the observation is correct, the 
explanation may be found in two factors: First, the sibling acting as 
mother-surrogate cannot pacify the child by offering it food, and sec- 
ond, the young sibling may have fewer occasions to express sex interest 
than the adult. 

No effort is made during infancy to teach the child to talk. Although 
an adult may sing dance songs to soothe it, there is no deliberate at- 
tempt to impart verbal training. At most, the only talking I have seen 
an adult direct toward a child is the repetition of its name. 

Toilet training, too, is completely disregarded during the prewalking 
period. Adults exhibit no anger or disgust when a child soils the carry- 
ing shawl or the body of the person caring for it. The caretaker cleans 
up after the child with the most casual matter-of-factness, wiping off 
its buttocks with a bit of leaf, a corn husk, or a bamboo sliver. 

Nor is walking urged on the child. Crawling is confined to the rela- 
tively rare periods when the child is seated on the verandah or in the 
living room instead of being in a carrying shawl. Naturally, as the child 
gets older more of this freedom is allowed it, and one sometimes sees a 
prewalking baby crawling about either in a sitting position with one 
leg under it or raised up on all fours. I do not recall ever seeing a child 
crawl on hands and knees. When the child of its own volition begins to 
stand, it most commonly pulls itself upright holding onto the leg of 
some near-by adult. Padafan, a child whose development I was able to 
watch with some consistency, definitely learned to stand by pulling 
himself up on his mother's leg in an effort to get her attention so that 
she would pick him up and nurse him. 

When a youngster begins trying to stand, any adult may play with 
it and assist it in its efforts at walking, but for both the adult and the 
child this is a play activity involving neither consistency nor rewards 
and punishments. Thus his first mastery technique does not depend ex- 
clusively upon the assistance of a parent. For about eight children whose 
ages I could determine with some accuracy walking began not much 
later than it does with us, which is from the twelfth to the eighteenth 

38 The People of Alor 

month. This, incidentally, may indicate the uselessness of the pressure 
many parents place on their children in our culture. 

Weaning rarely, if ever, occurs before the child can walk and there- 
fore is properly discussed in the following chapter. 


Two cautions should be repeated to guard against overstandardiza- 
tion: First, too much of this material is unquantified; second, there is 
a great range of experiences. As far as possible the extent of this range 
has been indicated. It deserves emphasis because it would be highly 
erroneous to think that the culture of Atimelang unduly stereotypes 

The Alorese infant has f airly high contact gratifications, it suffers no 
suppression of infantile sexuality, and it is not disciplined into the early 
acquisition of physical and intellectual skills and controls. The chief 
source of frustration seems to be in feeding. However, this occurs in 
the period of life when ingestive gratification is probably of primary 
importance to the developing organism. 

The Alorese mother has economic responsibilities that may make her 
welcome the birth of a child less cheerfully and care for it with less 
solicitude than she might in another culture. And in addition, the cul- 
ture understates the satisfactions of nursing for the mother. These 
factors that motivate against the development of a solicitous and mater- 
nalistic attitude should be balanced against the fact that the culture 
does not emphasize the difficulties of childbirth as a physiological proc- 
ess. Nor does it foster an attitude of self-sacrifice and abnegation in 
connection with bearing children. 

Interestingly enough, the advantages of childbirth are phrased in 
terms of self-interest and the prestige accruing from one's death feasts. 
The father is shoved off at birth but is given opportunity to express 
delight in the child during infancy. However, he lavishes care on it 
then only if he is not engrossed in financial and ceremonial occupa- 
tions, and if he is not devoting part of his time to other households. 
In other words, the satisfactions and intimacies of fatherhood are cut 
into by a series of status and prestige demands. It is definitely the less 
busy that is, the less important father who has time to be a good 
mother substitute. 

Chapter 4 

Early Childhood: From Walking to 
Wearing a Loincloth 

THIS period covers the time from the first walking to about the age of 
five or six, when children are referred to as "young" (fila). It may well 
be the period of greatest stress for the Atimelang child. 


When a child begins to walk about with some show of steadiness, 
it is no longer carried so constantly in a shawl, although the break is 
obviously not sharp and complete. Padafan, for example, began tod- 
dling at about sixteen months, and from then on, most of his day was 
spent out of the shawl. However, when he was taken any distance, he 
was still carried in the infantile fashion. At first, too, when his mother 
returned from the fields in the evening she would put him in her shawl 
to nurse him. By the time he was approximately twenty-six months old 
he was rarely placed in a carrying shawl any more, although he might 
still be picked up and held in an adult's arms when he strenuously in- 
sisted upon it. 

The carrying shawl, however, remains throughout life a way of 
transporting sick or injured persons. The devotion of a parent who 
carries a sick half-grown child any distance, or of an adult who carries 
an aged and incapacitated parent in this fashion, is referred to with ap- 
proval. Naturally, when a heavy person is carried, some adjustment to 
the load must be made. In such a case the person often sits pickaback, 
and the shawl is passed under his buttocks and across the chest or fore- 
head of the carrier in tumpline fashion. In any case, the carrying shawl 
is associated with helplessness and infancy and is normally discarded 
between the second and third year of life. Therefore, after learning to 
walk, the child loses many of the constant skin contacts and much of 
the support it previously received. 


At this time the child is turned out to play near the house or on the 
dance place for the whole day under the casual supervision of an older 
child or an aged adult. The most drastic repercussion of this additional 
freedom is an increase in the unsatisfactory aspects of feeding. When 
the mother goes off to work, the child is left from about eight in the 


40 The People of Alor 

morning until about five in the afternoon without regular provision for 
food. This does not mean that it is left entirely without food; but all it 
gets are the odd bits older children cede, more or less generously, when 
it begs or screams for them. 

Again of course there are marked variations in children's experiences 
in this respect. There may be a solicitous older sister who can be spared 
from field work and who provides relatively good care, or there may 
be a grandmother who works less hard and frequently in the gardens. 
In any case, after a child has learned to walk, its disappointments with 
respect to feeding are increased, and simultaneously it loses the constant 
handling and support characteristic of the first stage of its life. That 
the acquisition of its first skill in the independent mastery of the outer 
world namely, walking should be associated with severe depriva- 
tion may well have marked repercussions in the realm of ego develop- 

To add to the strain of this period and to reinforce it, the weaning 
of the child may be hastened because another sibling is expected. Only 
rarely does one see a child of three or four still nursing, and when one 
does, it can be assumed that it is because no younger child has been 
born into the family. It is an exception for a mother to permit an older 
child to take the breast when she has a younger one to nurse. Weaning 
is done gradually and simply by pushing the child gently away from 
the breast. If the child is insistent it will perhaps be slapped. Should it 
still insist, it may be sent to live in the household of a kin, and "he for- 
gets in two or three nights." It is considered desirable to have weaning 
completed at least a month before the next child is Born. If another 
pregnancy does not occur, it is assumed that children gradually wean 
themselves. "They think of other foods and forget the breast." 

In connection with weaning, a mother sometimes uses a mild form 
of adult teasing, nursing a strange infant to arouse jealousy in her own 
growing child. For example, Padafan had almost entirely given up the 
breast when one day he saw his mother nursing the child of a kins- 
woman. He began to whimper and tried to climb up on her lap. Not 
until he had worked himself into a rage and had begun striking the in- 
fant, did the mother smilingly surrender the strange child and pick up 
Padafan to let him nurse. The adults are fully aware of infantile jeal- 
ousy and they derive a mild amusement from it. Despite this, custom 
makes weaning as easy as possible for the child, and if it were not for 
its frequent association with the appearance of another sibling and for 
the cumulative effects of various other factors operating at this period, 

Early Childhood 41 

however, does remain throughout life a focus of intensity, as subse- 
quent material will demonstrate.* In this connection, a free play epi- 
sode in which Padaf an was the center is revealing. I had brought out to 
the dance place several balloons, 'which delighted the children. Pada- 
fan, being so small, was pushed repeatedly to the edge of the crowd 
that clustered around me, but each time he persistently pushed his way 
in again and held out his hand, saying, "Give, give," as I had seen him 
do often in connection with food. I gave him a balloon but the older 
children snatched it from him. Finally I gave him another, a cat-faced 
balloon, and told the group that this one was for Padafan alone. They 
stood back in a circle to watch. 

After aiming the balloon in his hands for a few minutes Padafan 
discovered the two conical projections that formed its ears. Imme- 
diately he thrust one in his mouth and began to nurse. The older chil- 
dren burst into excited laughter, saying, "He is nursing" (hebuike; 
literally, he drinks of it). Padafan, slightly abashed by the uproar, with- 
drew the balloon from his mouth, whereupon the children redoubled 
their shouts, urging him to continue sucking. 

After approximately a minute the somewhat shyer Awonmai, who 
was Padafan's age, joined the group. I took the balloon from Padafan 
and gave it to Awonmai, who did not suck on it, despite the urging of 
the older children. Padafan's reaction at this point was interesting. He 
made no effort to get the plaything back, but threw himself on the 
ground, where he screamed with rage. Finally I recovered the balloon 
and gave it to him. For a minute or two he refused to accept it and went 
on raging. Only when he saw that no one else was taking it and that 
it lay on the ground within reach, did he roll over, pick it up, and 
begin once more to suck on it. Strangely enough, when the balloon 
burst in his face a few moments later, Padafan looked greatly surprised 
but did not cry or protest. 

In view of the picture I have drawn of food difficulties and weaning 
as they might be interpreted in terms of current psychological theories, 
one might expect a good deal of finger sucking during this period. 
Actually it does not seem any more prevalent, if as prevalent, as it is 
among ourselves. It is to be observed only occasionally for any one 
child and is far from common to all children. When it does occur, it 
consists both of thumb sucking and of thrusting the first two or three 
fingers of the hand, palm downward, deep into the mouth. It is a habit 

* A nice, although trivial, illustration is that the natives named my repeating 
revolver, with whose lethal qualities they were quite familiar, "the gun with six 

42 The People of Alor 

with which adults make no attempt to interfere. On the contrary, there 
is in the culture a highly significant game that actually encourages it. 
The game is a version of our "This little pig went to market" rhyme. 

Taking the child's little finger, the mother says, "This is your young 
corn. By and by I shall harvest it, roast it, and we shall eat." Taking the 
fourth finger, she says, "This is your young beans. By and by I shall 
harvest them, boil them, and we shall eat." The game continues, with 
the mother naming a different food for each finger. Another version 
names a series of foods that the mother will bring back from a bartering 
trip to the market. No matter what version is used, at the climax of the 
game the mother thrusts the child's hand into its mouth and says, 
"Here, eat them. Eat the souls of these foods." The difference between 
our game and that of the Alorese is in the latter's striking denouement: 
The child is stimulated to anticipate food and is then offered an unsat- 
isfactory substitute. 

It may be pertinent to add here a comment about food, as opposed 
to attitudes toward feeding. The diet is high in indigestible carbohy- 
drates, such as maize, rice, and beans, all low in proteins. The beans 
grown in Alor are not rich in the latter food element.* Meat is a treat 
rather than a staple; eggs and fish are .rarely eaten. As a result of diet 
and feeding habits, a child probably experiences both "hollow hunger" 
(sense of emptiness) and "hidden hunger" (malnutrition). They are 
not rachitic, however, since vitamins from food and sunlight are plen- 


Toilet training is taught gradually and easily. When the child can 
walk and "when it is old enough to understand," the mother makes a 
point of taking it with her morning and evening when she defecates 
either in the privy or outside at the edge of the village. Also, the child 
is watched and told to withdraw whenever it needs to eliminate. Moth- 
ers report that children learn within a few months to use the proper 
places and to clean themselves with leaves. Children are sometimes care- 
less in cleaning themselves and as a result may suffer a certain amount of 
anal irritation. 

One mother, whose time sense was a little more precise than that of 
most women, reponed that she began training her son at nineteen 
months, shortly after he began walking. She claims that in five or six 

* W. F. Donath, D. R. Koolhaas, and A. G. Van Veen, "Voedingstabellen," 
Geneesktmdig Tijdscbrift voor Nederlandsch-Indfe, 75:431 (March 5, 1931). For a 
further discussion regarding the place of meat in tlte Alorese diet, see below, 
pages 57-58. 

Early Childhood 43 

days he understood. "He is now in his twenty-first month and has not 
soiled the house in six weeks." 

A child who is slow in establishing toilet habits may irritate the 
mother; then she may shout at him or rap him on the head with her 
knuckles. However, since sphincter control is instituted relatively late 
it seems to be a source of little annoyance. Children certainly by the 
age of three, or five at the latest, are thoroughly trained. I have no data 
on play with excreta which does not mean that this does not occur, 
but it may mean that the problem does not obtrude itself. 

Constipation does not seem to be a major problem, despite an indi- 
gestible carbohydrate diet, which gives most children enlarged abdo- 
mens. This judgment concerning constipation rests on the slender 
evidence that in eighteen months I dispensed only three quarts of castor 
oil to a total population of about six hundred adults and children. Chil- 
dren certainly represented no more than the proportional two thirds to 
one half of the people coming for laxatives. Incidentally, they did not 
have a sufficient repugnance to castor oil to reduce the total consump- 

Bladder control, or at least modesty about urination, seems to come 
slightly later than sphincter control. I judge this to be the case since it 
is not unusual to see children of between three and five years standing 
at the edge of a group and casually urinating without anyone's paying 
much attention to it. A comparable lack of sphincter control was ob- 
served only twice and both times it brought angry scolding from 
adults. Similarly flatuses, if too persistent, may provoke cross comments, 
but in general little emphasis is placed on the matter, and in view of the 
carbohydrate diet even adults are less controlled, and are required to be 
less controlled, than Euro-Americans in this respect. 


The cold bath, which at this stage of development replaces the warm 
sponge-off of infancy, provokes extreme and vocal protest in children. 
When a child is old enough to stand with some steadiness, it is bathed 
by having cold water poured over it. Unless the day is hot, the child 
stands shivering until it dries off. And there is no reward for the ordeal 
such as is offered by some American Indians, who promise their chil- 
dren health and strength in return for the discomforts of cold baths. 

The mother, or some older person, usually scrubs the child, hand- 
ling it with less gentleness than is shown an infant. The treatment of 
the child would seem rough to us, but it must be remembered that it is 

44 The People of Alor 

matter-of-fact rather than punishing unless, of course, the child 
rebels at this experience, has a tantrum, and annoys the parent. Bathing, 
however, does not occur very frequently in most households, certainly 
not more often than every two or three days. 

In addition to normal discomforts, yaws, which are so prevalent in 
childhood, may present an aggravating factor that makes a bath a pain- 
ful experience. In the early stage of the disease the body, including 
often the lips and the genitals, may be covered with lesions, which 
smart acutely in contact with water. Children with yaws will scream 
with pain and rage when they are bathed. However, since all sorts of 
infections may set in and since there is a pussy discharge from the le- 
sions, parents usually feel it necessary to keep the child clean. To make 
matters worse, in recent years some parents have been buying from 
Chinese traders on the coast a caustic powder, which they apply to the 
wounds to dry them. There can be no doubt that the application of 
this medicine causes extreme pain, and since it is put on after bathing, 
there must be in the minds of many children an association between 
baths and the intense pain inflicted by the mothers. 

Fuifani, a little girl of about five, was a case in point. For weeks she 
had been having rages of hysterical intensity in connection with baths 
and the caustic treatment of her yaws. The attacks would set in before 
the mother began to wash her and continued often for twenty min- 
utes, by actual timing, after the bath. They usually subsided only when 
she was in a state of complete physical exhaustion. During the rages she 
would scream, strike at her mother, and jump up and down. After the 
bath she would refuse to allow her mother to comfort her. Strangely 
enough she made no effort to run away, perhaps because she realized 
the futility of doing so. 

Some weeks later the doctor from the coast visited the mountains, 
and Fuifani was given an injection that healed her wounds within about 
seven days. However, the tantrums associated with bathing continued 
for weeks after her sores were healed. On one occasion she raged half 
an hour after the end of the bath. Her mother held her while a man 
poured the water on her as though it were all a fine game. When the 
child was clean, the mother put her to dry on the verandah of a guest- 
house, where she rolled about screaming, kicking, striking out, and 
banging her head on the floor. Another man passed by and threatened 
to pour more water on her if she didn't stop, a threat that had no effect 
and which he did not carry out. 

Another child, who had been calmer about his bath, was brought up 
to shame Fuifani into silence. This too had no effect. Her small brother 

Early Childhood 45 

of about eighteen months, who had been watching the whole proceed- 
ing, was picked up by the mother and nursed. Finally, when Fuifani 
had quieted down somewhat, her mother tried gently to lead her home, 
but Fuifani broke out again, struck at her mother, and called her an 
evil spirit. When the child's convulsive sobbing had again stopped, a little 
playmate of about eight began poking Fuifani gently and playfully, 
but she did not respond and once more tears began to roll down her 

Even where yaws do not make the bath painful, children who are 
still not very sure of their balance and who run over rough ground all 
day without clothes on, have a certain number of inevitable cuts and 
bruises, which smart when exposed to water. Another factor making 
for discomfort is that the women have exceedingly calloused hands 
and, by and large, impressed me as being singularly rough in rub- 
bing down their children. This lack of gentleness in touch was also 
impressed on me when my native houseboys assisted me in dressing 
wounds. It was so marked that I could never entrust to them any 
very painful cases, for fear the patients would prefer their wounds to 
the treatment. 


Sex experiences during this early period of childhood seem confined 
to masturbation, which goes on freely in public. Little boys are com- 
monly seen standing on the fringe of an adult group manipulating their 
penes with complete self-engrossment. Sex knowledge, as contrasted 
with sex experiences, at this time is completely accessible to children, 
since the common living room affords no privacy and there is no at- 
tempt to modify adult conversation when children are present. Al- 
though I have no direct evidence to this effect, it seems improbable 
that knowledge of intercourse and birth as well as the terminology is not 
the commonplace property of five-year-old children. 


Sleeping habits for early childhood continue the pattern of close 
physical contact that was present in infancy. If the child is the last 
born, it may go on sleeping with the mother up to the age of seven or 
eight. If it is displaced by the birth of another, it will sleep with an 
older sibling of either sex or with some adult. The lack of regular hab- 
its of sleep should be stressed, since this parallels a point to be made in 
connection with discipline. At night a household is roused at least once 
and frequently oftener by some member who has dreamed and gets up 

46 The People of Alor 

to replenish the fire and tell his dream to the household. Often a pot is 
placed on the fire for a midnight snack at this time. 

There is also a good deal of movement in the village at night. Men 
have been out discussing finance; boys have been out courting, and 
when they return there is inevitably a certain amount of disturbance. 
There are also the night dances, which average one every eight days 
throughout the year, and during the dry season from June through 
October may average as many as one every five or six nights. Many 
children even of five years or less are taken to these dances and they 
snatch what sleep they can. 

Those who can be left at home in someone's care must sleep less 
soundly because of the coming and going and the sound of singing all 
night. It is a common sight to see children taking cat naps at all times. 
Sometimes they lean back between the legs or against the side of a 
seated parent who is chatting with guests. Often they crawl off under 
the eaves with small companions and doze for a time, only to wake up 
and rejoin the adults. Toddlers learn to sleep anytime and anywhere 
except on the ground, which they already know is taboo. Children 
barely two or three years old are often seen sleeping quite alone on 
a verandah during the day. Their rest even more than their food is a 
matter of small concern and casual attention from adults. 


Satisfactory information on talking is scant. When crying for at- 
tention most children of one or two years will intersperse their cries 
with rhythmic wails that sound as though they were trying to say, 
"Mother, mother, alack, alas (niae, niae, adiye, adiye)" which is the 
formalized type of wailing used by adults, especially women, in con- 
nection with deaths and catastrophes. These words are used also as gen- 
eral expressions of consternation. In terms of adult psychology, it is 
interesting that the cry of distress should, by formalization, be directed 
to the mother. 

Another word that is learned very early is the imperative for give 
(mo). Children who are just beginning to walk can be seen holding out 
their hands, usually in the direction of food, and saying "Mo!" over 
and over again. There is little doubt that children from two to four 
years are in command of sufficient vocabulary to make their wishes 
known. Under the stimulus of rage even five-year-olds are quite fluent 
in their use of imprecations. One little boy whose aunt was trying to 
make him carry a basket to his mother when he was more interested in 
playing, turned on her and said, "Evil spirit, evil spirit! May you have 

Early Childhood 47 

dysentery; may you have smallpox!" (Kari berka, kari berka! Asi 
berka, tapaka berka!) Quite apart from the fluency this implies, it was 
a singularly bad bit of cursing, since both are particularly dreaded dis- 
eases. To make matters worse his grandfather had just died of dysentery 
and everyone in the household was afraid of the ghost. 

My evidence for early speech is confined largely to imprecations 
during temper tantrums, since in most other respects small children 
were quite shy in attempting to talk. They were to be seen occasion- 
ally addressing a few words quietly to an age-mate or asking an older 
person for something. There was no direct speech training given by 
adults. In fact, there was a definite pattern of ridiculing the mistakes 
of children and teasing them about such errors. Children have to pick 
up speech through the absorptive processes of hearing older people 
talk and having instructions addressed to them. 


This brings us to another element that enters in early childhood and 
may continue through the entire life of the less assertive adults, espe- 
cially women. As soon as a child can toddle about and understand com- 
mands, it may be sent on errands and ordered by any adult to give small 
services. In early childhood such services consist of little more than 
fetching and carrying things at hand. There is no equivalent of please 
or thank you in the Abui language, and the tone of voice in which such 
services are requested is clearly peremptory. As the anecdote just told 
in connection with talking indicates, children soon learn to rebel. De- 
mands and modes of escape are more clearly developed in late child- 
hood (see Chapter 5), but pressure and resistance are established early. 

Since the Alorese have few sacred objects, commands are not loaded 
with prohibitions. Not all houses contain an ancestral hearth or other 
sacred objects that children are supposed to avoid. There is little feel- 
ing of sacredness attached to any paraphernalia, and taboo restrictions 
are few and casually observed, so that no heavy burden of learning 
along these lines is placed on small children. Already at this stage chil- 
dren are not so much debarred from adult activity as given no role in 
it. This means that such learning as goes on is largely in terms of re- 
strictive discipline and absorption, rather than permissive discipline or 
deliberate training. 

The preceding paragraphs adumbrate the system of shame, ridicule, 
and teasing that older children and adults use in dealing with their 
juniors. For instance, it was quite common when children were crying, 
for mothers to say, "Shame. Don't you see So-and-so is here and sees 

48 The People of Alor 

you cry." This was true for tears provoked by fright as well as by 
other causes, when comforting and reassuring the child might seem 
more pertinent. 

Again, this system appears more clearly in an older age group (see 
Chapter 5), but the pattern is set in early childhood. It is customary, 
for instance, to prod and tug at toddlers in a good-natured and affec- 
tionate fashion. One favorite form of such handling is to tug the penes 
of small boys and to poke fingers or arrows into their distended ab- 
domens or in the direction of their crotches. Under such treatment a 
child often becomes mildly irritable and aggressive, but any show of 
temper on his part is greeted with laughter and encouragement in the 
form of recommendations like "Hit him!" "Kill him!" This encourage- 
ment to indulge in physical violence is as inappropriate a form of train- 
ing for adult life, especially for boys, as can well be imagined. Physical 
violence in adult men is one of the most dreaded forms of behavior, 
since it can have widespread repercussions upon the safety, as well as 
upon the financial resources, of the whole community. 

The foregoing might lead one to expect a considerable amount of 
hitting and scuffling among young children. Actually it is relatively 
rare. When small children come into conflict, usually over food or 
some possession either seized or not shared, the commonest form of 
aggressive assertion is a slyly administered pinch, in which a bit of flesh 
is caught between the nails of the thumb and forefinger and then 
twisted. The aggressor usually takes to his heels after such an attack. 
This behavior is probably the result of parental training. A child who 
strikes other children will be slapped in return by his adult kin, so that 
even small children learn very soon to resort to subterfuge. 

Frightening children is also a favorite device, used especially by 
adults who are not the child's most immediate kin. For instance, a five- 
year-old boy was watching a mechanical toy roll toward him on my 
verandah. He watched with the greatest interest and calm until a young 
man began yejling excitedly at him, saying it would bite. The older 
children joined in the yelling, all of which sent the child into a spashi of 
fear that amused the group highly. Constant threats, accompanied by 
the brandishing of a knife, are made to cut off children's ears or hands. 
The adult is playful in his intentions, but some children are seriously 
frightened by this form of teasing. Children who cry persistently arc 
frightened with bogeyman characters called Kwokamaug Berka (bad 
cat of Kwo), Maniakani (black Mani), and Padahavelulua. The usual 
phrase employed is, "If you are not careful, Padahavelulua will come 
and hit you." 

Early Childhood 49 

The story of Padahavelulua is a highly significant tale of the de- 
serted child triumphant. It is an unusually fine fantasy of child training 
and revenge for it. The story as here given is a brief abstract of a much 
longer tale, and for the sake of brevity the hero's name is shortened to 

Pada was playing with another child whom he hit so that it cried. 
Pada's parents came, asked who had struck the child. The other chil- 
dren said, "Pada." So his parents slapped him and took him home. He 
slipped out and went back to play with the children. (This episode is 
repeated three times.) 

Then his mother gave him a water tube with a hole in the bottom 
and told him to fetch water down in the ravine. While he waited for 
the tube to fill he wandered up and down the stream catching lizards 
and eating their legs and tails. The fourth time he went back to 
the tube, only to find it still unfilled, he said, "What kind of water is 
this that I am fetching?" A bird spoke and said, "Ru, ru. Your mother 
made a hole in the tube." Pada refused to believe it and replied, "Oh, 
no! She is at home cooking millet for me." Later the bird warned him 
that his parents were collecting their valuables and planning to leave. 
Again Pada berated the bird and refused to believe it. 

This continued until finally, as the parents and the grandmother 
were leaving the village, Pada discovered for himself that the water 
tube had a hole in it and that he had been deceived. When he reached 
the village, he called after his parents, "Mother! Father! Wait for me." 
His grandmother looked back and urged him to follow, but his parents 
said, "We were all gathered in one village, but you were very bad, so 
you can't live with us." 

When they reached the sea, his parents went on walking across the 
water, but his grandmother was sorry for him and waited at the shore. 
She dug a pit in the sand for him to sleep in, and while he was asleep, 
she followed his mother and father. Pada awoke and looked; his mother 
and father were already near the island of Hamintuku and his grand- 
mother was halfway there. He cried hard, saying, "Grandmother, 
mother, father, I am good now." His grandmother called telling him to 
return to the village. He went back crying; he cried all the way from 
the coast to the village. He had no loincloth and walked naked. 

In the village a rooster told Pada where his grandmother had hidden 
rice, fire, pots, and other supplies for him, so that he was able to plant 
a garden and cook for himself. 

Pada grew up, but he was still naked so he was ashamed and hid in 
the house most of the rime. One day two girls and their father were 

50 The People of Alor 

passing by, and the father sent the girls up into the house to borrow 
fire. Pada refused at first to let the girls come in, but they insisted. 
When they returned, they said the young man was naked but that his 
face resembled their father's. So the father gave Pada a loincloth and 
then insisted that he marry the two daughters. 

Again the rooster told Pada where his grandmother had hidden mo- 
kos, so that he was able to pay a bride-price. Next Pada wished to build 
his lineage house. When he gave the feast for thatching the house, his 
father, mother, and grandmother came. As they left he presented each 
with a bamboo tube of blood sausage and a basket of rice. However, 
when the three stopped to eat on their way home, the mother and father 
on splitting open their tubes found them filled with f eces and discovered 
that their baskets of rice held only hulls. The grandmother, however, 
had been given good food. 

In this story a child is both deceived and deserted as a disciplinary 
measure. Even the kindly grandmother is unable to give him more than 
partial succor, and she, too, deserts him through trickery on the beach. 
Finally the father-in-law gives him the gift of wives, for which of course 
he must pay. The climax of the story is the child's revenge upon his 
parents and his better treatment of the kindlier grandmother. 

This tale can be considered a projection of the inconsistency of 
discipline and consequently the reluctance to accept the results of be- 
havior. Because of the revenge motif it fails quite obviously to point the 
moral intended when it is told to children as a disciplinary measure. It 
is almost as if a fantasy compensating for childhood difficulties out- 
weighed the adult responsibility for discipline. 

There are many other minor devices used to frighten small children, 
especially to make them stop crying, since during early childhood cry- 
ing is one of the major problems confronting parents. One such device 
is a small crude doll representing a warrior with drawn bow. It may be 
hung under the eaves of a house and whenever a child cries excessively, 
its mother or grandmother threatens it by saying, "The killer on the 
verandah will shoot you." 

This account would be unduly biased if I gave the impression that 
only frightening and punishing are used to stop children's crying. The 
autobiographies provide instances in which crying children are con- 
soled with small gifts, usually food. I have seen a thirteen-year-old boy 
give a rat to an unrelated child of two to stop its crying after I had 
taken a toy doll from it. The point to be made once more is not that 
children are treated with consistent harshness, but rather that either 
harshness or indulgence may be used in an attempt to quiet them, with 

Early Childhood 51 

the result that the young child can never establish a clear image of pun- 
ishment for "being bad" or reward for "being good." It is just as likely 
as not to be rewarded for the "badness" of excessive crying. 


From even such a brief description any child psychologist should be 
able to prognosticate one of the outstanding and striking forms of emo- 
tional expression in the early childhood of the Atimelanger the tem- 
per tantrum. Rages are so consistent, so widespread, and of such long 
duration among young children that they were one of my first and 
most striking observations. A common cause of tantrums is desertion 
more specifically the departure of the mother for the fields each morn- 

For instance, one child, a little boy of approximately two years who 
was under observation over a period of nine months, had a violent rage 
every morning when his mother left. His paroxysms lasted from a few 
minutes to as many as twenty. He would begin by pursuing his mother; 
then as she outstripped him he would throw himself on the ground, roll 
back and forth, and often beat his head on the earth. His mother's re- 
action was typical in its inconsistency. On successive days I have noted 
her ignore him, return to comfort him, return to slap him, and return 
pretending to stay for the day, only to slip away when he had been 

Very rarely is a reward for being good promised a child, and more 
rarely still is the promise kept. This means that children do not learn to 
place confidence in words. This, in turn, should slow down the learn- 
ing process by reducing the use of language as a short cut to incentive 
and performance. Later in life, when the children are capable of per- 
forming real services, they are rewarded more frequently, but by then 
the reward is in the nature of an economic transaction and one in 
which the child has no bargaining power. 

A clear example of the needs of early childhood and the uncertain- 
ties of the person on whom the child depends for its gratifications, is 
found in a series of statements taken from Tilapada's autobiography. 
The naive implications of her account of caring for Maliema, a 
younger sister, are perhaps more telling than the statements themselves. 

"On the way [to the fields] Maliema cried a lot, so I put her down 
and slapped her. Then I talked nicely to her, and we went on when she 
was quiet. . . . When Maliema was a little older, she would cry to go 
to the fields with me. If I was not angry with her, I would take her 
along to dig sweet potatoes. I would give her the big ones and keep the 

52 The People of Alor 

small ones. ... [I was angry] because she was always crying. She 
cried to go places; she cried to be fed. I hit her on the head with my 
knuckles, and then I would feed her. She cried because she was hun- 

This passage brings out nicely the two major causes of children's 
distress: hunger and desertion. Just as clearly, it demonstrates the incon- 
sistency of treatment and the restrictive quality of the discipline that 
pervades the child's life and which might well be expected to breed in it 
a sense of bewildered insecurity and suspicious distrust. That a child 
may be placated and indulged one moment and struck or deserted in the 
next can scarcely create an image of a secure outer world. 

In many instances when children under five years cried, it was ow- 
ing to desertion by an adult in many cases the mother. Comparable 
rages may occur before the walking stage, but none came to my atten- 
tion, although infants in arms cried frequently enough when ill or ap- 
parently hungry. The tantrums usually disappear before the child is 
five, but there were at least two cases in which boys between the ages 
of seven and nine still had acute rages whenever they found themselves 
deserted. Many such outbursts are provoked by the parents' slipping 
out to attend all-night dances. 

An important subject in any discussion of childhood is the sense of 
being valued, which may or may not be imparted to children by their 
cultural and familial environment. There are many opportunities for 
small children in Atimelang to gain a sense of being valued, but like the 
discipline, these must be bewildering in their inconsistency. At the end 
of the afternoon, when people are returning to the village for the eve- 
ning meal and stop at the dance place for an hour or so of gossip and 
socializing, the young walkers playing there may be the center of 
amused and affectionate attention. I have seen three or four toddlers 
who were attempting to imitate adult circle dances or male challenge 
gestures hold the attention of a large group of adults, who encouraged 
them and laughed with, rather than at, them. This of course was a sud- 
den surfeit of attention and approval in contrast to the day of neglect 
which the child might just have spent. It represents also one of the few 
cases of constructive teaching, outside of purely physiological controls, 
that I saw adults give children. 

Another experience that many children may have and one that all 
children can witness is quarrels between parents in which the children 
themselves are often the pawns. There was the case of Talf ani, for in- 
stance, a three-year-old girl whose mother and father were threatening to 
divorce each other. In the coiirse of an all-day quarrel the wife's ma- 

Early Childhood 53 

cernal uncle, to emphasize his point, picked up Talf ani and started back 
to his village with her. The father flew into a rage and the child was 
fought over by the two men. When the father finally secured the child, 
he held her tightly in his arms all morning. Talfani's care had been pri- 
marily entrusted to her maternal grandmother, and when the grand- 
mother finally left with her brother, the child wept so insistently to go 
with her that the father, with obvious reluctance, finally surrendered 
the child. 

There was a similar situation when. Nicolas divorced his first wife, 
by whom he had two sons, one about five years old and the other 
approximately two and a half. The father had had very little contact 
with the children, since he was away most of the time. On the other hand, 
for an Alorese parent, the mother had been particularly indulgent and 
fond. At the time of the divorce there were days of violent and public 
recrimination between the parents, which ended finally in the surrender 
of both children to the father and the departure of the mother to a dis- 
tant village, where she was to marry another man. 

Obviously all children are not exposed to such potentially traumatic 
and affectionally disorienting situations, but practically no child es- 
capes being witness to such occurrences. In the autobiographies there 
are a number of anecdotes demonstrating the skill children develop in 
playing one parent off against the other. The result of all this must be 
that the child is robbed of a sense of security and stability by being de- 
prived of the opportunity to form a pattern of stable relationships. 


Mobility of residence is another factor that may contribute to a 
child's sense of instability. During early childhood such a sense of insta- 
bility may begin to take form and it will be emphasized by later repeti- 
tion. The autobiographies give the most graphic picture of constant 
moving from house to house, village to village, and village to field. It is 
true that these moves are always within a circumscribed orbit. The re- 
sult may be that a person becomes familiar with a landscape rather than 
with a residence. 

Alorese houses are perishable. A field house rarely lasts more than 
two seasons. A village house of the f ala type may last five or six years, a 
lineage house (kadmg) somewhat longer. No one place of residence is 
constantly occupied for any great length of time. Even within the 
yearly agricultural cycle a family is apt to move back and forth be- 
tween a village house and a field house. 

The child's escape from irksome home life by changes of residence 

54 The People of Alor 

and by the appeal to other kin is discussed in the next chapter. Mang- 
ma's autobiography is particularly rich in such material. The possible 
psychological repercussions of this mobility are patent. Neither persons 
nor houses are secure and stable. Furthermore, it is interesting to note 
in Chapter iz on "Children's Drawings" that children seem to associate 
houses and persons. 


Without wishing to overdraw the implications of the picture of 
early childhood in Atimelang, I see it as the period that inflicts hunger, 
desertion, and discomfort, even to the point of pain, on children who 
have at their disposal no mechanisms of defense or mastery, either phy- 
sical or mental, by which they can deal adequately with the outer 
world. Rebellion and protest may not be the necessary concomitants 
of these frustrations, but when these are linked with inconsistency of 
discipline and when there is no system of rewards for "being good," 
nothing but vigorous emotional self-assertion is left as a mode of ex- 
pression. When the child's sense of helplessness is further reinforced 
by contrast with a more favorable situation in infancy, and when the 
libidinal resources connected with erogenous zones have not been sys- 
tematically repressed but on the contrary have been allowed free devel- 
opment, temper tantrums are the obvious device open to the child for 
achieving his ends. 

Chapter y 

Late Childhood : From Loincloth to 
Thoughts of Marriage 

WHEN an Alorese child is given his loincloth, he has taken the first step 
toward adult status. This marks the beginning of late childhood, a period 
that lasts from the age of five or six years until adolescence. Children 
between these ages are called moku. At the beginning of this stage the 
prolonged and violent temper tantrums begin to disappear, and with 
some exceptions they completely die out in the course of two or three 
years. I should suggest that the disappearance of these tantrums is ex- 
plicable in terms of the data contained in the preceding chapter. Tan- 
trums are not an adequate technique for mastering an external world so 
inconsistent as that provided by Atimelang. Aside from having the fu- 
tility of this technique borne in on them, children from five or six on- 
ward begin to pick up other devices for mastering the environment 
devices that give greater satisfactions than those they can force from 
their elders. It is primarily with these devices that this section will deal. 
At this stage differences become apparent between the life of boys 
and that of girls, so that it will frequently be necessary to treat them 
separately. Certainly one general impression that can be stated imme- 
diately is that boys are much less shy, much more in evidence, and 
much more mobile than girls. The reasons may be found in what fol- 

The first question to consider is what food the child expects and 
from what sources. A boy can expect a meal at home about seven 
o'clock in the morning and another at about the same time in the eve- 
ning. During the intervening twelve hours he learns to forage for him- 
self in the fluid play groups of free-roving children. Remnants may be 
scraped from the cooking pot; a variety of insects, usually spurned by 
adults, can be found; in the fields near the house are papayas, mangoes, 
bananas, sweet potatoes, young com, and other vegetables that can be 
eaten raw or can be easily cooked. 

As a rule adults do not object to the minor depredations of their 
own children and their playmates, but if raiding is too constant or the 
crop is scarce, children may be forbidden this kind of foraging. Such 
objections are most likely to be voiced when children are reaching the 
age at which their assistance in the fields might be 


5 6 The People of Alor 

forthcoming. There are several anecdotes about reproaches on this score, 
and in one instance a mother and a half -grown son came to blows over 
the matter. It was the crisis around which crystallized a hostility still 
effective ten years later. An additional result of adult objections to an 
overfree use of garden crops by children is that it may actually disrupt 
friendships between age-mates. Mangma's autobiography (page 204) 
reveals the jealousy and rivalry that can develop between boys when 
the parents of one of them forbid foraging in their fields. 

These objections pave the way for the thieving in which play 
groups of boys frequently indulge. Rilpada's autobiography (page 236) 
graphically presents illustrative instances. The whole system of feeding 
fosters one of the marked intracultural tensions centering on theft and 
the fear of theft. 

During this preadolescent play period boys may get occasional meals 
as guests. When a man visits a house on financial business, it is custom- 
ary to set a calabash dish of food before him. Any little boys loitering 
about are invited to join him. They soon learn to attach themselves to 
men who seem to be setting out on business trips, and in this way they 
undoubtedly learn through absorptive processes a great deal about the 
role expected of them as adults. In addition, boys of approximately 
twelve years often attach themselves to young men whom they serve 
much in the manner of fags. The autobiographies stress this type of re- 
lationship in several instances, indicating that it is a source of educa- 
tion in cultural values, for better or for worse, and that food is one of 
the important rewards for services rendered. The food quest is there- 
fore a factor contributing to the acquisition of the skills expected of 
adult males. 

Still other sources of food are available to boys. They may form 
work groups (tatul) of from three to twelve age-mates who go to each 
other's fields in turn to cut down or pull out weeds. Usually such labor 
is done only during the seasons of heavy garden work preceding the 
rains and about two months after the rains have begun, when weeds are 
plentiful. These work groups parallel those of adults. At such times, the 
mother acting as hostess for her child provides a midday meal of boiled 
corn and beans. Girls are more likely than boys to take part in such 
group work and to participate earlier in life. Here definitely, hunger 
may motivate industry in children, and thereby a tendency may be set 
up that helps in part to explain the presence in the society of men who 
are enthusiastic gardeners despite the fact that horticulture is recog- 
nized as a predominantly female activity. 

During feasts the boys who help with the butchering are given some 

Late Childhood 57 

of the less desirable portions of the animal to roast on the spot. Rat 
hunting, in which a group of boys assist grown men, is another source 
of food. The rats are often roasted in the fields where they are caught, 
and the children are given the bellies, entrails, and other less desirable 
parts. It is noteworthy that there is no institutionalized recognition of a 
boy's first success in hunting, as there is among many peoples. If a boy 
is praised at all for his successes, it is only because an indulgent adult 
happens to take notice of them. In any event, the procuring of the day's 
food is as precarious and inconsistent as the administering of discipline. 
Furthermore, the food secured is of the less choice kind, a factor 
which may, in conjunction with many other attitudes, help to produce 
in the child a feeling of being undervalued. It is certainly not without 
significance that in an autobiography like Malelaka's, where he fre- 
quently stresses the good treatment he received as a child, good treat- 
ment meant being given food. It indicates that feeding is not something 
a child expects as a matter of course. 

There is a slightly different adjustment for girls. Their play period is 
neither so long nor so free. They are more closely attached to their 
mothers and have more demands made upon them in terms of their 
adult role as providers for the family. Weaving baskets, sewing pan- 
danus mats, and making bark cloth are additional skills deliberately 
taught girls at this time by their mothers. I knew only one woman, an 
orphan, who did not know how to make baskets. Interestingly enough, 
many boys also pick up these skills to a minor degree, but without delib- 
erate instruction. 

Girls frequently go out to the fields to work with their mothers or 
with companions. Also, women are responsible for harvesting and pre- 
paring food. By the time a little girl is nine or ten years old, she can 
cook for the ordinary family needs. She therefore has more regular ac- 
cess to food. I know of no instances in which little girls were guilty of 
pilfering from gardens, although accusations to this effect were some- 
times leveled at them. Such charges, on the other hand, gave rise to fre- 
quent if minor frictions with boys. This does not mean, of course, that 
adult women do not steal, but one might expect a higher frequency of 
thefts by men than by women. Out of twenty-four theft anecdotes 
twenty-one apply to men. In the autobiographies there are eighteen 
identifiable cases of theft; sixteen of these were reported by the men. 

Although a girl has more regular access to food she does not have 
the guest privileges of the small boy. She gets no presents during butch- 
ering unless an unusually indulgent and thoughtful male kin happens to 
remember her and give her a bit of meat. The meat at feasts is always 

58 The People of Alor 

distributed to the women but only in terms of the males in their house- 
hold. That is, women get meat for their husbands and sons but not for 
themselves or their daughters. This is consistent with the theory that 
flesh food is the property of men. Since feasts are primarily occasions 
for food distribution and actual consumption is at home, women do get 
a share, but only as dependents of the men. Also, since meat is eaten 
primarily in connection with feasts or sacrifices and is definitely a treat, 
the way is open for it to become set in children's minds as a symbol of 
masculine prerogative. The system of meat distribution helps to rein- 
force early in life, and on a very basic level, the role of masculine pres- 
tige in the culture. Men are not the providers; in fact, they are quite 
the contrary. They are the ones provided for, but they are also the 
purveyors of a delicacy. 

The girl, then, is set during early childhood in the essential and inti- 
mate relationship to the food cycle that she will follow all her life. Yet 
no girl who is unmarried may make a contribution in her own name to 
food displays, even though she may have grown and prepared some of 
the food that is brought in her mother's name. This means that she may 
be assuming adult responsibilities without receiving adult recognition. It 
is worth noting in this connection that public food contributions are the 
symbol of female adulthood. 

The following condensed version of an Alorese tale illustrates nicely 
the role of the sexes, and especially of the mother-son relationship, 
in the matter of food. Here the young men appear demanding and 
vengeful, while the woman vacillates between being a gratifying and a 
frustrating figure. 

Story of the Wasteful Sons 

Two brothers went to work in their garden and their mother cooked 
food for them to take along. When they came home they said, "Our 
friends have finished the food. It would be nice to cook more." So the 
mother cooked more food and took it to them in the garden. Part of 
the food they ate, part they spilled. [The meaning is that in carry- 
ing the food to their mouths with a coconut-shell spoon they were 
careless and let a portion fall to the ground.] In the evening they again 
asked their mother to cook food for them to take to the fields. They 
took the food and again ate part and spilled part. Then they ran home 
to their mother, saying, "Mother, we are sick; therefore cook us millet." 
The mother put the feces of their youngest brother in the pot of 
millet she cooked for them. 

When the brothers entered the house, they smelted feces and refused 

Late Childhood 59 

to eat. They said, "Mother, it smells of feces." She answered, "Then 
go to the privy to eat." They went to the privy but still smelted feces. 
When they returned to the center of the house, they still smelled them. 
Then they saw that feces were mixed with the millet and refused to eat. 

The mother said to the youngest son, "Take this food and eat it." 
Thereupon he demanded of his mother all his adult male regalia [sword, 
bow, arrows, shields, plumes, and the like, the dialogue concerning 
which forms the bulk of the story]. When he was fully accoutered, he 
ran from the house, saying, "My mother cooked millet and feces for me 
to eat." He ran off toward the sea. His mother wept and followed him, 
saying, "It would be nice if you returned, my child." But he refused, 
reproaching her once more with her deed. 

On the beach he deloused his mother and she fell asleep during the 
process. He then went out to the reef and summoned sea spirits to wake 
his mother with a wave. When the wave nudged his mother awake she 
pled once more for her son's return. Again he refused, repeating the 
story of her ill treatment. 

As the son began his ascent from the sea to the sky [to become the 
morning star] he instructed his mother to prepare the cornfields of his 
brothers and to weed for them. His mother made one more attempt to 
bring him back by shoving a pole out to him on the reef, but it did not 
reach him. 


Aside from the described differences in relation to food, no sharp 
distinctions are made in bringing up boys and girls, and there is no formal 
segregation. Children play a great deal. Girls emphasize food-gathering 
activities and cooking; boys emphasize hunting. It is noteworthy that 
the children have many games and toys, some of which are very in- 
genious for example, a pressure squirt gun that is fashioned of bam- 

The children's aptitude in games stands in contrast to that of adults, 
who play no games at all and whose recreation is confined to dances, 
ceremonial gatherings, and, for men, gong beating. I made no exhaus- 
tive survey of children's games and toys, but of a casual list of twenty- 
one items all but two were used by both sexes. The exceptions were 
cat's cradle, which was a girl's game, and wooden tops, which were for 

This list excludes the games imitating adult activities, which are a 
large part of play. Here, as among adults, one finds that skills may be 

* Compare sex differences in the subject matter of the children's drawings in 
Chapter 22. 

60 The People of Alor 

weighted on the side of one sex or the other, but unskillful imitations 
are not frowned upon or subjected to ill-natured ridicule. For instance, 
I have seen women laughingly play at beating gongs or shooting ar- 
rows, while men will playfully attempt to weave baskets or pound 
grain. In the same way little girls will try their hands at top-spinning 
and boys at cat's cradle. 

The care of infants is a responsibility in which boys and girls, like 
men and women, are inclined to share equally. Children of both sexes 
may at times resent this task, as reference to the autobiographies will 
show. The following notes illustrate nicely the sort of scene that forc- 
ing such duties on a child may produce. 

Early one morning three little boys about twelve years old were 
gaily playing marbles on the dance place when Kolang appeared carry- 
ing her three-month-old infant. She approached her son, one of the 
three, and tried to strike him with the side of her clenched fist, as she 
scolded him for running off without the baby. At first the boy laughed 
and dodged. Finally, the mother got close enough for two or three 
blows, all rather light, and then she seized his ears and twisted them 
until the boy wailed. The mother stood by, still scolding him, but more 
gently now, and trying to hang the shawl with the baby in it over his 
shoulder. Some women who were waiting to go to the fields with Ko- 
lang joined in berating the boy for his unwillingness to care for his 
baby brother. Finally the mother picked up a stick and dealt the blub- 
bering boy a soft blow. He then capitulated and swung the carrying 
shawl over his shoulder. During this episode, his two playmates had 
gone on playing marbles, paying no attention to the fuss. As soon as the 
women left, however, the three boys abandoned their game and set off 
on their daily aimless wandering about the village, the one burdened 
with his infant sibling. 

Although boys quite patently have fewer duties than do girls, they 
have at the same time more privileges. For instance, at one of the 
young-corn feasts held in February, boys are the main actors and race 
through the village symbolically driving out all the rats for the coming 
year, while women and girls stay tightly shut in the houses. During the 
communal pig hunt at the end of the dry season, boys may accompany 
the men to serve as fags, while women and girls are forbidden to ap- 
proach the hunting camp. At all feasts not only do boys help in the 
butchering but they are the ones primarily relied upon to play the gongs. 
No linkage between privileges and duties is established in childhood. 

In their play children actually imitate many adult activities. After a 
burial I have seen children playing death feasts for four or five days in 

Late Childhood 61 

succession. They beat pieces of wood representing gongs. They organ- 
ize dances comparable to those of adults, in which they compose verses. 
This versifying provokes good-natured ridicule among their elders. In 
their play with bows and arrows boys learn skill in hunting. They even 
organize mock wars between villages, in which they shoot blunt ar- 
rows, throw stones, and hurl obscene insults that most adult men would 
never use unless they were in an uncontrollable rage. The part boys 
play in rat hunting, house thatching, and comparable male activities is 
on a voluntary basis and is usually joyously entered into as long as they 
are in the mood for it. 

In most instances, boys are not counted on to render valuable serv- 
ices. Not until they are thirteen or fourteen are they considered old 
enough to be sent on financial errands. It is a source of considerable 
pride at this age to be given these assignments, and most boys seem to 
carry them out willingly enough. However, in one instance that came 
to my notice this was not the case. Nicolas ordered a half brother to 
leave early the following morning for a village about a mile away 
to fetch a sword that had been promised him. When the boy failed to 
set out the following morning and seemed unwilling to go, Nicolas 
flew into a rage and began pursuing him with a length of liana about as 
thick as his wrist. The boy stumbled and fell, whereupon Nicolas stood 
over him and beat him unmercifully. Although Nicolas' behavior was 
censured by the men present, none of them made any move to inter- 
fere. At last a distant kinswoman tried to drag the boy away from the 
rain of blows, but she did not try to stop Nicolas himself. Again there 
is the picture of restrictive discipline, sometimes brutal in quality, but 
no attempt to train the young through permissive attitudes. 

On the whole, my impression is that children, in their curiosity and 
eagerness about the life around them, more often than not participate in 
adult activities. Depending on their effectiveness in a particular situa- 
tion, they are either utilized or driven off. From the adult's viewpoint, 
children are welcome when useful, ignored when not, and chased away 
when nonfunctionally obtrusive. 

Children are held responsible for their misdeeds, however. One dra- 
matic case of this sort is worth repeating in some detail. The hero- 
victim of the episode was a boy about thirteen who was generally 
known by his nickname, Red Eyes a name that is about the equiva- 
lent of our "Spitfire." Red Eyes was the ringleader of a play group of 
boys whose ages ranged from about seven to fifteen years. The tumu- 
kun had a guest in his household who happened to stroll past the place 
where the boys were playing. For no determinable reason Red Eyes 

62 The People of Alor 

yelled at the guest that he had six fingers. Any unfavorable reference to 
physical appearance or peculiarities is a deadly insult, and in this in- 
stance the guest took the opportunity to institute a litigation against 
the boys, demanding a moko worth two dollars and fifty cents as a fine. 
There was no attempt to deny the guilt of the children, although only 
Red Eyes was to blame, and the older kin immediately set out to round 
up the culprits. Several of them managed to escape. Eight others were 
dragged to the dance place and made to squat on the ground before the 
bench of the chief. The kin of the children made a proper show of in- 
dignation and two of the stricter ones collected the boys' bows and ar- 
rows to toss them on the fire. Several of the men rapped their own 
children sharply on the heads with their knuckles. 

By this time the younger and less hardened boys were openly in 
tears. Meanwhile Red Eyes' father was summoned in his son's stead, 
and after a long discussion the insulted guest was persuaded to accept 
a broken gong worth fifty cents as compensation. The tumukun then 
delivered a moral lecture, which was one of the rare occasions when 
behavioral precepts were laid down. He said, "If a person is lame, do 
not stare at him; if someone has big eyes, do not mention it; if someone 
makes mistakes in talking, do not laugh. If you do these things, people 
become angry and then your fathers and elder brothers will have to 
pay a fine for your faults." Here, the tumukun was expounding proper 
behavior, particularly for males. Another informant, in drawing the 
differences between men and women, said that men had to be more 
careful than women not to be insulting, because they were more vul- 
nerable to financial revenge. 

The anecdote quoted above serves to illustrate many points: First, 
children are held responsible for misdeeds; second, group responsibility 
holds even for children; third, a child can escape some of the repercus- 
sions of his misdeeds by running off and hiding; and lastly, moral lec- 
tures are customarily delivered after, rather than before, the misdeed 
has been committed. 

The responsibility of boys for misdeeds, especially theft, is illus- 
trated in a number of incidents in the autobiographies. Perhaps even 
more far-reaching in its implications is the inclination of people to 
blame any mishap, destruction, or theft on children. On several occa- 
sions when I complained of the theft or destruction of my property, I 
was answered with a shrug and the comment that boys must have done 
it and that therefore there was little chance of discovering the guilty 
one. Actually, in those instances that could be followed up adults were 
the real culprits. 

Late Childhood 63 


Parents have no scruples about appropriating anything a child may 
have, or about treating it carelessly at the same time that they admit the 
child's ownership of the property. This is in marked contrast to the rig- 
idly scrupulous attitudes of some other nonliterate peoples such as certain 
American Indian tribes. Repeatedly I gave children small gifts, ranging 
from candy to a tin container, only to see these gifts in the hands of an 
adult a few minutes later, while the child stood by without source of re- 
dress. One of the major difficulties in using free-play techniques was that 
adults could not be kept from joining the children and appropriating 
the toys. As young people begin producing or acquiring property of 
greater value in adult eyes, this situation becomes more acute. (See 
Chapter 6.) A quarrel between two boys over a bow illustrates several 
aspects of this situation. 

Padalang, a boy of about fourteen, gave his bow to an uncle, who 
promised to mend it for him. When it was mended, the uncle handed 
the bow to his son instead of returning it to his nephew. The son in 
turn loaned it to a playmate, who broke it beyond repair. When the 
nephew discovered what had happened he went to the house of the boy 
who had broken the bow and seized his bow in compensation a thor- 
oughly adult procedure. The two boys came to blows and soon both 
were bellowing with rage and pain. Adults took a hand in separating 
them and suggested various compromises, which the enraged boys both 
stubbornly refused to accept. Adult relatives became sufficiently ex- 
cited to begin snatching the bow from each other's hands. At this point 
two neutral observers rushed in, seized the bow, and broke it into 

Fantan the Interpreter, who was one of the two neutral observers, 
commented afterward that they would not have dared to break the bow 
in this fashion if two adults had been quarreling, but instead everyone 
would have taken sides and tried to settle matters by compromise. Triv- 
ial as this incident is, it illustrates not only the helplessness of children 
in protecting their own property, but also the peculiar harshness to- 
ward growing children that manifests itself repeatedly in teasing, ridi- 
culing, frightening, and4>eating, as well as in a certain contemptuous 
highhandedness where their property interests are concerned. 

As harshness may take the form of confiscating children's property, 
so solicitude may manifest itself in giving them gifts. A minor gift of 
meat in the name of boys at feasts has already been mentioned. The 
loincloth, the symbol of status, is another gift children receive from 

64 The People of Alor 

parents. Here again, boys, who wear the more highly priced woven 
cloth, are more privileged than girls, who receive only bark cloth. Both 
sexes between the ages of eight and twelve hope for the gift of their 
first shawl. Boys upon request can usually get a man to make them 
small bows and wooden-tipped arrows, possessions they begin to covet 
when they are only six or seven. Carrying baskets provided by their 
mothers are the counterpart for girls. Children of both sexes hope for 
the hoodlike pandanus raincapes that add so much to comfort dur- 
ing the rainy season, and most mothers see that their children are pro- 
vided with them, since their manufacture involves only about two or 
three hours' work. 

All these gifts are small in comparison to the inheritance of fields 
"when a child is old enough to work" which usually means between 
the years of eight and fourteen. Boys and girls alike inherit fields from 
both fathers and mothers. No distinction is made on a sex basis. The 
only discrimination is on the basis of industry and aptitude. This inheri-. 
tance is not so significant as might at first appear. Before the child is 
told that a particular field is its own, it has probably already helped its 
parents in cultivating the land. After ownership is transferred, simply 
by a verbal statement, the field is still worked in collaboration with the 
family, and in return the child is expected to work in other fields 
the family owns. The crops raised on a child's field are stored in the 
loft along with the rest of the year's provisions and are used jointly. 
The only advantage accruing to the child is that the parents, if they 
feel they can afford it, will take a portion of the child's produce to the 
coast to exchange for cloth for his use. In other words, the child's sat- 
isfactions from labor are contributing to the larder and perhaps getting 
the coveted textile. Here again, however, children are largely at the 
mercy of adults, as portions of the autobiographies indicate. That the ad- 
vantages are not too patent is shown by the fact that many children 
have to be forcibly reminded of the virtues of industry. 

The unreliability of parents toward their children's property gives 
an Alorese child early opportunity either to learn the ethics basic to 
adult property dealings or to develop antagonism not only toward the 
parents but toward the whole system they represent. This point will 
appear more clearly in the next chapter. 


In any discussion of child training, kinds of discipline and the per- 
sons who may administer them are of paramount importance. Theo- 
retically, corporal punishment in Atimelang should be administered 

Late Childhood 65 

only by biologic parents. Theory does not deflect from the parents to 
designated relatives any portion of the right to punish; there are no 
avunculate or amitate relationships. In practice, however, theory is ig- 
nored. True siblings and parents' siblings are almost as free as parents 
themselves in rapping children on the head, in pulling ears, twisting 
mouths, tying up a child, and other such forms of treatment. Further- 
more, older boys whose depredations may make them annoying to 
adults may be struck by anyone who catches them in the act, and adults 
are free in their use of the loose kinship terminology to justify such 
corporal punishment. 

Since parents are not nurturing or idealized figures, physical punish- 
ment from them is probably not so acceptable as it might otherwise be. 
And since corporal punishment may be meted out by any irritated 
adult who cannot even theoretically claim to be nurturing, it is not to 
be wondered at that children are resentful and fight back when they 
are punished. 

In addition to corporal punishment, teasing, ridicule, and deception 
are widely used, not only in disciplining children but also as favorite 
forms of amusement, especially among young men. I have seen youths 
in their late teens and early twenties send boys on fool's errands and 
deceive them with false promises of rewards for services, and then guf- 
faw with laughter when the crestfallen child returned. Fantan the In- 
terpreter one day called to an eight-year-old girl whom we passed on 
the trail, saying he had just left some honey at her house and she had 
better hurry home for it. Actually, we had taken some ripe breadfruit 
to her house but it had been eaten up before we left. On another occa- 
sion, a man of about twenty-eight sent a twelve-year-old boy to fetch a 
bunch of bananas he said he had left at the foot of the village. In return 
he promised the boy six of them. The boy raced gleefully to the indi- 
cated spot but returned saying he had not found them. He was sent off 
again, and when he returned the second time he realized that he had 
been deceived. A group of six or seven grown men were sitting about 
watching the procedure and laughing heartily, to the boy's evident 
shame and anger. 

Under such circumstances it is scarcely surprising that lying is taken 
as a matter of course in Atimelang. To say "You lie" is considered a 
statement of fact, not an insult or a reproach. People frequently remark, 
"He speaks with his mouth, but we do not know what he has in his 
heart." To speak without regard for accuracy but not necessarily with 
intent to deceive for one's own advantage is called "talking at random." 
The most commonplace statements are doubted. When I told friends 

66 The People of Alor 

that I planned to leave in two months, it was commonly assumed that I 
was deceiving them. Only actual preparations convinced them. In fact, 
Fantan the Interpreter, who insisted that I really meant to leave, was 
reprimanded by an older man with the comment, "Don't talk that way; 
we don't know what people have in their hearts." 

Some of the verbal expressions that imply deception are: ful hatol, 
to persuade with false promises; -kol, to prevaricate; -kora> to deceive 
with threats or intent to frighten; likda y to slant (distort) meaning, to 
speak crookedly; rima, to turn (a person) by false acts or words; tafai- 
akdia, to deceive with false promises, especially in finance; t anai tanga, 
to talk at random without regard for truth; -ware, to deny falsely. This 
is by no means an exhaustive list of the terms for deception. The pat- 
tern of mistrusting spoken statements, which a child learns to his cost 
early in life, persists throughout adult experiences and reaches its full- 
est expression, as we shall see later, in the prestige-weighted area of 

In early childhood, the reader will recall, fright was one of the disci- 
plinary techniques used to bring young children into social alignment. 
Use of this device continues in late childhood. Obviously, however, 
bogeyman stories and threats of that kind are no longer effective. For- 
merly the greatest threat of later childhood was probably a type of 
slavery to which the Netherlands government put a stop approximately 
twenty years ago. This custom was in all likelihood not of very fre- 
quent occurrence, but there are several accounts of children's being 
bought and sold by people from Atimelang, so that the practice must 
have been common enough to prove a constant threat to the children 
of the community. A child who proved incorrigible was liable to be 
stolen and sold. The offenses considered severe enough for such retri- 
bution were incessant thieving and constant quarreling that involved 
blows and insults. 

This treatment was most likely to be meted out to a child whose par- 
ents were either dead or of little consequence in the community. A 
person victimized by such a child would capture the culprit in secret 
and take him off to some distant village, where he was either sold out- 
right or used in a dowry and bride-price exchange. Such children seemed 
usually to pass through six or seven hands in the course of a year or 
two, always being moved farther from their original village until finally 
they came to rest in some family that wanted to keep them. These 
slaves, whether boys or girls, were supposed to be treated as members 
of the family, but a special term (maiya) was applied to them. 

Usually a child of this kind was considered to belong to the lineage 

Late Childhood 67 

of its adopted parents and might live down the stigma of its origin if it 
proved itself adaptable and able. Once such a person had established 
himself as a competent adult in the community, it was considered offen- 
sive to refer to his origin. It is quite obvious that the lot of a person 
who has been a slave is not a particularly hard one; but that it is a 
source of fear to children may well be imagined. Fear of being sold into 
slavery may be intensified by early childhood experiences of parental 
desertion. The social attitude toward slavery is undoubtedly colored by 
experiences in early life. 

A similar type of kidnapping may be a form of vengeance directed 
toward parents delinquent in debt payments, so that the child becomes 
the victim not of his own misdemeanors but of those of his parents. It 
is a hard lesson in group responsibility for a guiltless child. Such oc- 
currences, however, are undoubtedly rare. My notes contain only one 
anecdote of this sort, but it is worth repeating for the light it casts on 
oblique vengeances, the persistence of hostilities, and the value of a 
child to parents and to strangers. The event must have occurred some 
twenty years ago. 

Lakaseni of Dikimpe, acting for Senmani of Karieta, got a moko 
from some Fungwati people. It was worth only a dollar and a half, but 
despite persistent dunning by Lakaseni, Senmani refused to pay for it. 
The Fungwati people, to place pressure on Lakaseni, kidnapped his 
child. In retaliation Lakaseni tried to steal Senmani's eight-year-old 
daughter but was stopped by one of Senmani's sons-in-law. Despite the 
beating he received, Lakaseni returned the same day to Karieta and 
managed to steal another of Senmani's daughters, a child of three or 
four years. He took her to Fungwati and so bought his child's release. 

The mother of the stolen child heard what had happened and that 
night tried to break into the house in Fungwati where the girl was 
being held. The door was securely barred but she managed to break 
through the house flooring. Once she was in the house, however, a 
group of men fought her off. Senmani himself went to Fungwati the 
next day and pled with his creditors, but they were adamant, saying 
they would release the child only when he repaid his debt with exactly 
the same kind of moko he had secured from diem. This particular type 
was rare; Senmani could not find one immediately and the Fungwati 
people refused to give him extra time to search for it. The next day 
they sold the child to a distant village for a three-dollar moko. As the 
narrator put it, "Fungwati and Karieta had been at war and they still 
remembered it. Even though Senmani cried and cried, they sold his 
child anyhow." 

68 The People of Alor 

When Senmani heard that his child had actually been sold, he gave 
her up, saying, "Now we won't get the child back. So we shall consider 
her a person dead from violence and provide her with a human head 
as her spouse." He then sent a friend to get a head from Fungwati, and 
the friend returned with the head of an adult man. 

This story has some interesting facets. It cannot be said that the par- 
ents did not care for their child, but it is significant that they were so 
ready to abandon her. They might have followed her to the village into 
which she was sold and bought her back for about four dollars. That 
would be the standard price increase for a second transaction on the 
progressive sale of a stolen child. Instead, however, they gave up the child 
and bought a head that must have cost them about sixty dollars, indi- 
cating that vengeance and prestige were more important to them than 
the child itself. 

The opportunities for children to acquire attitudes of fear are not 
always so direct and drastic. Many sources of fright are more subtle 
and covert. For instance, if a child in racing about the uneven and 
stony paths of the valley stumbles and falls, the adults will shout at him 
in harsh and frightened fashion for his awkwardness. There is in the 
community a very marked fear of even this form of accidental vio- 
lence or injury. Its origin is not accounted for by the natives, and the 
only explanation that occurs to me is a very legitimate fear of the infec- 
tion that so often sets in where there are open wounds. 

Late childhood is undoubtedly the period when individuals acquire 
their fear of supernatural beings. Children are in full possession of the 
speculation and gossip concerning supernatural malignancy or poison- 
ing that surrounds many deaths. These supernatural spirits are every- 
where, living near springs, trees, ravines, and rocks. It is practically 
impossible to avoid their habitations; all one may hope is not to offend 
them. Children who are their victims can be saved only by having their 
adult kin perform the proper sacrifices, and such sacrifices are never 
begrudged by adults. Long-delayed death feasts are sometimes given by 
men whose children's illnesses have been diagnosed as the work of an- 
gered ghosts. There is ample evidence to indicate that parents are thor- 
oughly solicitous for the health of their children, at least within their 
own cultural patterns. They are less convinced and therefore willing to 
make an effort where European medication is concerned. 

Similarly, during this period children must absorb fear of the spirits 
of the violently dead, a category which includes those who have died 
from accidents, warfare, dysentery, smallpox, and leprosy. The child has 
every opportunity to observe the elaborate ceremonial and financial de- 

Late Childhood 69 

vices with which adults protect themselves and their kin from the ma- 
lignancy of such ghosts. The only person who claimed to have seen a 
ghost while I was in the community was a boy of thirteen. 

There are also cases of frightening that belong to the category of 
teasing and that have nothing to do with discipline or education. A 
case of this sort occurred one night. It is whispered that the Hollanders' 
voices which travel over a single telephone wire strung along the coast 
are relayed by dead children whose heads the patrolling soldiers collect 
for the purpose. This superstition is in itself a new bit of folk belief 
significant of the attitude toward children. One night when a group of 
girls and boys under ten were walking along the trail, a grown man 
who had hidden behind a tree jumped out at them, yelling a curse word 
often employed by soldiers. The children raced home screaming with 
fear. Later the man who had frightened them stopped at their house and 
made fun of them for their terror. 

Negative controls range from corporal punishment through decep- 
tion, teasing, and ridicule to the inculcation of fears. Any one of these 
methods may be linked to another. From them the child learns not only 
stereotyped social attitudes but also much of the underlying pattern of 
human relationships. 


The masturbation that little boys pursue so casually and freely dur- 
ing early childhood seems to disappear after the acquisition of a loin- 
cloth. At least it is no longer to be observed, and adults say that 
"children forget about it." I have, however, noticed young boys who 
have not yet quite mastered the art of tying their loincloths tugging 
and pulling on them in a manner suggestive of mild masturbation. 
There is marked modesty on the part of adults about the careful ad- 
justment of loincloths, and as soon as a child wears his first one he be- 
gins adopting the same attitude. When a child is careless, he is laughed 
at and shamed by older children and adults. Within a year or two most 
children have learned to manage this garment. One of the acts of ag- 
gression at this stage of life, and one that may crop up under extreme 
provocation in adult quarrels, is ripping off the loincloth of one's oppo- 
nent. Such behavior brings strong condemnation and even physical 
punishment from adults (see Lomani's autobiography, page 444). Some 
youngsters have only cast-off pieces of cloth and seem to suffer the 
same feeling of inadequacy and shame that ragged children experience 
in our culture. 

Sex play during this period is frowned upon by adults, but it un- 

yo The People of Alor 

doubtedly occurs, both in homosexual and heterosexual forms. The 
autobiographies of Tilapada and Lomani contain accounts of girls' as- 
suming the role of males in play, but these anecdotes do not indicate 
that any overt homosexual practices were employed. They may repre- 
sent an ego problem in which certain girls were rebellious at the less 
privileged feminine role and were escaping in fantasy to the masculine 
one. There is, however, one reported case of mutual masturbation be- 
tween girls. The society disapproves and is shocked by overt homo- 
sexual practices between girls but does not object to play activities of the 
sort described in Tilapada's autobiography. Homosexual practices be- 
tween small boys are reported. An informant insisted that "only small 
boys of between five and seven" indulge in this sort of play. It is said 
that if such behavior comes to the attention of any adult the children 
are scolded, but that it is not considered an offense of sufficient magni- 
tude to warrant corporal punishment. It seems unlikely that sexual 
practices of this type are anything but sporadic occurrences, and they 
certainly, do not loom as a problem in the awareness of the Atime- 

Play groups of boys often join groups of girls in field houses for 
several days at a time. Adults are usually suspicious of such alliances 
and are inclined to warn the girls against the boys. These play groups 
usually imitate adult relationships. This may at times take the form of 
attempted intercourse, performed either secretly in pairs or within 
a group of age-mates. As one informant put it, "Children hear their 
mothers, and fathers having intercourse. Then they say to each other, 
'Our parents do this, so let us also.' " Such behavior is not approved by 
adults, but when reported or discovered it is likely to be shrugged off 
as mere play. There is also much rivalry between boys and girls, which 
may break out into roughhousing that is definitely sexual among the 
older children. In younger children actual physical contact between 
those of the same or the opposite sex is casual and unself conscious. De- 
lousing, a form of perfectly proper and affectionate attention, is seen 
frequently among boys and girls. In general, bodily contacts are taken 
casually by both children and adults. 

The freedom of children in relation to sex matters was illustrated by 
a bit of free play set up for them, with the purpose of securing sibling 
rivalry play. An amputation doll * was used to represent the mother, a 
rubber doll the older sibling, and a small celluloid doll the nursing in- 

* An amputation doll is one whose joints are so constructed that the figure can 
be dismembered and reassembled. 

Late Childhood 7 1 

I set down the three dolls on my verandah floor. A boy about ten 
years old immediately said, "It is a man, his wife, and child/' I sug- 
gested that it was a woman and her two children. The four or five chil- 
dren, ranging in ages from seven to ten years, accepted this politely for 
a time, although L asked, "Have you a man too?" When I said I had no 
male doll, B commented, "They are divorced." Actually his own par- 
ents were not. B then sent the mother off to work in the fields and left 
the older sibling in charge of the infant. L, however, promptly brought 
the mother back from the fields and put the infant in her arms. B im- 
mediately picked up the larger doll, laid it in the mother's lap and said, 
"She nurses her older child too." (Note: the same word, hebuike, is 
used for to drink, to nurse, and to hold in the arms and fondle and 
is applied to both males and females.) Then he said, "No, that isn't 
good," and stood the larger doll between the legs of the seated mother. 
A then placed the infant doll in the same position, saying, "It is being 
born." Whereupon L chimed in with the single word "Copulation." 
This suggests that the role of the larger doll had reverted to that of 
husband. At this point my interpreter joined the group and laid the 
larger doll on top of the mother doll. L put the infant doll under 
the mother. 

I then gave the children some plasticine and L immediately made a 
loincloth for the mother doll. The others began modeling hats and bits 
of clothing. Next I drew a dance place with chalk on the floor and 
made the central altar of plasticine. L seated the mother, put the child 
between her legs in a birth position, and laid the large doll face down- 
ward on the mother doll. Some other children placed on the dance 
place the plasticine models of mokos they had been making. L said, 
"They copulate, the child is born, and here are the mokos to pay for 
the woman." 

At this point a young man of about twenty joined us, picked up the 
mother and infant doll, and holding the infant to the mother's breast 
said, "It is nursing." I said, "But there are no breasts, and the child will 
be hungry." There was no reaction to this comment, so I modeled one 
clay breast and placed it on the mother doll. L promptly placed the in- 
fant doll against it. I pointed out that there was only one breast, but 
none of the children attempted to make up the deficiency. Just then an 
older man came up onto the verandah, and to avoid further interrup- 
tion and hold the children's attention I showed them that the mother 
doll could be disjointed. They seemed only mildly interested, and al- 
though I told them they might take the doll apart, none of them at- 
tempted it. 

72 The People of Alor 

By this time other adults had come and, characteristically, entirely 
pre-empted the children's playthings despite my attempts to prevent it. 
The men's play with the doll was singularly like that of the children. 
The interpreter made another breast and the tumukun placed the in- 
fant in a nursing position. Then followed some horseplay between the 
men, in which intercourse between the dolls was suggested. The atti- 
tude of some six women who were drawn by the group of boys and 
men was one of surprise and amazement at the doll figures, but only 
one of them, a barren, "masculine" woman, picked up the larger doll 
and played the clown with it in a mock nursing scene. Not only did 
the other women not touch the dolls, but much sooner than the men 
they lost interest and walked off. 

Castration threats occur but seem to be rarely employed. The cases 
that were reported all happened in late childhood and chiefly in con- 
nection with offenses other than sexual (see Rilpada's autobiography, 
page 272, and Malelaka's, page 331). It is improbable that such threats 
are to be considered as traumatic as they may be in our culture, where 
they occur in connection with sexual and excretory activities that are 
rigorously suppressed. Further anecdotal material on masturbation, cas- 
tration, and sex play is to be found in the autobiographies. 

Obscenity both in our terms and in Alorese terms is not uncommon 
among children. To adults, obscene language from children is repre- 
hensible and merits a scolding if it goes too far, but it is definitely not 
one of the major sources of friction between children and adults. The 
following observation indicates the freedom young children have in 
this respect. 

Two little boys of seven and nine were racing about apparently having 
a very good time. The older boy began shouting "Vagina" at the younger 
one, apparently implying that his friend was a woman. The younger boy 
was answering "-No, no!" each time. Finally the older boy elaborated 
the insult by shouting "Horse's vagina," at which the younger child 
redoubled his denials and the good-natured pursuit of his tormentor. 
Adults in the vicinity paid no attention to the children's shouting and 
seemed undisturbed by it. 

The most common obscenity of young children, which to the Atime- 
langer is little more than a vulgarism, is "vagina" (hoiy) or "your 
mother's vagina" (ea hoiy). These terms also have the connotation of 
"to have intercourse." Adults, especially women who are given to care- 
less speech, will use this expression frequently as an expletive of sur- 
prise. References to male and female genitals are quite freely made, and 
I have the impression that "evil spirit," the favorite expletive of early 

Late Childhood 73 

childhood, is replaced in late childhood to a large extent, but not exclu- 
sively, by the words for genitals. On the other hand, it was interesting 
to note in the exchange of insults accompanying mock warfare be- 
tween two gangs of boys the point at which adults began to feel that 
the children were overstepping the bounds of what might be allowed. 
The boys hurled the following remarks at each other without provoking 
comment: "Crooked neck," 'Taws buttocks," "Eat feces," "Follow your 
dead mother," "Soft bellies," "Swollen throats." But two insults that 
brought angry protest from adults were: "Sleep with your mother; 
your father can't," and "May you grow hair on your penis." 


The decrease of obscenity in growing children is paralleled by the 
decrease in actual aggressions. Boys are told to become more circum- 
spect in their language and to avoid blows. The situation is nicely 
summed up in a comment on an adolescent fight in which blood had 
been shed. The narrator finished the story with these words, "We 
promised not to exchange blows any more and if we fought, to fight 
only with words." And in order to avoid fines, words too must become 
more guarded as one grows older and richer. Even in fairly young boys 
the adult male pattern of avoiding blows begins to take effect. On the 
whole, I had the impression that there were far fewer physical combats 
among the play groups of Atimelang than among comparable groups in 
our schoolyards. Once when a pair of boys about thirteen and fourteen 
began actually hitting at each other, my camera caught what my eye 
failed to catch namely, the fashion in which all the younger boys 
drew away from the scene in apparent fright. This, of course, is in dis- 
tinct contrast to the way children in our society tend to crowd around 
in a circle when a fight begins. 

The number of anecdotes in the autobiographies that deal with vio- 
lence do not substantiate my impressionistic observations on this point. 
It is quite possible that adults dwell unduly in fantasy on a period that 
allowed freer expression of hostility. 

It is interesting in this respect that the forfeit for losing games is to 
receive a specified number of slaps. However, despite this permissible 
outlet for aggression, I was struck by the casualness with which the 
slaps were given. Very rarely did I see either boys or girls, after winning 
a game of marbles or jacks for example, take vigorous advantage of this 
opportunity. In contrast to this should be noted the verbal aggression 
in a game of "hide-the-thimble." A piece of blady grass is hidden on 
the dance place by one player. The finder pounds the grass on a stone, 

74 The People of Alor 

saying, "I am pounding your nose, I am pounding your mouth," and so 
on, enumerating all the parts of the body. 

The picture, therefore, seems one of progressive restraint from direct 
aggression to verbal aggression and of decreasing freeness in verbal ag- 
gression paralleling increasing wealth. As we shall see, this situation 
represents training in an aspect of one of the major emotional functions 
of wealth in Atimelang. 

Children may vent aggi jssion and take revenge in the form of spite 
and ridicule directed toward younger children or toward helpless 
adults. Matingma the Crazy Woman was the butt of a good deal of 
ridicule from young boys, who sometimes followed her down the trail 
imitating her walk and commenting in loud voices on her slack breasts 
and her promiscuity. In the children's drawings (Chapter 21) one boy 
represented Matingma the Crazy Woman and Lakamau the Simpleton 
walking together, to the uproarious amusement of the other children. 
On another day a boy of about fifteen drew Lakamau the Simpleton 
while Lakamau was present, to the victim's great discomfiture. It is 
worth noting that the boy later shared with Lakamau the candy he had 
received in payment for his drawings. Whether this should be inter- 
preted as a gesture of kindness or a self-imposed fine, I am at a loss to 
say. It is quite possible that in Alor kindness and indemnification be- 
come closely associated concepts. The system of punishing and then 
placating a child by "speaking nicely" to it suggests that such kindness 
is a sort of compensation for the disciplined own irritability, for which 
he feels the need to atone. It might be considered a kind of indemni- 
fication pattern, which is also found in financial relationships. 

The spite and revenge that children may direct toward helpless in- 
dividuals is quite possibly the explanation of adult teasing of children. 
One can afford to be spiteful only toward people who have no redress. 
The degrees to which adult discipline may be based on such a revenge 
principle is almost overtly stated in this passage from an autobiogra- 
phy: <f Now [as in my father's day] we also talk to the small children 
and teach them. When we were small and didn't work, our parents took 
our hands and rubbed them on the ground. [This was done fairly hard 
and was meant to hurt.] We too educate our children in this fashion. 
When I didn't work in the fields, father twice had to rub my hands 
on the ground, and twice he had to tie my hands behind me." There is 
at least a modicum of moralistic hypocrisy in such a viewpoint. 

There is no material indicating that a child ever turns spite or re- 
venge inward upon itself. I know of only one brief episode in which an 
adult so interpreted the behavior of his child. "When I was five or six I 

Late Childhood 75 

stuffed a pea in my ear and could not get it out. My father was angry 
and pulled my ear for this. He said, 'Why do you stuff peas in your ear 
in view of the fact that I don't strike you?' " 

No discussion of aggression would be complete without some com- 
ments on the techniques of resistance open to children when parental 
authority becomes too irksome. The most common device is to run 
away, often after some act of revengeful violence. It is a common ex- 
perience to see men order a play group of children to do something, 
only to see the group melt away if the task promises to be unattractive. 
However, the group forms as rapidly again if some pleasant activity is 

There seems always to be some kin who will offer sanctuary to a 
child in difficulty. Just as children learn quickly enough to play one 
parent off against the other, so also they learn which kin will stand up 
for them when parental demands seem oppressive. The case of Ril- 
pada's rebellion against duties and his mode of escape is worth noting. 

"Once mother and I went to the garden; there was a large field 
house and we lived there. One day she told me to carry Senmani [his 
infant brother] while she worked. At noon he was hungry and wanted 
to nurse. I gave him food, but he only vomited it. He cried and cried 
and wouldn't stop. I cried too. Finally I went and told mother to nurse 
him, but she wouldn't come. So I took Senmani into the house and laid 
him down on a mat and ran off to Folafeng. From there I shouted, 
'Mother, your child sleeps in the house. If you want to care for it, good; 
if you don't want to, also good. I am going to Atimelang and play.' I 
went to the house of my maternal grandmother in the former Atime- 
lang. . . . Mother called, 'All right, you have thrown away your 
younger brother. Tomorrow you will die.' That evening mother came 
to Atimelang with Senmani and gave him to my grandfather to care 
for. In the morning she returned and tied my hands behind my back. 
She said, 'You wear a loincloth but you aren't old enough to wear a loin- 
cloth.' She took my loincloth away from me. Then my grandfather 
split his shawl and gave me half for a loincloth. I said to my mother, 
'You have hit me and you have taken away my loincloth. Now I don't 
want to stay with you.' Then mother talked nicely to me, but I didn't 
want to go back. My grandfather said, 'You hit him and opened his 
loincloth, so now go cut your weeds with your right hand and care 
for your infant with your left hand. Carry the child in front and your 
water tubes in back.' I stayed a month with my grandfather, and then 
mother came back and asked me to go home. So I did, and cared for 
my younger brother." 

j6 The People of Aim 

This anecdote illustrates nicely that obedience is expected and that 
disobedience will be punished. However, the child is not completely 
helpless in the face of what it considers ill treatment. The possibility of 
running away or of appealing to other kin in the face of difficulties is 
one that persists in adulthood. It undoubtedly has much to do with the 
flexibility and instability of group formations and residence in a society 
that theoretically rests upon the solidarity of near kin and their ability 
to function economically and ceremonially. It can result in some cases, 
of which Mangma is one (see his autobiography), in extreme fluidity of 
residence and opportunism in relationships. In other words, a system 
of child training can set up behavior patterns that contribute to the 
disruption of formal social structure and create a considerable gap be- 
tween theory and practice in community life. 


It was suggested earlier in this chapter that boys might well derive a 
sense of being undervalued from the lack of provision for feeding them 
and from the fact that they are given less desirable portions of meat. 
Teasing and ridicule as well as the casual treatment of children's prop- 
erty are additional avenues for a child's acquisition of a sense of un- 
worthiness. As far as boys are concerned this is to be balanced against 
'the fact that, in comparison with girls, they have fewer duties and hold 
a relatively privileged position. The situation can be summarized by 
stating that compared with men, boys are underprivileged, but com- 
pared with girls, and even women, they are not. 

However, these are not the only situations in which a child is made 
to feel his status. Sometimes contemptuously and sometimes as a matter 
of fact, adults say, "He is only a child; he doesn't think yet." A com- 
parable comment is, "He hasn't a heart yet." Heart is really the equiva- 
lent of "within him," so that this is a way of saying that the child is 
still empty, a person without content. Perhaps one of the most telling 
bits of evidence for the status of the child in the minds of adults is that 
to call an adult a child (moku) is a great insult, because, as it was ex- 
plained to me, it is the same as saying that the person knows nothing, 
has nothing, and is in general a poor person of no substance. 

Balanced against all these factors that may lead a child to acquire a 
sense of unworthiness are certain other tendencies that might serve to 
enhance the child's sense of importance. In the following chapter it is 
pointed out that a man does not acquire adult status until he has chil- 
dren. This is not the sole criterion of full status for a man but it is an 
important one. Also, men are frequently addressed or referred to as 

Late Childhood 77 

"the father of So-and-so." This modified teknonymy is rarer for women. 
That it should occur in a group where patrilocal residence predomi- 
nates gives it perhaps a greater significance than if it occurred in a so- 
ciety with matrilocal residence. Children, therefore, are important in 
giving status to adults. They are valued also, as the next chapter indi- 
cates, because they give the death feasts, which mean postmortem pres- 
tige for the parents. However, it is quite possible that children may 
have a value in 'adult eyes from which the children themselves do not 

There was one case of a child prophet, a little girl of about six called 
Koleti, who was able to sway the community for several weeks. 

One day Koleti's mother sent her to fetch a spoon. The child did not 
return and could not be found all day. Her father and paternal grand- 
father, who were on a dunning trip to a distant village, said they saw 
her appear on the trail and then fade into thin air. That evening the 
mother hearrd a rustling in the loft, asked who was there, and heard 
Koleti answer, "We are. We are coming down." And the child was dis- 
covered hiding in the loft. 

Some weeks later the mother and father were both in a village about 
a day's journey away. Again the child appeared and this time ordered 
them to return to their own home. She then disappeared. Actually, the 
child had been left at home in the care of a sickly youth of about 
twenty, who reported that she had disappeared from home at the time 
her parents believed she spoke to them in the distant village. The child 
was by now the center of attention in the community, and adults sug- 
gested to her that she was in contact with a Good Being and was on 
the way to becoming one herself. Koleti was quick to play on this sug- 
gestion. She ordered a special house built in which she would live alone 
until the Good Being and his wife arrived to care for her. The house 
was erected and adults assured me that it had miraculously grown 
taller overnight. Koleti ordered that an all-night dance be held, saying 
her supernatural friends would arrive at dawn. When they failed to 
arrive, interested adults, including her father and his cousin Malelaka 
(see Malelaka's autobiography), were quick to make excuses and say 
the advent was merely delayed. 

For days Koleti continued to be the center of attention. At a feast 
she fell ill and everyone crowded around her in concern. Her rationali- 
zation was that a small playmate had rubbed his greasy hands on her. 
Her pronouncements were all in the traditional pattern connected with 
the advent of a Good Being. She could not attend death feasts, all 

78 The People of Alor 

people must abstain from seafoods, and she conversed with ghosts who 
knew all that had happened. She was assured and autocratic in all she 
did. She even scolded one of the most influential men of the com- 
munity, who chanced to be a distant kinsman, for delaying the first 
feast in connection with the erection of his lineage house. Her tone to- 
ward other children was as peremptory as that of adults toward chil- 

Many details of this anecdote are omitted here since they belong 
more properly to a discussion of religion, which must await later publi- 
cation. The episode serves here as a rare, but not unique, instance of 
singular status achieved by a small child. It demonstrates that even 
children, to whom the society accords no very high position, may 
develop devices for wielding power. 


This period of late childhood, when children are referred to as 
moku, is. characterized by the disappearance of temper tantrums and 
the child's acquisition of devices for taking care of itself in its environ- 
ment. It is also the time when the discipline foreshadowed in early 
childhood assumes its harshest forms. The restrictive aspects of this 
discipline range from teasing and ridicule involving shame to actual 
physical violence or threats of violence. For boys there is very little 
constructive training for their adult roles, except as their somewhat 
privileged position in comparison with girls permits them greater op- 
portunity and furnishes them greater incentives for absorptive disci- 

Because boys must search for their food they learn incidentally a 
great deal about the society in which they live. Girls, on the other 
hand, are deliberately trained in the food quest and the role they must 
play as providers. 

Girls have a less privileged position but more consistent training and 
constructive participation in the activities of women. That they may 
resent their status as women is perhaps indicated by the fact that some 
of the growing girls assume male roles in play. Both sexes have the 
same experience with inconsistency in adult behavior toward them. 
Both learn to assert themselves by running off, by seeking the protec- 
tion of other kin, and by vigorous and often violent resistance. In 
certain realms at least, both sexes must acquire a feeling of their under- 
valued position, although they can depend on the assistance of adult 
kin in litigations and in sacrifices to placate the dead or malignant 

Late Childhood 79 

These factors cannot but create distrust toward others and lability 
in human relationships. Children must be left with a sense of bewilder- 
ment in placing their loyalties and with an essential ignorance of warm 
and trustful relationships. The lack of training and praise, as well as the 
presence of teasing, ridicule, and fear, combined with lack of privileges 
and esteem, must create in the child an essential distrust of itself. All 
these factors will influence ego formations. They will probably affect 
morality clusters by failing to provide consistent behavioral precepts. 
They deprive the child of definite loved persons by means of whom 
social standards can be internalized. 

I do not wish to imply that the Alorese are without such stand- 
ardssocial life without them could not exist. But there is good rea- 
son to believe that in Alor the standards are not so rigid or so deeply 
rooted as they are in our middle class. The likelihood of a deep sense of 
guilt, therefore, and of turning aggressions inward upon the self to the 
point of suicide is much less pronounced. Suicide as a culturally recog- 
nized device is unknown, and I have records of only a very few situa- 
tions that might be interpreted by implication as suicidal (See Chap- 
ter 7.) 

In respect to sex the culture is much less harsh. Sexual activity is 
expected to diminish during late childhood. However, information re- 
garding it is not withheld, and disapproved activity seems to be no more 
harshly treated than social offenses such as theft and disobedience. 
Again, as in earlier developmental periods, the activities of the instincts 
seem to be less destructively handled than those of the ego. 

Chapter 6 
Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 

THE problems of adolescence are very different for boys and girls. 
One of the most marked differences is the greater prolongation of the 
period for boys. Neither sex has any ritually or socially recognized 
crisis rites to dramatize the passage from childhood to adulthood. It is 
basically an individual and personal transition that must be made. There 
are no men's clubs, no secret societies, no tribal initiation for boys. For 
girls there are absolutely no first menses ceremonies or even restrictions. 
The closest approach to a symbolic recognition of adulthood offered 
by the society is tattooing for girls, letting the hair grow long for 
boys, and tooth blackening and filing for both sexes. But even these de- 
vices are casual and optional, so that the initiative must be taken by the 
adolescent himself. They are not utilized to further the young person's 
education or alter his status. 


The time for girls to be tattooed is on the first day of the four-day 
communal pig hunt at the end of the dry season, when most of the boys 
and men leave the village. There is no implied sex segregation in the 
choice of this time, since any man who has failed to go hunting may be 
present during the tattooing process. In fact, men also may be tattooed, 
but this is done casually by some friend at any time during the year, and 
later in young manhood. Tattooing is rarer among men than among 
women. Almost all women are tattooed, whereas only an occasional 
man is. 

The men set off for the hunt shortly after dawn, accompanied by a 
group of women who may not go beyond the crest of the hill. The 
women then return and are required to be quiet and avoid unduly vig- 
orous activity until the men come back. Girls whose breasts are begin- 
ning to develop take this opportunity to be tattooed, but they must 
wait until a black column of smoke rises from the grass fired by the 
men for the pig drives. If they do not wait, the tattoo designs will be 
light and impermanent. Each girl herself expresses the wish and collects 
the necessary materials. These are a thorn and finely pounded coconut- 
shell charcoal mixed with the juice of banana bark. Some grown woman 
who feels that she has a certain skill in the matter will volunteer to per- 
form the operation. The girl lays her head in the operator's lap; a 


Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 8 1 

design is first traced on her forehead or cheek and is then pricked in 
with a thorn dipped in charcoal. The procedure usually draws a num- 
ber of girls and adult women, all of whom discuss animatedly which 
of a limited number of simple designs will be used. Often a little girl 
who has taken no initiative in the matter will be urged by a friend or 
adult to undergo the operation. Beauty is the only objective. 

It is a tradition to insist that the operation does not hurt, and when I 
asked a girl who had just had the task completed whether it was pain- 
ful, older women answered before she was able to, assuring me that it 
was not. On one occasion some older women, by way of teasing the 
child's grandmother, urged a little girl of seven to let herself be tattooed. 
The grandmother arrived just in time to prevent the scheme from being 
carried out. She was very indignant that her grandchild should have 
been cajoled into it when she was obviously so young. In relation to a 
discussion of skills and craftsmanship which will come later, it should 
be stated that the tattooing process is often very crude and usually im- 
permanent, so that traces of designs are rarely distinguishable on the 
faces of middle-aged women. 


Whereas girls are tattooed from approximately ten to fourteen, the 
comparable badge of adulthood for boys, i.e., long hair, does not come 
until somewhat later, at ages I should estimate from sixteen to eighteen. 
When boys begin to let their hair grow long, they also begin borrowing 
or acquiring male accouterments. These are dwelt upon in loving de- 
tail in many myths and consist of a sword, a front shield, a back shield, 
a parrying shield, a bow, a wide belt of woven rattan that serves as a 
quiver, an areca basket with bells, and the tubular, areca-bark hair 
cylinder with the accompanying combs and head plumes. Naturally, a 
young man rarely succeeds in borrowing or acquiring all these articles 
at first, but he gets as many as he can and struts about in them, often 
followed by the half-admiring, half-derisive comments of older women 
and girls. There is a special expression for the type of laughter that 
women direct toward a young man, which I can translate only by our 
word hoot. Its character is as unmistakable as the laughter that accom- 
panies the telling of smutty jokes in our culture. A young man of about 
twenty himself described in the following words this attitude and the 
associated courting interests of both boys and girls. 

"When a lot of women get together to work in the fields or to fetch 
water, they talk and talk. When you hear them hoot, that means they 
are talking about a man. Maybe one girl says she likes a certain man and 

82 The People of Alor 

intends to sleep with him. When a young man ties up his long hair 
and walks with bells on his basket, women watch until he has passed 
by, and then they say, 'Isn't that a fine man!' and begin to hoot. If he 
wears a big white shawl from the coast, women will say, 'There goes 
my white chicken!' and then they hoot. The young man feels glad but 
also a little ashamed. Also, when a young man begins to versify at a 
dance and his voice rings out clear and strong, the next day the women 
will say, 'Don't we have a fine man in our village!' and then they will 
hoot. When there is a dance, the young man will hunt for areca and 
betel the day before so as to fill up his basket. When he reaches the 
dance place on the night of the dance, all the young women will crowd 
around him and hold out their hands for areca. If one woman comes 
back again and again for more areca, it is a sign that they already want 
each other, and soon they will go off and make an agreement. Then the 
girl says he must go find her bride-price." 

This comment sets, better than any outsider could, the pattern of 
masculine vanity, which often persists through life and which is recog- 
nized as a male trait. Consistent with this newly developed swagger, 
other changes occur in young men's lives. In the course of a few 
months they break away from the irresponsible free-roving play groups 
of growing boys and become far more solitary and sedentary. They 
iihitate the indolence of older wealthy men. At the same time, they be- 
gin to speculate about the possibilities and the means for entering the 
financial system of the adults and about ways of ingratiating themselves 
with men of influence who may be of assistance to them. The whole 
question of entering financial activities will be discussed presently in 
connection with marriage. 

One significant detail concerning food should be noted in connection 
with the coming of age in boys. The picture so far of the development 
of masculine vanity and the good-natured teasing that it involves is 
thoroughly familiar to us. There is another and comparable source of 
teasing. Boys who are beginning to show open interest in girls and to 
visit the village of someone they find attractive will be teased by older 
people with comments like the following, "Padama has gone to visit his 
wife in Karieta. When boys grow up, the food their mother cooks no 
longer tastes good. They have to go to the house of a young woman to 
eat." This kind of teasing makes the younger boys squirm with embar- 
rassment much as it would in our society. A few years later a young man 
will insist on a midday meal, even if he has to cook it himself, as a sym- 
bol of the adult status he is struggling to acquire. The extent to which 
food and courting ideas can be linked is also exemplified in the follow- 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 83 

ing instance. Langmai, who was courting Kolmani by helping her 
with the storage of her harvest, suggested that they had better marry, 
by saying, "Who will eat this corn I am stacking? I had better come 
and eat it myself." 


It is during this period of adolescence that both boys and girls have 
their teeth blackened and filed. Again the matter is optional, but since 
shiny black teeth are much admired and long uneven ones are consid- 
ered very ugly, practically every young person has his blackened and 
probably half have them filed. The process is more or less in the nature 
of a prolonged picnic, free from adult supervision. It is without doubt 
also a period of license for many of the young people, although adults 
vigorously contradicted my phrasing it so. 

The best indication of die sexual liberty current at this time is that 
stricter parents forbid their daughters to remain in remote field houses 
overnight and insist upon their staying at home or near by in the house 
of some responsible elder kin. Further, when I visited such a group one 
evening at sundown just as the strips of dye were being passed out, the 
young man in charge of procuring and mixing the paste used to darken 
the teeth said sternly to the children, "Now, no intercourse tonight" 
a comment that produced a ripple of giggling among the boys and girls. 

The actual procedure is as follows: In July or August some young 
unmarried man, perhaps in his early twenties, announces that he will 
blacken teeth for the children of the community and designates the 
field house where it will be done. This is the slack season agriculturally, 
so that girls can be spared from the fields. He purchases from some 
friend ih the village of Bakudatang a particular type of soil found there. 
This investment rarely exceeds five cents. With the earth he mixes a 
fruit resembling a small green fig. The resulting paste is smeared on 
a strip of banana bark which each child cuts to fit the size of his mouth. 
The preparation of each day's supply takes the better part of an after- 
noon. For at least seven nights, and often ten, the children sleep together 
in a field house, with the paste held against their teeth by the flexible 
bark strips. During the day boys assiduously hunt rats, and girls go to 
their fields to collect vegetable foods. The children all eat together, 
being careful to place small bits of food far back in their mouths in or- 
der not to spoil the dye. With the same objective a length of thin bam- 
boo is used as a drinking tube during the period. Surplus rats are 
smoked to preserve them for a feast on the last day. 

The whole procedure reminds one very much of "playing house." 
It is a carefree time for all the young people. There are no taboos asso- 

84 The People 0f Alor 

elated with the period except that attending a dance will interfere with 
proper dyeing and that if small children loiter too near the older group 
they will fail to grow up rapidly. For his services the young man is 
paid a nominal sum of an arrow, or nowadays a penny, per child. He 
seldom makes more than twenty or thirty cents for a week's work. 
When I asked why a young man undertook such a task when the re- 
ward was so small, the answer was, "Because he likes to be near young 

On the last day or two of the period those who are to have their 
teeth filed go through the ordeal. The same person who prepared the 
dye usually does the tooth filing. The subject's head is laid on the thigh 
of the operator and wedged against his side with his elbow. The jaws 
are propped open with a piece of corncob. The six upper and six lower 
front teeth are then filed to half their length with an ordinary knife 
blade which has been nicked to resemble a saw. Apparently experience 
makes it possible to avoid the root canal, which occupies only the upper 
half of the incisors. The whole operation takes about two or three 
hours, and for this the operator is paid the equivalent of about five 
cents. It is undoubtedly painful but, as in tattooing, it is bad form to 
admit it. The result of this filing means that even when the back teeth 
are occluded, the tongue will show pinkly between the gaping front 
teeth when a person smiles. This is considered definitely attractive. 

The complete informality of this ceremony is manifest by the fact 
that some of the young people return two or three years in succession 
if the first attempt at blackening was not successful. Also, anyone, at 
any time, may have his teeth filed down to a straight, even line for 
appearance's sake. The range of ages is also wide. Boys may be from 
about fourteen to twenty and girls from twelve to eighteen. There is 
no regulation against young married people joining the group. The 
married people, however, are most likely to be girls, since marriage 
comes early for them. 

Tattooing, the beginning of masculine vanity, courting, and tooth 
blackening are all preliminaries to marriage for young people. It will be 
necessary bow to describe the financial elaborations involved in mar- 
riage for the young Atimelangers, how they enter into such relationships, 
and what some of the associated sex attitudes and practices are. 


Marriage has as one of its major functions the establishment of a 
series of exchanges between groups of extended affinal kin which will 
continue as long as the marriage lasts. There are three major types of 

Adolescence , Marriage, and Sex 85 

bride-price balanced by three types of dowry payments. These all have 

separate native terms. 


Payments in gongs and mokos kafuk moling 

Payments in pigs paheh fila 

Free gifts of piglets, corn, and rice punghe siengma 

In arranging a marriage the young people frequently reach an agree- 
ment first and then persuade their elders to assist in the negotiations. 
Just as frequently a marriage may be a matter of financial expediency 
for the adults, to which young people are often quite acquiescent. Re- 
gardless of how a particular marriage has been arranged, it is necessary 
for the kinsmen to discuss, sometimes over a period of months, just how 
the exchanges will be initiated. First of all ivamana* an engagement gift 
or option on the girl, must be given. This consists of a moko worth 
from $1.50 to $2.50 for the girl's father and a shawl worth $.75 to 
$1.50 for the mother. The theoretic bride-price and dowry payments in 
mokos should consist of the following series: 

BRIDE-PRICE (kafuk) DOWRY (moling) 

bekak (his war arrow) Afuipe tukaiy hafikda 

moko $35.00 Maningmauk moko $ 5.00 

12 dance anklets 60 

bead dance pectoral 25 

hekokda (his junior) Hawataka hekokda (her junior) Maning- 

moko 7.50 mauk moko 5.00 

hesui (his third) Kolmale moko. 6.50 bend (her third) Tamamia moko 4.00 

bebuti (his fourth) Maningmauk hebuti (her fourth) Piki moko. . 2.50 

moko 5.00 heyeting (her fifth) Kabali moko 1.50 

heyeting (his fifth) Tamamia fatalama (her sixth ) Fataf a moko 1.25 

moko 4.00 

betalawa (his sixth) Piki m6ko. . 2.50 $20.10 


This is purely a formal list of the approved payments and their rela- 
tionships. It indicates a tendency for bride-prices to be three times as 
large as dowries. No case in my records exactly corresponds to such a 
theoretic description. What actually happens is that the male kin, in 
discussing the mokos each side has available, make a purely expedient 
arrangement which only approximates the theoretic one. Before the 
consummation of the marriage, the man should make the engagement 
gift and pay the first, and highest priced, moko. Without further cere- 
mony the girl then goes to live with him. 

Theoretically she then becomes a member of his village and his line- 

* This term is the equivalent of our "no trespassing.*' It refers to branches placed 
on a house door as a sign that the owner wishes no one to enter during his absence. 

86 The People of Alor 

age, but her kinsmen are always ready to remind her of her original 
loyalties. She usually arrives at her husband's house with a bundle of 
wood or some corn as a symbol of her readiness to take up cohabitation. 
Again, however, this is the formal rather than the usual procedure. 
Quite often a very young girl may live in the house with her future 
husband, because "if she cooks for the man, his heart will remember 
mokos and he will want to pay her family." On many other occasions a 
girl will refuse to go through with the physical aspects of marriage, 
although the financial ones have been arranged for her and a first moko 
payment has been made. This reluctance will be discussed subsequently 
where sexual material is treated in greater detail. 

If, however, a marriage does crystallize, the husband, after making 
the first payment, is free to call on his affinal kin for the first dowry 
return whenever he is in need of it. Similarly his affinal kin will dun 
him for further kafuk payments as they need them. The liquidation of 
the bride-price and dowry terms may take the better part of a lifetime. 
Meanwhile, however, there has been carried on between the two groups 
of affinal kin a series of exchanges in pigs of the so-called paheh and fila 
type. These are not standardized and agreed upon ahead of time. The 
number of animals exchanged should theoretically be equal in value, 
but the outcome depends on the fluctuating bargaining power of the 
individuals concerned. The extent to which each group of kin is in- 
volved in death feasts, the building of lineage houses, and the establish- 
ment of new marital obligations will determine the frequency and size 
of the demands they make upon each other. The result is that a young 
man is often fearful of marrying a girl whose male kin are too rich and 
influential, because he may not have the resources to meet the requests 
to which such a marriage exposes him. 

In addition to the larger bride-price-dowry exchanges there are 
the so-called free gifts (punghe and siengma). Actually, the punghe 
gifts are considered the man's payments on actual or potential offspring 
and may be one of the chief avenues for minor exploitation. Stated con- 
versely, these gifts provide a man the opportunity to show himself 
either large-handed or niggardly. Propriety demands that each child be 
represented by a minimum of four punghe gifts, which means four pig- 
lets. The corresponding siengma, or vegetable gifts of rice and corn, are 
such foods as the wife has been able to persuade her parents to contrib- 
ute to any feast undertaken by her husband. Actually, a boy who is 
not yet married and who wishes to placate his potential and grasping 
affinal kin may begin by giving punghe gifts before he pays his first 
real bride-price or cohabits with his wife. In addition, there is another 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 87 

form of gift from a husband called "roastings" (hieting). He brings a 
small pig to his affinal kin's feast, slaughters and cooks it there, and dis- 
poses of its meat himself; he does not turn it over to his father-in-law 
for distribution. However, he is felt to be* adding to the ostentation of 
the occasion by cooking at the site of the feast. 

So far I have been describing affinal exchanges as though they oc- 
curred only between the husband and his wife's father or brother. Ac- 
tually most financial exchanges between men are phrased as affinal ones. 
Thus a man may enter into financial transactions with the husbands of 
any female kin he calls vimayoa, i.e., female child. This includes all his 
nieces and cousins reckoned bilaterally. Such exchanges also are called 
dowries (moling) and bride-prices (fila) but they do not affect the 
original agreement between a man and his affinal kin. A sister's son also 
is called a vi mayoa. In this case the term means a male child through a 
female kin. Such a vi mayoa may ask his mother's brother for financial 
help (moling), on the supposition that the maternal uncle is paying 
dowry on his sister. There are, of course, still wider ramifications of 
these bride-price-dowry exchanges, but they need not be discussed in 
this connection. 

Perhaps one of the best indexes of what marital finances may mean 
is revealed in cases of divorce. At such times tallies of sticks or pebbles 
are laid down in separate rows by each side to represent the kafuk 
and paheh versus the moling and fila payments. As a rule the punghe and 
siengma exchanges are not counted unless there is a good deal of ill 
feeling and consequently financial pressure is being brought to bear on 
one or the other principals. As each tally is named in connection with 
the occasion of payment, witnesses may be called upon to substantiate 
the correctness of the claim. These witnesses are usually people who 
have some financial interest in the settlement. However, since such fi- 
nancial exchanges are invariably public affairs and so much a matter of 
common knowledge, skill in divorce reckonings depends more on mem- 
ory than on chicanery. The objective is to balance bride-price payments 
against dowry payments. 

Since such reckonings are the favorite way for husbands, wives, and 
affinal kin to air their grievances, these encounters are frequent. I should 
hazard the guess that there averaged one a -week in the Five Villages. 
Naturally not all led to divorce. Usually after bluffs had been called 
and grievances aired, the couple settled down again. Fantan's autobiog- 
raphy offers a nice example of such a situation. 

People generally seemed to sense whether the divorce reckoning was 
in earnest or not, but whether or not it was serious never seemed to de- 

88 The People of Aim 

tract from their pleasure in the recitation of the exchanges. Also, the 
longer the marriage has lasted, the more elaborate will be the financial 
reckonings a factor that helps to stabilize marriages. Theoretically, 
and almost always in practice, the bride-price exceeds the dowry, so 
that the woman's family is in a debtor position. This too serves as a 
check on facile divorce, since a woman's kin must be able to repay the 
bride-price. On occasion a woman will be caught in a marriage from 
which she cannot extricate herself because male kin cannot, or will not, 
come to her support. Under such circumstances the only solution for 
her is to find a second husband who will pay back her first husband the 
owed bride-price. This is generally possible, but the case of one young 
woman caught in a strange village with a husband she did not like and 
whose male kin were unsympathetic is worth repeating. 

The girl had married a man from a distant village who paid her 
father an unusually large bride-price, amounting to more than three 
mokos worth about eighty dollars. The girl went to join her husband 
but refused him sexual privileges. This is quite customary at the begin- 
ning of marriage, so the husband was not too impatient. After a month, 
however, one night when she left the house to relieve herself he fol- 
lowed her and raped her. Another source of friction was that she 
wanted to cultivate a field near the village but he and his brothers in- 
sisted that she work in a distant field where she professed to be in dan- 
ger from wild pigs. After a few months of quarreling she ran back to 
her own village to live with her maternal uncle who had brought her 
up. Her mother had died when she was young and when her father re- 
married she had been taken into the household of the uncle. 

Her father was greatly annoyed at the rupture in the marriage, par- 
ticularly since he had given so far very little dowry on her. However, 
the husband forced the father into a repayment of all but a thirteen- 
dollar-and-fifty-cent moko that the father refused to return until the 
husband returned a five-dollar moko of the dowry payment. This 
the husband refused to do because of a financial dispute as to precisely 
what was owed. The girl's uncle too was angry because he had been 
given no share in the bride-price, so that he refused to repay the hus- 
band and complete the divorce. The girl, on her side, refused to find 
another spouse who would assume her financial commitments. Both of 
her male kinsmen were furious with her for what they considered her 
unreasonable behavior. The father in his anger had taken back a shawl 
he had given her, and the uncle refused to pay for a seer who would 
counteract the poison that the girl said her husband had directed against 
her. She had been ill for several months, a condition she attributed to 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 89 

the poison her husband had made over a piece of areca-nut shell she had 
discarded. The young woman, when I saw her, was depressed and ill. 
She apparently felt herself in an impasse. 

Cases of this sort are relatively rare. Women as a rule are too valu- 
able to go begging in this fashion, and anyone with enough vigor and 
maturity can get herself out of such a dilemma, as reference to the 
autobiographies will show. 


So far this discussion of marriage has been primarily concerned with 
its formal structure, its influence on stabilizing relationships, and the 
position in which it places women in relation to their male kin. How a 
young man enters the financial game, with marriage and sex as motiva- 
tions, needs some elucidation. The mode of entry presents a wide 
range from those young men who are on good terms with wealthy 
fathers willing to set them up in marriages agreeable to them, to those 
young men who have no solicitous kin willing to, or able to, assist and 
who must break into the system through their own initiative. 

The situation of the young man whose way is smoothed by the co- 
operation of a willing father needs little elaboration. The men's auto- 
biographies set this picture in part. It is worth noting that elder kin are 
often genuinely concerned about procuring a wife for a young man. If 
a youth becomes involved with a woman, her relatives may precipi- 
tate a public scandal and force a marriage. This places the boy's elders 
at a disadvantage in bargaining. However, the case of a young man who 
opposes his father's choice and that of a young man who must make 
his way unaided may be illustrated in two incidents given here in some 
detail for the light they throw on human relationships. 

Atamau was a young man of about seventeen whose elderly father, 
Mobikalieta, had found it financially convenient about a year before to 
accept as partial payment for a debt a friend's immature daughter, who 
was to become the wife of his son. Atamau resented the girl because as 
his age-mates said, "He wants someone who is old enough to sleep 
with." The matter had been in abeyance for about a year, but to a 
house-building feast in which the old father was a partner, the young 
girl was sent with a food contribution in her own right. This consti- 
tuted a sort of public declaration of the validity of her marriage. When 
she arrived on the dance place, Atamau flew into a rage and knocked 
her basket of food to the ground, saying she was not his wife and had 
no right to contribute food. 

The father was angry and turned on his son, who then openly re- 

90 The People of Alor 

jected the marriage, saying that the girl's parents were willing to give 
back the bride-price. The father, despite his age and feebleness, flew 
into such a tantrum at this that he began dancing challenge back and 
forth across the dance place, shouting as loud as his aged voice per- 
mitted. The son sat quietly to one side looking distressed but stubborn. 
Bystanders tried to intercede only to have Mobikalieta turn on them in 
rage and threaten to leave the feast, although he was a building partner 
of the lineage house then being erected. 

After Various extremely boastful challenges on Mobikalieta's part 
he suddenly recalled the original cause of his anger and turning on his 
son said, "Perhaps you had better find another father." This was the 
equivalent of "throwing away" his son, one of the most drastic pres- 
sures a kinsman can bring to bear. Atamau began to cry quietly but 
refused to surrender his point. When I asked a bystander if Atamau 
would really seek another man to help him marry, the bystander smiled 
and said, "When a father and son quarrel, they don't remember their 
words. (i.e., they hold no grudge)." 

However, this was merely a traditional response. Actually Atamau 
and Mobikalieta were not reconciled. Five months later Atamau per- 
suaded Maliseni, a rich financier, to take up his case. For two whole 
days Maliseni negotiated with the girl's father, with Atamau's father, 
and with the chief of Atimelang, who was considering buying Atamau's 
repudiated child wife. The negotiations reached a climax one night 
when for two hours Maliseni paced back and forth on his dance place 
discussing the matter with a sympathetic audience and shouting his 
conclusions to the dance place up on the ridge where the supporters of 
the girl were gathered. 

All this difficulty centered around a series of interlocking obligations 
in which Atamau was being squeezed. The situation was complex 
but in brief was this. Mobikalieta had already paid the girl's father a 
ten-dollar moko, a five-dollar moko, and two pigs. The girl's father was 
notoriously pbverty-stricken, and direct payment from him was out of 
the question. The chief of Atimelang was bidding for the rejected girl 
and was willing to pay back the five-dollar moko and the two pigs. Still 
unsettled was the repayment of the ten-dollar moko. The girl's father 
and the chief were saying they would not repay it until Atamau made 
a dowry payment on a kinswoman of his who was married to a kinsman 
of theirs. Matters were at an impasse for another month until the di- 
vorce of another of Atamau's kinswomen, through Maliseni's good 
offices, put him in possession of a moko. This he could use as the de- 
manded dowry payment and thereby get back his ten-dollar bride-price 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 91 

moko. With that in hand he could begin to accumulate a new bride- 
price, by lending it at interest to Maliseni. Thereby he would be one 
step nearer to buying the girl on whom his heart meanwhile had be- 
come set. These financial transactions must have been highly frustrating 
to Atamau and the girl whom he wished to marry. They also gave 
rise to, or were the means of expressing, hostility between a father and 
son, and they laid the rejected girl open to a good deal of sly teasing 
from young men about her desirability and the reason for her marriage 
to an older man. 

Senlaka's experiences in trying to break into financial life were per- 
haps even more frustrating and discouraging than those of Atamau. 
When he was about fourteen or fifteen, he had spent a season working 
hard in his and his parents' gardens. After a good maize harvest had 
been tied into bundles and stored in the loft, his parents, partly to re- 
ward him and partly to start him on his financial career, gave him a 
piglet. Senlaka devoted himself to its care. He kept it penned and gath- 
ered food to fatten it rapidly. When it was worth a five-dollar moko, 
instead of allowing Senlaka to contribute it to a feast for a return pay- 
ment in mokos, his father confiscated it for one of his own death feasts, 
saying it was Senlaka's duty to contribute to their family ceremonies. 

Senlaka was furious but helpless. He swore he would never again 
raise pigs, a vow that he kept stubbornly for years. Meanwhile his 
father died, but there was an older brother who had to buy a wife first. 
When I knew Senlaka he was twenty-six, still unmarried, and as sensi- 
tive on that score as all boys in Atimelang. For a young man of his age 
to be unmarried is considered even more of a social disability than for a 
debutante who has been out ten years. Luckily Senlaka was a good 
houseboy and the salary he received from me permitted him to buy a 
moko from a coastal man who was pressed for tax money and to ac- 
quire a couple of pigs. The special inducement for launching once more 
on a financial career was a girl from Karieta with whom he had fallen 
in love. He contributed his pigs as dowry payments on some female 
kin and expected the higher bride-price in return. However, he lent his 
moko at interest to Maliseni, the same financier who figured in the pre- 
ceding anecdote and one notoriously skilled in financial chicanery. 

To add to Senlaka's difficulties his future brothers-in-law were plan- 
ning a large death feast for their father. They counted on their only 
sister's bride-price as one of the chief sources of income for the event. 
Night after night when Senlaka went to see the girl, her kin berated 
him for his slowness in paying his bride-price and threatened to sell 
their sister to another man. They even demanded that he pay the whole 

92 The People of Alor 

kafuk at one time, since his older brother had recently indulged in that 
bit of ostentatious financing. As Senlaka said, "They made me ashamed. 
It is not as though I were not an orphan. Now it has been three weeks 
since I have been to their house." In the meantime Senlaka had tried to 
placate his future affinal kin by furnishing at different times ten piglets 
as free gifts (punghe). 

During these negotiations Senlaka was trying his best to force Mali- 
seni to make the promised repayment on the moko he had lent him and 
Maliseni was putting him off with promises. Maliseni said that he had to 
wait until a man in a distant village gave a death feast, at which time he 
would receive payment on an outstanding obligation. Feasts are always 
held much later than the promised date, so only after much delay did 
Senlaka finally think he was to get the promised moko. When Maliseni 
returned, however, he "spoke nicely" to Senlaka, saying that unfortu- 
nately another creditor had insisted upon being paid but that if Senlaka 
could give him an additional moko, he, Maliseni, could repay both of 
them with an even higher valued moko that he expected to receive 
soon. Senlaka was furious. In telling me the whole story he said, "Here 
older men just try to cheat the young ones. It is a lot of trouble to get 
married here. Countries where there are no gongs and mokos and 
where you don't have to buy a wife are better." 

In the interim another man heard of Senlaka's difficulties and said 
that if Senlaka would litigate for the return of his original moko 
which would mean abandoning the hope of interest a better deal 
could be arranged. When Senlaka broached the matter to Maliseni, the 
latter tried to dissuade Senlaka on the plea that such a procedure would 
shame him. Senlaka, however, stood firm and finally Maliseni returned 
a moko worth the original loan. After four months Senlaka was ready 
to start all over again with the help of another and, hopefully, more 
trustworthy older man. 

In discussing the relationships involved, Senlaka admitted that the 
girl's two older brothers were inclined to press him less hard than her 
youngest brother and her mother. When I questioned him about the 
girl's attitude, his first answer was the traditional one, namely, that she 
stayed out of the family bickerings. Finally he admitted that she had 
told her brothers that if she could not marry Senlaka she would ask the 
kapitan for a tax bill. This was a way of saying that she would ask to 
have masculine status, that she would marry no one, and that her 
brothers would receive no bride-price on her at all. In view of the fact 
that theoretically, and often actually, a woman caught in such conflicts 
is expected to support the financial interests of her kinsmen as opposed 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 93 

to those of her husband, this was a singularly loyal and romantic state- 
ment on the girl's part. 

In the foregoing pages I have attempted to give a simplified picture 
of what marriage means financially, how young men enter the game, 
and the kinds of human involvements that may result. From even this 
brief r6sum6 of the situation it becomes evident how firmly wealth and 
marriage, sex and frustration must merge in the minds of young Atime- 


That there is such a thing as romantic love is evident from the fore- 
going. However, it is equally evident that this is not the term in which 
the institution is phrased by the culture. In this, of course, the Atime- 
langers reverse our romantic formulation of marriage. I have the im- 
pression that a stubborn romantic attachment like Senlaka's is a definite 
liability, since it makes him more susceptible to financial pressure. 

In discussing the sexual and romantic aspects of courting and mar- 
riage it is worth noting how consistently the men's autobiographies re- 
port that women took the initiative. It is often they who suggest tha to- 
kens such as shawls, bracelets, and the like be exchanged. It is the girls 
who are supposed to ask men for areca, which is symbolic at least of 
friendship, and often of actual courting. They flock as eagerly as boys to 
the all-night dances, which often offer excellent opportunities for finding 
partners. Dances consist of a circle of people standing close and moving 
sidewise with arms thrown over each other's shoulders or around the 
partners' waists. There is every opportunity to select the partner of 
one's choice and to have close physical contact with him. The men, in 
speaking of marriage, often present themselves as passive pawns of 
women's or older men's designs. Such a picture might be more convinc- 
ing if it were substantiated by the women's autobiographies and if the 
flirting, philandering, and recriminations of everyday life did not in 
part contradict it. The actual situation probably varies with individuals. 
The point to be noted is that initiative in contracting a marriage is not 
even theoretically denied to women. 

In both sexes the striking thing brought out in the autobiographies is 
the ease with which loved persons may be surrendered. It is a character 
trait consistent with the supposition made at the end of the section on 
late childhood, namely, that there are few opportunities in Atimelang 
life for the establishment of secure and permanent relationships and 
little expectation of, or insistence upon, them. This is far from saying 
that they never occur. There are several couples who have established 
what would be considered in any culture devoted and lasting marital 

94 The People of Alor 

ties. Such ties are within the range of possibility but do not appear to 
be modal. 

One of the interesting aspects of early married life in Atimelang is 
that the woman, once mutual residence has been established, quite often 
refuses her husband sexual privileges. This refusal is often phrased in 
terms of still unsatisfactory financial payments to her kinsmen, so that 
men have another opportunity to link wealth with sex and sexual frus- 
tration. However, if we may trust the autobiographies, men may also 
on occasion show considerable reluctance to enter into sexual relation- 
ships. Rilpada's and Malelaka's autobiographies both point to such epi- 
sodes. In consonance with such an attitude is the fact that most men 
when engaged in elaborate feast finances are continent and even sleep in 
the male guesthouses or on their own verandahs. The acquisition of 
wealth can be pursued successfully only at the expense of sexual grati- 
fication. It should be stated parenthetically that some women, as well as 
their husbands, believe that they are lucky rather than unlucky in re- 
lation to "pulling in gongs and mokos," so that continence is not required 
of their husbands to assure success in financial transactions. 

On the part of women the unwillingness to enter immediately into 
sexual intimacies with their husbands, or at least the existence of that 
traditional attitude, may be explicable in part by the very early mar- 
riages they frequently contract. The first sign of swelling breasts is 
considered the token of a girl's readiness for adult sexual life. First 
menses are considered irrelevant, and some women told me of having 
borne children before their periods set in.* Not every girl, of course, 
marries so young, but there is no doubt that marriage does come much 
earlier in life for girls than for boys. This means that their period of 
sociological adolescence is much briefer and certainly in comparison to 
boys socially much less trying. 

The attitude of men toward young wives varies considerably, al- 
though again opinion is weighted in favor of young women. Of course 
the matter is relative. In the case of Atamau, previously cited, his overt 
objection was that the girl was too young to enter into sexual relations. 
The chief of Atimelang, who then bought the girl, said that it was bet- 
ter to get a very young girl so that she could be trained to docility and 
industry. A man from Dikimpe was very dubious of the whole affair 
and said somewhat scornfully that in his village they did not believe in 
marrying children. Rilpada, whose autobiography is included in this 
volume, was of the opinion that an older woman, who thought only of 
her fields and had already learned to work, was more desirable as a 

* The menopause is treated in an equally casual manner. 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 95 

wife. That may simply have been an attempt to justify the fact that his 
wife was a good deal older than himself and that probably his sexual 
interests were minimal. 

One of the prime requisites in a wife is that she be industrious. 
Whenever either men or women expressed what they considered the 
most prized qualifications in a partner, they generally agreed that 
women should work hard and that men should be rich. Obviously phys- 
ical beauty enters also, but it is not a verbalized prerequisite. Beauty 
consists for both men and women of a light skin, small eyes, and wavy 
hair. In women firm, well-rounded breasts are admired and in men 
muscular strength. Actually it is extremely difficult to get a direct ex- 
pression of judgment on anyone's appearance, since this belongs to the 
category of intimate remarks, of indiscretions, that it is essential to 
avoid. Early in my stay I threw a group of adults into considerable 
embarrassment by asking them to name the handsome men and women 
of the community. In the realm of physical attractiveness, cleanliness 
too is prized, and one of the indications of the adolescent interest in 
marriage is more frequent bathing and greater attention to hair comb- 
ing. Once a woman marries and becomes a stable family member, too 
much cleanliness is looked upon askance as a token of flightiness. 

The ideal, if not the normal matron is a woman who spends her 
whole, working day in the field and in housework, minds her own busi- 
ness, is careless of her appearance, and goes to outlying fields with some 
reliable female companion. Needless to say, a great many women are 
not typical in this ideal sense of the word. Actually, vigorous, aggres- 
sive women who show masculine skills in finance and debate are re- 
ferred to admiringly as men-women (neng-mayoa). Men with poor 
memories often rely on their wives to help them keep track of their 
financial involvements and they even send them on minor financial er- 
rands. Vice versa, men who possess female skills and aptitudes in gar- 
dening, gathering wood, cooking, and basketry may be referred to as 
women-men" (mayoa-neng). Women usually speak with praise of a man 
who is skillful and diligent in horticulture and, contrariwise, women 
complain of men's lack of assistance in the fields almost as much as they 
do of their financial peccadilloes. In these cross-references from one sex 
to the other there are none of the derogatory connotations that go with 
our phrases of mannish woman or womanish man. It is evident, there- 
fore, that theory stresses sex differences in activities, property owner- 
ship, and ideal types but that both sexes may, and often do, possess each 
other's capabilities without any particular onus being attached to the 

96 The People of Alor 

The result of this attitude is to permit, even if it does not actually 
encourage, each sex to control the other's techniques of livelihood. This 
gives the sexes an actual economic independence of each other which 
is not apparent in a theoretic formulation that appears to set up a com- 
plementary cooperation making for mutual dependence. It is quite pos- 
sible, and is indeed a not infrequent practice, for single men and women 
to get along quite ably on a subsistence and minimal prestige basis. I 
have in mind, for example, a divorcee with two children who not only 
had ample means of subsistence but had accumulated gongs, mokos, and 
pigs equal to those of some of the poorer men. There were widowers 
and temporarily deserted men who managed quite nicely alone. The 
single man is perhaps at a disadvantage compared to the single woman, 
since he has seldom had the same training in industry and since his cul- 
tural status at best requires that he do little physical labor except com- 
munally. In fact, men living alone are often the subject of surreptitious 
gossip which accuses them of living by poaching on neighboring fields 
and livestock. 

When the interpretation of this attitude is extended to its fullest, it 
seems to be associated with the strongly rooted theory and fact that 
women are the providers of food. In addition, after an open quarrel in 
which divorce is threatened, the chief or the tumukun will often read 
the couple a moral lecture in which the wife is urged to be a mother 
to the man and the husband is urged to be a father to the woman. The 
conjunction of these two factors, the wife as provider of food and as 
mother, become indissolubly linked not only with each other but with 
experiences of early childhood. This image of the wife as the mother- 
provider was given perhaps extreme expression by Fantan the In- 
terpreter, who was trying to explain the significance of the marital 
relationship from this angle. He said, "Wives are like our mothers. 
When we were small our mothers fed us. When we are grown our 
wives cook for us. If there is something good, they keep it in the pot 
until we come home. When we were small we slept with our mothers; 
when we are grown we sleep with our wives. Sometimes when we are 
grown we wake in the night and call our wives 'mother/ " 

In many cases this sentiment is more the expression of a hope than a 
reality. The mother is indeed the provider, but as we have seen she is 
an uncertain and unreliable figure. It is not surprising that even though 
the whole weight and prestige of the masculine-controlled finance acts 
to stabilize marriage, Atimelangers average about two divorces apiece. 
When one considers the elaborate affinal involvements and the cumber- 
some monetary negotiations involved in divorce, the figure seems high. 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 97 

This quantitative statement becomes slightly more meaningful when 

broken down as follows: 

Males Females 

Number of cases examined 112 140 

Adults who have never married 14 o 

Adults who have at some time contracted a mar- 
riage 98 140 

Contemporary widows and widowers 5 25 

Additional wives 25 

Married adults who "have never been divorced 49 93 

Divorces among those remaining 49 47 

Some of the significant facts apparent from these figures are that 
there are twenty-eight more women than men in the community. This 
indicates a higher mortality among men since out of 108 recorded births 
the sex ratio was i to i. However, despite the surplus of women, be- 
cause of plural marriages, there are no women who have never married; 
whereas, because of the financial difficulties of men in contracting mar- 
riages, there are fourteen men who have not. Parenthetically it should 
be noted that of these fourteen all but one are young and still hope to 
contract marriages. Women seem to be definitely at an advantage in the 
matter of acquiring a spouse. 

In marriages, however, the expectancy of women to lose a spouse 
through death is higher than for men. On the other hand, the expect- 
ancy of rejecting or being rejected by a spouse is one to three for 
women, whereas it is one to two for men. In other words, these figures 
suggest that men are less secure than women in terms of the voluntary 
dissolution of marriage. Might this, in conjunction with other factors, 
mean that men feel emotionally less secure in marriage? 

One more comment should be made concerning these figures. They 
probably understate the actual expectancy of broken marriages, since 
despite repeated checking there were undoubtedly instances that were 
forgotten by the several informants consulted. Furthermore, many of 
the adults listed were still young and had not yet run their full course 
of marital readjustments. 

If the diagnosis of personality formation so far has been correct, the 
marital relationships here described are not surprising. Most men are 
searching for a mother-provider whom experience has taught them 
they are unlikely to find and toward whom, therefore, they feel much 
latent hostility. On the other hand, the women have had little in their 
own childhood experiences to give the stability and security men seek 
to find in them. Quite apart from such genetic explanations, which are 
only probable, there is little question that once again a descriptive link- 
age exists between sex, wealth, and food. 

98 The People of Alor 

So far the discussion of marriage has stressed in large part social 
forms, their possible repercussions on behavior, and their relationship 
to personality formations. It may be pertinent at this point to insert 
certain information on the Atimelangers' more intimate sex behavior 
and their ideas of procreation. 

It is very common for groups of young people, who are beginning 
to take gardening seriously, to congregate in field houses and live to- 
gether more or less consistently for days or months at a time. This is 
an accentuation of "playing house" among children. Sometimes an. older 
woman or a married couple is the nucleus of such a group, sometimes a 
pair of young girls or an orphaned boy. Although everyone vigorously 
denies that "irregular" sexual relations occur under these circumstances, 
it is perfectly obvious from the autobiographies that they sometimes do. 
Strict parents usually insist that their daughters return to the family 
home at night. The absence from the home at nightfall of young or 
adult men is rarely questioned, but the absence of women and children 
often leads to a shouted inquiry as to their whereabouts. It is one of the 
frequent sounds that echoes across the valley as people settle down in 
their houses after sunset. 

Intercourse is solicited of young women by touching their breasts. 
A common euphemism for intercourse is "to pull a girl's breasts," since 
it is supposed that no woman can avoid being aroused by such a caress 
or would be able to resist a man who approached her in this fashion. 
Opportunities for this sort of approach are offered at dances and in the 
roughhousing that occurs among young people when they are away 
from their elders. In describing this situation one young man said, "Our 
hands move about at random and touch a girl's breast. That makes her 
spirit fly away, and she has to sleep with a man." If what has been said 
about early childhood experiences and about the role women are ex- 
pected to play is correct, it is not surprising that most erogenous feeling 
centers on women's breasts. For a woman to touch a man's genitals is 
considered completely shameless. A less drastic form of soliciting inter- 
course is to tug at either a man's or a woman's hand. In marriage people 
usually wait until they think everyone else in the living room is asleep. 
Then either partner may indicate desire by giving his spouse a short, 
tagging pat anywhere on the body. The woman is supposed to remove 
her loincloth, since the contact with it would be distasteful to the man. 

The position in intercourse is ventroventral with the woman below 
or with both partners on their sides. Any other position is considered 
rather nasty. In fact, one divorce was partly precipitated, according to 
the wife, by her husband's demands for the dorsoventral position. One 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 99 

informant said, "We hear that the soldiers on the coast know how to 
have intercourse while standing, but we don't understand such things." 
Inquiries about fellatio brought negative responses but precipitated the 
following folk tale about intercourse through the nostril. 

"Long ago men on the Kebola peninsula did not know how to have 
intercourse with their wives. They did not know that women had 
vaginas, so they had intercourse with their wives through the nostril. A 
man from here had become a slave and was sold to the Kebola people. 
The wife of his owner was pregnant from nasal intercourse, and the 
husband did not know how the child could be born. He said he would 
have to kill his wife, slit open her abdomen, and remove the child. So 
the slave said, "All right, I'll do it for you." He went up into the house, 
chased all the people away, and took the woman out into the privy, 
where she gave birth in normal fashion. 

"The slave hid the mother in a large storage basket and gave her the 
child to care for. Then he went out and buried a banana stump in a 
grave on the edge of the dance place and sacrificed a chicken. The hus- 
band asked, "Have you finished burying the dead person?" And the 
slave answered, "Yes." He said the child was already there but that the 
father could not see it. After three months, when the child could laugh, 
the slave took the father up into the house where the mother and the 
child were. He said, "Now I shall show you how this is done." Then, 
while the father sat there, the slave had intercourse with the wgman. 
Since then the Kebola people understand how to sleep with their wives, 
but there are still some who seek intercourse through the nostril." 

Cunnilingus was a definitely shocking idea.* In connection with chil- 
dren, it was stated that kissing is not known in the area. However, 
mouth play involving biting is practiced. Informants report that wrest- 
ling and mock fighting is often a preliminary to the sexual act. Night is 
considered the proper time for intercourse. Encounters during the day 
and outdoors are considered risqu. Women accuse men sometimes of 
preferring the latter type of encounter. 

Inquiries from various women concerning anal intercourse produced 
a rather shocked denial of its existence. Anal birth, however, was re- 
ferred to quite casually by a few older women but was unknown to 
some younger ones. The women who professed to know of such phe- 

* Since there is a good deal of prudery about discussing these matters, this in- 
formation was secured largely from one person, Fantan the Interpreter, after our 
relationship had been firmly enough established for me to be reasonably sure he 
would answer as honestly as he could. My command of the native language and 
opportunities for private conversations with women were not adequate for this 
sort of investigation. 

ioo The People of Alor 

nomena gave circumstantial accounts. For instance one old woman 
said, "Yes, Kolata gave birth in this fashion. The placenta also was dis- 
charged through the anus. People placed a poultice of leaves on her as 
one would for a wound. It was just that the child took the wrong path. 
Another time, Kolpada had me for a midwife. The child's head ap- 
peared through the anus, so I massaged the child back into the abdomen, 
turned it around, and brought it out through the proper passage." I 
must confess myself at a loss to explain this particular fantasy. 

In connection with other topics, reference has been made to conti- 
nence practiced by men and to frequency of intercourse. Men report 
that during their early married life they have intercourse sometimes as 
frequently as every night, but that every other night is considered more 
nearly the average. However, when a man has two or more wives this 
may mean that a woman has fewer opportunities for sexual activity than 
her husband. Further, it will be recalled that men are not supposed to 
have relations with their wives from the beginning of pregnancy until 
the child can sit up, or at the very least begin to laugh. This is a period 
of about twelve to fifteen months. They are also not supposed to sleep 
with a menstruant. 

This might impose considerable restraint on men if they observed 
the restrictions, which often they do not, and if no other women were 
available. Furthermore, men are generally expected to be continent dur- 
ing the months of preparation attending financial displays. All these 
factors might seem to place men under considerable periods of restric- 
tion. Probably a man who wishes to avoid them is quite able to do so 
-either by finding other women, especially widows, or by simply dis- 
carding the proscriptions in respect to his wife. Since these proscrip- 
tions have no attached sanctions, the attitude of his wife will be the 
determinant should he wish to disregard them. 

A man's unfaithfulness may have deleterious effects on his children. 
During the course of eighteen months there were several cases in which 
sick infants were taken to seers to have extracted from under their ster- 
num a piece of a woman's belt string. This is considered a sure proof 
that the father has been unfaithful to the child's mother. In none of 
these cases did the mothers take any drastic action against the men. 
Their attitudes were those of quarrelsome reproach and did not lead to 
divorce proceedings. These were among the few instances in which 
personal hostilities were not translated into financial terms and fought 
out on that level. 

Altitudes toward the male organ were difficult to determine but by 
indirection certain hints were available. For instance, gossip had it that 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 101 

one particularly well-built and energetic young man who was still un- 
married would have difficulty in procuring a young woman as a wife 
because his organ was known to be undersized. His father had been 
concerned about it even when he was a child and had attempted to 
remedy the situation by massage. On another occasion some women 
were discussing an ailing boy of two years. They handled his genitals 
and shook their heads with concern because the male organs were so 
flaccid. Circumcision is known as a coastal, Mohammedan practice, but 
it is not followed by the mountain people. Fantan the Interpreter re- 
ported overhearing a conversation between two middle-aged women 
who were comparing the virility of their husbands. One complained 
that her husband was no longer able to give her sexual satisfaction. 

The terms dealing with sexual activities offer two very interesting 
points in connection with the thesis that sex and food are inextricably 
associated in the minds of the Atimelangers. 

male organs hatok (his intestine) 

female organs hoiy (also verbal form for copulate) 

orgasm honnn ve meli (heart from it tasty) 

male hermaphrodite hat ok muri (his intestine orange) 

female hermaphrodite holy muri (vagina orange) 

philanderer tafui (crab) 

illegitimate child tafui vi (crab child) 

uvula kai hoiy bika (head clitoris) 

Of this list perhaps the most interesting features are that the male geni- 
tals are associated with his digestive system and that an orgasm is de- 
scribed with a food adjective. 

Homosexuality seems to be absent among adults, although again the 
practice was known among the troops and prisoners on the coast. The 
attitude is one of not quite understanding why such practices should be 
desirable rather than one of disapproval. Inquiries into the matter usu- 
ally precipitated anecdotes about a hermaphrodite from Dikimpe who 
had died some twenty years before. One of the most complete accounts, 
which reveals social attitudes toward such a person, as well as toward 
the two sexes, was given by his grandnephew who had lived with him. 

"When Alurkaseni was still small, he was a woman called Tilamani. 
People would look at him and say, 'This is like a woman but in the 
middle is a penis.' He wore a woman's loincloth and learned to weave 
baskets. He even wove areca baskets, which are the most difficult to 
make. He went to dances and joined in with the women. As he grew 
up his breasts got big, and men would tug them. Men liked him. He did 

102 The People of Alor 

not hang back or seem ashamed. He was very lucky at raising pigs, so a 
man from Atimelang wanted to marry him. He too wanted to marry 
that man. So the man from Atimelang paid a two-dollar-and-fifty-cent 
moko for him and tried to sleep with him but could not. Then the man 
said to Alurkaseni's brother, 1 won't have children if I stay with him, 
so you had better pay back my moko.' 

"After that they changed him into a man. He was about twelve then. 
His older brothers taught him to shoot and make war. When he was 
just learning, people laughed at him but soon he was very skillful and 
then people didn't laugh at him any more. People would test him. They 
would send him to cut beams. With just a few strokes on both sides of a 
tree, he would fell it. Then people would say, 'This is a very strong 
man.' He was brave and would lead war parties. He became a killer 
(likiy a title of distinction). Once when a man slept with his nephew's 
wife, he led all the other kin in avenging the matter by going out into 
the adulterer's field, chopping down his crop, and burning down his 

"He built himself a house and lived alone. He worked in the fields 
and cooked for himself. He could pound rice just like a woman. 

"When he was middle aged, people said, 'He should not be single. 
Let's give him a widow.' So they gave him Kolmani, who already had 
grown children. He wanted to sleep with her and she wanted to sleep 
with him, but he couldn't. She was happy to stay with him anyhow. He 
just bought her in vain. He paid her bride-price and gave her parents' 
death feasts for her." 

In connection with sex behavior and attitudes there are some further 
topics that deserve comment. Women's menstrual periods have already 
been referred to as passing with a minimum of observances and notice. 
The only terms for menses that I procured were euphemistic ones, "my 
friend" or "headache." In a subsequent section it will be seen that the 
monthly flow is attributed to the breaking of egglike structures in 
the breast, which are then discharged. Women use dry, porous banana 
bark as pads. These are then thrown away in some distant place. No 
one is supposed to see them, not even a kinswoman. During her periods 
a woman should wear a shawl that covers her body more completely 
and prevents any possible detection of stains on her loincloth. The 
number of days between periods is not known. Instead a woman ap- 
proximates the onset of her periods by the recurrence of the phase 
of the moon during which her last period occurred. The cessation of 
menses is recognized as the beginning of pregnancy. During menstrua- 
tion women are not supposed to feel sexual desires and similarly men 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 103 

arc not supposed to desire women in that condition. Informants report 
that discomfort is rare and takes the form of only a slight headache or 
backache. During this time, however, women are inclined to do less 
work. One woman said, "If a husband orders his wife to do work when 
she has her friend, older people will say to him, 'Are your eyes closed? 
Don't you see how your wife is?* A good husband will even cook for 
his wife at this time." 

In connection with late childhood certain references were made to 
just how far children might go in sexual references before adults were 
shocked and interfered. It is quite obvious that sexual topics are not 
tabooed, but it is rather the nature of the reference that is shocking or 
not. Probably one of the most acute sources of shame in relation to sex 
is public intercourse. Several pieces of gossip on that score were whis- 
pered about the community or were sources of open scandal. Again I 
had to depend on Fantan the Interpreter alone for such material. 

"Padakafeli was married to Falongmau. She didn't want to sleep with 
him. He got very angry and made a litigation. The chief said he would 
have to have intercourse with her right there. The mandur held Falong- 
mau. Padakafeli was ashamed, but the chief made him sleep with her 
outdoors on the dance place. Everyone was ashamed and went up into 
their houses except a couple of older men who aren't ashamed of any- 

"People are ashamed when a woman like Lopada (who was subject 
to attacks of hyperexcitability) begins playing with an older man, 
touches his genitals, or hits him. Sometimes a husband and wife will 
fight and the wife will rip off a husband's loincloth. That makes him 
and everyone else terribly ashamed. A man will never touch a woman's 
loincloth. It would spoil his luck. 

"Once the chief of Fungatau was away from home for several days. 
When he returned, he found that his wife had left to come home to her 
family here. He came to look for her and called for her to come down 
from her family's house. She knew what he wanted. There were many 
people there and she just sat close to her mother. Her husband came up 
and began fighting with her. They fought terribly and he ripped off 
her loincloth and wanted to have intercourse with her right there be- 
fore all the people. He was like a crazy person. All turned their backs 
and were ashamed. Finally everyone helped to drag them out of the 
house. They went on fighting down on the verandah. The girl's mother 
said they were terrible and tried to chase them away. 

"Another time he acted the same way when his wife was working 
together with many people in the fields. Everyone went off but the 

104 The People of Alor 

owner of the field, who turned his back and continued working. Then 
the man was angry with the field owner and wanted to fight with him, 
so the field owner litigated and was paid half a rupiah and a pig as a 

It is interesting that Fantan, who gave these anecdotes, on two or 
three occasions when there were dolls or native human carvings on my 
verandah, manipulated them in intercourse positions to the great amuse- 
ment of a mixed audience and was laughingly reproved by some older 
men and women. 


In contrast to these accounts and behaviors the reaction to incest is 
interesting. There seems to be little tension and shame associated with 
it. Marriage to any known kin is considered improper, but marriages 
between second cousins occur without any social opprobrium. The un- 
certainty about more distant kinship ties and about the propriety of 
marriage to such persons is revealed in both Kolmani's and Malalaka's 
autobiography. In both cases these women were willing at first and then 
used a plea of kinship ties to avoid the marriage. Mother-son, father- 
daughter, and brother-sister incest were all denied as possibilities. Cer- 
tainly I could find no local cases of any of these. However, there was 
an anecdote of brother-sister incest from the Kebola peninsula. In this 
case the brother had been away for many years and on his return slept 
with his younger sister, who had grown up during his absence. The 
affair was generally known; they lived openly together and had a child. 
The informant's comment on the situation was, "That is bad. People 
don't get gongs and mokos in a marriage like that. Their kin were 
angry with them." The comments of the informant are almost more 
interesting than the anecdote itself. It would indicate a complete ex- 
ternalization of the incest breach. Not conscience but commerce is 

Sexual relations with a stepmother or a sister-in-law are also frowned 
upon. There is social disapproval in such cases and whispered gossip in 
die village but no interference. Action on "incestuous" adultery is held 
in check by the sense of familial solidarity. In one case of rumored 
sister-in-law "incest" the husband ignored the matter and stayed away 
from the house most of the time. In another such case, however, the 
husband and the woman's brother made a public scandal, imposed a 
heavy fine, broke the marriage, and prevented the couple, who seem to 
have been infatuated with each other, from marrying. In view of the 
levirate, it is surprising that even as much disapproval attached to 
the matter as did. In a case of stepmother "incest" the offended father 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 105 

ordered his kinsmen to fetch his son and tie him up. The son, unwilling to 
submit to this humiliation, armed himself and was prepared to fight. 
Rather than precipitate violence his father dropped the matter. The 
young man then left his father and went to live in his mother's village, 
where he married. After his father's death he returned to his own vil- 
lage and gave his father's death feasts. Even after the father's death, 
marriage to a stepmother would be considered incestuous. The clarifica- 
tion offered was, "He is the one who must give her death feasts, so it is 
just as though she were his real mother." 

The material on incest is obviously trivial. It was practically impos- 
sible to get data, not because the informants seemed shocked, but rather 
because they showed so little interest and had so little to say about it. 
The myths and autobiographies are similarly lacking in this theme. 
Rilpada's dreams and some slender data on Mangma might be in- 
terpreted as showing more interest in sisters than in other women. 
Similarly some of the women's autobiographies indicate marked attach- 
ments to brothers. I am quite sure there was no conscious and overt 
awareness of incestuous attachments in the informants, and their atti- 
tudes did not seem to exceed the culturally prescribed loyalty and soli- 
darity between siblings. 

In the poorly known and varied origin myths there are some impli- 
cations of brother-sister incest, but again it is not emphasized. In two 
versions of a myth dealing with the creation of man, Manimoti and his 
lister Tilamoti came down to earth from above, but the stories then 
continued with Manimoti's activities as a culture hero, and Tilamoti 
dropped out completely. In another origin tale, Manimoti and Tila- 
moti were two of a number of children begotten by Fuilani and the 
village guardian spirit. They did not marry. In a quite different type of 
origin tale, two pairs of brothers and sisters met and established the 
village of Bakudatang with its two lineage houses. One of the pairs had 
no mother or father and was supposed to have emerged from a cave. 
They married and bore children, who intermarried with the offspring 
of the other pair of brother-sister spouses. The whole tale is obviously 
fragmentary and is not widely known in Atimelang. 

The significance of this lack of interest in the incest motif may be 
explicable in terms of the general thesis so far presented. If human re- 
lationships are on the whole shallow and impermanent, there is less 
likelihood of incestuous fixations, and when they do occur, they do not 
touch off a problem common to the majority of the people in the 
group, so that the chances may well be that even incest themes in intro- 
duced origin tales are largely otiose. 

106 The People of Alar 


The ideas of the physiology of procreation in Atimelang and thek 
relationship to sexual morality deserve some detailed consideration. A 
child is thought to be formed from an accumulation of seminal and 
menstrual fluids in the mother and menstrual fluid is considered the 
result of "things in a woman's breasts like eggs, which break and run 
down into her abdomen." For the first two months the child is believed 
to remain in liquid form. It is during this period that the mother devel- 
ops food preferences. In the third month pieces of flesh begin to 
solidify, and the mother feels dizzy and nauseated. In the fourth month 
the child's feet are formed, and a tiny placental cord appears. 

At this time the fetus is said to resemble a banana blossom. This is 
also the period when the mother begins to feel movement. In the fifth 
month the fetus has solidified as far as its abdomen and begins to kick 
slowly and gently. In the sixth month the whole body is formed, but 
the ears, mouth, nose, and genitals are rudimentary. In the seventh 
month features begin to acquire flesh and prominence, and in the 
eighth month the child is complete and begins to jump about. In 
the ninth month even its nails are there, and "the child kicks until its 
mother is terribly sick. It kicks itself out of the mother's body; it tears 
its nest (placenta) and so has to come out." This is on the whole a re- 
markably accurate idea of fetal development. 

Many different bits of behavior and attitudes dovetail with this idea 
of procreation. One of these is that repeated intercourse is necessary for 
conception. This in turn has its repercussion in practice if not in 
theory on sex morality. In theory, a young unmarried woman should 
be a virgin, although there is no idea of virginity tests at the time of 
marriage. However, should a husband shortly after marriage develop 
feelings of nausea and a sense of discomfort just under the sternum, he 
will consult a seer. If the seer extracts a small piece of the fringe from 
a man's loincloth, this is considered a sign of the wife's premarital in- 
fidelity. The diagnosis of the difficulty is usually made by the patient. 
Nevertheless, the seer's role in fostering social conformity is not incon- 

Incidentally, infidelity, as previously noted, may affect children and 
the marriage partner in this fashion at any time during the earlier years 
of marital adjustment. It is a nice expression of the hostility and yet of 
the basic bond among members of die biologic family. Also, a difficult 
first birth is considered a sign of premarital unchastity. In one such case 
the tumukun was threatened with death by the irate husbands of a pair 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 107 

of sisters with whom he was accused of improper relations at least five 
years before, and prior to the women's marriages. Nothing of the affair 
had been suspected until both women had difficulty in childbirth and 
their husbands beat confessions out of them. 

Since a child scarcely ever results from occasional lapses from chas- 
tity, both men and women feel free in that respect as long as they are 
careful not to be caught. When I explained to Fantan the Interpreter 
that we had different ideas in our culture, his comment was, "Oh, that's 
too bad," which was a nice index of the amount of latitude the Atime- 
langers' ideas of conception give them in respect to their ideas of sex 
morality. The very obvious advantage of such ideas of conception 
makes Atimelangers, in discussing the subject, extremely unwilling to 
abandon them, even though they grant that sows will conceive after a 
single contact with a male. They are quick to add, however, that three 
or four days in the pen with a male produces a larger litter. It is a nice 
example of how reluctant people can be to abandon formulations justi- 
fying congenial behavior and consistent with elaborated attitudes. 

It is interesting that, as in many other cultures, illegitimate children 
seldom, if ever, occur. In the Five Villages there was only one illegiti- 
mate child, the offspring of Matingma the Crazy Woman. Since Ma- 
tingma's craziness was phrased mostly in terms of sex, her aberrant and 
almost unique status deserves mention here. Matingma was considered in 
her youth a perfectly normal person. She married a man in the Kalaisi 
area with whom she did not get along, so she returned to live with her 
father. On her return several young men wished to buy her. Time after 
time a preliminary payment was made, but each time the man involved 
requested the return of her bride-price because she was having affairs 
with other men. Her father assumed a bland attitude toward these com- 
plaints, answering, "Your wife is still here. Go sleep with her if you 
wish. I won't be angry." After about four such episodes no further at- 
tempt to purchase her was made. 

During the first few years after her return, and at a time when she 
was not in permanent residence with any one man, she bore a child. In 
view of the local theory of conception, she was undoubtedly consid- 
ered to have been far more loose morally than she may actually have 
been. In the course of time she came to be known as the "crazy 
woman." Her illegitimate child and her profligacy were adduced as 
evidence. It will be recalled that the fact that she took her child to the 
fields with her and permitted it to sleep on the ground was another bit 
of evidence. At the time of this investigation Matingma was at least in 
her late thirties and had become a sort of village prostitute. "She steals 

io8 The People of Alor 

from people's gardens. Men from whose gardens she has stolen sleep 
with her as payment for the food she has taken. Very many older men 
sleep with her, but young men are not brave enough." 

Reasons for the lack of illegitimate children are not hard to find. If 
Ashley-Montague's* suggestions are correct, it is quite possible that 
fertility is low at the period when young girls are indulging in premari- 
tal sexual activities. Further; mechanical abortions are practiced, and a 
pregnant girl would probably attempt to avoid difficulties by a deliber- 
ate and early miscarriage. Although the society does not approve, mar- 
ried women, particularly older ones, make no very great secret of the 
fact that they avoid unwanted children by very vigorous labor or by 
even more deliberate attempts, like jumping repeatedly from a tree or 
rock or by jolting themselves in a squatting position against a stone. It 
is felt that these practices are most efficacious in the first two or three 
months, when the child is still in liquid form. Probably the accuracy of 
ideas on fetal development can be attributed in part to the practice 
of abortions. 

There are also "medicines" that are supposed to reduce the menstrual 
flow, delay conception, and actually produce barrenness. In addition, 
women class themselves as "long conceivers" (pol lohu) and "short con- 
ceivers" (pol but). To be a long conceiver is considered an advantage. 
When a young man's wife fails to conceive after a year or two, he fre- 
quently becomes suspicious of her and may accuse her of having taken 
a medicine to cause barrenness. "A man will then beat his wife, and if 
she has taken such a medicine, she has to ask some older woman for the 

"Medicine" for any of the three purposes mentioned above seems 
to belong more to the realm of magic than to that of effective pharma- 
cology. Most procedures consist of eating certain leaves, like those of a 
sort of maidenhair fern, in a prescribed fashion over a given number of 
days. Another way of producing barrenness is to drink the dirty water 
in which one has washed a gong. This is again a reflection of the rela- 
tionship, hostile in character, between sex and wealth. Men are never 
considered to be sterile, and birth control measures are never used by 

At this point I am less concerned with establishing the possible but 
improbable efficacy of certain leaves and procedures in reducing men- 
struation and in delaying or preventing conception than I am in indicat- 
ing a series of attitudes. The sum of what I have said so far seems to 

* M. F. Ashley-Montague, Coming into Being cnnong the Australian Aborigines 
(New York: Dutton, 1938), pp. 242*!. 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 109 

indicate that women are not too eager to bear children, that men are 
more eager for offspring than their wives. When I asked Fantan the 
Interpreter about this, he said, "We men are the ones who want chil- 
dren. Our wives don't. They just want to sleep with us. After a young 
man has lived with his wife for a year or two and she does not become 
pregnant, he is angry. He says, 'I work and work every night. I break 
my back, but this woman does not conceive. I had better look for an- 
other wife.' " That this was not a personal aberration of Fantan's was 
evidenced by confidential statements made to me by three young men 
who were dissatisfied at their wives' lack of fertility. 

The care of infants by men and boys and their affectionate attitudes 
toward babies have already been mentioned. Supporting the thesis that 
women are often less eager for children than men, were frank state- 
ments by two older women that they had committed abortions during 
their first pregnancies to spite their husbands, who were buying other 
wives. The low level of nurturing qualities in Atimelangers is reflected 
in the absence of pets, with the exception of an occasional piglet, which 
has wealth value. 

A further sociologic point that may have considerable weight is that 
neither men nor women are considered fully adult until they have chil- 
dren. Adulthood for men means financial status and a role in the pres- 
tige system, whereas for women it carries no such social premium; their 
life pattern is set in childhood and continues through life with only 
marriage as a break, and marriage per se does not confer adult status. 

This subject of children and the wish for them as well as such in- 
dications as I have that men prize them as much, if not more, than 
women is far from exhausted, and there is some contradictory evi- 
dence. For instance, if women are generally reluctant to bear children, 
it is unlikely that questions on vital statistics put to sixteen women past 
the menopause would give 7.5 pregnancies per woman, and that miscar- 
riages and abortions were only 10.5 per cent of one hundred and 
twenty-one recorded conceptions for these sixteen women. Here, of 
course, social disapproval of contraception and abortion may have acted 
as a deterrent. 


That men are not incapable of jealousy toward their children is 
nicely illustrated by the episode in the autobiography of Kolmani the 
Seeress in which Langmai, her husband, reproaches her for neglecting 
her field work in favor of their child. In this connection, and in con- 
tradiction to some of the preceding data that have stressed the men's 
desire for children, it should be noted that there were in the community 

i io The People of Alor 

two monogamous and apparently devoted middle-aged couples who, 
never having had children of their own, each adopted an orphan. 

Before we can weave all these sexual attitudes into some sort of func- 
tional coherence, a few comments must be made on the subject of jeal- 
ousy. That men are jealous of their wives' behavior both before and 
after marriage is obvious from what has already been said. Adultery is 
punishable by death, although a husband is most often satisfied with a 
fine, and the male culprit usually moves away until the trouble is for- 
gotten. The most extreme cases of male vengeance for adultery are to 
be found in the latter part of Malelaka's autobiography. 

There are a number of devices for magically securing or keeping the 
love of a desired person. As might be anticipated, they all deal with 
food. A woman who wishes to keep the love of her husband can do so 
by putting into the bottom of the food pot shreds of her loincloth, 
clippings of pubic or axillary hair, or clippings of her nails. Certain 
plants too have the same effect. When the man breathes the steam of 
the food into which tiny bits of the proper plant have been dropped, 
he thinks thereafter of no one but the woman who cooked the food. 

Men are supposed to know of certain roots, pieces of which, carried 
in the bottom of their areca baskets, will give them luck both in wealth 
and in sex quests. Also, diamond- and lizard-shaped figures are cut by 
men from the crisp, thin sheath that grows out of some bamboo joints. 
These talismans (tadialang) are hung by a bit of string from the house 
eaves so that they wave in the wind. Their waving is supposed to 
beckon either women or wealth, depending on the wish expressed by 
the maker. Certainly never more clearly does the wealth, food, and sex 
linkage come out than in these love charms. 

Jealousy on the part of women has direct cultural outlets and aggres- 
sive expression. When a man takes a second wife, for example, it is con- 
sidered good form for the first one to quarrel about it. As might be 
expected, these quarrels are often phrased in terms of property. The 
first wife will ask how a man can afford to pay a bride-price on another 
woman when he has paid so little on her. Or she will claim that the 
pigs he has given for a second wife were in large part raised by herself, 
which may be true, and that she does not want them so disposed of. 
She does not have theoretic claim on flesh food, but in practice she may 
insist, quite rightly, on her interest in it. 

After a few reproaches of this sort the first wife seeks out the second. 
They exchange insults for a time and then begin pulling, tugging/ and 
beating at each other. Immediately all the women of the village become 
involved. Each wife has a certain number of belligerent allies, and in 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 1 1 1 

addition there is always a large group of women who try to separate 
the combatants but who manage in their role of peacemakers to land 
some very effective blows. A whole village may be in a turmoil of 
struggling women waging a shifting warfare in the mud or dust of die 
dance place for as long as from two to four hours. 

Men at such times are inclined to stand out of range and watch the 
tide of battle with mixed amusement and contempt. Sometimes a man 
may become indignant because he feels that the violence is going be- 
yond bounds, that real injury may be done, and that he may be fined. 
If he is bold, he may step into the melee with a rattan switch and lay 
about him in an effort to separate enthusiastic combatants. Women 
usually resent this sort of interference, and as a rule the officious male 
is turned upon by recent enemies, who combine to drive him back to 
the fringe of spectators, where it is felt he belongs. A husband who is 
the cause of such an outburst either sits by passively, wearing an uneasy 
grin, or, if he is a man of particular dignity, goes off to another village 
or to his field until things calm down. 

Naturally some battles may be much less violent than others, de- 
pending on how much real jealousy motivates a woman utilizing this 
formal cultural outlet. More than once a senior wife who is in earnest 
makes life so uncomfortable that the junior wife finally insists on a 
divorce, but even a wife who has urged her husband to buy another 
woman will go through the forms of a quarrel. The only case in which 
the culture denies such expressions is in the inheritance of a widow 
through the levirate. 

The effect of this cultural pattern is to afford women a very direct 
and relatively harmless emotional outlet. It reminds one of die formal- 
ized wailing required of them as an expression of grief that is denied 
men. In these two cases the culture grants more direct and recognized 
outlets to women than to men. It is not surprising, therefore, all other 
things considered, that men are apt to consider women, in comparison 
to themselves, somewhat vulgar creatures who do not know how to 
guard their tongues. It will be recalled that earlier there was occasion 
to refer to the training boys and men get in translating physical vio- 
lence into verbal forms and in toning down verbal aggression on pain 
of financial sanctions. I know of no case in which women, or their kins- 
men, were actually fined for verbal excesses, although such threats 
were made. 

In the case of plural wives, separate households are established, and 
a man is supposed to divide his attention, labor, and gifts equally among 
them. Any slight on his part may result in reproaches directed toward 

ii2 The People of Alor 

him and quarrels among the wives. A duty of the senior wife is to cook 
for the husband's guests and to take the initiative in contributing food 
to his feasts. The feasts are supposed to be held at the house of the 
senior wife. These duties may at times be considered in the light of a 
privilege and any infringement may be resented by her. At other times 
an infringement may make the second wife feel that she is imposed 
upon. For example, the tumukun's two wives, who had a long history 
of mutual hostility, once spent almost four hours shouting recrimina- 
tions at each other on just this score. The senior wife precipitated the 
quarrel by harvesting a small patch of corn which the junior wife 
claimed. Their quarrel resolved itself into complaints on the part of the 
younger woman about the extra work and the consumption of her food 
involved in entertaining the tumukun's guests at her house; the older 
woman complained of favoritism and the extra attentions received by 
the second wife. 

Not all wives retain an initial sense of hostility and jealousy. For in- 
stance there were two cases of older men with three wives each. In both 
cases the wives got along very well together and cooperated freely. It was 
generally recognized that they were good friends, although there had 
been the customary quarrels at first. 

It is worth noting in this picture of jealousy that both men and 
women direct physical and verbal expressions of jealousy and anger 
primarily against other women. Men are less subject to open and vio- 
lent attack on this score. This may constitute an unconscious expression 
of the fact that women, primarily as producers, are basically the most 
valued possession of the group. The structure of financial prestige built 
around the male may be compensatory in function. 


From what has already been said it is evident that the power of 
women is far greater than a phrasing of their status in terms of finance 
would imply. In other words, their control of food gives them power 
over people but no prestige. 

Women are also the pivots on which many of the financial trans- 
actions turn through the system of affinal exchange. A number of 
clues indicate men's dependency upon women. For example, I asked 
repeatedly of men at the time their wives were about to give birth, 
whether they would prefer a boy or a girl. The answer was invariably, 
"Boys are good. They give our death feasts. But girls are also good. We 
get their bride-price." 

Another phenomenon that might possibly be interpreted as a recog- 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 1 1 3 

nition of women's vigor and the covert respect in which they are held 
is the rareness of rape. I was able to collect only three cases, known to 
about five informants, and only one of these dealt with a local woman. 
This may indicate, however, no more than that women are not apt to 
refuse chance adventures. A further possible hint of the real status of 
women is that in warfare their heads are as valuable as those of men. 
Anecdotes of the last head-hunting wars revealed that out of ten per- 
sons dead or injured, four were women. However, since even half- 
grown children can be counted in the system of revenge, we must 
conclude that all adults or near adults are of equal value in this respect. 

Still another index of the real, even though disavowed, equality be- 
tween women and men was contained in a bit of casual chaffing. Some 
men were tugging at heavy firewood and it hurt their hands. One of 
them said jokingly, "Our hands are not used to it. A woman should do 
this." I answered in the same vein, "That is because you don't work as 
they do." The answer was, "Yes, our hands are soft, so when we hit a 
woman it doesn't hurt. But their hands are calloused, so when they hit 
us it hurts a lot." A woman who was sitting near by joined in with the 
comment, "That is a lie. Men's hands are heavy too." 

However, the questions of preference in the sex of children, of rape, 
and of physical vigor are merely symptoms. Women are in a position to 
refuse men sexual gratification and food. They can either facilitate or 
impede a man's financial career. An aggressive woman is usually able 
to humiliate a man. The case of Fuimai and Maleta, her brother-in-law, 
is instructive in this connection precisely because their quarrel was one 
of the rare ones that did not center upon finance, and the sexual element, 
if it existed, was not avowed. Fuimai's husband could not get along with 
her. He was seldom at home and she was looked at askance for her free- 
dom with other men. It was whispered throughout the village that 
among others she had had intercourse with her brother-in-law, Maleta. 
One morning Maleta took a papaya from Fuimai's tree and sent a child 
with it to my house to sell it. Fuimai followed the child and took the 
money for the fruit. Maleta was furious, and in the quarrel that ensued 
he chopped down the three papaya trees near Fuimai's house. Everyone 
scrambled to strip the fallen trees, while Fuimai and Maleta continued 
their quarrel. Maleta sat sullenly on the ground below the verandah 
while Fuimai hurled a staccato of invective at him: "You should be 
ashamed! Were they your papaya trees? Is this basket I am weaving 
your basket, perhaps? Who always feeds you? You come here only to 
eat. You eat my fingers. I plant the fields of rice and corn. Whose fields 
are they? Are my fingers tasty? You should be ashamed." Here defi- 

1 14 The People of Alar 

nitely a woman was able to assert herself in terms of her real power as a 
provider quite apart from financial status or kinship authority. 

The power of women as opposed to that of men is less rigidified by 
status requirements. It may leave a weak-willed woman in conflict. A 
determined woman, however, has greater liberty in placing her alle- 
giance where she will. An anecdote in the autobiography of Kolangka- 
lieta gives such .a case (page 494). Her husband was repudiated by his 
brother. She was free either to repudiate him also or to offer him the 
support of her own village and kinsmen. She chose the latter course. The 
husband could not but have felt the degree to which he was dependent 
on his wife. Women's in-group loyalties and status obligations are less 
fixed than those of men. To a self-assured person this might give free- 
dom. To an insecure person this might heighten a sense of bewilder- 
ment. Since the basic childhood training of Atimelang girls inculcates 
very little more in the way of internal resources than it does for boys, 
we should not expect women to be notably more constructive than 
men, even in the face of greater freedom of choice in certain areas. Test 
data substantiate this reasoning. 


A number of points may be drawn together by way of summary for 
this chapter. Boys have a longer and more difficult sociologic adoles- 
cence than girls because they must enter the financial system. Their 
experiences and knowledge in that field may well be such as to rein- 
force the iitipression of uncertainty and inconsistency secured in con- 
nection with disciplines in childhood. Their search in marriage is for 
sexual gratification, for a provider, and for status both in wealth and in 
children. They seek in their wives a mother-provider, a role that women 
have been ill equipped to fulfill. Girls have had a more purposive train- 
ing in childhood for adult roles although the administration of disciplines 
has been as inconsistent for them as it has been for boys. Their socio- 
logic adolescence is brief, and they may undertake the sexual aspects 
of marriage unwillingly. In addition, marriage means for women far 
greater economic responsibilities in a social system that does not grant 
them status recognition equal to that of men, while at the same time it 
places on them greater and more monotonous burdens of labor. For 
women complete adult status through childbearing is not rewarded 
socially; it is to an extent penalized in that it adds to labor and responsi- 
bilities. The important role of women is covertly recognized but not 
overtly. There is little in the way of cultural rewards (except posthu- 
mous remembrance in the form of death feasts) to make them want to 

Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex 1 1 5 

be mothers to their own children. There is even less to make them want 
to be mothers to their husbands. 

The culture fosters a linkage of food, sex, and wealth. All three of 
these are associated with many avenues of possible frustrations and pre- 
pare the ground for instability and distrust in the marital relationship. 
Despite this, the essential biologic unity of the family group is recog- 
nized in the repercussions of adultery on the spouse and offspring. 
Family unity is reinforced and extended in social organization by the 
woman's theoretic absorption into the man's lineage and village and is 
expressed economically by the theoretic mutual dependency in the divi- 
sion of property between the sexes, which should make for cohesion. 
Formally phrased dependencies may be denied in actuality by the iiflftia- 
tive allowed women in sexual affairs, by the real power they are capable 
of exerting, and by the cross-skills allowed the sexes, so that individuals 
can exist alone, adequately if not maximally. The weight of male- 
controlled finances and the complex affinal exchanges succeed in throw- 
ing the balance on the side of the theoretic structure. 

The sum of all the personal factors and the discrepancies between 
form and practice in institutions should combine to make people iso- 
lated units, highly individualized and self-contained to the point of be- 
ing encysted, without at the same time creating any basic self-assurance 
and independence born of self-confidence. The recognized patterns of 
teasing, deceit, lying, and chicanery may be considered both as con- 
tributing causes and as effects of such attitudes. All these factors should 
produce a modal personality whose independence rests upon frustra- 
tions, confusions, and surrendered goals. In some instances the inability 
to create human contacts may actually be phrased as a fear of them. As 
Mangma said after telling one of his dreams, "We die if people are fond 
of us." 

Chapter 7 
Adults and Institutions 

THE foregoing chapters have searched for the possible genesis of the 
modal personality in Atimelang and simultaneously have tried to indi- 
cate how that personality is both the product of social forms and the 
active agent in them. In this section the attempt will be made to search 
further for the interrelated forms and forces of personality as they 
manifest themselves in institutions, values, and everyday modes of emo- 
tional expression and behavior among adults. 


In the formation of personality the devices furnished by the society 
for placing oneself in relation to other individuals are important. In 
other words, the status forms of a culture may well have significant 
repercussions on ego development. In Atimelang there are four main 
factors determining status: age, sex, wealth, and kinship. The age and 
sex factors are beyond individual control and function automatically. 
This might be an optimal orientation situation for the individual, al- 
though the reverse of the coin must not be forgotten since it auto- 
matically disfranchises women and the young. The wealth factor is 
considered almost a function of age, although in practice it is far from 
being so. It is noteworthy that wealth status is not formalized. There is 
hardly a trace of institutional expression of rank or of inheritance of 
financial position. Every man's financial resources are largely, although 
not completely, consumed in his death ceremonies, since the wealthier 
a man is, the more elaborate his postmortem prestige. Social prestige 
depending on wealth, therefore, must be constantly validated by indi- 
vidual effort. The burden as well as the rewards of such effort rests 
primarily on middle-aged men. The manipulation of the wealth-status 
system is one requiring constant vigilance, aggression, chicanery, and 
an excellent memory. The stress that successful competition places on a 
man is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that, if they have able sons, 
old men usually withdraw gradually from active participation and re- 
tain power only in an advisory capacity. They leave the actual dunning 
to younger and more vigorous men. 

Every competitive system automatically implies that a large portion 
of the population will fail to achieve the goal set up by the culture. 
Granting, therefore, that a competitive system will automatically debar 


Adults and Institutions 117 

a large number of its members from successfully achieving the desired 
goal, we have the problem of discovering which people are disfran- 
chised and what compensatory roles they may play. In Atimelang, as in 
many other cultures, the female half of the population is debarred from 
cultural goals on a sex basis; women must either break with the cultural 
tradition, surrender any claim to the major prestige rewards of their cul- 
ture, or derive it vicariously through aligning themselves with a success- 
ful male. 

This last device may apply to groups of males also, as among the In- 
dians of the Pacific Northwest, where a sib functions as a unit feeding 
the prestige activities of a titular head. In other societies with structur- 
alized rank or with castes, large parts of the population are given re- 
stricted status positions that remove them from any competitive effort 
for prestige. In Atimelang it is assumed that all males will enter the 
competitive system. In fact, every man is practically forced into it if 
he is to marry and if he is to retain his health by placating in death 
feasts the potential malignancy of dead kin. 

Overtly no differences in wealth are allowed for in middle age. 
Every middle-aged man who is married, has given a feast, or been asso- 
ciated with any transaction amounting to about one hundred dollars is 
called a rich man (kafakai). There are no formal terms for degrees of 
wealth, except by adding an intensifier, berka, meaning in this case 
"powerful," "potent," although, significantly enough, the more usual 
meaning is "bad." It is not customary to use this term, however, unless 
one wishes to flatter a man. Conversely the most bitter insult is to call a 
man "poor." Actually there seems to be no simple word meaning poor. 
One can say, "He has nothing" (nala hopa naha), or one can say, 
"Setang," meaning worthless, of no account. This, incidentally, is a term 
of reproach that is very frequently shouted at troublesome and naughty 

The system of making no overt, outspoken distinctions in respect to 
wealth is carried even further. It will be recalled that an expression of 
opinion about physical appearance was hard to get. The same applied 
to all kinds of derogatory or flattering distinctions. It was just as diffi- 
cult to procure a social judgment about a man's industry, his honesty, 
or his skill in craftsmanship. Good manners require that everyone, ver- 
bally at least, be granted an equal ranking even in the face of glaring 
discrepancies. When I discussed the matter with a young man, he said, 
"If anyone heard that I had said he was less rich, less industrious, or 
less handsome, he would be ashamed and would want to fight with me. 
He would be angry." Linguistically there is an interesting correlate of 

n8 The People of Alor 

this situation in the absence of comparative or superlative forms for 
modifiers. There are only intensifies. 

This state of affairs reveals several points. First, it suggests a consid- 
erable sense of touchiness. There is a good deal of stress laid on saving 
a person's face. This is carried so far that a man who has gone on an 
unsuccessful dunning trip may be given a small moko as a "luck token" 
(makiling) to carry home not as a payment, but as a face saver. The 
next day a *young boy may be sent to take back this moko, but the 
dunner has not had the humiliation of returning empty-handed. 

All this may simply reflect some of the individual insecurity that the 
foregoing sections certainly indicate might well exist in Atimelangers. 
Furthermore, it expresses the conscious linkage in Atimelang between 
shame and anger. This is a perfectly accurate observation of the Atime- 
langers on their own psychology. What matters is what people say 
about you, and you protect yourself from derogation by a vigorous 
emotional discharge of anger. In this society, which has no organized 
police force and has only a recently introduced system of litigation, 
shame acts as the chief social sanction. Ridicule or derogation is simply 
the external expression of what a person feels as shame. It is a pattern, 
as we have seen, established early in childhood. But since shame pro- 
duces anger and since there is no police force or law, anger must be 
diverted into other channels if the society is to have any cohesive 

That anger is not directed inward is evidenced by the rarity of sui- 
cide. Further, from the observations made on childhood it would appear 
that the relationships of that period would not foster the internalizing 
of sanctions. Hostility and shame must be directed outward upon the 
world but in a form sufficiently sublimated to prevent social chaos. As 
we have already seen, wealth is the answer. The dangers inherent in it 
are indirectly recognized, since newly purchased gongs and mokos are 
thought dangerous (i.e., illness-provoking) unless sacrifices have been 
offered them, and large wealth displays are considered sources of dan- 
ger to young children. In many instances hostility is directed into 
wealth competition. At times, obviously, wealth as a means of express- 
ing hostility will fail, and then recourse to direct violence alone remains. 
The result, at least in the past, was war. 


In the following discussion of quarrels and war and their association 
with wealth, the role of kinship as a form of status orientation will bear 
observation. Quarrels in Atimelang were incessant and of varying mag- 

Adults and Institutions 1 19 

nitude. Hardly a feast or ceremonial gathering occurred without at least 
one acrimonious dispute. My first impression was that these debates 
might lead to violence at any moment. People shouted at each other 
and men grasped their bows or swords in the right hand. They took 
short springing steps backward and forward shouting challenge before 
meeting the point under debate. The usual preamble was "Hik, hik, my 
friend So-and-so!" 

Further acquaintance with such debates revealed that they practi- 
cally never developed into physical violence, at least between men. In 
eighteen months on one occasion only did men come to blows and be- 
gin to spar with swords. Even then the gestures were largely formal and 
seemed deliberately wide of the mark. Finally, by accident, one man 
received a slight scratch on the forehead. He immediately threw down 
his sword and rushed to the dance place to litigate. Repeatedly I had 
the impression that the principals as well as bystanders were terrified 
lest a quarrel develop into real violence. In every outbreak of any mag- 
nitude much of the furor was caused by alarmed neutrals who tried 
vigorously to placate the opponents and who shouted orders that there 
was to be no fight. The reasons for the fear will be more apparent when 
the nature of group responsibility is developed, especially in connection 
with war. 

This does not mean that there never is any real violence, but it does 
mean that when it occurs it is usually within the small family groups, 
where repercussions are apt to be limited. The anecdote (page 60) of 
the man who beat, unmercifully and without interference, his young 
half brother, is a case in point. In another instance a girl of about fifteen 
came to have a bad scalp wound dressed. At the time, she told me that 
she had fallen. Later I discovered that her mother had struck her with a 
stone because she had gambled away her own dance anklets in the 
newly introduced card game that was the rage among young people. 

Quarrels were so frequent that an attempt to record all of them 
proved too time-consuming. However, in even the partial record made, 
every type of kin was involved: parents with children, siblings with 
cousins of both sexes, grandparents with grandchildren, aunts and uncles 
with nieces and nephews. An informant in discussing these intrafamilial 
quarrels added quickly, "But they don't last long. They must forget 
and eat together." Again food appears as a symbol of reassurance and 
social euphoria. Out of forty-seven quarrels of sufficient vigor to pro- 
duce a public outburst and to come to my notice, thirty-six were be- 
tween acknowledged kin. This is not a significant number in view of 
the high degree of interrelationship within the villages. What is signifi- 

120 The People of Alor 

cant, however, is that twenty-five of the thirty-six kin quarrels were 
between affinal kin including husbands and wives, co-wives, and more 
remote affinal relatives. 

In all these outbursts of rage I never saw an Atimelanger lose his 
temper at an inanimate object. Even at animals they shout loudly and 
harshly but without the sense of real anger that is evidenced toward 
human beings. This suggests for one thing a less anthropomorphic cast 
of mind than among ourselves. For another it suggests no very power- 
ful reserves of anger and no latent hostilities of such magnitude that 
they take any avenue of discharge, regardless of reality. Also, it may be 
attributable to the far greater ease and frequency of partial discharge 
of anger permitted by the society. These suggestions are substantiated 
further by the brevity of sulking periods. Sulking does occur and there 
is no doubt that grudges are held, but only in rare cases do they last 
for more than two or three days. The long periods often required to 
reach an agreement place a premium on being able to maintain a certain 
pitch of anger. At the end of a prolonged litigation anger has so far 
evaporated that the winner will willingly kill a chicken or a pig to eat 
with his opponents and the judge. 

There are a number of more or less formalized outlets for anger that 
help to drain off the frustrations and humiliations associated with the 
social system. All-night dances end at dawn with the challenge dances 
(dokak\ between men who dash back and forth in pairs across the 
dance place brandishing swords at each other. 

There is also a rattan switch dance (dengdema) between young 
men, in which one partner stands as impassively as possible with one 
leg thrust forward while the other dancer, after many preliminary 
feints and flourishes with a rattan switch, hits him with as much force 
as possible on the shin bone. From one to five blows are given and then 
the partners change roles. It is significant in relation to the general grav- 
ity with which bloodshed is regarded that drawing blood is bad form 
and cause for offense. Anyone who draws blood by mistake usually has- 
tens to apologize. 

Such switch dances sometimes become expressions of intervillagc 
hostility so that series of partners are often from two opposing villages. 
The degree to which this dance contest is really a hostile act is evident 
from the number of older people who tend to discourage it and from 
the fact that the accompanying gongs are played in the rapid, staccato 
fashion used in times of crisis. It would be a mistake to interpret the 
dance as primarily an exercise in physical fortitude, although forti- 
tude in this case is a matter of pride. Fortitude is not a particularly 

Adults and Institutions 1 2 1 

prized virtue in the culture, as we have seen in connection with the 
education of children and as was abundantly evidenced in cases of ill- 
ness and wounds. An interesting episode happened one day when an 
older financier, Maliseni, suggested dancing with young men in this 
fashion, but offered to pay two cents for each blow instead of receiving 
return blows. There was some debate among the young men as to the 
worth of this offer and it was finally rejected. This was apparently too 
new an extension of the aggression-wealth concept to be generally ac- 

In the delivery of large dowry payments (moling) there is a mock 
verbal battle in which the female kin of the wife and husband exchange 
insults about the value of the gifts being given. The men often join 
these debates. Frequently they are purely formal and are carried out in 
a mood of chaffing good humor and with much amusement. At other 
times there may be serious ill feeling expressed and a genuine attempt 
made to shame the husband and his kin into more generous gifts to the 
carriers of the dowry payments. 

When feelings become intense, particularly between two kin, a dras- 
tic expression of hostility is to .swear a curse against one's opponent. 
These curses vary from mild pronouncements of noncooperation in the 
future to actual death penalties by leprosy or some other form of dread 
disease. These curses can be removed by countersacrifices, and usually 
are, when peace is restored. They are pronounced seemingly in the heat 
of a quarrel and are subsequently regretted. The curse placed on Fan- 
tan by his wife (see autobiography, page. 3 74) is a case in point. 


The expression of hostility through wealth has been touched upon 
in connection with marriage. There are two other forms of institution- 
alized wealth combats. One is a sort of wealth contest called tasah and 
the other is a type of fine by challenge and shame called kalukek. 
Both of these devices are used only rarely. The realistic hardheadedness 
of the Atimelang financier does not foster any abuse of these devices. 

No wealth contests (tasah) occurred during my period of residence 
in the village, so that I am dependent upon hearsay accounts. During 
eighteen months there were, however, at least two such threats, which 
did not materialize. Within the last twenty years probably not more 
than three such outbursts have occurred in the Five Villages. A con- 
densed and simplified account of one of the most elaborate of these 
wealth contests is given below. 

Maleata was a young man who had married Maliseni's sister, Kol- 

122 The People of Alor 

pada. Maleata gave his brother-in-law a broken gong as part of his 
bride-price but received no dowry in return. Maleata sat on the ve- 
randah below his brother-in-law's house dunning for it. He said, "My 
brother-in-law Maliseni, why don't you give me a dowry?" Maliseni, 
who was angry at this persistent dunning, said, u Wah! I shan't give you 
a dowry! That fellow down there is one who can be looked through 
as far as the Kamang district. He is transparent to the Mating area." 
This was a very insulting speech, its implication being that Maleata was 
a poor man of no substance and solidity. 

Maleata then went to complain to a powerful elder kinsman called 
Mangma, who visited Maliseni and in a placating fashion asked him, 
"Why are you like this?" Maliseni merely elaborated his previous insult 
by saying, "The one down there on my verandah is like civet-cat meat; 
he is a floating seed. Perhaps you are going to cry?" This enraged 
Mangma, who then collected a group of his and Maleata's kinsmen. 
There were five in all. 

They armed themselves and stood on their dance place to shout chal- 
lenge. "Hik, hik, my friend Maliseni! We shall reckon wealth." They 
hung their gongs on the racks and beat them with the sharp, rapid 
strokes which signal anger or catastrophe. They brought all the weap- 
ons down from their houses. The five kinsmen began to slay their pigs 
and the pigs of all their kinsmen, thereby making them automatically 
their allies in the declared wealth feud. Then they set out for Lakawati, 
where they also had relatives, and returned carrying three pigs. On the 
ridge above their village they beat gongs and Maleata shouted toward 
Maliseni's dance place, "I bought your sister. I gave you a bride-price, 
and you promised me a dowry. When I came to collect it, you insulted 
me. (He repeated the insult verbatim.) Then I quarreled with you, but 
it was you who thrust a spear into your sister's carrying basket. You 
were richer than I, that is true. But you failed to pay my dowry, and 
now we shall see who is richer." As they came down the ridge they met 
a party of Maliseni's allies, who had also been out collecting animals. 
The two groups fought with bamboo throwing-spears and stones. No 
one was hurt, but a moko carried by the Lakawati allies of Mangma and 
Maleata was broken by a stone and had to be repaid by Mangma 
and Maleata with interest. 

This type of challenge and encounter, in the course of collecting 
animals for slaughter, 'went on for several days. "A man would eat a 
whole pig by himself. We were sick of meat. Everyone who was a kins- 
man of one side or the other had his pigs killed. The more distantly 
related kin of both groups of contestants tried to stay neutral by con- 

Adults and Institutions 123 

tributing pigs to both sides. Women were hiding piglets in the houses 
so that all the animals would not be killed." 

Then the Male House I * of each chief contestant decided to meet 
and reckon their tallies. They set up forked tree branches on neutral 
ground between the two villages. The young men of both sides met 
there and fought. They pushed and tugged and sparred with clubs. 
When they finished fighting, the Male House representatives of each 
side took two tallies apiece and tossed them into the air, saying, "Moon- 
Sun, we give you these two tallies. If our side is at fault, may our tallies 
be fewer. If our side is right, hide the tallies of our opponent; make 
ours flow in like water." 

Then each side began laying down tallies. Maliseni's representatives 
would put down one and Mangma's representatives would lay one on 
top of it. When Maliseni's tallies were finished, Mangma's side still had 
many. Then Mangma's side shouted a formal gloat, "Sapaliek! The 
rooster's tail droops! You are a voiceless night bird. Our lineage house's 
taproot goes down deep. You were mistaken." Then they all danced 
challenge, saying, "Hik, hik! my friend Maliseni, sit quietly; don't talk. 
We are the ones to talk. We are a bird with a bell-like voice; you are a 
silent night bird." 

After this climax of the contest there was an all-night dance. At 
dawn the winners gave to their six Male House kin for their services a 
series of graded payments that amounted to about twenty-five dollars 
in gongs and mokos plus various pigs and a sword. In addition, all the 
pigs used had to be paid for. 

For five years after this event Maliseni and his rivals avoided each 
other. Finally the winners sent a go-between to Maliseni with offers of 
a peacemaking feast on the spot where the reckoning had taken place. 
Here the principals exchanged areca, rice cones, and meat. Each side 
ate the other's food, and peace was restored. At least the contestants no 
longer avoided each other. 

This particular contest broke out over an affinal exchange. It in- 
volved many people who had no particular interest in losing the pigs 
they were raising for other purposes. It failed also to settle the hostility 
between Maliseni and some of his opponents. About ten years later the 
rivalry broke out once more, this time between Maliseni and Malefani, 
one of Mangma's and Maleata's chief supporters. This time the precipi- 
tating factor was that Malefani's three young sons refused to let Mali- 
seni join them in a rat hunt. Maliseni was angry and shouted at the boys, 
"I'll hit you if you don't wish me to go with you. Go copulate with a 

* See page 21. 

124 The People of Alor 

dog." The boys reported this to their father and the wealth contest 
broke out. Maliseni's Male House I, a man called Malikalieta, came to 
his support. This time Maliseni was victorious in the reckoning of 
slaughtered pigs. 

In 1938 Malefani died and there were whispered rumors that he had 
been poisoned by Maliseni's brother, because of their protracted hostil- 
ity. This did not prevent Maliseni from giving burial services as the 
representative of the Male House IV and from complaining so effec- 
tively about the payment for these services that he raised the level of 
payment for all the six Male House representatives. The Male House 
kin, seeing their advantage in this quarrel, supported Maliseni. There 
was every indication that Malefani's sons were inheriting their father's 
feud with the Maliseni faction. This did not mean that the two sets of 
opponents would not join forces against a third person when it was to 
their mutual advantage. In fact, some seven months later they stood 
back to back against Malikalieta in a quarrel over payments for their 
services as house-building partners in the erection of Malikalieta's line- 
age house. 

This matter of wealth feuds has been described in some detail for the 
light it throws on the rare but ever-present possibility of using wealth 
contests as a check for excessive chicanery and as an expression of per- 
sonal hostilities; for the light it throws on elaborate kin involvements as 
well as the completely realistic alignment of loyalties, which are deter- 
mined more by the particular situation than by any formal and consist- 
ent policy. The possibility of a wealth contest is also a reason why 
neutrals fear hostility between powerful men. Should such a contest 
break out no one's pigs are safe. 

In cases of fines through challenge and shame (kalukek) the system 
is far less dramatic and involves fewer people. It is a procedure that has 
been falling into disuse, since the Dutch government has set up a sys- 
tem of litigation by means of which fines can be levied through public 
debate. Litigation usually results in a more moderate fine and more 
rapid dispatch of business. However, fines through challenge are still 
resorted to where the principals are particularly incensed and feel that 
only a very ostentatious wealth display can assuage their feelings. There 
is a case of such a challenge in Mangma's autobiography, the details of 
which have been deleted from the autobiography and are inserted 

Mangma had been accused of intercourse with a girl with the obvi- 
ous intention of trying to force him into a marriage. He proved his 
innocence through a hot millet ordeal and then insisted on further ex- 

Adults and Institutions 125 

punging his shame by challenging his accusers to "kalukek." He did this 
by procuring from a friend a three-dollar pig for which he paid the 
excessive price of a five-dollar moko, after his friend had gone through 
a ceremonial dunning procedure (naluel, nohuor; literally, follow me, 
call to me). Then he went to the two kinsmen of the girl with a group 
of supporting relatives who bore ceremonial spears and horns. They 
stood on the dance place and shouted challenge, demanding that the 
three-dollar pig be paid for with a six-dollar-and-fifty-cent moko. This 
was finally paid to Mangma so that ultimately he received one dollar 
and fifty cents as a fine for the insult leveled at him. This was not pure 
profit since he had to pay his allies a series of six graded payments for 
their support. 

Refusal to meet such a challenge and pay the exorbitant price de- 
manded for a pig so presented is a source of shame and an admission of 
financial defeat comparable, on a smaller scale, to that of a wealth con- 
test. As in a wealth contest such a procedure does not result in any 
financial gain to the winner. In fact, the winner is apt to lose in the 
long run because of his obligations to supporters. Profit, more than 
reciprocity or potlatching, is the ideal of Alorese economy. Formerly 
only the breakdown of the profit system led to either of the other 
two systems of financial manipulation. This may explain why they were 
and are so rarely used and why litigation was so rapidly accepted once 
it was introduced. During the eighteen months in Atimelang only one 
case of the old kalukek system occurred. This was the outgrowth of a 
quarrel between two brothers who had exchanged wives. The younger 
brother was an unwilling partner in the exchange and gave his new 
wife to a friend who in turn offered him refuge against his older 
brother. The two friends lived together for a time but fought over the 
possession of the woman. There was a litigation in which the friend and 
the runaway brother were judged equally guilty. Instead of a fine, the 
chief ordered both men to be tied up for a day. The friend was so in- 
censed at the duplicity and so shamed by the punishment that he began 
kalukek proceedings against the younger brother, who had meanwhile 
taken his wife and returned to his own village, where he made peace 
with his older brother. 


It is quite obvious that there might be occasions where the hard deal- 
ing and chicanery openly admired in Atimelang finances reach a point 
that drives certain individuals to physical violence and murder. This in 
turn often precipitates war. Once under way, a war can drag on for 
years in a series of retaliations, which are also given their financial col- 

126 The People of Alor 

orings. The case of hard dealing in connection with a debt mentioned 
on page 67, which led to the theft of a child and from there to the 
taking of a head, is an illustration of such a situation. Refusal to meet 
obligations may also lead to threats of burning the debtor's house. In 
about 1927 Padata the Leper set fire to Maliseni's house because Mali- 
seni refused to pay him a moko worth seventeen dollars and fifty cents. 
The whole village burned to the ground, and in addition to the destruc- 
tion of property through fire there was wholesale pilfering of chickens, 
corn, rice, and piglets in the course of the confusion. Perhaps one of the 
best indexes of human and property relationships in Atimelang is that 
such disasters as a fire are occasions for pilfering by the very people 
who come to assist. In still another case financial hard dealing and insult 
between brothers precipitated a murder. It is referred to in passing in 
both Tilapada's and Kolmani's autobiographies. For the light it throws 
on a number of facets of Atimelang temperament it is worth giving 
here in detail. 

Langmai owed a debt to Fanpeni, his young unmarried cousin, and 
Fanpeni came one evening to dun him. Langmai did not invite him 
to enter the house and eat. He added insult to injury by referring to 
Fanpeni's unmarried status and by dilating on the pleasures he himself 
had in sleeping with his own wife. Fanpeni sulked all night on the 
verandah below the house. The next morning Langmai and his wife 
left the house without paying any attention to Fanpeni, who was by 
then in a murderous mood. The wife's younger sister stayed behind to 
care for the children. In the course of the morning she went off to fetch 
water. Fanpeni waylaid her and cut her throat. He then ran off to a 
village so distant that it was not considered practicable to follow him. 

Berkama, an uncle of Fanpeni, feared retribution and left for a 
near-by village. The dead girl's kin sent word that if he stayed away 
they would consider it a sign that he approved of his nephew's act. 
Berkama feared this was a ruse to lure him back to Atimelang in order 
to murder him, but finally when his wife's powerful cousin offered to 
take him and his family under personal protection, he consented to re- 
turn. The matter blew over for the time being. 

Meanwhile the daughter of Berkama's sister married a man from 
Manetati whose brother too was married to an Atimelang woman. This 
other Atimelang woman ran away from her husband, lived with another 
man in the vicinity, and finally returned to her own village. 

One day Berkama's sister, mother of the first girl married in Manetati, 
went to visit her daughter, accompanied by her nephew, the twelve- 
year-old son of Berkama. The deserted husband shot the child simply 

Adults and Institutions 127 

because he was from the same village as his adulterous wife and because 
there was a death for which no payment had been made by the child's 
family. The boy was carried back to his own village, where he died three 
or four days later. 

The brother of the murderer, who was the child's uncle by marriage, 
was furious at this attack and killed a woman of his own family. He 
then took her head to his wife's village of Atimelang, where it was ac- 
cepted as payment for the dead child and for the girl murdered some 
years earlier by Fanpeni. Incidentally, the murder of a lineal kin to ap- 
pease affinal kin is not necessarily traditional courtesy. I suspect, al- 
though I could not confirm it, that this last woman was in some way a 
troublesome person. In a discussion of insanity that occurs on page 157 
there is a case in which a maniac was told by kin that they would take 
his head and sell it. 

This anecdote points to another reason why violence is the source of 
so much fear. In an area where kinship is reckoned bilaterally, so that rec- 
ognized family affiliations are widespread, and where, in addition, group 
responsibility exists not only in terms of kinship but also in terms of 
territorial affiliation, a violent act by some one person may have incal- 
culable repercussions on anyone distantly affiliated with the person 
committing the 'act. It is small wonder that Rilpada's autobiography 
contains the statement, "The older people all lectured us about fighting 
and said that when we fought we involved them and it was just as 
though we were waging war on them." 

Warfare, when it was in vogue, was rarely on a large scale or of a 
very bloody nature. It was characterized more by treachery than by 
boldness. Bravery was reckoned in terms of success rather than risk. 
There is no need at this point to give a detailed description of warfare 
in Alor, but a brief rsum of the last series of head-hunting raids be- 
fore Dutch pacification will throw some light on the role it played in 
the lives of Atimelangers. The series of retaliations listed below covered 
a period of about thirty years. 

1. Manisenlaka of Kewai killed Motlaka of Lawatika. No one seemed 
to remember the reasons for this original murder. 

2. Lonmani, a young girl of Lawatika, was kidnapped by Padakafeli 
of Atimelang and sold to a man in Kewai, where she was killed in re- 
venge for death no. i. Padakafeli was motivated by the profit involved in 
selling a head. 

3. Lanpada of Kafakberka was killed by Kafolama of Dikimpe at the 
instigation of Padamai of Lawatika. Padamai was the father of victim 
no. 2. Kafolama was Padamai's friend and was paid for getting Lan- 

iz8 The People of Alor 

pada's head. Lanpada seems to have been completely innocent in the 
matter except that he belonged to a village allied to the Kewai complex. 
He had come to Dikimpe on a dunning trip. 

4. Padakalieta of Dikimpe was wounded by the Kewai people in the 
course of a general skirmish in which the villages of Kewai and Atime- 
lang fought those of Dikimpe and Lawatika. 

5. Likma of Kewai was killed by Manimai of Atimelang. At this 
point Atimelang had changed sides without notifying Kewai. The 
change occurred because Padakalieta, no. 4, had kin in Atimelang and 
the Dikimpe people persuaded the Atimelangers that they owed Pada- 
kalieta vengeance. The death of Likma is particularly instructive. He 
and his murderer were friends. The murderer visited Kewai while 
Kewai was still under the impression that the Atimelangers were allies. 
Likma was persuaded to return to Atimelang by his friend, who prom- 
ised him protection both there and en route. As the two approached 
Atimelang, Manimai, who was walking behind Likma, shot him in the 
back and brought his head into the village. 

6. Kafolama of Hatoberka, a village allied with Kewai, was killed by 
Manipada of Atimelang in a general skirmish resulting from death no. 5. 

7. Two women of Alurkowati, a village that had been relatively 
neutral up to- this point, were wounded by a group of Lakawati men 
who ambushed them as they went for water. 

8. Lakamau of Alurkowati was killed by Padakari of Lakawati in a 

9. An old woman of File was killed by a group of Alurkowati and 
Dikimpe men who were out to ambush a Lakawati person. The men 
had gone to an area where Lakawati people had outlying fields and 
where they hoped to ambush some unsuspecting and unprotected per- 
son. They failed to find anyone from Lakawati and took the head of a 
File woman instead. 

In an affair of this sort it is obvious that the important thing is to get 
a head, any head, by way of revenge. It is also obvious that the most 
immediate kin do not necessarily feel responsible for securing vengeance 
in person. It is more usual to ask a friend to execute vengeance, and 
then the kinsman goes through the elaborate payment procedure for 
the head secured as "spouse" for his own murdered relative. In the 
above encounters it will be seen that the Five Villages formed an alli- 
ance, after some slight vacillation on the part of Arimelang proper. This 
alliance was based on territorial and the resultant kinship propinquities. 
Their casualties were two persons dead and three wounded, of whom 
three were women. Kewai and its allied villages of Lakawati, Hato- 

Adults and Institutions 129 

berka, and Kafakberka had five dead, one of whom was a woman. Of 
the casualties only three occurred in open fight, the others were through 
ambush and treachery. It should be stressed, however, that the use of 
the word treachery in English gives the act a derogatory quality that the 
Alorese do not recognize. 

The termination of this last war came with the death of the File 
woman. Dikirnpe people took the initiative in paying for her murder. 
Since the score was five to five at this point settlement could be ar- 
ranged honorably by go-betweens, and thirty dollars in mokos and 
gongs kept the FUe people from joining the war. At about this time also 
the Dutch were insisting upon the termination of head-hunting. How- 
ever, some twenty years later the Kewai and Atimelang people were 
still suspicious of each other and there were very few contacts between 
the villages, although they were only about an hour-and-a-half s walk- 
ing distance apart. 

The fact that bereaved kin are not necessarily the ones who take di- 
rect vengeance does not mean that they are absolved from responsi- 
bility but, characteristically, that responsibility is financial. They must 
buy a head to match the one lost by a relative. Actually a head itself is 
no always necessary. Tokens for a person killed or wounded but not 
decapitated are acceptable. In such transactions there are six sellers and 
six buyers. The sellers (namu) are the persons who were present at the 
death and who counted coup on the head. The buyers (bamunuma) 
consist of specific kin, such as a brother, and the first five Male Houses 
of the deceased. The prices for heads naturally vary. The maximum ex- 
penditure I have recorded amounts to approximately one hundred and 
twelve dollars in gongs, mokos, weapons, and pigs. 

The ceremonial accompaniments of such transactions are slight and 
slovenly in execution, as are all ceremonial procedures in Atimelang. 
The sellers of a head bring it to their village in a basket filled with 
ashes. The basket is hung in a bamboo thicket and ignored until the 
payoff, which may be years later. The first two killers are under a rice 
taboo for six days. They may eat only corn served them in the inner 
woven compartment of an areca basket that is kept covered with a 
serving basket. The eaters take a handful and rapidly cover the con- 
tainer again. This is to prevent the ghost of the dead man from contami- 
nating the food and making his slayers particularly susceptible to 
revenge. On the sixth day the buyers make a rice roll with a head and 
limbs. The chief seller shoots this food effigy and may thereafter eat 
rice. The sellers then give the chief buyer bananas, pigs, and chickens, 
which are cooked and eaten on the spot by the five other buyers. That 

1 30 The People of Alof 

is, the closest lineal kin of the murdered man receives from the sellers 
gifts of which he does not partake, whereas the more distant Male 
House kin may eat freely of the food. This parallels the procedure in 
death feasts, at which close kin of the dead refuse food. After this lift- 
ing of taboos, payments are in order, but, as in the payoff of death feast 
obligations, they may not be made for many years. This preliminary 
procedure is simply a token of an obligation undertaken. In 1938 and 
1939 there were still such outstanding obligations awaiting settlement, 
although no heads had been taken for at least twenty years. 

If an enemy kills a man but does not have a chance to decapitate 
him, the home village of the victim itself decapitates him, puts the head 
in an ash-filled basket, and hangs it in a bamboo thicket or on a re- 
motely located platform. Before putting it aside, however, the six po- 
tential buyers of revenge shoot arrows into the head of their kinsman 
and urge his soul to go out and find six sellers, that is, six avengers. The 
head is "fed" every few days and whenever it smells food it is supposed 
to cry. This assures the kin that the head is still there and that it has 
not been stolen by an enemy for resale. 

In all this system of revenge the head is actually of minimal impor- 
tance. One can sell the fact of a death without producing the head. On 
the other hand, any head will do if a lineal kin wishes to buy one and 
make an honorific (i.e., financial) settlement for a death. In such a case, 
a stolen head will do as well as any other. 

At the payoff for the head the sellers must first be appeased, and, as 
in all financial settlements of this sort, there are hours and hours of hag- 
gling, of derogations, of threatened withdrawals, and of attempted 
chicanery. When claims of the various ranks of creditors have been 
.met, the climax of the ceremony is to bring the head onto the dance 
place. Since the real head has usually long since disintegrated or been 
lost, a cowrie shell or a stone wrapped in coconut fiber can be substi- 
tuted. The bundle is woven into a closed coconut-leaf container like 
those made for cooking raw rice and is lashed to the end of a pole. A 
volunteer, who is paid a small fee, stands with the pole and its bundle 
on the village boundary. He calls the buyers to come fetch the sellers 
and the bundle. The buyers and their female kin assemble in full regalia 
in front of the head bundle and begin "dancing" it into the village. 

The dance is a vigorous challenge dance resembling the gestures 
used by men in debate. This dancing of an object into the village is 
also used for house posts, valuable mokos, spirit-bird bundles, and any 
prized objects. The sellers follow this procession. Once on the dance 

Adults and Institutions 1 3 1 

place, the wielder of the pole begins switching the bundle rapidly back 
and forth as he circles the dance place six times. He is surrounded by 
the buyers, who try to beat the head bundle as it flicks back and forth. 
At the end of the sixth round the buyers seize the pole and bundle, rush 
to the village edge, and toss the bundle off into the bush, where no fur- 
ther attention is paid to it. Now the dead kinsman has a "spouse" (i.e., 
the .fellow victim) and will not return to make trouble for his living 
kin. The thrashing given the head bundle is supposed to kill the spirit 
of the spouse so that it too will no longer be a menace. 

The final ceremonial gesture is the mock feeding of the buyers. They 
stand in a row on their dance place and a piece of rice cone is offered 
them. They pretend to take a bite, but actually the rice is rapidly passed 
over their shoulders to children standing behind each buyer, who run 
off and eat it secretly. This appeases the dead kinsman. The same pro- 
cedure is repeated by the sellers on the village boundary. This appeases 
the spouse of the dead kin. 

It is consistent with the picture drawn so far of food and finance 
that the malignancy even of souls cannot be fully appeased until ges- 
tures of this sort are made. The cost of such appeasement must act to 
curtail excessive head-hunting. The financial costliness of placating the 
dead is true also for the ordinary death feasts and for the spirit-bird 
ceremonies that replace the death feast series in cases of violent deaths. 
This latter type of ceremony parallels in form that just described for a 
human head. There are three or four species of small birds which, when 
killed and dried, may be sold as spouses for those dead from accident 
or from dysentery, leprosy, or smallpox. It is important in terms of lo- 
cal values that even though a man has caught a spirit bird he may not 
use it to appease his own dead kin, but must buy one from some other 
set of six captors. 

An instance of nice adjustment occurred when the Dutch put an end 
to head-hunting. Spirit-bird ceremonies were substituted for head cere- 
monies where vengeance had not yet been secured, so that the soul of 
the murdered man could be appeased. The Alorese were caught by cul- 
tural changes between the fear of their dead kin and the living Dutch. 
Fortunately they had at hand a ceremonial device they could, and were 
willing to, substitute in order to avoid this dilemma. If this device had 
not been available it is possible that the natives would have feared their 
dead more than the Dutch garrison and that head-hunting would not 
have ended so quickly and easily. As it was, the solution was probably 
as much of a relief to the natives as it was to the government. 

132 The People of Alor 


It is not expedient in this volume to elaborate institutional descrip- 
tions of various wealth activities. The gist of the foregoing pages has 
been to show a portion of that realm of activity concerned with wealth 
and hostility and to demonstrate some of the ways in which wealth may 
be used to express both status and aggression as well as to assist in the 
restraint of overt physical violence. It shows finally what happens when 
wealth fails to serve as an adequate check on anger. It has been evident 
that wealth situations may in themselves provoke extremes of violence. 
It is also evident that where extremes of violence have broken out, wealth 
again enters the picture to moderate an excessive multiplication of re- 
taliations. All this discussion has been phrased largely in institutional 
forms. Only the man who is thoroughly successful financially can utilize 
such forms to the full, and obviously all men cannot be fully successful. 

From observation some twelve middle-aged men of the Five Villages 
stood out as persons of particular financial power. These twelve men 
had six. brothers among them who collaborated with them and were 
considered wealthy and powerful by association. This gives, as a rough 
estimate, some eighteen powerful men out of an adult male population 
of about one hundred and twelve. Those who must occupy the less 
privileged positions, I have called satellites for want of a better word. 
The society has no term to designate them, as the first paragraphs of 
this chapter indicated. These men function as allies and servitors of the 
more successful. They are depended upon when a show of strength is 
needed, on occasions like the ceremonial delivery of a dowry payment, 
a burial, or when labor is required for the building of a lineage house. 
At a large feast they do the slaughtering and cooking of meat. In bring- 
ing articles of value into the village they help dance in the object. In 
other words, whenever a crowd effect is needed or labor is required 
they lend assistance. 

This assistance is particularly necessary where, as we have seen, a 
show of strength in physical and financial affairs is what counts. In ad- 
dition, the wealthier and more important a man is, the more he consid- 
ers physical labor beneath his dignity. Visiting, sitting, talking, and 
chewing areca are the only physical exertions worthy of a man aware 
of his importance. The very fact that one goes in for muscular labor 
makes one's status suspect. Muscular labor is the role of women and the 
young. Usually satellites have more or less remote kin affiliations with 
the powerful man to whom they are attached. In return for their assist- 
ance they receive loyalty and protection in those financial involve- 
ments to which every married male is more or less exposed. It is not 

Adults and Institutions 133 

possible to give any numerical estimate of this group since their status 
relationships are so shifting. A man might be willing to assume a satel- 
lite relationship to a very rich and powerful kinsman, one in the upper 
ten per cent for example, but would not play such a role to a kinsman 
in the middle quartile of any hypothetical distribution curve of wealth. 
This satellite role is of course markedly reminiscent of the fagging 
mentioned for growing boys and seems to be a persistence of the child- 
hood role of being ordered about on small errands and duties. In greater 
docility, in more physical labor, and in the rendering of services, the 
satellite males approach the role expected of women. This is purely my 
interpretation. There was in Atimelang no thought of comparing the 
less successful men with women. 


There are in addition a number of lesser skills, nonfinancial in nature, 
for which a man may acquire a certain reputation even though they 
procure him no social rewards. There follows a list of men with such 
skills, which I was able to obtain only indirectly in the course of ex- 
tended observations. It is by no means complete but gives a sample of 
skills respected by the group. Not all the men listed here were in that 
somewhat vaguely defined satellite category. Those listed who were at 
the same time obviously men of 'considerable financial power have been 

Lakamobi of Alurkowati: calendarer; making of wooden mortars. 
Rilpada of Dikimpe: a seer. 

*Malefani of Dikimpe: burying lepers, making leprosy curses; a mi- 
nor seer. 

Riemau of Dikimpe: butchering animals and dividing meat at feasts. 
Maieta of Lawatika: making village guardian spirit carvings. 
Padamai of Folafeng: carving. 

Fanseni Long Hair: carving; knowledge of ceremonial procedure. 
*Maliseni: vigor and violence in debate. 

Mangma of Karieta: genealogical information; industrious gardener. 
Lakamau of Alurkowati: skill with bow and arrow; skill in extract- 
ing wax from people's ears. 

*Atakalieta of Folafeng: making curses to protect fields from theft. 
Nicolas of Folafeng: divination by means of chickens. 
Atafani off Atimelang: fencing with clubs. 
*Maikalieta of Atimelang: clearing new fields. 
Manimale of Alurkowati: suspected poisoner. 
Padatimang of Dikimpe: a seer. 

134 The People of Alor 

One source of status and distinction is not included on a current list 
of minor skills; that is, bravery in war. Before the pacification of the 
island by the Hollanders a man might gain distinction through wealth or 
warfare. Today only wealth remains. For the successful warrior a spe- 
cial status term exists that means essentially a "killer," a "bad man" (liki). 
Seers also have a special status term (trmang). 

At present in Atimelang only two men are definitely at the nonprivi- 
leged end of the scale. One is a man about forty years old who has 
never married and never distinguished himself in any way. The other 
is a young simpleton who still associates with boys and is a docile servi- 
tor to his elder kin. Otherwise, even satellites and poor men are to some 
extent involved, or hoping to become involved, in the competitive sys- 
tem. Perhaps this is one reason, combined with others, that skills are on 
so low a level in the community. The foregoing list of people known 
for special abilities indicates the poverty of the range. It does not, how- 
ever, indicate the triviality of the reward. Such skills may serve to iden- 
tify their possessors, but little more. They are not substitutes for wealth, 
and the power they give over other people is minimal. They may arouse 
a modicum of respect but they give no true prestige. 

The seer has opportunities for wielding social power, but that power, 
though real, is covert. The payments he gets for curing are so small that 
they serve only as a supplementary source of income. His position is 
reminiscent of the more academic scientists in our culture, whose power 
is indirect and whose reward financially is not comparable to that of a 
"captain of industry." In the autobiographies are the histories of two 
seers, a man and a woman. I have the impression that they are both 
people with a considerable desire for power who are using the role of 
seer to inflate their own image of themselves because the financial role 
is largely blocked. Rilpada's life history and dreams deserve special 
study from that point of view. 

It could be argued that such substitutive gratifications might be ex- 
pected to flourish in a society where the cultural goal is so often asso- 
ciated with frustrations and difficulties. That they do not may be symp- 
tomatic of a general underdevelopment of mastery techniques. It is 
patent that in practically all specialties there is a singular slovenliness of 
achievement. Maikalieta, who is listed as a man distinguished for gar- 
dening, planted a field far too large for his labor resources for weeding 
it. A careful study I made of his expenditures in gardening feasts and 
of his returns revealed that he had lost out in the enterprise, although 
he did not seem aware of the fact. 

Carvings of village guardian spirits, familiars, and the like are all 

Adults and Institutions 135 

singularly crude, and no value is attached to them once they have been 
used for sacrificial purposes. It is not unusual to see these u sacred" carv- 
ings lying on the ground rotting away. (It was always considered a 
windfall to be able to sell me one. Also, I found it impossible to appeal 
to pride in order to procure good specimens for the museum collection I 
was making, and only by repeatedly refusing to pay for the poor ones 
did I get better examples of handicrafts.) 

Although they are capable of building large and imposing houses, 
about a third of the houses were of the shed or field-hut type, which 
can be thrown together in a few days. Even an imposing new lineage 
house will have the edges of its thatch torn to shreds within a year by 
its owners, who pull out a handful whenever they want a torch at 
night. As I have already indicated, tattooing and tooth blackening are 
so unskillfully done that they fail frequently to be permanent. Basketry 
is of the simplest sort, with a minimum of overlay decorations. The 
Atimelangers have never acquired the arts of weaving known on the 
coast, of pottery produced in villages not two hours away, or of cire 
perdue casting known in the eastern part of the island. This is true de- 
spite the fact that they know the processes fairly well, and there are no 
taboos or restrictions that I could discover against the practice of such 

Their mythology is confused and unstructuralized. Their knowledge 
of genealogies is so deficient that many individuals do not know their 
more remote Male House kin. Ceremonial procedure is almost always a 
source of fumbling and of heated argument as to proper procedure. In 
respect to some of these items, it is possible that they represent newly 
or partially introduced features which were not clearly understood in 
the first place, or else features that were survivalisric. Regardless of the 
possible historical situation, the fact remains that little is done by way 
of elaboration and integration, and no effort is made to master the re- 
sources of the environment. 

From the point of view of depth psychology all this might well point 
to a weakness in ego development. This would be in agreement with 
my suggestions in the preceding chapters, that it is precisely in the 
realm of ego development that the Atimelang child suffers the greatest 
handicaps and receives the least encouragement. The rewards are few 
and meager in childhood as well as in adult life. Men want to be rich; 
they may have the drive, but more than drive is necessary for success- 
ful accomplishment. Consistent training and the assurance of reward 
(or penalty) are essential to learning. These two factors are largely 
absent. It is not astonishing, therefore, that so many men accept the 

136 The People of Alor 

role of satellites, which is a partial abandonment of goal and a partial 
continuation of childhood patterns. 


It is interesting that there are only two areas in which men seem to 
achieve any degree of esthetic self-expression. Both are indirectly asso- 
ciated with finance. One is gong playing, the other is versification. It 
will be recalled that gongs are one of die currencies. Whole gongs 
(fokung) are not very fluid as currency since they are prized for cere- 
monial purposes. Broken gongs (rai) are used constantly as small 
change. Their values range from about fifty cents to several rupiahs. 
Gong playing begins in middle childhood and may continue through- 
out life. More often the long, steady gong beating of death memorials 
(sinewai), of lineage house building, and so forth is turned over to 
boys and young men, but older men frequently experiment with new 
rhythms or set the pattern for an orchestra composed of mokos and 
gongs of different sizes. 

The connection of versification with finance comes out more plainly 
than that of gong playing and finance. It is the only form of poetic 
expression possessed by the people. It is, in fact, practically the only 
attempt at literary expression of any sort. The preoccupation with fi- 
nance and even its esthetic transmutations are evident from some of the 
verses quoted below. The dances last from eight or nine o'clock in the 
evening until dawn the next day. They usually precede a ceremonial 
event, with its inevitable financial concomitants. The participants, fac- 
ing inward, their arms about each other, form a circle on the dance 
place. They progress sideways. 

Any man may begin a verse. The form in which he expresses him- 
self has certain stereotyped limits and a set range of elaborate meta- 
phors, but it is not so fixed that creative leeway is forbidden. As the 
soloist finishes a verse, he indicates a change in tempo. Thereupon all 
the dancers join in one of the dozen or more set choruses characterized 
by syllables which are predominantly meaningless and slightly more 
rapid in beat. The ability to improvise is highly esteemed. Ambitious 
young men of seventeen or eighteen years first try to versify in this 
fashion. An inadequate performance is not publicly ridiculed, but there 
is a certain amount of snickering behind the performer's back. Those 
with real ability persist in their efforts and may be admired performers 
by the time they are in their late thirties or early forties. Abilities nat- 
urally vary. By rough estimate perhaps 10 per cent of the mature men 
are recognized as good singers. A few verses taken at random from 

Adults and Institutions 137 

two dances are given in order to illustrate the flavor of Atimelang's 
poetic fantasy. 


Verse i. A creditor. 

Heloma! Helele! Men of Mobi's family! 

Tomorrow at dawn your creditors will ask for long treasure; 

They will Request large wealth. 

Toss your creditors' shields; 

Strike their bows.* 

Creditors will grasp the wealth and turn away.t 
Verse 2. A creditor. 

When the earth is at dawn, 

When the world is light, 

Fani, my chief, ask for large wealth; 

Request long treasure. 

Your creditors, standing in file, 

Will hang the roar of a storm t on their shoulders. 
Verse 3. A guest. 

The sound of your dance rises; your chorus swells. 

The sound of it hangs on me; it droops over me. 

I blew the fire to give light. 

I came to join the dance. 

I stand on the edge of your dance place. 

I have stumbled through the dark to come stand with you. 
Verse 4. A creditor. 

Tomorrow at daylight, when the world is at dawn, 

If I see something tasty and good, 

If I come upon something sweet and good, 

I shall sit upon the verandah of Latawati f 

And there pour out tales in your praise. 
Verse f. The debtor-host. 

My creditors, you have spoken truly; correct is your tale. 

At dawn tomorrow I shall hand you tallies. 

I shall set the date of payment. 

Go to Latawati f 

* Pay them well. 

t Be satisfied and leave without further dunning. 

t Gongs and mokos given in payment; this refers to the sound that gongs and 
drums make when beaten by satisfied creditors. 
$ If creditors are well paid. 

* Name of creditor's lineage house. 

138 The People of A lor 

And when the last tally has been destroyed, 

When the last tally leaf has been torn off, 

Return to my level dance place. 

The hand of illness will be pried open, 

The teeth of disease will be pried apart.* 

You will not have long to wait. 
Verse 8. A creditor. 

Creditors are your family tree; 

Creditors are your tree branch. 

Their faces are not strange; their eyes not different. 

Just now when the sun set 

I grasped the quail-voiced horn. 

I came down to your level dance place 

To pry apart the teeth of disease. 

Lakamani, that small man,t 

Will lead the way; 

He will grasp the hand of illness. 

He will take it to the bamboo-skirted boundary of the village. 

He will leave. 
Verse y. A guest. 

Quietly I slept, restfully I'sat; 

But the sound of your voices rose, your chorus swelled. 

This I heard, it opened my eyes. 

So I came gladly to join in your rhythmic stamping. 
Verse 10. The debtor. 

My many dance guests, you have spoken truly; correct is your tale. 

The sound of my dance rises; my chorus swells. 

You heard it; it prods your ears. 

Blow on the fire for light; join the dance. 

Make a light and join in. 

I shall not scrutinize you, 

I shall not question you.t 
Verse //.A creditor. 

Fani, my chief, illness is close to you; 

Disease approaches you. 

The sun set and you ordered your creditors to come. 

They grasped the quail-voiced horn 

* The function of this dance is to protect the debtor from the illness caused by 
his dead kinsman's ghost. When a payment has been made, the ghost is appeased. 

t The deceased for whom the payments are being made. He is called **smaU" to 
indicate that he need not be feared. 

i Greet his guests suspiciously. 

Adults and Institutions 139 

And came down to your level dance place. 

Voices gathered, throats chorused 

To open the hand of illness, 

To pry apart the teeth of disease. 

Lakamani, that brass bow,* will guide illness away. 

He will grasp its hand and follow a distant ravine. 
Verse 12. The debtor-host. 

My creditors, you have spoken truly; correct is your tale. 

At dawn tomorrow you will see nothing tasty; 

Nothing sweet will appear for you.t 

I shall give you tallies. 

When I set a date, return. 

Meanwhile go to Latawati,t 

Sit upon its verandah. 

When the last tally leaf has been torn off, 

When it has been destroyed, 

When the intervening days have passed, 

Come back; return to my level home 

To open the hand of illness, 

To pry apart the teeth of disease. 

This place is devoid of wealth, 

There are no treasures in this spot. 

But Lakamani, that small man, 

Has run ahead to ask for large wealth, 

To request long treasure. 1 

Your bows will be struck; your shields tossed.** 

You shan't sit 
Verse ij. A guest. 

When the sun like a shrimp bursts on the hill, 

Shields will crackle with dryness. 

I shall become very sleepy. 

I shall take the memory tt of your dance to my house. 

Because of you I shall eat heartily. 

* Meaning is obscure; probably means strong and valuable. 

t He does not plan to pay them when the dance ends at dawn. 
t Name of the creditor's lineage house. 
Literally, "placenta," a figure of speech for dance place. 
V The dead are expected to precede the living kin when they set out to collect 
debts and to dispose the debtor toward generous payments. 

* * Creditors will be well paid. 

ft The payment will be so large as to be immediately satisfactory and require no 
dunning on the part of the creditors. 
it Literally, remnant. 
i Refers to the morning meal after an all-night dance. 

140 The People of Alor 

Verse 18. A creditor. 

When the earth is at dawn, when the world is light, 

Fani, my chief, I shall see something very tasty; 

Something sweet will appear for me. 

You will scratch for wealth, 

You will scrabble for treasure. 

Place tallies in my hand, 

Give me the promised day. 

I shall return to my Latawati house; 

I shall sit on its verandah. 

When the promised number of days have elapsed 

And are passed, when the tallies have been torn off, 

I shall come back down to the level dance place of Fani, my chief. 

The wealth for which you scratched, 

The treasure for which you scrabbled, 

The wealth for which you dunned, 

The treasure for which you asked, 

Your creditors will gather together and carry away. 


Verse i. A host. 

Heloma! Helele! The Village Person, the Community's Owner 
Was seized today by a Kamang arrow.* 
As far as the foot of the slope it held your eye and your hand. 
Through good years and bad years I shall feed and bathe you.t 

Verse 2. A host. 

Oh! Village Person! Our ancestors and our forebears, 

Who were accustomed to beat drums and hang gongs 

There in the village, the level village, are no more. 

Today I thrust the Kamang arrow into the former dance place. 

I waved it before your eyes. 

So come up from Kamang 

Descend from Manikameng 

Come from Likuwatang 

Descend from Watalieng 

Here to the level land of Atimelang. 

We are as numerous as grains of sand. 

* A seer from Kamang. had been in charge of snaring the village guardian spirit, 
t The host promises annual sacrifices to the spirit. The term "Feed and bathe" is 
that usually employed for children. 

Adults and Institutions 141 

Good years and bad years also, 

I shall feed you. Each year it will be thus. 
Verse 5. A host. 

Just now as the sun set, all gathered in your honor. 

They brought a goat with horns downy as nettle fuzz; 

They brought a pennant and they brought wealth 

To prod your ears, to catch your eye. 

In return, drive wealth toward our tumukun,* 

Chase it in his direction. 

Each year you will be fed and bathed. 
Verse 4. A guest. 

Heloma! Helele! Village Person! 

Formerly people were good and rich, 

But even in the past it has been told us 

Only one piglet sufficed to summon the Spirit; 

So come now to us from wherever you are, 

Run here to us. 

Protect the food crops. 

Divide them among the chiefs and the tumukun's hundred kinsmen. 

Feed each hand every year. 
Verse $. A guest. 

Drowsily I narrate, sleepily I talk. 

May it catch the Village Person's eye. 

May it prod his ear. 

May corn of all sorts encircle the bamboo-skirted boundary of the 

White drooping rice-heads follow other villages. 

Village Guardian, run to meet it; 

Intercept its path; draw it here. 

Divide it among all hands of this long Atimelang. 
Verse 6. A guest. 

The sound of your dance rises; your chorus swells. 

The sound of it hangs on me; it droops over me. 

Nudge the young men to waken them. 

Call the young women to go. 

Blow on the fire to give light. 

Join the dance; 

Make a light and join the dance. 

* One of the hosts. 

142 The People of Alor 

Verse 7. A host. 

We divined with areca nuts 

And the lot fell on the Village Spirit. 

To the Village Person it pointed. 

We took a goat with horns downy as nettle fuzz, 

We summon him with the goat, 

That he may guard us and be well-disposed toward us. 
Verse 8. The seer who officiated. 

I was wandering on the coast when your tumukun ordered me, 

When he commanded me 

To come up here to level Atimelang. 

Your Village Guardian hung upside down.* 

I took a pronged arrow to hook his incisors. 

I tugged him here to set him free upon your new dance place. 

He guards your food, so feed your Village Spirit, 

Both good years and bad; forget no year. 

Pour out the true tale; throw forth your speech. 

The Guardian Spirit, this Village Person, had turned his hand 
from you. 

The people of Atimelang were beginning to dwindle. 

There were no rice storage baskets. 

There were no corn racks. 

Only to the Village Guardian, to no other spirit, 

Did our divination point. 

When the sun set, when it hung low 

Our chief took a small pig 

To feed and bathe the Guardian. 
Verse g. A host, addressing the Guardian Spirit. 

Debtors are numerous, debtors are many. 

So follow them persistently; lead the way to them. 

Hook wealth with your horn, 

Let it pour in like ants or water, 

I shall feed and bathe you each year. 
Verse 10. A host, addressing the Guardian Spirit. 

My kin, the Guardian Spirit, act like a dog; 

Like a dog persistently track our many debtors. 

Let wealth come sliding in like flowing water. 

For the sake of our Tilalawati's ancestral house beam, 
* Was neglected and the village had fallen on hard times. 

Adults and Institutions 143 

Oh, Village Guardian, track down those who have been our 


Now in this drowsy fourth quarter of the night 
We call upon you; we ask your help 
That you may persistently track our many debtors. 
Verse //.A host, addressing the Guardian Spirit. 
Listen, Guardian Spirit, 
Pursue new wealth and old wealth. 
From the market or from the Kamang area 
Show it the way here. 
Hook it up with your horn. 
Let it slide in like flowing water. 


If compensatory skills are minimal and esthetic outlets seem only to 
reinforce the premium set on financial success, it may be of some inter- 
est to turn once more to some of the institutional details involved in 
financial manipulations. This will give us an impression of the sort of 
difficulty involving chicanery and frustrations with which the less suc- 
cessful are incapable of coping and before which they surrender to a 
greater or lesser degree. In the section on marriage the obstacles of 
some young men in launching into the system were described. Difficult 
as a youth's position may sometimes be, it is only a portion of the sum 
of difficulties he may encounter as a man and of the distrusts and suspi- 
cions the system, as a system, is calculated to engender. 

It must be evident by now that wealth consists essentially of a series 
of outstanding credits, not of accumulated property. But no debt is 
ever paid by one individual to another without a preliminary dunning, 
except in the case of general payoff feasts. However, to give a feast a 
man must work at dunning for months ahead of time to be assured of 
enough tangible wealth from his debtors to provide a satisfactory pay- 
off for his creditors who crowd to the feast. The game played at such 
ceremonial payoffs is to force as much as possible out of the host, while 
he in turn has been trying to force as much as possible from his debtors. 
He uses a variety of magic wealth-bringing devices that range from 
building a new shed for his wealth-bringing spirits and placating them 
with food, to beating gongs and mokos morning and evening in order 
to draw in more gongs and mokos. The strain of debt collecting is nicely 
illustrated by the words used, which mean to draw (filia) and to tug 

* Who have accepted gifts, that they may repay them. 

144 The People of Alor 

(hafik), terms also applied to heavy loads, such as house posts. The 
difficulty of calling in reserves is further illustrated by the uncertainty 
surrounding the date set for a feast. The case of the tumukun's payoff 
death feast will show just how harassing such a situation can be. 

The tumukun must have been pondering the event of a death feast for 
some weeks, but the first indication I had of his plans for it was on 
March 23, when a group of women gathered to hull rice. The next day 
he divined to discover the proper date, and the result of this divination 
set April 4 as the day of the feast. When April 4 arrived it was obvious 
that no feast was under way. I asked what had happened and was told 
there had been a two-day delay in order to give guests time to arrive. 
On April 14 the tumukun again divined for a propitious date, and the 
day was set for April 26. That night and the next day he had satellites 
deliver thirty-nine invitations in the form of "memo tallies" to inform 
his. deb tors that gongs and mokos were to begin arriving as early as 
April 22. These merpo tallies are strips of coconut leaves in one end of 
which a flat knot is tied; the other end is slit as many times as there 
are days before the feast. The guest is supposed to tear off one tab 
a day. 

Meanwhile the tumukun had been making gong- and moko-bringing 
magic every evening and morning. Since all these activities were quite 
open, no one could have been ignorant of his plans. April 26 came and 
went, however, but no guests arrived. The tumukun was very much 
ashamed and, characteristically, very angry. He complained to me of 
the situation when I was indiscreet enough to inquire about the cause 
of the delay, and he blusteringly threatened to carry litigations against 
his debtors to the radjah himself. He began once more a round of visits 
to his debtors scattered through about ten villages to berate them for 
their recalcitrance. I asked a neutral person if people were angry with 
the tumukun and was told that they were not, that such delays were 

On July 1 3 the tumukun again began morning and evening to beat 
gongs and mokos in order to draw in his wealth. A few dowry pay- 
ments arrived during the last days of July. On July 28 he went to fetch 
the soul of his father-in-law, in whose honor the death feast was to be. 
The father-in-law had been buried in the old Alurkowati village site 
twenty years before, and his soul had to be brought to the dance place 
in Atimelang, where his feast was to be given. The tumukun took this 
opportunity to berate his father-in-law's soul for its inactivity in spur- 
ring debtors to make payments. The souls of those who are to be hon- 

Adults and Institutions 145 

ored are supposed to precede the human creditors and "soften people's 
hearts." For the next few days the tumukun's kinsmen and debtors con- 
tinued making payments and by August 4 the feast was finally given, 
four months after the original date set for it. 

Even then not an adequate number of debtors appeared, so that on 
August 4 there was only the slaughtering of pigs and the division of 
food. On August 7 the actual gongs and mokos were distributed. The 
wealth array was one of the most elaborate I saw during my eighteen 
months, but I was assured that it was by no means the largest possible. 
There were fifteen mokos and eight broken gongs, representing about 
one hundred dollars, displayed on the dance place. This did not include 
pigs or rice. Practically the whole day was taken up with the distribu- 
tion, although the actual passing out of payments did not begin until 
about four-thirty. At five-forty the first creditor, a satellite kin and 
village-mate of the tumukun, beat the moko he had received and left 
the dance place as a sign of satisfaction with the payment made. Some 
of the other creditors, however, were overtly and articulately dissatis- 
fied with their payments, and some of the more implacable ones refused 
to accept them and leave until noon the next day. Meanwhile, in several 
instances, they had succeeded in forcing higher payments. Several times 
the tumukun and his guests were in acute rages over the negotiations. 
The tumukun finally managed to convince his guests that he had abso- 
lutely no currency of any sort left. Actually he had taken the precau- 
tion of hiding two mokos in a field house occupied by a kin so that his 
creditors would not discover them and insist on having them. 

In attempting to visualize the general atmosphere of grasping hard 
dealing that runs riot on such occasions, one must picture a whole group 
of people who are present simply because they are creditors of the 
tumukun's creditors. They watch what is being distributed, and the 
minute one of their creditors is paid a gong or moko, they ky claim to 
it as payment for an outstanding debt. The result is that, in addition 
to the quarrels centering on the tumukun's debt liquidations, there is 
also a series of minor quarrels being waged on the side. 

A condensed account of this sort can scarcely begin to indicate the 
anger, humiliations, and frustrations the tumukun had to endure for 
the prestige the feast brought him. It is not surprising that many men 
delay payoff feasts indefinitely and must often be forced into them. 
The most common pressure that forces a reluctant financier into a cere- 
monial payoff is illness, his own or that of some family member. Divina- 
tion reveals that a dead kinsman is angry at delay or neglect and that 

146 The People of Alor 

his soul is causing the sickness. A small promissory sacrifice to the an- 
gered ghost removes the immediate symptoms. Then the long-drawn 
preliminaries leading to a feast are set in motion. 

A less frequent form of coercing a man into ceremonial expenses is 
beginning an undertaking in which he is then forced to join. In connec- 
tion with the death feast given by the tumukun there was an example 
of such an involvement. The tumukun was giving a feast for his father- 
in-law. This brought in, although very reluctantly, the maternal uncle 
of the tumukun's wife and her sister. This uncle was held equally respon- 
sible by his female kin for the ceremony in view of the fact that there 
were no nearer male kin of the deceased. 

Another case of forced participation happened in connection with 
the erection of a new carving of the village guardian spirit for Dikimpe. 
The person primarily responsible for taking the initiative and bearing 
the brunt of the expenses was Fantan the Interpreter, who had inherited 
this duty from his father. In Dikimpe the village guardian spirit carving 
had not been renewed for several years, nor had the spirit been fed. 
Thomas, who belonged to one of the Dikimpe lineages and was respon- 
sible only to a minor degree for the expenses, ordered a carving made 
and then left the major part of the activities for Fantan to carry 
through. It was interesting in this instance that Fantan seemed to bear 
no resentment. 

A still rarer form of forcing a man into feast activities is through 
public shaming. A quarrel that resulted in a feast five months later is 
worth giving in detail. 

Maugata, a young man of about eighteen, had done a few days' 
work on the coast and earned some money which he invested in a crude 
kerosene flare and a bottle of oil. There were only about half a dozen 
such lamps in the village, and their owners were very proud of them. 
On Maugata's return from the coast his father, who was ill, insisted on 
burning the lamp all night. The next night Djetmani, a neighbor, bor- 
rowed the lamp from Maugata's father so that he might have more than 
just firelight by which to tie into bundles his newly harvested corn. On 
the third night, Maugata wanted to carry his lamp to an all-night dance, 
doubtless with the hope of splurging a bit. He found the bottle empty 
of oil and the lamp dry. He was furious and berated his father until his 
father, who was both ineffectual and ill, burst into tears. Maugata's 
mother, who is Tilapada of the autobiographies, turned on her son and 
scolded him harshly for his behavior. 

Maugata left the house in a rage and found Djetmani outside. The 
two began quarreling. Djetmani threatened to break the lamp. Maugata 

Adults and Institutions 147 

retorted that Djetmani would die the day that the lamp was broken 
and then added that he for one would be pleased to have it smashed 
immediately. To wish a person's death is one of the more deadly in- 
sults. Djetmani pointed his finger at Maugata and said that he would 
strike him were he a grown man, but after all Maugata was just an un- 
married boy. Maugata at this point ran up so close to Djetmani, daring 
him to strike, that Djetmani's finger entered Maugata's eye. Maugata, 
who was now practically beside himself, shouted, "Why don't you pay 
for your mother's shroud? Why don't you give any feasts?" This re- 
ferred to the fact that, about twenty years before, Maugata's father 
had furnished half a piece of cloth as a burial shroud for Djetmani's 
mother, and Djetmani, a man of about thirty with two wives, had not 
yet given any payoff death feasts. 

As usual there had been nothing quiet or subdued about this quarrel. 
The exchange of insults had echoed through the whole valley and had 
attracted the guests at the all-night dance up on the knoll. Maugata's 
maternal uncle had joined the crowd that surrounded the fighters. 
When Maugata's last insult was delivered, his uncle suddenly lost his 
temper, berated him for quarreling and for his lack of restraint, and 
then hit him so hard oyer the left eye with a rattan club that the boy 
was stunned. Maugata, when he was brought to my house for medica- 
tion, was quite obviously making the most of his injury. Meanwhile 
calmer neutrals had interfered, and the chief ordered both of the men 
to appear for a trial at sunrise when the dance ended. 

The uncle and Djetmani danced all night, but Maugata went home 
and for at least three hours I heard his mother berate him in a voice 
audible to neighbors and passers-by. At the trial in the morning each 
in turn told his version of the quarrel. The uncle admitted that he had 
been at fault not, however, in striking his nephew, but in striking him 
on the head. He had already paid his nephew a fine of seven and a half 
cents. The uncle was then dismissed. Djetmani in telling his tale be- 
came more and more despondent. He ended with the comment, "I have 
been made ashamed. I'll pay back that piece of cloth right now." 

This immediately precipitated a general discussion about the relative 
value of the shroud and the piece of cloth that Djetmani was planning 
to cut in half by way of repayment. The cloth was brought, examined, 
and then finally accepted as an equivalent. The chief cut it in two and 
handed Maugata half. Djetmani got up and walked away crying. Maug- 
ata's mother was in tears and Maugata, looking very sullen and angry, 
was surreptitiously wiping his eyes. The next day Djetmani began the 
preliminary sacrifices involved in a payoff ceremony. This he was able 

148 The People of Alor 

to give some five months later with assistance from the tumukun, whose 
satellite he was. 

Another device to force participation in a feast is used only by kin. 
This constitutes a kind of capital levy. It consists of openly shooting a 
man's pig in its pen. Since pork is never eaten casually, this forces the 
pig owner into at least a minor feast. For a case of this sort, the death 
of Fantan's child as told in his autobiography (page 387) serves as an 
illustration. The same device is used to force a reluctant kinsman into 
contributing the dead pig to the shooter's feast. That is, a promise to 
pay is substituted for the pig. This is the process underlying the slaugh- 
tering of animals in the wealth contest described previously, and it 
brings out the advantages of having a large group of kinsmen. Even the 
accidental death of a pig is often the incentive for a feast or sacrifice. 
The same holds true if a man shoots a pig that is rooting up his garden 
after he has warned its owner of the damage it is doing. 

There are then a number of ways of forcing a man into feast activities 
and the meeting of ceremonial obligations if he is reluctant to partici- 
pate in the prestige game. In the case of individual debts the final re- 
course, when debtors are delinquent, is forceful seizure or threats of the 
sort already mentioned. To carry such a procedure through success- 
fully it is necessary to have a sufficient number of supporting kin or 
satellites who will provide the intimidating show of force required. 
There were many cases of this sort during my eighteen months there. 
As a rule pigs are the property seized, but even mokos and gongs are 
subject to seizure, although this means entering and searching another 
man's house. There is, however, a measure of protection against such 
procedure. Most financiers with large outstanding credits are careful to 
keep no very valuable pieces of currency where they can be confis- 
cated. With mokos of lower value one makes every effort to lend them 
out at credit as soon as possible after receiving them. With mokos of 
high value, which circulate less freely, it is customary to bury them 
secretly in some well-concealed spot. Only a man's brother or his sons 
may be partners to the hiding place. 

Pigs cannot be disposed of so easily. Instead there is a system of part- 
nership in pig raising that assures the owner of an ally in case of seizure. 
Furthermore, it is a way of concealing the extent of animal wealth. The 
system is to furnish a partner, often in another village, with a piglet to 
raise. This partner acquires half interest in the animal by giving the 
owner a stipulated number of payments and by feeding it. If anyone 
attempts to seize the pig for a debt incurred by either of the co-owners, 
the partner is of necessity an ally against this forceful procedure. It is a 

Adults and Institutions 149 

way of using wealth to insure support and to enlarge or utilize satellite 
and kinship loyalties to the full. This same device of farming out pigs 
prevents every casual passer-by from knowing precisely the animal 
wealth of any given person. Rarely are more than two pigs kept penned 
beneath any one house. Maliseni, who was reputed to have an interest in 
as many as twenty pigs, had only three pigs penned in his dance place 
complex, where he lived with his three wives, his older brother, and his 
brother's wife. Probably Maliseni's financial activities and unreliability 
account in part for his keeping only three pigs penned in the vicinity 
of his house. 

Enough details have been given to indicate the relationship between 
finance and status and also the fact that all men are to a certain extent 
forced into wealth-status manipulations that are precarious and aggra- 
vating. The lack of standardized currencies, the contest devices and the 
chicanery associated with wealth, the difficulties and delays attendant 
upon feasts, the competitive system in which, by definition, only a frac- 
tion of the male population can be successful, all contribute to the frus- 
trations and irritations of gaining prestige. In addition, no one can relax 
his efforts once the goal has been reached. There are too many socially 
recognized pressures to permit him to withdraw and still maintain his 
status rating. 

A nice example of the pressures and their inescapability is contained 
in a conversation between Fantan the Interpreter and Malelaka. Fantan, 
who was hard pressed at the moment, began fantasying, saying, "I 
should like to raise all my own pigs, and when I needed a gong or 
moko, I'd sell a pig for it. For my feasts I would use all my own pigs 
and rice. That is just what I think. It is not really true." 

Malelaka, who was some twenty years older than Fantan, answered, 
"That is what your maternal kinsman Lanmani did. People all envied 
him, although they were angry with him sometimes. He raised his own 
pigs and if he wanted a gong or a moko he sold a pig to get it. The 
other pigs he used for his own feasts. If others came and shot his pig 
for a feast, he did not let them carry it off (i.e., form a debt with him). 
He kept it himself. If people came bringing a gong or a moko, he 
would let them have a pig; but if they just promised to pay, he would 
say, 'I like meat too. I need this pig for a feast.' After a time people 
did not ask him for a pig unless they had gongs or mokos; they did not 
try to shoot his pigs any more. If his affinal kin gave him a pig for a 
dowry payment, he would use it right away, but he would immediately 
put another pig in his pen to replace it. When it was big, he would 
take it to his lineal kin and say, 'If you have a gong or moko, give it to 

150 The People of Alor 

my affinal kin and I shall give you this pig. 9 So his lineal kin would pay 
his bride-price for him." 

In discussing this conversation later, Fantan remarked, "Yes, a man 
here says he is rich, but all he does is to go around and cheat people. 
He pulls in their gongs and mokos and promises to pay for them when 
other debts of his are settled, but he only deceives us. People thought 
my kinsman Lanmani was poor because he did not have a lot of out- 
standing debts." 

Supporting this type of personal expression of dissatisfaction and 
difficulty with financial affairs is another more formalized expression. 
Any large accumulation of gongs and mokos, such as the one described 
for the tumukun's feast, is considered dangerous. Young children are 
chased away from it, and adults must be protected by throwing away 
one of the pieces of smaller value to the wealth-bringing spirits. The 
piece is tossed by the owner into the brush, where boys and young men 
fight for it. This is another permitted opportunity for aggression in 
relation to wealth. Should this precaution or some similar magical one 
be omitted, the owner of the wealth will fall sick and die within a day. 

The danger associated with excessive wealth is present also when a 
rice crop is unusually large, when a carabao is slaughtered, or when 
many wild pigs have been shot on the communal hunt at the end of the 
dry season. Again, illness can be avoided only by throwing away a small 
part as a sacrifice, the essence of which goes to personal or ancestral 
spirits who may be offended, and the substance of which is fought over 
by the younger and less dignified males. 


Obviously from the foregoing, status depends primarily on wealth, 
but neither of these is any more secure or confidence-inspiring for the 
individual than were his human relationships in childhood. Status and 
finance on the institutional side reflect and reinforce the uncertainties 
involved in trusting other people; yet certain aspects of the culture 
reveal the need for their good will. Just as there are many positive fac- 
tors in child training, so also on the institutional side there are a variety 
of constructive aspects within the total framework. There are the many 
recognized avenues for expressing and draining off the very hostilities 
engendered by the culture that tend both expressively and repressively 
to maintain social cohesiveness. There is always the hope and the search 
for desired goals, whether the goal be the nurturing mother-provider or 
the status-wealth hyphenation. There are always devices for forging 
through to such goals if one is a sufficiently self-contained and ruthless 

Adults and Institutions 1 5 1 

individual. There is no room for sentimentality but there is every op- 
portunity for expediency. Aside from external pressures for the mainte- 
nance of social equilibrium, the only internal barriers that prevent 
Atimelangers from being a group of utterly ruthless individualists is the 
fact that there has been no building up of self-assurance comparable to 
the demands for being self-reliant. 

A member of a culture can always express far better than any out- 
sider the essence of native attitudes. Communing with his familiar spirit 
one night Malelaka was instructed by this projection of himself in the 
following words, "If you don't hurry and take what you find, it dis- 
appears. It does not really disappear, but people hide it." 

Chapter 8 
Some Psychological Aspects of Religion 

IN a study of the relationship between modal personality and culture, 
the field of religion is one of the most significant because it is often, 
although not inevitably, one of the areas in which fantasy may be given 
fullest play. It is also an area where the selection and rejection of 
diffused traits may manifest themselves with the greatest degree of 
independence from other determinants like environment, economic pro- 
duction, and technical effectiveness. Ideally a description of life in 
Atimelang should bring out religious aspects in connection with each 
of its personal or institutional concomitants, and religion should not be 
given separate treatment. It has already been apparent that one cannot 
discuss finances and warfare without including some mention of death 
c'eremonies. A few comments on craftsmanship brought out the casual- 
ness that existed in relation to "sacred" carvings, ceremonial procedure, 
and knowledge of ancestral kin. -Passing mention has been made repeat- 
edly of village guardian spirits, of seers, and of garden sacrifices. The 
autobiographies have many references to familiar spirits and to Good 
Beings. The object of this chapter is to bring out the Atimelangers' rela- 
tionship to the supernatural without getting lost in a mass of descriptive 
detail, which must await fuller treatment in later publications. 


Since the avowed object of this chapter is to indicate the Atime- 
langer's relationship to the supernatural, his ideas of the nature of death, 
of souls, and of the hereafter form a good point of departure. It has 
long been known that even death, which appears to be an incontrovert- 
ible physiologic phenomenon, is subject to a certain amount of leeway 
in cultural interpretations. A discussion of this point here will lead into 
bypaths involving trance, insanity, suicide, and attitudes toward illness 
before it will be possible to move on to the subject of burial and con- 
cepts of the soul. 

' At first glance it would seem that the Atimelangers take a thoroughly 
prosaic view of the matter. When a person is dying, it is customary for 
one of his grown children, or failing this, some near kinsman like a sib- 
ling, to hold the sick person on his lap much as parents hold children. 
It suggests a reversion in extremis to infantile nurturing patterns in the 
search for which I suspect many men of this culture have spent their 
lives. In this connection, it is quite remarkable to observe the collapse 


Some Psychological Aspects of Religioi2 1 5 3 

into inertia that accompanies most internal illnesses. A person suffering 
from headache, cold, influenza, diarrhea, or similar illness will mope 
hopelessly in the house and be quite sure he is going to die. Kin usually 
rally around the sick person with a good deal of concern, and divinatory 
omens are immediately sought. If these are unfavorable and there is 
never any thought of concealing the results from the patient the de- 
pression is naturally heightened. The patient will sit in the dark, smoke- 
filled house without bathing, often refusing food, and getting no exercise 
or fresh air for days at a time. These factors, particularly when combined 
with a depressed state of mind, gave me the impression that it is quite 
possible for certain Atimelangers to die with insufficient physical cause. 
When the watchers hear the death rattle, they say of the person, "His 
breath string is broken; already his dying is finished (heaking tila sik; 
wan moni kangri)" Failing a death rattle, the cessation of heartbeats 
and of breathing are also considered criteria of death. 

In addition, a prolonged disintegration of normal conscious person- 
ality such as occurs in delirium or coma "is also considered the equiva- 
lent of death. Signs of animation are thought to be simply manifestations 
of an evil spirit who has caused the death and has now possessed himself 
of the body. There is always a good deal of fear and distaste associated 
with such a situation. Under such circumstances the advisable thing to 
do is bury the body as expeditiously as possible. As a result people are 
occasionally buried whom we would consider still living. At least 
two such cases occurred in eighteen months, and Rilpada's autobiog- 
raphy gives a singularly matter-of-fact account of a near fate of the 
same sort. When this concept was discussed with informants they re- 
lated cases of people who still talked, but who were so dead that their 
flesh had begun to rot away. From an Atimelanger's point of view this 
is quite possible, since sick people never bathe or move from their sleep- 
ing mats in the dark and often filthy living rooms. Under such circum- 
stances any lesions could rapidly develop into extremely noxious infec- 

The relation of such a concept of death to trance states is worth 
considering. Among the seers of Atimelang it is assumed that in curing- 
stances their tutelaries perch on their shoulders and speak through their 
mouths. The seer is supposedly unaware of what he is saying. This 
might sound like a true trance condition. My observations, however, 
lead me to suppose that seers were far from being in deep trances. Their 
eyes were open, their movements and speech controlled and coherent, 
and their muscular tone normal. Supernatural phenomena seem to be 
the' result of obvious sleight-of-hand tricks, which appear singularly 

154 The People of Alor 

inept when compared to the shamanism of even such marginal areas as 
California. In other words, despite local theory, I observed nothing that 
impressed me as real possessionalism.* 

There were also in Atimelang certain individuals who had attacks of 
hyperactivity. One of these was mentioned in connection with obscen- 
ity on page 157. Another case was of a woman who began shouting and 
joking in a loud and apparently compulsive fashion and sometimes ac- 
companied her conversation with a rhythmic jumping up and down. 
On occasions of this sort people said that their familiars had risen within 
them (hetimang homin nnrang). This is the same phrase used in con- 
nection with seers. Such attacks usually provoke a good deal of amuse- 
ment among younger people, but older ones are inclined to discourage 
any teasing or response that might prolong the attack. 

Again from observation the attacks of hyperexcitability in these two 
women in no way suggested trance conditions. Accounts of people con- 
sidered insane, which will be discussed later, gave no indication that 
they were in trance states. In other words, I very much doubt that deep 
trances occur except as rare individual aberrations. They are certainly 
not induced deliberately nor are they culturally prized. It is quite pos- 
sible that real trances would be associated with the type of "death" that 
was thought to occur in delirium and coma, and such an association may 
have helped to check the introduction of such trances from other cul- 
tures. If such is the case, it would also serve to cut down the impressive- 
ness, and therefore the potential power, of seers. Lastly, the danger of 
losing one's normal personality would seem to offer a possible explana- 
tion for the lack of interest shown by Atimelangers in intoxicants. The 
use of palm wine is known among the coastal peoples, and the requisite 
palm grows in the mountains; but the mountain peoples do not use it, or 
even indulge in palm wine during protracted visits to the coast. 

It is also interesting that one case of possible suicide, a person who 
was obviously insane, revolved around this same theme of spirit posses- 
sion and premature burial. I quote a detailed account for the light 
it throws on the subject. 

The narration referred to an event that occurred about fifteen years 
ago and began with Fanseni's accidentally offending an evil spirit who 
lived near his maize field. Some two months later, when the maize was 
being carried back to his house for storage, signs of abnormality were 
first noted. Fanseni complained of a violent headache and refused to eat, 

* A detailed study of the trance was not made. It is possible, of course, that seers 
were in a subtrance. By this I mean that conscious control is not lost, but that an 
emotional condition exists in which the person deliberately shuts out many external 

Some Psychological Aspects of Religion 155 

although he gave his kinsmen a pig in payment for their help and as a 
final harvest feast. The next day he stayed in his house, and when his 
young nephews returned, among whom was Rilpada, he spoke to them 
in a garble of Malay and Abui, saying, "Respects, gentlemen; my chil- 
dren, come up. Are you happy or not? If you are happy, you may 
smoke up this whole tube of tobacco." 

That night several male kin stayed to watch over him. In the course 
of the night Rilpada noticed that Fanseni in his sleep had taken off his 
loincloth and defecated. As Rilpada drew his father's attention to the 
act Fanseni awoke and shouted belligerently, "Who defecated? Ung! 
Who defecated? I deny these feces. Let us fight." Those present were 
badly frightened and shouted to the near-by villagers, "Don't be afraid. 
An evil spirit has risen in Fanseni, but do not be afraid." At this point 
two men came to lend the watchers assistance. As they approached 
they tried to frighten Fanseni by shooting arrows at the outer house 
wall but succeeded only in making him deny noisily that he was afraid. 
When the two men finally appeared in the doorway, they aimed an ar- 
row directly at him. Fanseni at this point picked up a piece of fire- 
wood, held it against his crotch, then broke it in two, saying, "This is 
my penis. Give it to your children to eat. Perhaps they are crying of 
hunger." He then scattered the coals from the hearth about the room. 
Everyone was now assured that only an evil spirit was capable of such 
behavior, so Fanseni was securely lashed and left in the house. The 
others went below to spend the rest of the night. Fanseni slept but was 
aroused by Rilpada, who threw a stone at the house wall to tease him. 
Fanseni shouted that he knew Rilpada was guilty of the act a fact, in- 
cidentally, that Rilpada brazenly denied. At this point Fanseni managed 
to burn through his lashings, so that he had to be bound more securely 
than ever. 

In the morning as the others were roasting cassava, Fanseni pulled 
himself to the doorway and watched them. When asked if he were 
hungry he nodded his head in the affirmative. There was some debate 
about untying him to let him eat. The opposition said there was no use 
feeding an evil spirit; nevertheless, he was untied and offered a large 
piece of cassava, which he stuffed into his mouth all at once. This con- 
firmed the suspicion that he was still possessed. 

Then Fanseni said, "My father, Padalani, who is down below, calls. 
Let us go to him." Followed by the others, Fanseni slid down the trail 
on his buttocks, grasping a stick with which he swept the trail as he 
went. On the way, he interpreted the call of a bird as the voice of a 
guru, resident in Atimelang at the time. Also, he kept insisting that his 

156 The People of Alor 

dead father was calling him. He came to a big stone and pretended to 
catch a rat under it. Then he broke off a piece of stick, held it near his 
crotch, and offered it to one of his guardians for his hungry children. 
The man who was the butt of this malice struck Fanseni's fingers 
only to have him say, "Eh, that's fine." Also, on the way down the 
slope Fanseni ate certain foods raw that are ordinarily cooked. A little 
later, without showing any signs of discomfort, he ate a raw tuber 
known to be extremely astringent. 

Finally he reached his father's grave and there ordered the others to 
dig his own grave just about two yards away. This they did. He then 
gave them further orders, such as to fetch his shroud and eating plate 
and to give his bow to a cousin. All these errands he assigned one at a 
time in order to have people run back and forth as much as possible. 
Finally he adjusted his shroud and got into the grave. He got out again, 
however, complaining that a stone in it made him uncomfortable and 
asking to have it removed. He got in once more and then asked to have 
his food plate placed next to his body under the shroud. One of the 
guardians asked, "Are you finished?" Fanseni answered, "I am through, 
so cover me up." People began shoving in the earth and Fanseni spoke 
for the last time, saying, "Now I am glad. Just now it was bad. That 
must not be. Now it is good." 

When the earth completely covered his body, Fanseni moved. In a 
panic the buriers fetched two large stones and hastily dropped them 
on him before they finished filling in the grave. The whole event nat- 
urally frightened the villagers badly. For several nights they stopped 
up every nook and cranny of their houses to prevent Fanseni's spirit 
from entering and during the day frequently inspected his grave to 
make sure it was still undisturbed. 

In the relative mildness of aggression and in the openly suicidal qual- 
ity this case differs from three other cases of recognized insanity. It 
resembles the other cases in its obscenity. The suicidal quality in all 
these four cases must be recognized, however, since an uncontrollably 
violent person is apt to be killed. One woman, Matingmale, was actu- 
ally killed by one of the victims of her destructiveness; another was 
spared only because of the intercession of her kin. The fourth case, a 
man, danced challenge in front of the government soldiers who came 
to avenge the murder of the radjah in 1918. Exposing one's body to 
bullets with only a carabao shield as protection can be interpreted only 
as suicidal in intent. 

All four of these instances were thought to be cases of spirit posses- 
sion. If the diagnosis made so far about the lack of avenues for internal- 

Some Psychological Aspects of Religion 157 

izing aggression is correct, and if, on the other hand, society offers 
means, such as wealth, to externalize aggression, self-inflicted death is 
not likely to be a highly developed personality trend. This alone might 
explain the absence of institutionalized suicide. In addition, when death 
may result from extranormal personality states, such as occur in delir- 
ium, coma, and insanity, it becomes clear why spirit possession is an 
evil and why shamanistic trances and intoxication have not been se- 
lected for social emphasis. 


Before continuing with ideas of burial and death, it may be appro- 
priate to develop somewhat parenthetically such other data as are avail- 
able on insanity. What precisely constitutes insanity in the mind of 
the Atimelanger is as hard to define as it is among ourselves. The his- 
tory of a "crazy" woman was given on page io7ff., and it will be re- 
called that essentially the charge was one of prostitution. Lakamau the 
Simpleton was not called crazy. There was one woman, usually fairly 
quiet, who seemed to have hallucinations and whose chief claim to peculi- 
arity in the minds of local people was that she would run off alone and 
spend the nights hidden in the fields rather than return to the house. She 
was considered possessed of a spirit. She and the first woman were the 
only two recognized by the community as insane (lira). In addition 
there were many people whose "spirits would rise in them," which 
meant that they had occasional attacks of hyperexcitability and about 
whom one said, "They are crazy," using the term in the same loose and 
often good-natured fashion in which we use it. 

Also available were anecdotes about four other insane people no 
longer living. The case of Fanseni has been quoted. The other three 
cases were all characterized by greater destructive vigor; all were 
considered spirit-possessed and their destructive attacks seem to have 
broken out suddenly. For instance, Matingmale had worked quietly all 
day weeding her sister's fields. That night she suddenly began to beat 
her brother-in-law. She ran off, killed pigs and chickens, broke off corn, 
reached into a pregnant pig and pulled out the unborn young, and 
made obscene advances to men. People tied her up, but she broke away 
and continued her destructive activities. People shot her in the shoul- 
der, but she went on, ignoring the arrow still stuck in her flesh. She 
tossed a small child in the air in play and continued to kill pigs and 
generally frighten people. She was finally bound securely. 

Her father sacrificed to the spirit supposedly possessing her, and she 
was normal for about two months. Then she had another outburst in 
which she held her child upside down by its legs from the door hatch. 

158 The People o] Alor 

She broke off corn, got into a pigpen and ate refuse with the animals, 
and stole rice cones from a feast. Periods of excitability alternated with 
periods of calm. In her last attack she went to other villages and con- 
tinued her peculiar behavior. They tied her hands and sent her home, 
but she spent the whole night shouting and singing on the trail. The 
next morning she once more made sexual advances to an older man who 
threatened to kill her if her father did not fetch her. This sort of thing 
went on for four years, and the woman was finally killed while thiev- 
ing in a garden. These attacks first appeared when she was about thirty- 
five, a year after the death of her husband. In her normal .moments it 
was reported that she would hold her children in her arms and weep, 
saying, "This madness gives me much trouble." 

The second woman's history and behavior are comparable. Lon- 
manima's attacks began by her open thieving of food when she was still 
an unmarried girl. She would steal eggs and sit eating them publicly. 
She >yould enter houses and snatch food from under people's eyes. At 
feasts she ran off with calabash serving plates full of meat. Despite these 
early outbursts she married and raised a family, during which time she 
appeared normal. Her difficulties returned when her children were 
grown. Her most characteristic tricks were grabbing up children and 
running off with them, and attacking people indiscriminately with clubs 
or stones. She lived with her married children. On occasion when they 
gave her food, she would throw it away and return her dish broken or 
filled with feces. She continued in this fashion until she was quite old. 
Finally, as an old woman, she was chased away from a field in which 
she had been destroying corn. As she ran she fell over a cliff and was 
killed. For years apparently she had had recurrences of her manic at- 
tacks during which people had threatened her with death or restrained 
her with bonds. 

The third reported case of insanity was that of Makonmale. His first 
outbreak was reported to have occurred when he was a middle-aged 
man. He arrived in a neighboring village, singing at the top of his lungs, 
and, on reaching the dance place, he shouted challenge, brandished his 
sword, and shot arrows at people. He kept shouting that he was crazy. 
He annoyed the inhabitants of two or three villages in this fashion, and 
when people threatened to kill him and sell his head, he dared them to 
proceed. In addition to this type of aggressive behavior he also tried 
quite openly to catch young women and rape them. Whenever he was 
finally caught and bound, he would calm down after a time and seem 
very depressed. He apparently had long periods of lucidity during 
which he carried on his affairs in a normal and successful fashion. In his 

Some Psychological Aspects of Religion 1 59 

manic behavior there was much sly humor. In fact, all of these cases 
were frequently sources of considerable amusement to bystanders. 

Probably all these persons were of the manic-depressive type. This 
psychosis is much more obvious and socially disturbing than certain 
other mental illnesses, which may account for the emphasis on them. 
Whether or not the individual's behavior is correctly reported, it is in- 
teresting that informants all stress as symptoms of insanity violence, 
both against people and property, obscenity, and scatologic behavior. 

To summarize and to repeat the linkage among all die phenomena 
so far discussed, we find that spirit possession is associated with hyper- 
excitability and in its severer forms with manic episodes containing 
only poorly disguised suicidal impulses, although suicide is not institu- 
tionalized. Further, spirit possession in certain types of illness is inter- 
preted as death and leads to the burial of live persons. All these factors 
may serve to keep toned down the avowedly possessional faculties of 
seers so that there is considerable doubt about true trance and a general 
lack of impressiveness in seers' performances, which, in turn, may be 
factors contributing to their lack of marked social recognition. Lastly, 
the attitudes and dangers clustering around spirit possession may explain 
the resistance to intoxicants. 


All these digressions lead finally to actual behavior connected with 
death and burial. When a person dies, the male lineal kin set out imme- 
diately to secure the shroud and as many contributions as possible in 
mokos, gongs, pigs, and food. The shroud will be worn after death by 
the deceased. This is part of his postmortem prestige, but since cloth 
is at a premium, this debt will have to be repaid at high interest rates, 
and around the shroud in future years will center most of the haggling 
for repayment. Forehanded kinsmen of the proper category see to it 
that they are prepared with a shroud of high value. Their eyes are on 
future profit. As a result the best pieces of cloth in the community are 
being continually put out of circulation. With the onset of death the fe- 
male kin begin to prepare rice and corn. Not more than one or two 
women stay near the corpse to wail. 

The spouse of the deceased is felt to be in so much danger from the 
dead that he leaves the immediate vicinity and stands guard with un- 
sheathed knife, to prevent the ghost from carrying him off. For the 
following night and day he should not sleep. (These precautions are 
observed by both sexes.) Burial usually occurs not more than twenty- 
four to thirty-six hours after death, and it is courteous of friends to 
rush the procedure by urging the family on with comments about the 

160 The People of Alor 

stench of the body. Delays are usually caused by financial dickerings 
between lineal kin and the Male Houses. 

Once the actual burial gets under way there is an outburst of wail- 
ing and a din of beaten gongs. This lasts for the half-hour to an hour 
that it takes four or six buriers to dig the grave, flex and wrap the 
corpse, and toss it hastily into the grave, which they fill rapidly. The 
whole procedure is carried out in an atmosphere of excited tension. 
Burials accompanied by large financial displays are among the rare 
events from which children are chased away (often quite ineffectually) 
because such displays are considered something deleterious and con- 
taminating. When the body is dropped into the grave, the spouse, stand- 
ing off at some distance, chops a string in two. This symbolically severs 
their relationship and prevents the ghost's returning for him. The rite, 
however, is not immediately reassuring since for two or three months 
after burial the spouse will still carry an unsheathed knife wherever he 
goes. "They do this until they forget" which is a measure, perhaps, 
of the duration of grief. 

I do not wish to imply that there is no grief, or even that it is slight. 
I have seen genuine and undoubtedly deeply felt grief at death; but my 
impression, gathered from a considerable range of material, is in agree- 
ment with that from quite other realms of human relationship that 
there is no premium on cherishing sentimental ties once they are irrele- 
vant. Expediency and realism are the determinants. People will be con- 
cerned over the illness of a kinsman but, once he is dead, they go on to 
other things. A woman, well-liked in the community, died and her 
"sisters" wept two hours for her, but then became engrossed in other 
duties. A mother who lost her third infant in succession was deeply 
grieved but in twenty-four hours was preoccupied once more by her 
quarrels with her husband and by her field work. When I bought the 
crop of the field on which my house was to be built, the woman who 
owned the field wept. A year later I had the opportunity to ask her 
about it, and she said in a matter-of-fact fashion, "My twelve-year-old 
daughter planted that field, and she died just two or three months before 
you came. When I saw her crop being pulled up, my heart remembered 
and I cried. But now I don't think of it any more." The expediency and 
realism in human relationships is basically a shallowness of positive 

Balanced against this, enough has been said in other connections to 
make it clear that the dead are sources of malignant power, i.e., negative 
affect. That death feasts may be delayed so long is perhaps a sign that 
negative affect is also shallow. Certainly by comparison with some 

Some Psychological Aspects of Religion 161 

Melanesians the Atimelangers cannot be considered ghost-ridden. The 
interesting point is that these potentially malignant dead are always 
one's most immediate kin. People have two souls. At death one goes to a 
village below if the death has not been violent. If it has been, the soul 
goes above (adiy hong), and a spirit-bird ceremony must be given for it. 
The second soul is the one that loiters about the village boundary and 
against which precautions are taken at the time of burial. 

It is at this time that the soul is particularly dangerous because the 
deceased wishes company. To placate it in this early and more potent 
phase of malignancy and to relegate it to the village boundary there 
are special feasts, the Hevelaberka held on the fourth day after death and 
the Hevelakang on the ninth day after death. During these nine days a 
few minor restrictions are observed by the family, including taboos on 
salt, bathing, and sexual intercourse. During that time there may be also 
one or two all-night gong-playing memorials (sinewai), including the 
feeding of the guests who attend. It is during these nine days that there 
occurs all the ostentatious use of pigs and the incurrence of debts, which 
must be repaid in subsequent years, or even generations, in a series of 
feasts called Rolik, Baled, and Tila (also called Ato in its final phase). 
The first two of these feasts are named, significantly enough, after two 
ways of preparing rice; the first refers to rice rolls, the second to small 
woven containers in which raw rice is boiled. 

The third feast can really be broken down into a number of cere- 
monies. To the whole series I have given the name of the first ceremony, 
(TV/0), which means string and refers to the purchase of either a sheep 
or a carabao for the final and supreme death feast after which the soul 
of the dead is banished from the village boundary and thus from inter- 
ference in human affairs. The motivations for giving payoff feasts have 
already been discussed in the chapter on adults and institutions. The 
pressure of creditors, prestige, and, perhaps most often, illness of de- 
scendants lead to these final ceremonies. The dead become impatient and 
annoyed at the lack of postmortem prestige and manifest their displeas- 
ure by making trouble for the living. 

As soon as an illness is diagnosed as the manifestation of a displeased 
soul, a small quantity of rice is offered it in a bamboo container raised 
on a pole. From here on, plans for a payoff feast should get under way; 
but frequently long delays occur, and it is hoped that meanwhile the 
small original offering will stave off the soul. In addition, the dead may 
withhold good crops if the smaller garden feasts are not made in the 
fields they have worked or if they are not named and fed at a series of 
new-corn rituals owned by various lineages. All this placation of the dead 

1 62 The People of Alor 

involves saying their names as small quantities of food are set aside for 
them. Death feasts are given primarily for parents or grandparents. Such 
feasts, which may be precipitated by illness but nevertheless give pres- 
tige, may reproduce for the individual the positive and negative emotions 
that cluster around child training and are reinforced by the financial 


The motif of sacrifice or feeding occurs over and over again, not 
only in relation to the dead but in relation to all supernatural beings. 
Feeding is the chief cultural tool for symbolizing social euphoria and 
for placating supernatural beings. Since the experiences of individual 
children with respect to hunger and disciplinary relationships vary 
greatly, it is to be expected that in adults also attitudes toward sacrifice 
will vary in the "depth or shallowness of meaning in the individual's 
total economy." * Mangma begins his autobiography with early mehi- 
ories of a period of hunger, is engrossed with accounts of his gardening 
prowess and with details of food taboos, and finally stresses sacrifices as- 
sociated with the care of his sacred hearth. Tilapada begins the story of 
her childhood with tales of quarrels. She interprets subsequent anxiety 
dreams as warnings that she has not placated the proper spirits, but she 
continues to neglect them. One man is conscientious and regular in 
making food sacrifices to his tutelaries; another neglects them until ill- 
ness indicates that he has angered the supernatural^ 

Individual childhood experiences in respect to hunger and discipline 
may find modes of expression in institutionalized fields, and certain in- 
stitutions are reinforced because of the personal emotional content that 
can be directed into them. One must be careful not to use such nexi as 
sacrifice and childhood experiences as exclusive causal sequences. It 
would be ludicrously antihistorical to say that childhood feeding habits 
gave rise to a system of sacrifice in Atimelang. They have merely rein- 
forced and made significant to many individuals that widespread In- 
donesian custom. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that obedience 
was expected of children, that running away was a means of avoiding 
disciplinary hardiness, and that children conformed against their wishes 
only when overwhelmed by a superior force. These are the essence of 
most Atimelangers' attitudes toward sacrifices and death feasts. As a 
rule they are offered only when the external pressure is such that it means 
preserving the health, prestige, or well-being of one's family. 

I suggest that it would be very difficult to eradicate sacrifice so long 

* Quoted from Sapir, in Language, Culture, and Personality; Essays in Memory 
of Edward Sapir (Menasha, Wis.: Sapir Memorial Publication Fund, 1041). 

Some Psychological Aspects of Religion 163 

as its symbolic content can be so high. Any institution that may be in- 
vested with high emotional value because of patterns of child training is 
not one which can be lightly legislated out of existence. The implica- 
tions of such relationships bear not only on the problems of the dif- 
fusion of culture and the persistence of traits, but also on applied 
anthropology as it is envisaged by enlightened colonial administrators. 
Head-hunting could be stopped almost overnight (page 131) because 
child training had been toward deflecting hostility into wealth manipu- 
lations rather than physical violence. Physical violence broke out only 
when finance failed to ease strain in interpersonal relationships. There 
were in addition substitutive devices at hand. Trying to eliminate sacrifice 
would, however, be a very different matter, and, in fact, there has been 
singularly little headway made by missionaries in that direction. Further- 
more, Christianity with its magnification of the parental image may have 
failed to make inroads because paths leading in that direction had not 
been worn deep in the personality of the Atimelang child. 


These speculations upon the emotional content and significance of 
institutions were precipitated by a discussion of the feasts necessary for 
the final dismissal of ghosts from the village boundary. It is reafiy at 
this point that significant interest in the dead stops. Perhaps this corre- 
lates with the Atimelanger's poor memory for genealogies. When the 
dead are no longer potential sources of danger and when they are no 
longer being named in connection with sacrifices, they are lost from 
memory. What happens to this second soul no one could tell me; 
whether it rejoins the other soul in the village of the dead, below or 
above, no one seemed to know. In addition, there is another place where 
the dead are supposed to go and to live underground. This is a low, 
uninhabitable coral island, called Hamintuku in the Abui language, 
which is off the northwest point of Benleleng Bay. It is quite obvious 
from all this uncertain and fragmentary material that the Atimelangers 
are not interested in structuralizing any of these vague and contradic- 
tory speculations. There may be a rare individual who is concerned 
with such matters, but, if so, I failed to discover him, and he would in 
any case be aberrant in that respect. Again, this reinforces the argument 
that the Atimelangers are not concerned >yith speculative constructs or 
the nonmanifest. Even the village of the dead seems to be no more than 
a reflection of earthly life. It is called Sahiek, or Sehiek, and is presided 
over by a figure named Karfehawa (literally, Kar-pig-jaw). The loca- 
tion of Sahiek and the identity of Karfehawa were completely nebulous 
to most informants Rilpada came nearest to giving a coherent account. 

1 64 The People of Alor 

On one occasion he said, "People -have two souls, a long one and a 
short one, both called honoring. When a seer sees a ghost he sees the 
eyes which have fallen out and travel alone. He may also see a soul 
which looks like a human being but which grows taller and taller. 
When it is very tall, it falls over and gets up short again. That is how it 
walks. Some seers see souls as very tiny spiders which float through the 
air. These are often called boiboi, but they are also honoring. When a 
man dies, his breath has already gone, but two eyes linger here around 
the village. Some old people went to Hamintuku once and saw torn 
mats, broken pots, and drinking tubes like those broken on a person's 
grave, but we don't know anything about how the dead live in Hamin- 
tuku. The souls of the violently dead go above, but we know nothing 
about that." 

Three months later Rilpada, who was, relatively speaking, an au- 
thority, gave the following in answer to questions about Sahiek: "People 
who die go down a slope and come to a level place where there is a big 
ravine with a bridge across it. The feet of those who cross become 
slippery. Those who are young and swift get across and go off a long 
way to Hamintuku. The people who fall go to Sahiek, which is Karfe- 
hawa's village. They say to Karfehawa, 'Grandfather, I lost my way. 
Give me just a little water to drink.' Then Karfehawa looks at them and 
if he likes what he sees, he invites them up on his large verandah and 
his wife cooks millet for them. She invites them to enter the house to 
eat. As they start up the ladder, she pours millet on them. Then the 
burial rope, shroud, and maggots all fall. The bones are picked up and 
covered with cloth. Karfehawa's wife, who is called Masingbal, takes a 
fire tube and hits her husband's legs. He jumps and there is an earth- 
quake. When young people die, there is no earthquake; these occur 
only when grown and rich men die. Those that Karfehawa likes are 
given a field house and allowed to stay. If he does not like those who 
come, he spits in their mouths instead of inviting them up on the ve- 
randah. He orders them to follow the river down to the sea. There they 
turn into salt and lime rock. When lime bites our tongue we say, 'This 
is our dead forebear turned to lime.' " 

In view of the fact that this is the most elaborate account of life 
after death that I was able to get, its paucity and its inconsistencies are 
striking. The emphasis on the adult and the rich, as opposed to the 
young and to those Karfehawa does not like (presumably the poor), is 
instructive. That lime, which burns the mouth, should be identified 
with forebears and that rejection is expressed by spitting saliva into the 

Some Psychological Aspects of Religion 165 

mouth instead of giving food may just pcfssibly be considered fantasies 
centering on infantile feeding experiences. 


The motif of revivification by spilling food on a corpse is poorly 
developed in these speculations by Rilpada. It is, however, one of the 
most persistent myth motifs, especially in myths dealing with Good 
Beings (nala kang; literally, something good). They inhabit villages 
above in the sky or below in the sea. There seems to be no relation be- 
tween their place of residence and the abodes of the dead. Around these 
beings are woven the most numerous and elaborate myths and they are 
an ever-present reality. The murder of the radjah in 1918 was precipi- 
tated by his followers' disrespectful treatment of a woman who had 
established herself in the minds of her fellow villagers as a Good Being. 

In 1929 Malelaka had the Five Villages at a high pitch of excitement 
over his predictions of the imminent arrival of these supernatural. In 
one day two small guesthouses were erected, an area was cleared and 
fenced, and in addition two stone basins were made into which would 
flow upon the arrival of the Good Beings two miraculous streams. In 
one the old could bathe and be rejuvenated; in the other, people would 
be healed of their illnesses. Death would disappear and death feasts were 
to be discontinued. Meanwhile people were to abstain from such foods 
as eels, crayfish, crabs, and fish. For some six recent prophets on whom 
there is material these ideas remain fairly constant. The interesting 
thing about the ideas are the fantasies they express the desires to 
escape death, illness, and death feasts. The conflicts that this last proph- 
ecy created in Malelaka are reflected in his autobiography, which was 
given at the time when his Good Being speculations were once more 

That such wishful thinking was not limited to Malelaka and his fel- 
low prophets is evinced by the cooperation they received in preparing 
for these supernaturals. People from many surrounding villages were 
sufficiently credulous to bring their sick to the expected advent. There 
Xvas in fact so much excited interest that the government sent up the 
full garrison of troops to destroy the structures and arrest Malelaka. 
This interference plus the disastrous war of 1918 led to the growth of a 
good deal of scepticism, and the tentative Good Being talk current in 
1938 and 1939 was meeting with much incredulity. The inclination to 
abandon what has been a failure seems to me a consistent part of the 
nonfanatical and realistic temperament of Atimelangers. They are far 

1 66 The People of Alor 

from lacking in stubborn persistence, but when an issue has been defi- 
nitely defeated, they are ready to give it up. 

Good Beings are thought of as human in every respect except for 
their miraculous powers, among which is their ability to revive the dead 
and to travel through air and water. Human beings who disappear are 
often suspected of having become supernaturals of this sort. About 1935 
four young men were drowned when a boat capsized near the coast. 
Only three bodies were recovered. In 1938 it was believed in some cir- 
cles that the one whose body had not been found was now a Good 
Being and was inspiring the prophecies of a five- or six-year-old girl 
(page 7yff.) This motif of people's disappearing rather than really dy- 
ing, and then being transformed into Good Beings is quite common in 
the myths. 

To give an idea of the type of Good Being tale three condensed 
myths follow. 

Masingbal and Dry Land Woman 

Masingbal went to the coast with his six brothers, who deserted 
him there. He went to sleep so hungry that he chewed the fringe of his 
shawl. As he slept his mother and father appeared to him and told him 
how to get food and how to avoid a village of cannibals on his jour- 
neys. When Masingbal awoke he followed his father's instructions and 
reached the village boundary of Farik, a Good Being. Farik's two 
daughters met him and reported to their father that the stranger re- 
sembled him. Farik, fully armed, went to meet Masingbal and was con- 
vinced of his good intentions. He invited the young man to sit on his 
verandah and ordered his daughters to prepare food. When it was ready 
Masingbal was asked to enter the house. As he climbed the ladder, the sis- 
ters poured a pot of millet on his head, and he fell back on the verandah, 
shedding his shroud, burial rope, and maggots. The sisters covered his 
body with a shawl and the older one sat near his buttocks, blowing on 
them with a fire tube. The younger sister sat at his head, fanning him 
with a fire fan. When Masingbal awoke, the two girls fed him, and 
Farik ordered Masingbal to sleep that night between the two women. 
Masingbal was obedient but did not have intercourse with them, saying, 
"You two are good. I am fortunate to have met you, but, my sisters, I 
shall not embrace you." The girls reported this to Farik, who then or- 
dered Masingbal to have intercourse with them. 

The three thereafter worked together in the fields. After a time the 
two wives discovered that Masingbal was not working, but instead 
stood crying all day at a hole which he had made when uprooting weeds 

Some Psychological Aspects of Religion 167 

and through which he could look down on his own village. The girls 
told their father, who then insisted that all three should descend to 
earth and visit Masingbal's home. 

Masingbal was alone, however, when he reached his village. By bath- 
ing in a spring, he turned himself into a person covered with yaws. He 
asked four women who came to fetch water to give him a drink. Three 
rejected his request and made insulting references to his condition. The 
fourth gave him a drink and spoke sympathetically. He sent her back 
to the village and promised to come in six days with a bride-price. On 
the sixth day people were dragging in the posts of his lineage house. 
Masingbal appeared with gongs and pigs, which he deposited on the 
verandah of Dry Land Woman, the girl who had been kind to him. He 
ignored all the invitations offered by others. 

The two supernatural wives now came to join Masingbal and his 
new wife, Dry Land Woman. There was a shortage of food. Dry Land 
Woman asked Masingbal to help her climb for mangoes. When he was 
up in the tree, she took away the ladder, leaving him stranded. He was 
rescued by his two supernatural wives. 

On another day Dry Land Woman killed Masingbal by dropping a 
heavy stone on him when he was down in a pit digging tubers for her. 
Again his sky wives found him and with the help of their father, Farik, 
were able to bring him to life again. 

A third time Dry Land Woman tried to kill Masingbal, this time by 
sending him up an areca tree wftose roots she had cut so that it toppled 
over with him. Again the other wives and his father-in-law revived him. 

That night Masingbal called a dance. Toward dawn he and his 
father-in-law both seized the gongs and rose into mid-air with the two 
sky women. Half of his village also rose with them and came to rest 
in Farik's village. The other half of his village, containing Dry Land 
Woman and all the people who were quarreling, slipped down the 
mountainside into the sea. 

This tale is interesting for the contradictory image of wives it presents 
and particularly in the fact that the malicious wife was the human one, 
whereas the fantasy Good Beings were nurturing and revivifying. Also, 
there is a picture of a kindly father-in-law with no talk of bride-price 
in marriage. This is in contrast to MasingbaTs purchase of Dry Land 
Woman. Avoiding payment of a bride-price is, of course, quite aberrant 
to practice and may constitute wishful fantasies. Equally aberrant to 
actual custom is marrying sisters. In the story parents were given a pro- 
tective role, whereas die siblings deserted their young brother a detail 
that must have childhood associations for most Atimelangers. Worth 

1 68 The People of Alor 

noting is the long-suffering character of the hero, who in the end takes 
violent revenge. 

Masingbal and His Son Metinglaug 

Masingbal * had six sons and an adopted male slave. When his wife 
was pregnant once more, he left, telling her that if the child was born a 
male it was to be killed, but if it was a female to keep it until his return. 
The woman bore a son, but instead of killing him she hid him on a 
mountaintop with a large supply of food and male adornments. Mean- 
while she buried a coconut and sacrificed a chicken. On the husband's 
return he thrust a spear into the grave, and coconut milk seeped out. 
The husband was convinced that she had followed his instructions until a 
rooster told him of the ruse. 

Masingbal then set out with his seven children to kill Metinglaug. 
He sent each of his sons in turn up the slope to kill their youngest 
brother. Each was offered food, accepted it, and then could not find 
the heart to slay his young sibling. Each returned and confessed his 
inability, giving as an excuse that the young man's face resembled that 
of his father. Finally the father went up, refused the proffered food, 
and, while the son passively submitted, successively blinded him, slashed 
his mouth, cut off his hand, and slit open his abdomen. Three days 
later two women, as they fetched water, saw Metinglaug's reflection 
in the pool. They searched for him and having found his body, replaced 
his organs with those of a dog and brought him to life with a fire fan 
and fire tube. When he was revived, they fed him and instructed him 
in what he must say when he met their father. From here on the tale 
proceeds much as does the foregoing one except that on Metinglaug's 
return to his native village it was his father instead of his earthly wife 
who tried to kill him. 

There are in this story some contrasts in the role assigned kin. In 
this tale the brothers and mother are the kindly figures and the father 
is the sinister one. Again, however, the father-in-law gives wives to the 
hero without asking for a bride-price, and supernatural women have 
the power to restore life. 

Momw the Crow Being 

Momau and his brother went on a trading trip to the coast. The 
coastal people falsely charged Momau with theft. They bound his 
hands and feet and for three days dragged him behind their boat. 

The Masingbal in this story is apparently a completely different character 
from the hero of the preceding tale. 

Some Psychological Aspects of Religion 169 

Finally he freed himself and suddenly found that he was seated on the 
top branches of a mango tree. He climbed down the tree and was dis- 
covered by two supernatural women. As in the other two myths, Farik, 
the father of the women, was reassured as to his intentions and invited 
him to the village, where he was revived by the usual millet treatment 
and the use of fire tube and fan. After his marriage to the two women, 
Momau began to feel homesick and with the help of his father-in-law 
went back to the surface of the sea and from there to his own village. 
His two supernatural wives had been transformed into a conch shell 
horn and a green glass bottle. These he neglected after securing a third 
wife in his own community. 

A wild pig began to root up Momau's sweet potatoes. He went to 
guard the field and in an attempt to shoot the animal he was disem- 
boweled. (This is presumably a punishment for the neglect of the two 
sacred objects, his transformed wives.) The villagers all pursued the 
pig, which escaped by flying into the sea and changing into a porpoise. 

Meanwhile his father-in-law, Farik, disguised as a Kebola man, went 
to Momau's village and miraculously healed him. The following day 
Farik transformed Momau into a crow and then back again into hu- 
man form. Thereafter Momau himself possessed the power of healing 
severed bodies; this he demonstrated on his dog and child. He was also 
capable of assembling a shattered ax by simply blowing on it. His third 
wife was alarmed by these powers and said he had become a witch, 
whom all would avoid. Momau then turned into a crow and flew back 
to Farik's village taking with him the first two wives in the form of a 
conch shell horn and a glass bottle, 


All this material on Good Beings represents, on the whole, wishful 
fantasying about a better world and kinder characters, without quite 
eliminating the uncertainty and harshness of real relationships. Al- 
though Good Beings are usually wonderful and enviable, there are cate- 
gories of supernatural envisaged with equal specificity who are con- 
sistently malignant. 

Witches are among the most concretely visualized of such beings. I 
very much doubt that anyone in Atimelang is considered a witch or 
practices witchcraft. However, Atimelangers are convinced that cer- 
tain villages are witch-ridden, and Kewai, their enemy of the last war, 
is one of them. Men and women both can be witches; most frequently 
they gain power over people by inviting them to have sexual inter- 
course. Then, while the person sleeps, the witch steps over the partner's 

i yo The People of Alor 

body and urinates on him. Thereafter the witch is able to eat out his 
victim's liver at leisure. Abdominal pains after contact with people in 
areas known for their witchcraft always suggest the possibility of hav- 
ing been victimized. 

Witches also have the power of transforming themselves into civet 
cats and streaks of light which are seen at night. They can detach their 
heads and send them rolling about after dark. They eat small children 
and seem to be associated with cannibalism. At least one informant said, 
"They used to be the people who ate human beings." Cannibalism is an 
abhorrent and frightening idea in Alor. Witches also have a predilection 
for snails one of the animals, along with snakes and walking sticks 
(insect), that produce shudders of repulsion in the natives. The term 
used for witch is palua berka. Palua is the name of a small and harmless 
green snake; berka means bad or potent. 

The only data I could procure about witches was in terms of gossip 
and rumors, some of which were recent and circumstantial. For ex- 
ample, a man who had died shortly after marrying a woman from 
Kewai was supposed to be the victim of her witchcraft. Malelaka even 
professed to have seen a witch once when he went to Kewai to visit 
his brother-in-law's uncle. As he skirted a bluff above the village spring, 
he saw the body of a girl leaning against the slope. The head and right 
arm were detached from the trunk and were floating about separately, 
looking for snails. Malelaka said that he reported this to his host and 
that the latter put a special medicine into the spring which would turn 
a witch into a normal person and protect normal people from witch- 
craft. A condensed witchcraft tale will probably give most adequately 
the flavor of local beliefs on the subject. 

Tale of Witchcraft 

Seven people from Murawaring went to the village of Faliefa. Mura- 
wating and Faliefa were really one village, but there was a fence be- 
tween the houses of the witches and those of the other people. The seven 
men reached the boundary. Atapada said, "If we lay aside our weapons, 
perhaps the people will not plot to kill us." Six of them laid aside their 
weapons, but Lanata kept his with him. 

A young witchwoman came to Lanata, took his weapons, and placed 
them in her house. That evening she asked him to enter. Lanata was 
angry, but his six friends said, "Lanata, go up. We speak ineptly, so 
you go." Lanata entered the house, ate die food the woman had pre- 
pared, and slept with her that night. In the middle of the night the 

Some Psychological Aspects of Religion 1 7 1 

woman stepped over Lanata and urinated on him, thereby bewitch- 
ing him. 

The next day Lanata's six friends called him. He wished to accom- 
pany them, but the woman persuaded him to continue living with her 
in the village. 

In five days the woman suggested that Lanata go pig hunting with 
his brothers-in-law. Lanata shot an animal which the dogs were pur- 
suing and which proved to be a snake. This happened twice. His 
brothers-in-law wished to eat the snake, but Lanata refused and instead . 
provided himself with crabs and crayfish from the ravine. The next 
day he returned to the village with only the remnants of his crabs, 
whereas his brothers-in-law brought in the snake meat. His wife cooked 
the meat, but Lanata refused to touch it, saying, "You eat what I should 
eat. You substitute for my mouth." 

After a time the woman was pregnant. She and Lanata set out for 
his village of Murawating. On the way she turned into a bat and flew 
to his village while he walked. While they lived in Murawating, a child 
from Kewai entered their garden. The child saw a green snake sleeping 
on top of a tuber which was pushing through the earth. The green 
snake (witch) ate the child's liver, and the child died. The men of Kewai 
were angry. They encircled Lanata's house and set it afire. Lanata's wife 
turned into a bat and flew away. Lanata was shot as he tried to escape. 
As he lay dying his hand closed on Alurkowani's testicles so firmly that 
it had to be pried open. After that Lanata's soul possessed Alurkowani, 
and witches multiplied in Kewai so that now all the people there are 

The improbability of anecdotes about witchcraft makes me feel that 
we are dealing here with a complete fantasy structure. The beliefs are 
couched in terms similar to those used in near-by culture areas. In such 
clusters of ideas, peoples from other regions have invested a great deal 
of psychic energy. It is noteworthy that this is not the case in Atimelang, 
where neither witchcraft, sorcery, nor poisoning bulks large, either as 
an institution or a preoccupation. 

Only two deaths of which I knew gave rise to definite gossip of 
poisoning. It was, however, very cautiously discussed in undertones 
and only among friends. It is possible that more such rumors circulated 
but never reached my ears. However, one man who had not been feeling 
well for some time talked quite freely with me about the possibility of 
having been poisoned on a trip to the coast, where he chewed areca with 
a stranger. It was very difficult to get any concrete data even from 

172 The People of Alor 

those willing to discuss the matter. A dead man's tooth powdered into 
food or mixed with tobacco is supposed to be deadly. A fly that alights 
on such food will die; therefore, finding a dead fly in food offered by 
people whose good will one has reason to suspect, arouses suspicions of 
an intent to poison. All interest in this field, as in the field of witchcraft, 
remains on a remote plane and is stimulated only by some ill fortune. I 
feel quite sure there was no general pervasive malaise in this connection. 
At a time when Maliseni and his brother were absent a good deal visit- 
ing a village on the west slope of Kalabahi Bay, people whispered that 
they were purchasing poison there. So far as I know, however, the mat- 
ter was dropped as a subject of gossip after four or five days. 

Witchcraft and poisoning are definitely not major problems and are 
only minor causes, among many, of illness and death. There is abso- 
lutely no attempt, such as one often finds in sorcery- and witchcraft-rid- 
den areas, to conceal nail parings, excreta, and all personal effluvia. On 
page 88 there was an account of a woman who thought her husband 
had poisoned her by using a piece of areca-nut shell she had tossed 
away. In an area really preoccupied with poisoning no woman on bad 
terms with her husband and in a strange village would have been so 
careless. The interesting aspect of these matters of witchcraft and poi- 
soning is that they are present but largely latent. 

The most frequently used form of malignant activity is the laying 
of curses. These, as we have already noted, may be directed by one 
individual against another. It is not done secretly; quite on the contrary, 
it constitutes a public declaration of hostility where personal relation- 
ships have reached the breaking point. More common is the impersonal 
use of curses, usually after one has been the victim of theft by an un- 
known person. Since there is very little property, except garden pro- 
duce, whose owner is not generally known, most such protections against 
theft are to be seen in fields, near areca and coconut palms, or near the 
place where a child, too small to identify anyone, has been robbed. 
Toddlers often wear anklets with a bell or a single-strand cord belt on 
which coins or beads have been strung. If these are stolen, and not in- 
frequently they are, a curse will be erected by an expert on the trail 
where the child usually plays. A common sight in gardens is a bamboo 
pole bearing one of a large possible variety of sickness insignia. These 
may be erected before one has been victimized, as a warning to a poten- 
tial thief, or after one has been victimized, in order that the unknown 
thief may develop that particular illness. 

An instance of such procedure may serve to make matters clearer. 
Fanseni Long Hair's son, a child of about two, had a coin stolen from 

Some Psychological Aspects of Religion 173 

his belt. Fanseni sent for Manifani, who was noted for his boldness in 
burying lepers. Because of this specialty he always had in his possession 
a few odds and ends of mats, pots, water tubes, and such things used 
by the people he had buried. The following morning Manifani set up a 
bamboo pole about five and a half feet high. The end of it was split 
and in the crotch he wedged a piece of the leper's mat. A man who 
erects such a curse should not chew areca, smoke, or have intercourse 
with his wife on the preceding night. Manifani was paid one cent for 
his services, which indicates that financial reward was scarcely the 
motivation for the acquisition and practice of his particular skill. That 
evening Fanseni took a smoldering brand, rubbed it against the foot 
of the bamboo pole, and told the soul of the leper to pursue the thief 
and give him leprosy. He then left the smoldering brand at the foot of 
the curse. 

The practical result expected from this procedure is that the guilty 
person will be frightened into returning secretly the stolen object. Out 
of many cases of this sort I never knew one in which a curse actually 
served this purpose. In the case of Fanseni this certainly did not happen. 
The following night his wife called that she had just seen a firefly set out 
from near the pole. Several people rushed out and tried to follow it, 
since it was assumed that the firefly was the soul of the leper searching 
for the guilty person. Fireflies are very numerous, so the people were 
soon confused and gave up their attempt to follow it. 

Presumably no person except the one who puts up a curse may take 
it down. In theory even the owner of a garden or a palm should not 
harvest produce until the proper person removes the curse. Actually 
the pole usually topples over of its own accord and is forgotten or dis- 

Should a person develop any of the diseases for which there are 
curses, there is surprisingly little interest in trying to connect the illness 
and a specific theft. Correlatively, there is in the culture no concept of 
cure through confession. Repeatedly I brought up this question in re- 
lation to particular individuals only to have informants shrug off the 
question with a casual admission that possibly they were suffering from 
some curse against theft, but never have I seen curses included in divina- 
tions used to determine the sources of illness. An illness is not a source 
of shame, and it will be recalled that shame, not a sense of guilt, is the 
dominant sanction in Atimelang life. 

This procedure all goes to indicate the automatic and essentially im- 
personal quality of curses. Also, although curses are in fairly common 
use and are of many varieties, they are probably no more numerous 

174 The People of Alor 

than hardheaded, practical devices for safeguarding property. Coconut 
trees are banded with sharp, downward-projecting bamboo collars 
which require considerable time and effort to take off. They are purely 
mechanical guards intended to delay a thief long enough so that the 
owner will have a chance to discover him. 

Ripening crops, particularly those in more remote fields, are guarded 
by the owner himself, who will not hesitate to shoot night marauders. 
Many houses have a trap door at the head of the entrance ladder, which 
can be closed at night. Casual and unintentional entrance into a deserted 
house is discouraged by a lacework of green branches, which serves as 
a sort of "no trespass" sign. This prevents an intruder from pleading in- 
nocence should he be seen entering a house. All these very practical 
protections, which are used just as frequently as the supernatural ones, 
suggest that the Atimelanger does not rely to any great extent on super- 
naturalism for protection or vengeance against human beings. This does 
not mean that supernatural beings cannot protect or harm a human, but 
that human beings do not employ supernaturalism against one another to 
the extent that peoples in some other areas do. To be efficacious a sys- 
tem of automatically functioning curses would require a population 
whose sanctions were weighted more on the side of guilt than of 
shame. That curses are so casually treated bears once more on the point 
previously made that there is no very marked internalization of moral 
strictures. That curses are so impersonal causes one to suspect that the 
negative aspects of personal relationships may be as casual and shallow 
as the positive ones have been diagnosed as being. In the overgeneralized 
phraseology sometimes used one might say that modal personality in 
Atimelang does not have a paranoid trend. 

In this connection also, people's relationships to a whole variety of 
evil spirits (kari, hku), wealth-bringing spirits (nera), and familiar spir- 
its (timang) are in many instances casual and expedient. Every indi- 
vidual has one or more of these spirits whom he should placate. With 
the exception of a few specialists, like seers and prophets of the type 
described in Rilpada's and Malelaka's autobiographies, people ignore 
supernatural relationships until some misfortune occurs or some service 
is required. For instance, the village guardian spirit (ulenai) of Atimelang 
had had no carvings and sacrifices made for it in about sixteen years. In 
1938 two others of the Five Villages made the proper sacrifices. This, 
combined with my obvious interest, finally led the Atimelangers to per- 
form the ritual that theoretically should be performed every year or 
two. Similarly, men will completely ignore for many years the super- 
natural beings they have inherited from their parents until some mishap 

Some Psychological Aspects 0f Religion 175 

or undertaking reminds them that an image should be carved and fed. It 
was said previously in connection with skills that the carvings of such 
spirits are usually crudely done, and after the sacrifices they are ignored 
and often allowed to rot away. 


The attitude toward carvings might lead some people to the gener- 
alization that the Atimelangers' attitude is spiritual rather than mate- 
rialistic, that they worship the essence and not the substance. When we 
look at all the evidence presented to date, a preferable interpretation 
might be that the Atimelangers are as exploitative in their relationship 
to the supernatural as they are to humans and that only a threat of 
danger makes them placatory. 

A linguistic hint concerning their attitude toward supernatural be- 
ings may be contained in the generic term for them, good-bad (kang- 
berka), which suggests a parallel to the positive-negative aspects of 
human relationships. If we consider all supernaturalism as projections 
of the current attitudes of a group of people plus varying amounts of 
wishful thinking, we have in the foregoing description of religion an 
epitome of the modal personality of Atimelang. It is as though the 
group itself gave us in its religious beliefs and practices at least a clue 
to those generalizations about personality for which we are searching. 
Again, this generalization must not be interpreted as characterizing all 
Atimelangers. Malelaka's autobiography and dreams, and to a lesser ex- 
tent Rilpada's, indicate that there are individuals who use the concepts 
of the supernatural for purposes of projecting all their desires for 
nurturing and solicitous relationships. They call their familiar spirits 
"friends" and consider them the sources of advice, gifts, and power. In 
Atimelang I suspect that these are the people who more than any others 
serve to keep alive religious activities and speculations. 

Chapter 9 
Some Personality Determinants in Alorese Culture 


ALORESE culture is not polarized sharply in any one direction. There 
is no great subsistence difficulty to supply us with a focus. Therefore, 
instead of leading off from one particular feature of the culture, it is 
perhaps best to work from the life cycle of the individual and see what 
successive integrational systems we can identify. 


In evaluating the kind of care the mother is able to give the child 
we must bear in mind the economic duties of the mother during the 
time of the infant's growth. The child is left at home while the mother 
goes out to care for the garden. Hunger tensions that arise are gener- 
ally well taken care of either by the appointed nurse or by an older 
sibling. However, the child does not have the opportunity to form 
strong attachments to the mother because the whole conditioning is not 
associated with a constant object. 

At this point one may ask: Since the child is conditioned in this 
particular way, why does not this suffice? As previously noted, an ele- 
ment in the relief of tension, which is of great significance for the child, 
is the responsiveness and the consistency of the object caring for it. In 
other words, the child does not react in a predetermined fashion, but 
here the conditions favoring the recognition of a dependable object to 
relieve hunger tensions are not built up. Furthermore, the intermittent 
appearance of the mother in the morning and her reappearance in the 
evening, separated by a long delay, are likely to accentuate the concep- 
tion of the mother as a frustrating object. We can therefore conclude 
that while there is no actual paucity of nourishment, the child is poorly 
nurtured. Dr. Du Bois has noted that despite conscientious feeding, in- 
fants do reject good food. She also noted the fact that infants try un- 
successfully to nurse at the breast of a mother-surrogate, such as the 
father or an immature sibling, which seems to be a sure indication of 
an unsatisfied need tension. It must be stressed that breast feeding is 
available to the child at the earliest stage but that the substitutes just 
mentioned are no more reliable than is the mother herself. Hunger ten- 
sions in earliest infancy are therefore liable to frustration because of the 
confusion associated with the conditioning. 

Some Personality Determinants in Alorese Culture 177 

Even though there are these numerous traumata in connection with 
feeding, weaning is not traumatic. But the readiness with which chil- 
dren suck at objects which resemble breasts is a further indication of 
the effects of poor maternal care. A child free of hunger tensions can 
expand the character of its contacts with the mother, and once she be- 
comes a dependable object the child has a reliable buffer against the 
outer world. If this buffer is absent, nothing but anxiety and inhibitions 
can result. This* shows itself chiefly as a lack of interest both in the 
outer world and in those ego components through \rtiich mastery of 
it is effected. 

Two additional features must be mentioned. First, the mother does 
not find the feeding of the child particularly pleasurable. This is very 
likely to be the case when the mother herself has been through the ex- 
perience that she now imposes on the child. A second point is that in 
many of the illnesses which the child suffers at this time, it is the father 
who is blamed for having broken a taboo or one of the abstinences im- 
posed upon him during the early life of the child. In this way the 
mother escapes a blame which she undoubtedly feels. 

The fact that mothers occasionally masturbate their children while 
feeding them is no- commentary on their sex morality but on the fact 
that the masturbatic activity is used as a palliative; and it is very likely 
that sexual gratification thus becomes very early in life established as a 
means of placating the child for frustrations suffered in other direc- 

With regard to training the child to walk and talk, little deliberate 
effort is made. From comparisons with children in our society one can 
safely deduce the fact that the child is subject to a continuous series 
of frustrations in its efforts to establish some mastery over the world. 
This means also that positive and enterprising attitudes toward the 
world are not developed, for failures foster inhibitions. 

While the child is thus not encouraged to strong ego formation in 
early childhood, there is an extenuating circumstance in the fact that 
it is not subjected to discipline which it cannot understand. There is a 
conspicuous absence of restrictive discipline, particularly in connection 
with anal training. Here it may be noted that the Alorese seem to have 
no buttock erotic sensitivity or consciousness. This zone is seemingly 
devoid of significance nor is it used in punishing children, as is the 
case in our society. Anal training seems to be synchronous with growth 
and is taught mainly by example. Hence these activities cannot con- 
tribute very much to the formation of the ego ideal. 

178 The People of Alor 

It must furthermore be noted that the child is not inducted into 
economic activities. 

From all these features we can expect at least two consequences on 
the character formation of the individual: an ambivalent conception of 
the mother and the absence of a sense of responsibility, particularly in 
connection with obedience. The tantrums to which the children are 
frequently subject, and which are often ignored by the elders, are the 
paramount expression of all these attitudes. Occasionally one notes re- 
prisals on the child for disturbing the peace of the elders. Kolangkalieta 
mentions such an episode, in which her uncle stuffed feces into the 
mouth of a crying child. 

As regards sexual discipline, the early conditions of their lives favor 
a strong attachment to the mother, notwithstanding the many frustra- 
tions she causes. Sleeping with the mother and observing parental in- 
tercourse would tend to enhance these attitudes. However, the implied 
discipline in connection with sex is apparently very powerful. This 
implied discipline does not refer to sexual activity; its inhibiting influ- 
ence is created by making the object from which gratification is ex- 
pected into one to be feared. The attachment to the mother must 
therefore have a unique character. It is a strong attachment but one 
filled with hatred because she is both a gratifying and a frustrating ob- 
ject. In view of the systematic way in which the mother teases and 
cheats the child, a very poor basis is laid for strong, tender relations first 
with the mother and later with women generally. This is borne out by 
subsequent facts. The relations between men and women are not good. 
There is a strong mutual mistrust, and one of the unconscious quests of 
the male is the constant effort to find the kind, affectionate mother, 
who can never be found. It is this that may be the basis of the continu- 
ous infidelity, the repeated divorces, and the remarriages. The super- 
cilious attitude that the men have toward women may have its origin 
in this unconscious and deeply repressed hatred of the mother. 

The attitude toward the father is of a somewhat different character. 
During childhood the father is not the provider, hence he is not the 
source of any great expectations. He may frequently be absent, and he 
plays a sporadic role in the education and rearing of the child. Fathers 
toward whom no very strong sense of responsibility is expected cannot 
be idealized. He is presumably engaged in important business, the sig- 
nificance of which is not likely to reach the child until very much later 
in life, perhaps not until puberty. Hence the paternal imago is likely 
to have a peculiarly hollow inflation. The sexual role of the father, 
however, is one with which the child soon becomes acquainted. And 

Some Personality Determinants in Alorese Culture 179 

it is this circumstance, together with the implied discipline connected 
with sex, that makes possible the development of an Oedipus complex. 
The social role of the father is appreciated very much later in life, at 
which time it may be despotic. He can arbitrarily claim any independ- 
ent possession of the child and use it for his own ends. In marital ar- 
rangements the father is the one chiefly to gain by the sexual value of 
his daughter. We have thus in the father an individual whose rights 
over the child are strong but who gives the child practically nothing. 
The father's control over the children is apparently unequally divided 
between the sexes; a daughter, by whose marriage the father has some- 
thing to gain, is more likely to remain in his power than a son. Sons, 
however, must feel some hostility toward him because of the sexual 
advantages he enjoys. The young man can have sexual relations only 
at the risk of incurring financial penalties. This factor must reinforce 
the already divided feelings toward women that the young man has 
derived from relations with his mother. 

An extremely important point in the relationships of parents to 
children, and one that has a direct bearing on the absence of inflation 
of parental imago, is the almost complete lack of reward systems. Ac- 
cording to the general principles of psychology, a child can endure 
frustrations provided certain compensations are made or certain re- 
wards given, either within a short enough time after the frustration 
in question or expressly related to it. In Alorese culture we have a 
frustration-reward balance which is extremely poor, and this can only 
add to the submerged hostility toward the parent. The role of the sense 
of shame as a basis for the superego is much less satisfactory than more 
concrete forms of punishment. It lacks the specificity so necessary for 
correlation with an act which is disapproved and it furnishes no quanti- 
tative evaluation of the degree of disapproval. Frightening the child as 
a disciplinary measure is perhaps more specific that is, it permits 
closer connection between the offense and punishment than sham- 
ing, and in this culture can only have the effect of heightening the 
already high degree of anxiety and of increasing the amount of aggres- 

The importance of all these factors is the specific role that they play in 
superego formation. The tonicity of the superego is maintained by the 
capacity to internalize the parental ideal. And this in turn is facilitated 
by the anticipation of rewards. The absence of reward systems means, 
therefore, that the internalization of the parental ideal must be de- 

As regards the siblings we have a unique situation. Children who 

i8o The People of Alor 

have not much to expect from parents are not likely to have their rival- 
ries among themselves accentuated. In Alorese culture the oldest sibling 
undoubtedly has the worst time of it; he is constantly being compelled 
to take on attributes of the maternal role as soon as he is able to do so. 
Although there is no routine about it he is generally expected to 
take care of the younger siblings while the mother is tending the gar- 
dens. The natural ambivalence of siblings toward each other must 
therefore be dulled. Such rivalry as does exist is tempered by gratitude 
and by the fact that they have common enemies and grievances. 

The picture that we get, therefore, on the disciplinary side is again 
one of inconsistency and confusion. Whereas the child is masturbated 
as a palliative, a Circumstance which would tend to accentuate sexual 
expression as a form of compensation for other frustrations, this activ- 
ity is nevertheless later tabooed by implication or rendered impossible 
to translate into action. The situation as a whole favors a considerable 
amount of sexual repression which is undoubtedly breached in secret 
before or during puberty. From this, together with the strong motives 
for distrust and hatred of the mother and other women, we would ex- 
pect the usual disturbances of potency. Moreover, in view of the fact 
that there is no reward system and that ingratiation techniques directed 
toward the father, who is actually in possession of the family power, 
are ineffectual, we would not expect any channeling of sexual impulses 
in homosexual directions. The fact is that homosexuality as such is not 
known either among women or men. The breast retains a high erog- 
enous value both to children and adults. Castration threats are known 
but not employed exclusively for sexual misbehavior. 

A final point is to be noted in connection with the general attitudes 
toward discipline. Frustration rather than punishment is the rule. This 
frustration takes on peculiar forms. False promises, lying, and misrepre- 
sentation must have consequences in at least two directions. They must 
lead first to a profound distrust of parents and elders, and secondly, to 
a lack of self-esteem. The poverty of the ego combined with depressed 
self-esteem is likely to lead to compensatory grandiosity. An additional 
factor which reinforces these attitudes is the general impermanence of 
everything, the constant change of abode that prevents the growth of a 
sense of familiarity and compels the child always to begin all over 
again. Perhaps the earliest expression of this anxious and helpless situa- 
tion in childhood is the tantrum. To be sure, this is a form of assertive- 
ness, but it is neither integrative nor constructive. (See Chart I.) 

So far we have outlined the primary integrational units, adumbrat- 
ing many factors which enter the life cycle later. Obviously, however, 

Some Personality Determinants in Alorese Culture 1 8 1 

Chart I. Integrative Units of Early Childhood 

maternal care 


^^misrepresentation and lying 

maternal imago confused: no inflation or idealization 

>T /L hatred 

I combat with outer world unaided no interest in mas- 

Lanal: cotcmporal with 
growth; not severe 

L-no premature sense of 

I no stress on obedience" 

sexual: moderately 
permissive, later sup- 

v make for increase in 
sexual tensions and 
Oedipus complex 

no early economic responsibilities 


- tendency to displace dependency on parent-surrogates 

ego ideal = high achievement aspirations (paternal) 

low achievement capacities (maternal) 

- superego operates chiefly by sanction of shame 

low self-esteem and fear of outer world 
I Uiatred and defiance = tantrums 

I I- inconsistent treatment of tantrums makes for easy 
I discouragement and abandonment of enterprise 

* punishment and reward systems confused 

1. anxiety 

2. suspicion 

3. mistrustfulness 

4. lack of self-confidence 

5. absence of strong posi- 
tive parental fixations. 

fixations largely on 
frustrative side (breast 

6. overvaluation of sex 
and food 

7. lack of enterprise 

8. repressed hatred 

personality is not yet stabilized. We shall now list briefly those factors 
which seem to us most important for the picture of late childhood 
given in Chart II. 

Late childhood is characterized chiefly by the channelization of ag- 
gression. Foraging and stealing is really constructive ego development 
in the boy. It would be an error to regard this purely as an effort to 
make good the deficiencies in parental care that persist throughout this 
period. It is also partly an expression of vengeance against the parent 
and a bit of self-assertion in that it implies, "I really don't need you 
any more." A general guilt feeling about the deprivation of young- 
sters exists in the form of a universal fear of being robbed without any 
strenuous efforts to stop their depredations. 

A second feature in late childhood is the fact that children of both 
sexes are prematurely inducted into the maternal role. The influence of 
this factor on the care of infants and on the development of sibling re- 
lationships has been discussed previously. 

A third point is that although no formal training exists for the boy, 
there is a continuance of coercive measures, a continuance of the prac- 
tice of fooling, misleading, and lying which only generates more and 


parental care 

The People of Alor 

Chart II. Late Childhood 

misrepresentation and lying 
coercion without rewards 
fright, real and supernatural 

..parental imago still confused: paternal role 

I training 
Lboys: optional 
girls: household 
care of younger sib- 
lings = hatred of par- 
ental role 

^***""^ 1 ** aggressions and hostilities 

1 Uantrums disappear 
1 foraging, stealing, running away 
L overt aggressions now subject to sup- 

ego ideal: aspirations lean to paternal prototype 

not suppressed by threats; 
free axenue of expression 
somewhat diminished af- 
ter acquiring loincloth 


system prevents introjection of parental role; 
supernatural sanctions now begin to function 


Resultant traits same as for Chart I. 

more distrust and ends finally in the child's complete inability to believe 
anyone. This circumstance perhaps more than any other is responsible 
for the weak libidinal ties and the internal sense of isolation that in- 
dividuals often have. There are no permissive disciplines at this time, 
and further new sanctions are invoked in the form of supernatural dis- 
approval. It is at this time that the child also learns that none of its 
rights in the family are inviolate, that gifts received can be revoked 
arbitrarily, and that even such gifts as fields, gardens, and pigs are 
really only nominal. 

To offset these circumstances the child, particularly the boy, has a 
channel of expression, perhaps the most common that the culture rec- 
ognizes, namely, running away. This offers both a safety valve for 
the pent-up aggressions and an opportunity to sustain the hope that the 
child may in one of its other relatives find the kind parent so long 

One of the advantages to childhood development is the rather lacka- 
daisical attitude toward sexual practices in children. In this activity they 
can indulge, surreptitiously to be sure, but without fear of serious pun- 
ishment. However, it must be noted that sexual activity in children is 
tolerated rather than permitted or encouraged. The child's pilfering 
and its opportunities for sexual activities with other children in some 
measure keep in balance those constellations already formed in early 
childhood. The activities afford some expression for pent-up hostility, 
but the situation is very little altered. It is likely that these oppor- 

Some Personality Determinants in Alorese Culture 183 

tunities for both stealing and sex activity prevent the aggressions of 
early childhood from reaching explosive forms later. 

It is not likely that the suppression imposed on overt forms of ag- 
gression or the gradual diminution in the use of obscene words injures 
the child in any way. However, it must be noted that the self-esteem 
of the child is in no way improved over what it was earlier in child- 
hood; it still remains low. The child must still have the idea that it is a 
supernumerary, that it is of no account, for only grudgingly is the boy 
permitted to participate on the fringes of adult male activity. In this 
respect the position of the girl is distinctly better, but for reasons that 
we shall presently see, the prejudices accumulated in childhood do not 
make the maternal role acceptable to her. 


From this point on, the basic personality structure of the males and 
females must be considered separately. 

Induction into adulthood for the boy is not accompanied by any 
severe puberty rites to mark the introduction of new and serious re- 
strictions. It is not infrequently the case in societies where puberty 
rites are severe that the boy is compelled to surrender certain advan- 
tages of immaturity and is given new ones that he heretofore did not 
enjoy. As a matter of fact, in Alor puberty does not introduce the boy 
to any strikingly new experience; on the contrary, it is the beginning 
of a long and arduous struggle for the achievement of manhood. The 
success of this achievement is vested largely in the father, who by vir- 
tue of his control over property or of the opportunities for gaining 
control over it can indefinitely delay the boy's entrance into man- 
hood. Nor is there any necessity for binding the child to any rigid 
sexual taboos; these are left in the same status as in early childhood, that 
is to say, sexuality, as such, is permitted, but gaining status by marriage 
is rigidly under control. The theoretical advantage of free sexual play is 
thus actually canceled. The situation eventually arises where the father 
actually interferes, not with sexual gratification or the opportunities 
therefor, but with admission to the status of marriage. (See Chart III.) 

In relation to his father the boy continues to operate under a system 
of coercions without rewards, notwithstanding the fact that the power 
of the father is only relative and the actual control of the subsistence 
economy is largely in the hands of the women. The status of the father 
becomes the envied objective of the boy. 

In order to evaluate the boy's approach to a wife we must see those 
integrational systems which have already been formed by the time he 


The People of Alor 

Chart III. Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex (Males) 

free sexuality curbed: 
-no severe punitive puberty rites 

sexuality permitted but status marriage rigidly under control; reinforces 
Oedipus complex 

father may obstruct access to woman by finance 

maternal frustrations (sec Charts 1 and 11) 

discipline: paternal 1 ^unconscious | ^JJJ* | of women 
Frustrations ****^^ t ^ S*\^S / ^ 1 
| jVEGOV resentment of materns 


a necessary pattern, con- 
doned by rationalization 
that sporadic adventures 
do not cause pregnancy 

il role (see Chart 11) but fix- 
h; wife r- mother 
L. feeder 

ake first advance; rape rare 

ation of status wealth 
children as pawns 

ation of female as prize = 
good mother's breast) 

competition among men for 

usy of children 

l-gives no rewards 
potestas only virtual 
oppresses without com- 

can take property 
can control marriage 
status high and envied 

sexual freedom 

I shyness - does not m 

n-tfH-ii r? vervalu 

cgu iuc-1 i i_ use of 


1 Ueen 
! w 


. 1 . 

value of sex exagger- 
ated; outlet for ag- 
gression but execu- 
tive functions weak 
(see Chart IV) 


evasion; bachelorhood 

become satellite of a 
stronger male 


excessive sexuality 
quest for wealth 

actual dependency on wo- 
man denied by playing up 
masculinity and engaging 
in "important" but unpro- 
ductive activity, i.e., fi- 

superego: weak; too few rewards; threats not too 
deeply internalized 

poverty of religious ideas 

reaches puberty. From the maternal frustrations we have seen that the 
boy contracts an unconscious hatred and distrust of the woman. Here- 
tofore he has, however, had the opportunity through his care of the 
younger siblings to identify himself with the mother. In addition, he 
has likewise been compelled to aid her in her gardening. These roles 
suffer by comparison with the accepted prestige of the male role. His 
long experience with hunger frustrations and the fact that the mother 
is knowingly responsible for them gives the boy a very strong f etish- 
istic attachment to the maternal breast, so that his approach to the 
woman is likely to be associated with the same inhibitions, fears, and 
hostilities that he contracted toward his mother. In consequence it is 

Some Personality Determinants in Alorese Culture 185 

therefore no surprise to learn that although the sexual impulse has not 
been seriously checked, the approach to the woman is filled with shy- 
ness and anxiety. It is a fact from the accounts of both men and women 
that it is the woman who makes the first advance. It is also significant 
that rape is very rare in this society. The feminine imago is bound to 
be associated with mother and breast, objects which he both longs to 
possess and fears. The attitude toward the woman is therefore con- 
trolled by two powerful forces: first, that the father can obstruct legit- 
imate access to the woman, and second, that the woman herself is a 
source of anxiety. 

In the face of this one may ask why there is not more male celibacy 
in the society. The answer probably lies in the effect of these influences 
upon ego ideal formation in the boy. He must derive an exaggerated 
idea of the value of potency which incidentally is appreciated by the 
woman but more important still, an enormously exaggerated idea of 
the value of status and wealth. The first represents the means of ac- 
quiring the good mother, the second the means of being equal to and 
opposing the despotic father. The goal of the man is fixed upon the 
reaffirmation of his self-esteem through the quest for wealth. 

The difficulties and discomforts of a male's position cannot be over- 
emphasized. It is interesting to note that in a society ^where there is a 
preponderance of women the actual incidence of bachelorhood is oc- 
casional, whereas no spinsterhood was observed. No wonder! The 
weakest must fail, but to cope with this failure society offers two pos- 
sible solutions: evasion through bachelorhood, which is held in great 
contempt; and becoming the satellite of a more powerful male, which is 
merely a perpetuation of the state of childhood. 

Although opportunities exist in childhood for the expression of sexu- 
ality, thereby diminishing the intensity of the Oedipus complex, the 
burden of conflict with the father comes in adolescence and in young 
manhood. By this time the boy has had too little opportunity to exer- 
cise any really effective aggression against his father, so that the expres- 
sion through the quest of sexuality becomes the avenue of choice. It is 
not impossible to find that at this time a young man with serious sexual 
inhibitions makes violent gestures toward getting a wife. 

As regards superego formation, it follows from the preceding de- 
scription that it would of necessity be weak. The boy gets so few 
rewards for obedience that the threats of punishment cannot be- 
come very securely internalized. It is therefore no surprise to see that 
the two expressions of superego formation, religion and the technique 
of maintaining social cohesion, are not strong. There remain the sense 

1 86 The People of Alor 

of shame, which is really an external agent, and the sense of guilt, which 
depends upon the internalization of the good parental imago, the to- 
nicity of which is maintained by the hope of being reinstated into pa- 
rental grace. In this latter the young man has had exceedingly poor 

One final point must be mentioned in connection with the masculine 
ego ideal. The dependency upon the woman is all too well known. 
Hence the playing up of masculinity by exaggerating the importance of 
male financial activities is largely a way of denying dependency upon 
the woman. 

The induction of the female into adulthood is much easier and is 
accompanied by fewer necessities for changes in attitude, and by fewer 
conflicts. Here too we must review the experience of the mother and 
her resentment of the maternal role, which she is prematurely asked to 
undertake with the younger siblings. She will not be inclined to give 
children what she herself did not get. Her wish to abandon herself 
sexually to the man is filled with internal resistance. Likewise there is 
resentment at bearing children and caring for them, a fact that leads 
to two consequences, frequency of abortions and maternal neglect of 
children. This really completes the cycle. As far as the feminine ego 
ideal is concerned, the masculine role seems decidedly preferable. It is 
devoid of the arduous responsibilities and the actual hard labor that go 
with being a wife and a mother. (See Chart IV.) 

Under these conditions it is not difficult to understand why it is that 
the female so frequently takes the aggressive role sexually. Actually this 
aggression by the female is largely through default on the part of the 
male. Secondly, the status of marriage is, notwithstanding its hardships, 
infinitely more desirable to the woman than would be the state of spin- 
sterhood. If the role of wife is accepted, the woman has some compen- 
sations. She can actually dominate the male by threatening the with- 
drawal of food, and she can exercise a powerful check upon his in- 
fidelities by making the financial obligations associated with bride-price 
infinitely greater. As we have said before, the whole financial arrange- 
ment in connection with marriage acts as a powerful check in keeping 
the tottering structure of relations between the sexes in some kind of 

It is difficult to formulate any opinion about the attitude of the 
woman toward her father, and no consistent pattern emerges of her 
reactions to her possible importance in his financial schemes. From it she 
may derive some sense of importance. There is little evidence to prove 
one way or another the nature of the infantile attachment to the father. 

Some Personality Determinants in Alorese Culture 187 

Chart IV. Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex (Females) 
induction into adult role premature 

maternal frustrations (see Charts I and II) 

ficonscious hatred of mother and maternal, role 
will not give children what she did not get 
unconscious hatred of men 
I 1-ref usal of intercourse 
L-resentment at bearing children 
*~ abortions 

ego ideal 

Lenvy of male role; to escape hardships and responsibilities 
of wife-mother-masculine attitudes 

^emphasizes revenge on male 


assumption of sexual aggressiveness by default of male 
(see Chart III) 

-r if maternity is accepted 

Lean dominate male by food withdrawal, especially in 

strong attachment to father unlikely father too little of a 

I L- infidelity 

I resentment at being pawn in status struggle of parents 

We may suppose it to be freer of ambivalence in childhood, since most 
of the prejudices against the parents come from the influence of the 
mother. It would appear that the female has a more comfortable inter- 
nal adjustment. The actual control of the household lies in her hands. 
She does not, however, have the nominal advantage of status. It is 
therefore theoretically possible to see two poles in female adjust- 
ments the masculine type which exercises power largely by dominat- 
ing the male through permitted channels and the feminine type which 
accepts the feminine role. Perhaps the chief source of woman's security 
is that by reason of a series of factors she is actually the most valuable 
object in the society. Few women, however, are likely to be in a posi- 
tion of internal security to enjoy this advantage. 


What we have described up to this point is the basic personality 
structure of both sexes. No change occurs in it from this point on, for 

1 88 The People of Alor 

no new situations are encountered. What we will see henceforth is 
merely the working through of the old constellations in relation to the 
social goal of status. 

It is the answer to the question, "What do I think of myself?" that 
can supply us with some information about the source from which '" t 
quest for prestige derives its motive power. The wish to be equ 
or better than, another is really a reflection of an internal need to think 
well of oneself. In this regard the Alorese quest for prestige has a very 
strong internal function, since at no time in the life cycle of the in- 
dividual does he have the opportunity to think highly of himself. The 
male especially emerges into adulthood with a profound feeling of un- 
worthiness. It would be reasonable to expect therefore in the male 
strongly repressed predatory trends, which would be less marked in the 
female. To bear this out it was observed that within limits it is the men 
who steal and ask for presents; the women do not. Women return gifts; 
men da not. Women share with others; men do not. The father is the 
chief beneficiary of the bride-price dealings; the mother much less so. 
The men seek compensations in dress and regalia; the women do not. 
The sensitivity to personal defects, that is, the touchiness, may be ex- 
aggerated in the men as compared with the women. It is the male who 
is predominantly mortified to have any derogatory epithet leveled at 
him. The men eat first when guests are present, and the women eat 
later. Every opportunity is exercised by men, both through the rights 
over children and through chicanery, to cancel out the deep feeling of 

The .role of money is therefore an important factor in the effort to 
establish security. Interestingly enough the wealth quest is not in the 
form of an actual accumulation of gongs and mokos. Emphasis falls 
rather on the fact that money gives one control over others, and this is 
what really tells the story. A lien upon another person means that you 
can at your will convert him into a giver. The inability to control the 
mother was the most signal defeat of childhood. If we can allocate this 
defeat to any zone, it is really to an oral one, for it is accompanied by 
intense feelings of greed and envy. The general stinginess about food 
is evidently derived from oral frustrations, a fact which is strongly 
supported by the consideration that there is no coercive anal training 
in childhood. 

The accumulation of wealth is obviously not free of dangers. The 
fact that large displays of wealth are thought to cause illness, which in 
turn can be remedied by giving a feast, indicates the anxiety that at- 
tends the accumulation of wealth, because it means that the individual 

Some Personality Determinants in Alorese Culture 189 

has a strong awareness of the power of other people's envy. Hence the 
giving of a feast, by satisfying their oral appetites, diminishes the envy. 
It is this remedy which tells us the origin of the whole insecurity feel- 
ing. The remedy serves as an antidote to the envy of others, which the 
wealthy person fears. This probably is also the source of the necessity for 
evening things up a compulsive trait probably derived from the ne- 
cessity of sharing with hungry siblings. In actual practice the whole 
prestige economy in Alor is one in which the currencies are so dis- 
tributed that continual "squeeze" can be applied through financial 

The uses of this financial system are largely to channelize the enor- 
mous amount of intrasocial hostility, and it takes much of the brunt off 
all the other methods. The fear of exercising overt aggression in the 
form of striking, killing, or even using magic is likewise traceable to 
the faulty ego development in childhood. It is an error to regard ag- 
gression purely as a form of reaction to frustration. In order to react 
to frustration with aggression a high degree of effective organization 
is necessary. In the Alorese child this organization fails to take place. 
It is to be remembered that the tantrum is the expression par excellence 
of the childhood frustration, and this is characterized chiefly by its lack 
of organization. It is, so to speak, a spinal discharge and not one di- 
rected by the higher centers. As was noted before in the discussion of 
the relations of men toward women, the inability to be aggressive to- 
ward an object; that injures you must lead eventually not only to a fear 
of the object but also to an inner feeling of paralysis. The control over 
aggression is certainly not due to any superego interference. It is due 
purely to an ego defect; they do not know how to organize their ag- 
gression. In other words, the fact that overt aggression so rarely appears 
in this society is merely a late consequence of a situation that began in 
childhood and which there showed itself in the hopeless futility of get- 
ting any response by this method. Even verbal aggressions, which are 
given limited scope, are by no means employed by everyone. Unre- 
strained aggression becomes a form of expression only in the insane and 
in some of the jealous quarrels among women. 


What is distinctive about Alorese ideas and techniques for dealing 
with the supernatural is their negative features. There is no elabora- 
tion of either a supreme being or of a culture hero in their mythology. 

In their practical religion there is the general framework of a family 
cult, which, however, lacks precision. The dead are not to be placated 

190 The People of Alor 

by suffering and renunciation, nor is there any attempt at restitution 
through penance in order to be reinstated into the good graces of the 
spirits. Good things are not asked of them, but rather the absence of 
bad things; that is, the Alorese do not pray for bounty but they do ask 
for relief from illness. The ancestors are angered if they are not fed. 
They will perform some wicked act against the neglectful individual, 
that is, they will cause an abortion or they will annoy a child. There is, 
in other words, no beneficent inflation of the parental imago, due to 
the poor frustration-reward balance in this society. So slight is the tend- 
ency to idealize the parental imago that effigies are made in the most 
careless and slipshod manner, are used in the most perfunctory way, 
and are forthwith discarded. There is little emphasis on giving the 
spirits permanent housing or idealized form. 


Procedure and Presentation 

THIS part consists of eight autobiographies, each of which is followed 
by Dr. Kardiner's analysis of it. The chart on the next page gives in 
condensed form certain information about the, subjects. Preceding each 
autobiography is a genealogy. These lists do not pretend to be com- 
plete, but they do include the names of the kinsmen most frequently 
mentioned. They serve to give some idea of the size and nature of the 
kin group in which each subject grew up. A glance will reveal the dif- 
ference between Fantan and Tilapada in wealth of close relatives. This 
is important among a people theoretically so dependent on kin loyalties 
for support and status. Duplications and variations in personal names 
may confuse the reader as much as they do the Alorese, but I have tried 
to overcome this obstacle as far as possible.* 

The persons from whom autobiographies were secured do not repre- 
sent the ideal or "type" person of Atimelang. The most successful men 
said they were too busy with their financial and ceremonial affairs to 
spend the time required for telling a life history. Actually they prob- 
ably did not need either the fee or the prestige that working with me 
involved. The "ideal" women of Atimelang, of whom there were a few, 
were either too unassertive or too engrossed in work to come daily to 
my house. I am under the impression that inability to secure autobio- 
graphical material from the successful type individuals of a culture is an 
experience many ethnographers have had in functioning societies. How- 
ever, the autobiographies given here do represent, on the whole, average 
Atimelang adults. Of the eight, Fantan, Malelaka, and Lomani are far- 
thest from the norm. 

No attempt was made to secure this material until I had been almost 
a year in the community and was able, therefore, to estimate the status 
of the informant in his own social milieu. I then selected people who 
were representative, articulate, and had good rapport with both the 
interpreter and myself. Autobiographical interviews were limited to one 
hour each morning before the informant began his day's work. It was 
understood that each session would begin with dreams of the preceding 

* In the case of an older person the term of respect for age, i.e., kalieta y was 
suffixed to the first syllables of the given name. For example, Padafani as an older 
man might be known as Padakalieta. In addition, the given name might be con- 
tracted with the first syllables of the father's name. For example, Padafani whose 
father is called Manimai might also be referred to as Padamani. 


192 The People of Alor 

night. This procedure was facilitated by the local habit of remembering 
and discussing dreams. However, a drawback was that I seldom heard 
the first version. Informants were often asked to interpret their dreams, 
but this was of little value for individual psychology, since there is a 
partially standardized system of dream interpretation in the culture. An 
attempt to get associations with significant words in the dream met with 
no great success. Most significant, perhaps, are the memories or anec- 
dotes related immediately after the dream. 

It was necessary to ask questions and to do a good deal of directing 
in the interviews. The degree to which I interfered is indicated by the 
parenthetical inclusion of the content of my questions, or, where that is 
obvious from the responses, by the word Question in brackets. Leading, 
as opposed to clarifying, questions were asked only when the informant 
seemed to be at a loss to continue. This was particularly true toward 
the end of a series of interviews, when the informant had begun to run 



Name Sex mate Age 

Mangma the Genealogist . Male 45 

Rilpada the Seer Male 35 

Malelaka the Prophet Male 45 

Fan tan the Interpreter. . . Male 25 

Tilapada Female 45 

Lomani Female 25 

Kolangkalieta Female 50 

Kolmani the Seeress Female 45 

Number of 





Sibling Position 
Second of nine children 
Third of five children 
First of six children and 
six half brothers and sis- 

Youngest of three chil- 

Fifth of nine children 
Youngest of eight sisters; 
father died in her infancy 
Second of five children 
Youngest of two children; 
orphaned in infancy 

down and had failed to mention certain obvious topics. A case in point 
is Tilapada's omission of material concerning her children. The inser- 
tion of ages where they occur is the result of inquiry rather than spon- 
taneously given information. Usually the informant named a child and 
said, "When I was like So-and-so. 9 ' I would then approximate the age. 
These estimates are naturally unreliable but they are probably better 
than nothing. 

Another point of procedure should be mentioned. Although I did 
not feel sufficiently in command of the language to dispense with an 
interpreter, I was able to check his translations and particularly the sc- 

Mangma the Genealogist 193 

quence of thought. The subject was allowed to proceed as long as he 
chose, and when he paused the interpreter repeated what had been said, 
while I completed die written record. In the printed autobiographies 
the original order of narration has been kept. Except for the deletion of 
irrelevant and confusing place and personal names, the inclusion of a 
few parenthetical comments for purposes of clarification, and some minor 
changes in punctuation and the like, the records are in the form in 
which they were set down in Alor. Although they may sometimes be 
difficult to read in this fashion, they seem more valuable and genuine 
pictures of the personalities. The reader will find that, except in the 
case of Malelaka, the first day's interview comes very close to epitomiz- 
ing the individual's attitudes and preoccupations. 

The autobiographies are rich in ethnographic detail despite the fact 
that informants were kept rather persistently to their own experiences 
and reactions. In a few cases ethnographic descriptions of an impersonal 
nature have been omitted. Even so, the autobiographies serve better 
than any other device to bring alive and make specific the generaliza- 
tions and speculations in Part 2. 

Chapter 10 
Mangma the Genealogist 


November 24, 1938 

[What was the first thing he could remember?] When I was still 
very small and couldn't yet talk clearly, I remember there was a hungry 
period. Mother and father went to the woods and took the roots of 
wild bananas and brought them home to eat. Mother 'was pounding 
them up in a mortar, and a little bit fell over the edge. I grabbed it up 
and ate it, saying, "This is my tuber [referring to an esteemed sort, 
grown locally]." 

When I was still small I was sitting on a mortar. It was the time that 
corn was ripening. My mother did not cook me ripe corn but was pre- 
paring unripe cassava. I asked her for my ako. [Ako is baby talk for 
batako, a prized tuber.] Just then there was an earthquake. I fell off the 
mortar to the ground. Everything rocked and shook. Cracks opened in 
the earth. Our house fell down. A heavy beam dropped across the mor- 


The People of Aim 
Genealogy of Mangma 
rX Fanlaka 

X Padama ^ Lopada 

X Lakamau 

X Alurkoma- 

X Langmani 
X Momau 

O Lonmani 

X Malelaka 

O Kawaimau 


X Mangma 

X Momau 

= O Fungalani 

= O Tilamau 

X Malemau 

X Lanmau 

X Manimale 

O Tilamau 

= O Tilamale 
X J.O Melangmale 

O Matingma 
X Makanma 
O Fuimau 

= OFuimau l__ _. . 
r L X Makanma 

^O Tilamau 
= X Alurkoma \ 

O Lonali 

X Lanpada 

X Manimale 



4 stillborn children 

tar under which I was crouching, but it did not crush me. I was safe 

When I was a little bigger [six to seven], Alurkai and I were friends. 
We were big enough to begin to use bows and arrows. We went to 
Aimau and shot Maugpada's dog. He ran after us and we couldn't run 
fast because we were still small. He took our bows and arrows and 
broke them up. He cut a stalk and beat us. [Question.] He was no kin. 
Mother and father did not quarrel with him. Maugpada said, "Now I 
have beaten you. Next time don't kill my dog." 

Once my mother wanted me to cut * the fields, but I didn't want to, 
so she tied my hands together and left me in the house. I gnawed the 
rope through and ran away to Alurkoma [mother's mother's sister's 
husband, called grandfather]. I lived with Alurkoma for about a year. 
But I thought about my mother's tying my hands, and so I got part of a 
knife blade and pounded it to make it hard and went to cut the field. 
When it was all cut and burned over, my father and mother came to 
plant it. Then I cared for the field myself and weeded it. When the 
food was ripening, my mother came to harvest it. I remembered her 
tying my hands, and I said she could not take the food. She remembered 

* This is a literal translation of the native term and refers to the clearing of weeds 
with a field knife. 

Mangma the Genealogist 195 

how I had gnawed through the cord and run away, and she said the 
crop was hers. She told me I could not cut her gardens any more, and if 
I wanted to cut gardens I had better go to my father's. She herself got 
the corn. 

All this time I was living with Alurkomar Alurkoma's wife, Tilamau, 
said I had better go work at Ruataug, where my father's garden was. 
So I went there to cut the garden. The first year I got a hundred 
bundles of maize and sold them in Likuwatang and bought a knife. The 
next year I got only forty bundles, the year after only thirty, the year 
after only twenty. Then I stopped working there. [Question.] Mother 
and father lived together all this time. [How many years did you live 
with your grandparents? ] Four years. [Then? ] Then I returned to live 
with my mother and father. At this time I had a friend called Fanmale. 
We used to shoot at a banana trunk target. When Fanmale hit the target 
many times, I would beat him over the head with a bow. When I hit 
the target many times, he would hit me over the head with a bow. We 
were always quarreling. Then we said we had better stop target shoot- 
ing. We stopped being friends, and I made friends with Malemani. I 
threw out Fanmale. I was maybe twelve or thirteen at this time. 

Malemani made a house in the fields. His mother was dead. Young 
men and women gathered there. Girls and boys planned whom they 
would marry. They slept together in this house. The house was near 
the Limbur ravine. We played there for three years. I stayed there and 
didn't live with my mother and father. There were many gardens there 
and enough to eat. 

After we had been there awhile I said, "We play only with women 
and do not think of anything else. Let us think of collecting a bride- 
price. We had better cut a new rice field and sell the rice for mokos and 
thus accumulate a bride-price." We planted a rice field but got only 
four baskets full. Matingma came down and asked how much we had 
and we said twenty gallons [i.e., four baskets holding about five gallons 
each] . I left my rice there and mother and father ate it. I left for Awasi 
to cut fields. The first year I planted beans and we harvested four cans. 
There were twenty-six cans of rice. Of this I got two cans of beans and 
twelve of rice. One can of beans I carried back here and gave my 
mother. For three years I cut a garden in Awasi and also here. I traveled 
back and forth. I sold my rice for a Tamamia [6-rupiah moko]. I 
brought the Tamamia here and father gave it to other people, giving 
me a Maningmauk [lo-rupiah moko] in exchange for it. 

When I had this moko, Kolata's family accused me of sleeping with 

196 The People of Alor 

her. So they said I must buy the girl. They said I was to search for a 
bride-price and they would search for a dowry, and on a given day we 
would exchange bride-price for dowry. This is not our custom. This is 
a Rualmelang custom. I said I had not slept with this girl. One morning 
I stood under their house and called out, "Come look at my penis. If it 
is wet, I have slept with your daughter. If it is dry, I have not slept with 
her." Karmating said, "My friend, do not open your loincloth and ex- 
pose yourself." I was just joking. The girl and her mother came down, 
and the girl lied. She said I had slept with her. They said I lied. So the 
girl said we had better try the millet ordeal. When they had the millet 
boiling, they dropped a small round stone in it. I reached into the pot, 
found the stone, and pulled it out. I ran to the dance place and said to 
Lahatala [God], "Indeed, Lahatala, witness this. If I had slept with the 
woman, my hand would have been burned. If I had not slept with her, 
my hand would not have been burned. My hand is not burned. You 
people have accused me falsely." My hand was a little sore that day and 
I slept. But the next morning it was all right. 

At this time chiefs had just been appointed and litigations had begun, 
but I used the old way, do huor kalukek. [He inserted ethnographic 
details, which I have deleted. He is recounting a system of forcing high 
payment through shaming the persons who have insulted him.] So I 
went to Alomale and asked for his pig, which he was raising in partner- 
ship with a woman. It was worth a Hiekbui [6-rupiah moko]. She did 
not want to give it to me and they quarreled. Alomale wounded it, and 
then he followed me and ceremonially demanded payment. So I gave 
him my Maningmauk [lo-rupiah moko] for the pig. 

Then I went to Lanpada and Moapada, who had accused me. They 
didn't want to pay me. They said the girl wanted to marry me and 
would carry a load of wood to my house next day. Six days went by 
before the girl came with the wood. She set it down far from the house 
and came to sit half on and half off the verandah. My mother called to 
her and told her to come up and cook, but she didn't want to. So I 
talked to her, and I discovered she did not have a big heart for me. She 
wanted to marry another man. So my mother gave her a squash and she 
went back to her own house. In six more days my aunt took the wood 
and carried it back to the girl's house. Then in six days I went again to 
call for my debt. This time there was a litigation involving five of us 
men who had slept in Malemai's house with this woman. Four of us 
who had not had intercourse had to pay fifty cents each. But Mania- 
lurka had tugged at her breasts and slept with her, so he had to pay a 

Mangma the Genealogist 197 

pig and a fine. Then the girl's family paid me a Kolmale [i3-rupiah 
moko] for the pig I had got from Alomale. 

November 26, 1938 

When I was still small, I went to live in Dikimpe with Langmani 
[his father's first cousin]. I stood on the verandah and jumped down. I 
did it over and over again, shouting, "I am a rooster. I am a rooster." 

I was still small and the people of Dikimpe went to make war with 
Atimelang; then they went to wage war with Alurkowati. The people 
of Dikimpe shot at Mauglo, and an arrow hit his belt. They dragged 
him to Dikimpe and danced. They said it was as though they had taken 
his head. They shouted triumph [lakahiet]. [Mangma laughed at this 

I stayed in Dikimpe two years. Then I went to Ruataug, where my 
father lived. I and my older brother, Malelaka, played at war and threw 
cornstalks at each other. Once when I was about twelve and Malelaka 
was about fourteen, I was roasting corn. Malelaka told me to hurry up 
and take off the pot. I didn't. Malelaka snatched the pot off the fire, set 
it on my knee, and burned me. I cried. My father scolded Malelaka and 
said he was bad; when he grew up he would get no wife. Malelaka cried 
then, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I am going to Fuimelang to live." He went and 
fetched some dry grass to burn down the village. I told my father he 
had better go out and stop him, that my wound was not so bad that he 
needed to stay with me. So my father went out and stopped him. The 
next morning my father got a plant called fehaboti and put it on my 
knee. All the skin had come off. After a while my wound got better. 

I said to Malelaka, "We aren't friends any more. We are enemies." 
I threw a burning stick at Malelaka's stomach. Then I ran and climbed 
a tree. Malelaka took a firebrand and threw it at me. It struck my back. 
I cried and my father began to chase him. Malelaka ran away and went 
to live in Karieta. After a while, maybe a year, we both forgot our 
quarrel and Malelaka came back to live with us. Our parents told us to 
stop fighting. We went together to cut the field at Ruataug. 

[Why did you go to live with Langmani in Dikimpe?] Just because 
I liked him, because he took good care of me. Langmani had no wife. I 
was like his child. I followed him around, ran errands for him, getting 
areca, water, fire f tobacco, or whatever he sent me for. Whatever he 
asked I did. I was there alone with him. Langmani said, "My older 
brother has many children; you come and stay with me." 

I had been with Langmani a year when Rilpada's father, Padakalieta, 

198 The People of Alor 

asked me to stay with him. So I went to Padakalieta's house and ran er- 
rands for him. In the spring of that year a rat bone lodged in my throat. 
Alomale and Padakalieta put their hands in my throat and pulled it out. 
I stayed a year with Padakalieta and then went back to Ruataug. 

[Question.] My mother and father lived in Old Karieta during the 
time I stayed in Dikimpe. [Old Karieta was about forty-five minutes to 
an hour from Dikimpe.] 

My father built four houses: one in Dikimpe, one in Karieta, one in 
Ruataug, and one in Kafukhieni, where our garden was. When we were 
living in Karieta my father said, "Here we are not happy. Let us go to 
Kafukhieni to make a house and raise chickens and pigs, plant bananas 
and tubers, and grow things." [Why not happy? ] It was all right in 
Karieta, only it was far from our garden. We were already tired by the 
time we got to the garden to begin work. So we went there to live; we 
made a house and raised many pigs and chickens. We lived there until I 
married. After that my wife and I returned to the village. 

My father raised a male pig there with tusks this big. My father sold 
it to a man from Kelaisi for two Maningmauks [10 rupiahs each] and a 
pig worth two and a half rupiahs. Father gave me one of these Maning- 
mauks [see preceding day's story]. That was what I used to pay Alo- 
male when I kalukek with him. The pig I got from Alomale I cared for 
until it was big and then sold it for a Hawataka [zo-rupiah moko]. But 
to the pig I had to add another pig worth two and a half rupiahs and 
ten baskets of rice. Padalang bought that pig. When I wanted to sell it, 
Malelaka didn't want me to give it to Padalang. He said it was his pig. 
I was angry and drew my bow to shoot him, saying, "You have said 
that I copulated with a dog." As I drew my bow, Malelaka said, "Just 
take the pig." [Informant laughed heartily at this.] Padalang wanted 
one more basket of rice, so I went to a man near by who had a daughter. 
I was collecting a bride-price for her. He gave me a basket of rice. That 
evening after selling the pig I got out my Kolmale [see preceding day's 
story] and the Hawataka, and I beat my two mokos. [He smiled at his 
youthful pride in these two mokos.] 

My grandmother, Fuimau, had been shot by people from Kewai, and 
so the Five Villages went to war with Kewai. A man from Alurkowati 
killed a man from Kewai and sold the head to my father. My father 
paid eighty gongs and mokos for the head. Twenty went to the first 
killer [namu fing] and twenty to the second. [Here there was a con- 
fused war narrative, which is irrelevant.] Then father and the first 
killer, with the people of Dikimpe and Karieta, went to Lawatika and 

Mangma the Genealogist 199 

kalukek. The people of Lawatika didn't pay. So Dikimpe and Karieta 
were angry and said they would complain to the government. Then 
Lawatika said, "We have young girls and you have young men who want 
wives. You pay the bride-prices for our girls and we shall be able to 
pay your kalukek." My father told me to ask some Lawatika girl if she 
wanted to marry me. He said I must not marry someone who didn't 
want to marry me. So I asked a girl and she was willing. Then my father 
said, "My son has two mokos." So the parents of the girl sent her to 
Kafukhieni [informant's residence] carrying a pig. In six days I beat 
my two mokos and gave them to the girl's father and mother. Then my 
father went to Lawatika and asked for the return of two mokos to pay 
the kalukek. But I said, "No, keep the Kolmale moko and give the 
Hawataka moko back." So they gave back the Hawataka and two 
broken gongs. Two Kolmale were still due on the kalukek, one to 
Maima and one to Mauglan. 

[What of the other woman, whose father had given a basket of 
rice?] Oh, I hadn't yet spoken to her. My wife's father gave me one 
Piki moko and two broken gongs as a dowry. I paid a Maningmauk 
moko as my bride-price. Senmani gave me a Tamamia moko as a dowry; 
I returned a Maningmauk. Lanmani gave me a two-and-a-half-rupiah 
pig as a dowry; I gave him the Tamamia. Maima gave me a broken gong 
worth three rupiahs as a dowry; I gave him a piece of a Fehawa worth 
six rupiahs. Atama gave me five small corn bundles, a basket of beans, 
and a small goat as a dowry; I gave him a Maningmauk. This was the 
third Maningmauk I had paid in my bride-price. [I tried without success 
to divert him from the discussion of mokos and bride-prices. He was 
obviously thoroughly enjoying the account.] Lanmani gave me a small 
pig as a dowry; I gave a Tawantama as a bride-price. Senfani gave a 
Tamamia pig, and I returned a Maningmauk. [This is probably the 
transaction attributed above to Senmani. Note the inconsistency in an 
apparently meticulous account.] 

[Unable to stop this flow of reckoning, I called the allotted hour to 
an end. Mangma smiled and said that he had reckoned his bride-price 
and that he also planned to tell about his familiar spirits. He was obvi- 
ously very pleased with the morning's account.] 

November 28 y 1938 

When I was young I blackened my teeth. They were blackening 
teeth in three localities that year. My place was near Ruataug, where 
there were twelve boys and girls. At Manitul there were thirty. Manitul 

200 The People of Alor 

and Lakawati had a wealth-reckoning contest [in play]. They used 
shields of bamboo and hunted rats. They reckoned rats, and Manitul 
had a hundred and eighty, while Lakawati had a hundred and ninety. 
They also killed night birds and civet cats; there were seven of them. 
They made bamboo spears and threw them. They shouted defiance at 
each other. We boys from Ruataug took our rat jaws [as adults use pig 
jaws to record the number slaughtered] and added them to Laka- 
wati's. We reckoned with Lakawati. The older people said, "You have 
been playing with sacred things, so now you must make a sacrifice to 
the bamboo spears. Then you must not be cross with each other any 
more but play together nicely, eat together, and chew areca together. 
Don't quarrel any more." [Informant smiled broadly at this childish 
imitation of a serious adult wealth-reckoning contest called tasah.} 

Five years later I went again to blacken my teeth, this time below 
Karieta. There were twelve girls and eight men. We boys hunted rats. 
We were there seven days. The men paid the leader thirteen arrows, 
and the girls cooked twelve plates of rice rolls. We ate seven of them and 
five were used to pay the leader. 

When I was about sixteen I was crazy and sick for about a month 
and a half because two kinds of spirits [kari and loku] were fighting in 
me. The loku spirit was called Manibiki. One day I went hunting rats 
and passed by Fuida, where the evil spirit [kari] called Fuimau lived. 
She must have followed me. That night I went home to Ruataug and 
was not sick. But the next day I talked only at ranc 3 >m [i.e., irrespon- 
sibly]. I didn't eat or drink for three days. I kept saying, "Hail to me. 
Hatt to me. I am Manibiki. I go to my father. I go to my father." [Mani- 
biki was the name of the male loku spirit that possessed him and that 
was fighting in him with the female kari spirit, Fuimau.] Manimale and 
Malefani both made loku medicine for me to drink. Father made kari 
medicine for me to drink, but I did not get better. So after five days 
they carried me to AJurkowati. This was because Padama of Alurko- 
wati had a loku spirit to whom he sacrificed. They carried me in a scarf 
like a baby and beat a gong the whole way. I didn't feel sick, but I 
talked crazily. In Alurkowati Padama rubbed my body and extracted 
Manibiki, urging him to come out of me to eat [sacrificed] rice and 
chicken. Padama also pulled a bone [considered a loku arrow] out of my 
throat. He pulled the crazy words out of my mouth. But again I spoke 
wildly. Manibiki came back and said [through Mangma's mouth], "I 
have been extracted, but the evil spirit [kari] is still there." 

Five different seers worked over me. They built a big fire of euca- 
lyptus and held my eyes over the smoke to chase out the evil spirit 

Mangma the Genealogist 201 

[kari]. Manifani came to doctor me and I felt better. He said, "Did I 
help you or not?" I said he had helped me. I told him about all the 
spirits I saw sitting around us. Manifani was pleased and said he would 
get areca for us to chew. But when he came back I was crazy again. 
Then Manifani pulled the evil spirit [kari] out of my windpipe. 

All the time I was sick; I didn't remember what I was saying. People 
wanted to bury me while I was still talking, but father would not let 
them. He told them to wait until my body started rotting. One night I 
was sleeping, and father was sleeping beside me to keep watch. I threw 
out my arm and began rubbing and pulling at my father's stomach. 
Father woke up. I was groping around for my loincloth. Father said, 
"Oh, he is already better; he remembers his loincloth." He asked me if 
I wanted anything to eat, and I said I did, so they gave me some of the 
[sacrificial] rice that Padama had cooked to feed his loku spirit. After 
that I wasn't crazy any more. 

When I was better but still staying in the house, I saw my guardian 
spirits [timang] for the first time. There were many people [spirits] in 
the house, but I was the only one who saw them. They were wearing 
shields and carrying weapons. There were many of them and they were 
rushing back and forth in the house. These spirits were Lanma-Malema, 
Telakang-Telabiki, and Bikilasing-Kanglasing. [These represent three 
pairs of brothers.] At that time I stopped eating peas and bananas [a 
food taboo imposed by his guardian spirits]. These were the spirits I 
received from my ancestors. 

Now I eat peas and some bananas. I don't follow my guardian spirits 
any more. When they first came they said they would shoot evil spir- 
its [kari]. Their place is a tree in Afengberka and one in Old Karieta. 
I used to feed them [i.e., make sacrifices], but now I don't feed them 
there or in my house. They used to come often before I was married, 
but now they don't come any more. I haven't seen them much since I 
married. Now I have to call them with a gong. But I can still see evil 
spirits [kari] and ghosts [honoring]. 

[Question.] I have cured five people and have been given a pig each 
time for it. [Very large payments.] If a person has been shot [super- 
naturally], I rub the place with areca and pull the thing out. I can't 
show what I extract. I have to hide it. I can extract pebbles [bikey] and 
poison, but I can't extract [supernatural] arrows. 

November 29, 

Today I want to talk of my food taboos. When my grandfather died 
my father kept them, and when my father died I kept them. I cannot eat 

202 The People of Alor 

young corn [matingata-ateata], sugar cane, mangoes, or cucumbers. 
This taboo lasts for three months, and in the fourth month I eat them 
again. Before eating them I feed my kuya hearth and place on it leaves 
of all these foods. After that I may eat. My father and older brother 
died about eighteen years ago, and ever since then I have kept this 
taboo. The kuya hearth is so called because I keep these food taboos 
before the Kuya feast. In this feast fire is thrown at a tree, and good 
crops for the coming year are requested. The kuya are spirits of all 
kinds of foods. They come from Piningkai [literally, "field head" or 
"top of the world," to the southeast in Batulolong]. These spirits stay 
in the sky. Mine are Kuyawa/Takatahafiki-Nalongtaiy, Tingtma-Fan- 
fana, and Karilak-Kamaro. When I feed the kuya hearth I say, "Kuyawa, 
Takatahafiki-Nalongtaiy, Tingtina-Fanfana, Karilak-Kamaro, now let 
me eat my corn, cucumbers, squash, and mangoes and not be sick. May 
my thighs and my shoulders be strong. May I go running over large 
level places and long slopes and go straight through without stopping 
until sweat comes." [The rainy season is considered the season of illness. 
This sacrifice and supplication is made at the end of the rainy season so 
that the soreness and stiffness may pass.] 

[At this point I tried to get him away from ethnography into per- 
sonal anecdotes.] When I was still a child, a friend of mine, also called 
Mangma, asked me to come to his garden and help him build a house. 
When it was finished I asked him to come to the house I had built in 
my garden and roast corn. My house was made of slender bamboo. The 
thatched roof had collapsed, but we hunted rats, roasted corn, and ate 
there anyhow. At the new corn feast my friend Mangma invited me to 
come to fetch corn from his garden. The next day his mother cooked it 
for us. Then we went to my house to eat rats and corn. We said, "Now 
we can't play for a while, but when the corn work is finished, when it 
has been gathered and tied into bundles, we can play again." [Ques- 
tion.] This friend is dead now; he died after he married. When we 
grew up and married we didn't play together any more. We were no 
longer friends [in the sense of companions]. This friend, Mangma, was 
also from Karieta. 

[How his mother died?] My mother's body swelled up and she died. 
That was about seventeen years ago. It was the year after my father 
and brother both died. They all died because we didn't give our Bay- 
orka feast [part of the Tila death feast for ancestors] rapidly enough. 
We built the altar and didn't feed it. Then the village of Karieta burned 
down. We built another bayorka altar but didn't feed it. Then these 
three people died. I was married at the time. 

Mangma the Genealogist 203 

[Residence?] When I first married I lived in a field house near my 
family in Kafukhieni. At the time the radjah was killed [1918] we 
moved to Old Karieta. We all moved up and lived together in one 
house. We stayed two years and then moved to Padalehi, where we 
lived one year. Many people died in that rainy season. We moved down 
with many other people to the site of New Karieta. We stayed three 
years and built a bayorka altar. That year both my father and brother 
died. At this time the government was building a trail along the coast 
near Likuwatang. Malefani ordered Fantan to come and get me to 
work. I didn't want to. Fantan hit me with a rattan switch. So I ran 
away to Kalabahi for a year and traded among the coast people. I stayed 
at Bangwara-Bangpalola on the Kebola coast. At this time my wife was 
sick, and while I was away she went back to Lawatika to stay. She 
got better there and her body filled out. When I came back to Karieta 
other people were in my house; my wife wasn't there. I waited for her 
but she didn't come back. So I went to Lawatika and litigated to get my 
wife back. We both laid out our tallies to reckon bride-price and 
dowry, but a big rain came and washed them all away. Then the chief 
asked my wife why she had not gone back and whether she had quar- 
reled with me. She said, "No, we did not quarrel. My husband was 
beaten and ran away. I was sick. There was no one in Karieta to help 
me and give me food, so I came here. Now I am well." The chief asked 
me and I said, "No, we did not quarrel, and she is still my wife." So the 
chief said to my wife, "Go pull your husband's hand and return with 
him." So she did, but I didn't wish to go with her. So the chief told us 
to stay and we did. There was another big rain and I felt sick. I had a 
chill. The chief said to me, "Now you have learned your lesson, so you 
can go." That night we returned to Karieta. But my wife said she had 
gardens in both places and would work in both places. If she was in 
Lawatika when night fell she stayed there. [This arrangement still ex- 
ists. His wife is away frequently.] 

[Question.] My wife did not take another man while I was away. 
After the new year feast [Kuya] that year, we went to Kamongmelang 
for one year. From there we moved to Lonmasang near Lawatika for 
three years. Then we had children and moved to Fepadok, because the 
people of the Atamahieting lineage had said, "All our family has moved 
away from our village. Only our female children live here now. So 
come and make a village here." Then other people came and we made a 
village at Fepadok. 

204 The People of Alar 

December 2, 1938 

[What dream?] Day before yesterday I dreamed that someone, I 
don't know who it was, brought a small pig and I said, "That pig is for 
Lanmau [a younger brother dead three years]." The next morning 
Fuimau [a younger sister] went to Lakawati and was given a small pig. 
I shall save that pig and when it is big and fat use it for Lanmau's death 

[What do you want to talk about? ] When I was small five of us had 
a rope, and we swung back and forth on it. There were I, Fanmale, 
Malemani, Lotlaka, and Atafani [all boys]. All of these are already dead. 
For six days we played on the rope; then Atafani, father of Padata the 
Leper, said, "That's bad. You'll fall," and he cut the rope. [Question.] 
We weren't angry. We just ran off and threw stones at Atafani. 

At Ruataug when I was about ten or twelve we were flicking sharp 
sticks at each other. One hit Manialurka in the forehead. He cried and 
cried. His father chased me with a stick and hit me. My grandfather 
saw this and said, "Eh, if I were strong I'd hit you back. But I am not, 
and the child's mother and father are not here, so I'll just order my 
grandchild not to play with Manialurka any more." My aunt Lonfani 
was also there and said, "Don't play again with Manialurka." After a 
month Manialurka came and called me. He wanted to play with me, but 
I said, "Last time we played together you got hurt and cried and cried. 
Now we won't play together any more." Then Manialurka's older 
brother, Manimale, who was fourteen or fifteen, called to me, "He can't 
play with you, but I can, so let's take our baskets and go to the fields 
to dig sweet potatoes." So we dug sweet potatoes, washed them, and 
brought them home. Each of us went to his own house to roast and eat 
them. My mother and father were away, and I was hungry. When we 
finished eating, we called to each other and played again. For a month 
we played this same way together, going every day to dig sweet pota- 
toes. His mother was angry because we went to their garden to dig 
them. So after the first day we always went to my garden. By and by 
my sweet potatoes were almost gone. One day as we went up to Lemia 
to wash them, I was angry and splashed water on Manimale. He was 
afraid and didn't come any more. I said to him, "You have many sweet 
potatoes, but we went only once to your garden and your mother was 
angry. Since you have a great many, you can't come to dig in my 
garden any more." Then I splashed water on him. Manimale said we 
couldn't play together any more. 

In about two months Manimale came back again, and he said, "We 

Mangtna the Genealogist 205 

can't dig sweet potatoes, but I saw some peas that are ripe. Let's go 
fetch them." So we went to Dokpe to pick peas; we stole them. The 
owner of the peas was hidden in a tree keeping watch. He came down 
and we ran. Manimale ran toward the village, but I just ran down the 
hill. The owner caught me, hit me, and tore up my basket. [He re- 
peated several times that his basket had been destroyed.] I went along 
to my garden, dug some sweet potatoes, and ate them raw because I 
was hungry. Then that evening I went home. 

Once, when I was only about six years old, I was playing with my 
younger brother, Lanmau, near the place where my father was cutting 
a garden. We were playing at pounding corn between two stones, but 
we were using earth. A small chicken came near us. I took it and hit it 
over the head with a stone, killing it. We were afraid to singe it because 
father would smell it, so we pulled out the feathers, cut it up, and laid 
it on the hot ashes. We ate it raw with the blood still in it. After a while 
my father came, and he saw that there were only seven chicks instead 
of eight. He saw the feathers too. So he asked, "Who killed the chicken?" 
I said Lanmau had. My father asked Lanmau and he said I had killed it. 
My father got a club to hit us, so I ran away, saying I had killed it. Then 
my father said I couldn't stay there, but that I was to come back for the 
present and that evening he would take us to the village where my 
mother was staying. So that evening my father carried Lanmau, and I 
walked, to the village. We couldn't stay in the garden any more. 

The next day Fanmale called and said they were hunting rats in their 
house, and when they shot some we were to come and eat. My uncle 
[Senmani, a little older] shot five small mice and called to us to come. 
We went, Fanmale, I, and Lanmau. Senmani said, "Yesterday you ate 
raw chicken. Now I have to give you roasted meat. Your mother told 
me that yesterday you ate raw chicken." I said, "Mother lied. Mother 

I didn't wear a loincloth yet. In those days there wasn't much cloth 
here. My mother and father bought a branch of a tapa-cloth tree from 
my great-uncle for one arrow. This mother made into a loincloth for 
me. My brother Lanmau wasn't big enough yet to wear one. 

December 3, 1938 

[Mangma had difficulty beginning, so I reminded him that he had 
stopped the day before after telling of his first loincloth.] 

We went hunting. Others got seven to ten rats, but I didn't get any. 
Finally one ran and I shot it in the rear. I put it in my basket. Later 1 

206 The People of Alor 

got another. But I shot two only. I was still small and had borrowed 
the bow. The others had many. 

The next day about twenty of us went out again. I got the first one 
that day, but it was the only one I did get. The others didn't get many 
either, but we saw a green snake and shot it. The adults frightened the 
children with it. Manefani said we had better return to the village. 
[Question.] Neither father nor my older brother was along, but Mane- 
fani was in my Male House II and I called him father. We used our rats 
for the Kuya feast, and after that we didn't hunt any more. 

When I was about fifteen, I built a house. It was just a small one 
that I had to crawl into. I had a small fireplace and slept there at night. 
One night someone struck the door. I thought it was an enemy and 
cried and cried. Then I saw it was just Maugata, who was trying to 
frighten me. I ran and slept with mother and father. Their house was 
only about a hundred and fifty yards away. The next morning I broke 
down my small house and burned it. Where the house had been I 
planted sweet potatoes. Many grew there. I went to dig and roast them 
whenever I was hungry. I planted sun corn there and between it the 
slower growing rain corn. Sweet potatoes too were plentiful. When I 
cut the sun corn, the rain corn was already in blossom. Then the rain 
corn ripened. 

After a time I left this garden and went to Maletai. I was building a 
house there. One day while my wife was down in the ravine, I came 
back and saw that our house had burned down. I built another house 
there. At this time the people of Mainang were at war. Their enemies, 
the Kafoi people, came looking for people to kill. They found no one 
in the gardens, so they burned our house, thinking it belonged to the 
enemy. After that I said there was no use making houses any more since 
people just burned them, and we had better go sleep in a rock shelter. 
So we lived there in a rock shelter for two years. We kept pigs there. 
Fanalurka was building a lineage house. He came and shot my pig. My 
wife, Fungalani, saw it and called me. I was very angry. I said, "My wife 
is alone here and you come kill my pig. Maybe you want to sleep with 
my wife also?" I went to the mandur of File and he gave me a pig. 
Then the mandur came to litigate against Fanalurka, to make him pay 
for the pig I had got from him. [This is an attempt to combine the older 
kalukek system with the new litigation system. Mangma and the man- 
dur both thought they could get a higher price from the killer of the 
pig in this way.] But when we went to the chief of Karieta, he said he 
knew nothing about this and that it was my fault. I had to return the 
pig to the mandur and pay a fine of one rupiah and one small pig. Then 

Mangma the Genealogist 207 

Fanalurka paid me half a Fehawa moko worth five rupiahs for the pig 
he had shot. When Fanalurka came and shot my pig we fought, but the 
old people stopped us, saying it was better to roast the pig first and that 
Fanalurka would pay me later. 

After that I didn't want to raise pigs any more. I didn't stay at Male- 
tai any longer but returned to Kafukhieni [where his family lived]. 
While we were at Kafukhieni we cultivated a garden up above the site 
of Old Karieta. We went every day to the garden. [This was a long 

Then I built a house below Fungmia. I planted a great deal that year. 
Then a disease came [influenza epidemic, 1918]. Everyone was sick. I 
lived there alone. Fungalani [his wife] was staying in Lawatika with 
her family. Her father was sick and died. She was sick too. When I was 
sick I went to stay with my family at Kafukhieni. I sent my older 
brother with a pig and fifty cents to my father-in-law's burial. This dis- 
ease was after the radjah was killed. In the summer they killed the rad- 
jah, and when the rains started, this disease began too. 

[Question.] It was two or three years later that mother and father 
died. My wife hadn't yet given birth. She did not have children until 
after my father and older brother died. Fuimau [younger sister] was 
still small when our parents died. Lanmau and Matingma [younger 
brother and sister] were adolescent at the time. Tilamau [another sis- 
ter] died before mother and father did. 

When we gathered the crop in the year of the disease, my wife came 
to help me. There were a hundred bundles of corn. We stored it at 
Padalehi. When the rains came the troops arrived and made us move 
down to the floor of the valley. So all of us moved down [1919]. We 
had been down there two years when father and Malelaka died. Mother 
died two years later. Everyone died there. Then I went to the coast and 
Fungalani went to her family in Lawatika. I have already talked of this. 

December j, 1938 

In Karieta when we were small we pounded up red earth [pretending 
it was red corn]. Then we smeared it on our bodies. Our parents said, 
"Go wash before you eat. You are like dogs and pigs. Go wash your 
hands before you come up to eat with us." 

Momau, my paternal uncle, married Kolang. I went to live with 
them in Alurkowati. One day Momau went to Paiyope. I followed him. 
When we reached the Limbur River, I stood on the bank crying; so he 
turned back in midstream, picked me up in his arms, and carried me 
across. On the other bank I walked by myself. When we got to Paiyope 

208 The People of Alor 

I was hungry. Lankokda asked who I was. Momau said I was the son of 
Manimale. Lankokda said, "Oh, that is my grandchild; I must feed him." 
So he gave me a coconut. We came back, and Momau again picked me 
up and carried me across the stream. 

[Why did you live so much with others? ] My uncle asked me to 
come and take care of his little boy. [Repeated question.] My father 
was always hitting me whenever anything disappeared or happened. 
[Question.] He also hit my brother Malelaka, but Malelaka stayed at 
home. Whenever my parents hit me my uncles would feel sorry for me 
and would come and ask me to stay with them. I never stayed long in 
one place; first one person would ask me to come and then another. 
After I had been a short time with Momau, he built a house at Fuime- 
lang, and we went there to live. Momau and Kolang [his wife] had a 
fight. Momau said, "Don't quarrel, or our child will surely run away." 
But Kolang said, "The child doesn't enter into this. The quarrel is be- 
tween us." Momau used to take me hunting for rats, and we ate them 
together. For a year we were always together. One day my uncle Lang- 
mani shot rats and ordered me to fetch sweet potatoes. He said I should 
sleep with him in Dikimpe. So I went to Langmani. I ran errands for 
him. I harvested his corn, dug tubers, fetched wood, and carried water 
for him. We hunted rats together. Everything he asked I did for him. 
One day we were hunting rats in a stone wall. My hands were cupped 
over the runway and Langmani was prodding in it. One large rat ran 
right into my hands. That night when we went to the house Langmani 
told how I had caught a big rat. [Question.] In the house was Alur- 
koma and his two wives and three children, four counting me. Lang- 
mani was older than I. He was about fifteen then. I was about ten or 

[Question.] When I went to stay with Langmani, Momau called for 
me. He asked where I was because I had not come back that evening. 
Then Langmani answered that we had hunted rats, and it was dark, and 
I had better stay there that night. [Question.] Momau was sorry for 
me. He was not angry because I went to stay with Langmani. Langmani 
was his family too. If I had stayed with other people he would have 
been angry, but I was staying with his mother and father. When Momau 
called I wanted to go, but Alurkoma and Langmani said I had better 
stay with them because it was already dark. 

Then I went to live with Padakalieta. He gave me tibah [a sort of 
grain, eaten raw] and we hunted rats together. I followed him. When I 
wanted to go back to Langmani, he said, "No, stay where you have 

Mangma the Genealogist 209 

many brothers and sisters." Mornings I would eat with Langmani and 
evenings I ate with Padakalieta and slept there. The houses were side 
by side. I stayed a year. I planted rice and tibah myself and they ate 
them. Then I began remembering my father and mother and returned 
to Karieta. [Question.] My brother Malelaka had been there with my 
parents all the time. I stayed to cut weeds, and after the planting, when 
the young weeds came, I pulled them out. Then my grandfather Mangma 
in Dikimpe called me to help weed, and I went back there again. This 
was the time that Alurkowati, Dikimpe, and Karieta were at war with 
Kewai and Lakawati. Ruataug, where my mother and father were stay- 
ing, was nearer the enemy, and my grandfather called me down so I 
would be farther away from them. 

[Question.] Malelaka, my older brother, was about four years older 
than I. After I was born my father didn't wait long to sleep with mother 
again. My father slept with my mother when I first began to laugh. My 
mother was angry with my father. She took my f eces and threw them 
at my father, saying, "You sleep with me again when I have a child who 
has only just laughed." [Question.] My mother told me about this 
afterward. [Does he remember birth of next sibling, Lanmau?] No. 
[What is his first memory of him?] When I first remember seeing Lan- 
mau, he laughed at me. My mother told me to get leaves to clean up his 
feces. Maybe he was six months old then. I was at home at that time, 
when my brother was born, but I don't remember anything before I 
was sent to get leaves for his feces. I could already walk a little. The 
leaves were near the house. They were not far. 

December 6, 

I was young and went to a dance. I was versifying and so was Sen- 
mani of Alurkowati. We were singing simultaneously. I finished first 
and wanted to start the chorus, but people didn't want to. They waited 
for Senmani to finish his verse. I was angry and wanted to fight Sen- 
mani. Six men drew their swords and came to Senmani's help. There 
were seven against me. I was wounded. [He showed a small scar on his 
little finger.] I wanted to shoot Senmani. Then Fanlaka of Karieta ver- 
sified. He said, "Kewai-Lakawati, Hatoberka-Rualkameng, Kafakberka- 
Fefui, Fevi-Fungatau are all brother villages. So are Dikimpe and Karieta, 
Alurkowati and Karieta." [Fanlaka was trying to remind Mangma that 
his enemy Senmani belonged to a brother village, and that he shouldn't 
attack him.] Then Senmani versified, "If faces were strange, if eyes 
were strange, I should not have come. But this is a Maughieta [lineage 
name] and Mothieta [lineage name] dance. The old men of Senhieta 

zio The People of Alor 

and Lakahieta are afraid of my bow. But I don't listen to this. I help 
Maughieta and Mothieta dance. I am not afraid of them. They are my 
family." [Since Mangma was a Maughieta, he construed this verse of 
Senmani's as an apology.] My older brother, Malelaka, then versified, 
"You talk well. You two quarreled a little, but you have come to help 
us dance. We may marry your people and you may marry our people. 
So don't quarrel." So my heart came down, and I didn't shoot Senmani. 
I only told the men who surrounded me seven of them to come to 
my village, and I would have an answer for them. [The fact that men 
of his own village came to the help of a man from another village and 
lineage was explained by the fact that they had marriage ties with Sen- 
mani. It may also be that Mangma was obviously in the wrong and 
people were bent on stopping him.] My older brother and relatives 
didn't help me. My older brother just raised his sword once and stopped. 
At that time I didn't know how to fight with a sword. 

Another time there was a dance in Karieta. Fanmale told his wife, 
Maliema, to go up in the house and sleep while he went to the dance. 
Maliema didn't want to stay home; she went to the dance anyhow. Fan- 
male hit her. A lot of her kin came to help her, and I with two others 
helped Fanmale. We fought with clubs. Maugpada drew his sword to 
strike Fanmale, and I hit him on the forearm with my club. It almost 
broke his bracelets. He dropped his sword. Then Fanalurka wanted to 
hit me with his sword, but I struck his upper arm too, and he dropped 
his sword. Our women all came and threw their arms around us to make 
us stop. The women from the other side also tried to stop their men. 
Then we stopped fighting. Women kept yelling to stop. Fanmale said 
he wanted to divorce his wife. They reckoned wealth but her family 
didn't pay. The two lived apart for a couple of months, and then she 
went back to him. [Question.] Fanmale didn't want her to go to the 
dance because he had slept with her uncle's wife. He was afraid her 
uncle [in revenge] would sleep with her, even though she was his niece. 
When she went to the dance she put her arm around her uncle and 
danced with him. 

Once there was a dance in Karieta on the dance place of Maniaiurka. 
Lupalaka of Alurkowati versified. He was saying he was lucky to have 
come. Before he finished, Malepada began stamping [to set the faster 
step of the chorus]. Maniaiurka, the host, was angry, and said, "Is your 
penis erect, that you do this?" Malepada was angry and drew his sword 
and fenced with Maniaiurka. Many people helped Maniaiurka. Three of 
us fought the others. The others stopped us with words. The chief 
of Karieta wanted to litigate. I said if he litigated the quarrel we would 

Mangma the Genealogist 2 1 1 

fight through until dawn. So he didn't. My comb fell out and I couldn't 
find it. I was angry because my comb had disappeared. I said if I didn't 
find my comb I would fight right through until dawn. Then Fanmating 
came and said, "Here is your comb. I was saving it for you." [The im- 
plication is that he had tried to steal it.] Then Maugpada told the young 
men to go on dancing, to be quiet, and not to fight any more. 

December 7, 

I want to talk of the time I lived in Awasi. There were two women 
and a man. The one woman gave birth to a witch and the other to a 
normal person. [Informant had just been telling a witch story to an- 
other person. I stopped this narration and asked him to talk about him- 

When I went to Awasi I had a friend, Lanmai, there. Thirty of us 
went to the vicinity to hunt deer and pigs; we stayed there twelve days. 
We shot a six-prong deer. All in all there were a hundred and eighty 
deer killed that time. [Highly improbable.] Every night we roasted 
meat and ate. [He goes on about the magnitude of the hunt, about 
having to go all the way down to the Limbur River for water, and 
having to go back to the village for supplies on the fifth day.] 

[I asked if he had family in Awasi.] Yes, I have Female House kin 
there. [Question.] I was old enough to use a bow when I went there, 
about twenty. [Why did he go? ] I met Lanmai at the trading place in 
Lakfui. I had had bad luck with rice here. When Lanmai asked me to 
trade with him, I went. Lanmai said, "Next time bring me just pandanus 
leaves, and my mother will make the raincapes herself." The next mar- 
ket day I took him pandanus leaves. He said not to go back just yet but 
to go to Awasi with him and pick kanari nuts. There Lanmai said, "I 
grew fifteen cans of rice here. Now you plant this field too. You can't 
go back. In good years we have lots of rice. Even rat years we get a 
little. Use the garden for rice." I went there in December. Corn was 
already growing, but we planted rice even though it was late. [Was he 
already married?] No. [Lanmai married?] Yes. [Still friends with Lan- 
mai? ] I still go there. I have three coconut and five areca trees there. 
There were six but one fell. I have already returned six times to Awasi for 
coconuts. When I was living there a coconut fell from a tree. I wanted 
to eat it, but an old man, Maikalieta, said, "Do not eat it but plant it. I 
am only a man and will die, but the coconut will be a tree. You will 
remember it and come back to it after I am dead. You will always remem- 
ber a tree." [He continues with accounts of his crops there.] 

[Why did he leave Awasi? ] Because I had a garden here too, and I 

2 1 2 The People of Alor 

was always traveling back and forth between two places. [Did he search 
for a wife there?] I wanted to marry there but didn't. A woman spoke 
to me, but I didn't want to marry her. It would have meant staying 
there, and water was far away. Also there are large forests there and not 
many weeds. Here there are many weeds. I was afraid a wife from 
Awasi would not want to come and work in the gardens here. [He re- 
turns to details about crops.] At that time I was a seer. I cured a sick 
person and was given a chicken and some rice. I used them to make a 
sacrifice to the dead owners of the field. At first Lanmai and I shared 
a field, but I didn't get any of the beans, so I didn't want to cooperate 
with him any more. Then Lakamai called me to share a garden. Laka- 
mai and I were Lanmai's "fathers." Twenty of us worked together to 
plant beans that year, and we gave a dance one night. 

[He told of the versifying in Awasi about the garden how they 
spoke of marrying the garden. Pause, which was rare in this informant. 
He again quoted some verses sung in Awasi how the rice had rooted 
in six days, how one laughed to see it, and how all one's carrying bas- 
kets would be used up when one picked the crop. Then he went on 
to say that they worked a little every day to weed the beans. He dis- 
cussed garden magic at length. He told how successful the harvest was. 
After a time I stopped him and asked about his quarrels in Awasi. He 
smiled at the memory and went on from there.] 

Lifunmai was my elder brother [classificatory]. His child died. His 
father-in-law was very angry. He said the child died because its mother 
and father didn't take good care of it. He came to the village with his 
weapons and wanted to kill these two. I put on my weapons to fight 
him, but Awonmai [an older kinsman] also put on his weapons and told 
me to stand in back of him and he would meet the enraged father-in-law. 
However, before blows were exchanged people seized the two contest- 
ants, and finally the father-in-law was paid a big pig. Then we heard 
that the man had gone to the garden and was destroying it. I rushed 
out with my weapons, but the old man had already run away. He had 
not hurt the garden. 

[I asked if he had dreamed last night and got the three following 
stories in the order of dreaming.] 

I dreamed I went to Senlani's garden [a Lawatika man, also of the 
Maughieta lineage, so ipso facto a relative] and took some of his young 
corn. Senlani said I could not have it, so I hid it in my shawl and in my 
basket. I saw a tree house and thought I would go there to roast and eat 
the corn. Senlani shouted, "Someone has taken my corn." I looked 

Mangma the Genealogist ^ \ 3 

at the corn, and rats had eaten the lower kernels. Senlani told me to 
leave, so I ran back to my village. Then I woke up and it was only a 

I went back to sleep and saw a dark man speak to another man; I 
don't know whom. The dark man called to the other one, "You are hunt- 
ing rats, but your penis is swinging back and forth." In my dream I 
laughed until dawn because I heard this remark. 

[The third dream needs this preamble of fact. The mandur of Kari- 
eta died, leaving two wives, Tilapada and Maliema. Tilapada had mar- 
ried a kinsman of her dead husband. The other widow also wanted to 
marry him, but he did not want her. Instead he suggested that Mangma 
take her, but Mangma also rejected her.] In this dream the dead mandur 
came to me and said, "You two are brushing away that woman." 

"December 8, 1938 

I dreamed that I went to fetch posts in order to build a house at 
Lawatika. The chief at Lawatika said, "I want to build a house there. 
Go home." So I said, "When you have built a house I shall come down 
here to Lawatika and live with you." My wife said, "Yes, we shall live 
with you. But use only two of these posts and cut two others. We shall 
use the remaining two and cut two more. Then we too shall build a 
house here." [Mangma laughed heartily and said] I spoke badly in my 
dream. When I said I should come down and live with him, it was like 
saying I should die. [Why he felt this I could not learn, except that the 
dead are supposed to go down to an underworld village and Lawatika 
lies below Karieta.] 

Then I slept again and dreamed that Manimale came to me and laid 
his two-hands on my shoulder and said, "Kawaimau is dead in a place 
near File; we must carry her body here." [Kawaimau was the adoles- 
cent daughter of Manimale's brother.] When they carried in the body, 
it was not Kawaimau but Maugpada [an older man of Karieta who was 
killed twenty years ago]. The women of Karieta all wept and the gongs 
were beaten. I didn't see Maugpada, but I just heard the weeping and 
gongs. I didn't see them bury him. Then I woke up. [Mangma went on 
to relate that Maugpada was killed by native troops for harboring people 
from the enemy village during the war over the murder of the radjah. 
Boiling water was poured on his head. As he tried to escape, soldiers 
surrounded him and stuck swords in him. In the dream Manimale, uncle 
of Kawaimau, was still young and strong. Actually Manimale now is a 
shrunken old man.] 

2 14 The People of Alor 

Once Senmale, Senalurka, Maliseni, and a lot of other young men 
were hunting rats near my brother's and my garden. I said, "Don't come 
here and beat down our beans." We quarreled and Lupalaka picked up 
a stone and threw it. It hit Malelaka [Mangma's older brother] in the 
stomach. Malelaka cried. Senmale shouted to us, "If you are brave, come 
down and have a stone-throwing fight with us." Finally these boys 
from Alurkowati ran toward us. Maugkari, who was helping us, caught 
his leg in a stone wall and fell. Senmale hit him over the head with a 
stick and drew blood. Maugkari didn't cry; he just went up to Lemia 
to wash his wound. Maugkari said, "When you come to my village 
[Karieta] to dance, I shall avenge myself. I shan't forget. I shall take 
this stick and save it in my house." There were two dances at other 
villages which we all attended, but Maugkari didn't do anything. Then 
there was a dance at Karieta. Still Maugkari didn't do anything until 
the middle of the night. Then he stood back of the dance circle, and as 
Senmale passed in front of him he brought the stick down on Senmale's 
head. It sounded as though he had hit a coconut. Then Maugkari ran 
and hid halfway between Karieta and Lawatika. Maugkari's family 
fought with the people from Alurkowati who were at the dance. Four 
were fighting on Maugkari's side. On the side of Senmale four men 
from Alurkowati and five from Karieta fought. [He named all the con- 
testants.] An old man of Karieta stepped in between the two groups that 
were fighting with clubs; he drew his sword and hit first toward one 
side and then toward the other, telling them they must stop. [Ques- 
tion.] I and Malelaka [his older brother] just stood by and watched. 
We were still small at the time. Then the dance broke up. On their way 
home Alurkowati people heard some people talking and thought they 
were from Karieta, so they drew their bows and shot, but they aimed 
over their heads and didn't hit anyone. From that time on Senmale and 
Maugkari were enemies. They never were friends again. 

Later when there was a dance at Alurkowati, Maliseni brought his 
weapons, saying they had better avenge Senmale but to wait until dawn 
so they could dance the whole night through. At dawn Maliseni went 
to Fanmale of Karieta and stuck an arrow into him. He said he was 
sticking it into Fanmale because he was so strong and brave. Then they 
drew their swords and fought. There was a general brawl. Four people 
from Alurkowati joined the Karieta group because they were relatives. 
There were twenty fighters from Karieta and eleven from Alurkowati. 
Four women took clubs and fought too, just like men. Then Manimale 
fell and his paternal uncle shouted that he had been killed. Everyone 

Mangma the Genealogist 215 

from Karieta ran back toward his village. One old man from Karieta 
stood on a rock and shouted that they should not run away. "We are 
men and we don't run away when we fight; we just stay and fight 
through. Don't run. Stand here." So the men of Karieta gathered around 
the rock on which the old man stood and waited, but the people of 
Alurkowari did not follow them. Padalang had been lying. Manimale 
was not dead. He just fell over and lay there, even though he hadn't 
been hit. His uncle yelled that he was dead, but he was not. 

December 12, 1938 

Two days ago I dreamed there were many women in the village and 
they threw stones at me. Then they came to talk to me. They said, 
"We didn't throw these stones. Here, take this stick and make two 
holes in one end and smooth it down. You will see a design in it." I saw 
this stick. It was near the women. I don't know where it came from. 

When I was still young, maybe fifteen years old, six men and six 
women cut weeds together. The men and women quarreled. In the eve- 
nings after the older women went to fetch wood, the younger people 
used peastalk clubs with which to fight. Women pulled the men's legs 
and the men pulled the women's. Our bodies were sore. The men said, 
"Another time we shall continue." I was one of the men fighting. An- 
other time there were about forty men and women working together 
in three fields. Toward evening the men said it was time to continue 
the fight, but the women ran off to fetch water. We just wanted to 
continue the earlier fight. [Cause of earlier fight?] The first time we 
fought it was because the men and women worked separately. The field 
was divided between them. The men raced the women in clearing 
weeds and beat them. Then the men said, "Maybe by and by you will 
eat rice baskets." [This was an obscure reference to the shape of the area 
that still remained to be weeded.] The women were angry with the 
men for making them ashamed, so they fought. After this quarrel the men 
said, "We mustn't work separately any more. We have to work to- 
gether, men and women, so that we shan't quarrel." 

Once forty of us were working together. In one day twenty of us 
cleared Malemani's field and twenty of us cleared Tilemau's. That night 
five young men fought with five young women. We pulled each other's 
legs; we piled wood on each other's heads. A rat started running, and 
as two of us ran after it Manimale was bumped into by another boy 
and was knocked over. Manimale's sister was angry and began fighting. 
After this fight we said, "It is better that men and women work sepa- 
rately." Manimale's sister was angry because as he fell he knocked a pea- 

216 The People of Alor 

stalk against her face and it hurt her. She piled dirt and weeds on his 
head as he lay there after falling, I joined die fight too. [Why? ] I got 
hit by a peastalk and was hurt. [Why did the fight become general in 
the first place? ] When Manimale had dirt piled on his head, he said to 
us men, "Those women say they are strong; let's fight with them." So 
then we all joined in. We were alt young married people. After that we 
decided to work separately. There were seventeen young men in the 
work group and about ten girls. [Here he drifted into an account of 
garden work. The informant had a marked preoccupation with gardens. 
After acting as informant in the morning, he went right off to his fields 
and weeded steadily, paying no attention to an important feast that was 
in progress some three hundred yards away, where most of the men of 
the community had gathered. Since Mangma had been dwelling almost 
exclusively on quarrels for some time, I asked him to tell about times 
when he was happy with people.] 

When we were not fighting we always played together. I said I was 
going to marry Fungamani of Alurkowati. Another time I said I was go- 
ing to marry a girl from Maneng. But these two women married other 
men. So I said, "Oh, we were just joking." Later my friend Manimale 
saw Fungamani of Vikika and said she was pretty and he would marry 
her. I saw Lonmau of Afengberka and said I would marry her. But 
they married other men, so we said, "Oh, we were just joking. They 
have married other men, so we shall marry other women. If we see a 
young, pretty woman elsewhere, we shall have to play with her just to 
make our hearts happy." I said, "There is a woman, Kolmani, in Rual- 
wati. I am going to marry her." So we played with her. Then I ordered 
Padata the Leper to speak [as go-between] to her and her brother. 
Then her brother Mopada came to me with areca. There were six nuts. 
I thought that meant there must be six gongs and mokos for a bride- 
price. If they all had to be paid at once, I was not brave enough to 
marry her. Then Mopada said, "I hear you have a Fehawa moko. Let 
us look at it." So I took Mopada to the field where it was buried, dug 
it up, and showed it to him. He said, "Let us go." As we were leaving, 
Alurkaseni called me back and said, "I saw you go there with Mani- 
fani." It wasn't Manifani, it was Mopada, but I let him think it was 
Manifani. He said that he also had a wife for me. I went on with Mo- 
pada to our house. I gave Padata, the go-between, one areca nut, and 
five I gave to my father. Father said, "Is this a sign? If you give the 
Fehawa moko I don't want to help you. But if you give some other 
moko I shall add a Maningmauk." [At this point it developed that the 

Mangma the Genealogist 2 1 7 

Fehawa belonged to Mangma's father. His own mokos were a Hawa- 
taka and a Kolmale. Mangma hoped his father would use the Fehawa as 
the initial payment.] I said I wanted to use the Fehawa, so my father 
gave back the areca nuts. Then Mopada and I went to Rualwati. 
We gave areca to the girl's grandfather, and then we went up into 
the house where the girl and her mother were. Her mother came 
up to me and put her arms around me, saying I was just like Senma, 
the girl's first husband. The mother said she could give me a wife. 
The girl laughed too. The mother then offered me, not Kolmani, 
but her older sister. So I said, "All right, they are both women." So the 
older sister said, "Let us go down." But she was talking with her mouth 
and not with her heart. She ran away to another house, so we didn't 
sleep together. She probably didn't want to marry me. Her mother was 
cooking and saw that I didn't eat takoi) beans, so she cooked luong beans 
for me instead. I took a small spoon but her mother said, "Here is a 
large spoon. This small spoon won't fill your mouth." Then the girl's 
father said, "In three days bring a chicken and a loincloth." In three 
days I returned with them and with a necklace too. On the way home 
I gave the brother, Mopada, a bow and arrows. When we came to the 
ravine I said, "You'd better take these. Perhaps a spate will wash me 
away." When I got home I told father what had happened, and he said, 
"It is the same whether women are old or young." When I went back 
the mother of the girl was sick. I stayed to help watch her. The father 
of the girl told her to take water up to her mother, but she said, "There 
is someone up there, and I don't want to go up." Her father said, "Don't 
talk like that. You must be sought after or you will be poor." He said 
to me, "I have another woman for you if this one does not want to 
marry. She will never be rich; she will be poor." After that I went 
home. Later I heard that her mother had died, so I didn't go back for a 
while. Meanwhile the father of Fungalani [his present wife] said he 
had a woman for me. He sent Fungalani to me. Meanwhile the father 
of the girls in Rualwati sent a man down to me to say that the younger 
sister, Kolmani, would come to me since I had two mokos. But I said, 
"Those women were afraid of me." I told the man that their father 
could keep the presents I had given. I said I already had a wife in 
my house. [Question.] The father of the girls was not angry, because my 
wife, Fungalani, was also a distant female relative of his. 

December 14, 1938 

Last night I dreamed that my sister Fuimau [who was living with 
him at the time] was making a fire in her garden. I asked her what she 

218 The People of Alor 

was doing, and she said she was just burning weeds. Then I went back 
to the village. 

Night before last I dreamed I went to Manimau's garden to hunt 
rats. No one had yet dug there for them and the runways were fine. I 
hunted along the runways for burrows and dug them out. Then Mani- 
mau came and said, "Why do you come here spoiling my garden and 
digging it up? You can't do that." So I said, "I didn't do it. Someone 
else was here and dug these holes." I lied to him. Then I woke up. 
[Informant laughed.] 

[What is the meaning of Fuimau's fire? ] It means that if I go all the 
time to the fields to work I will get a headache. That was a sickness 
dream. [It is true that he is one of the most indefatigable gardeners 
among the older men.] 

[Rat-runs?] That means that if I had shot those rats, I should have 
had a stomach-ache. 

I dreamed also that Malikalieta said Fungata was to come and live in 
Alurkowati. [Malikalieta's son had recently paid the token or engage- 
ment price on Fungata, but no bride-price had been paid yet.] Mani- 
kari, her brother, said that she could not go to Alurkowati because the 
bride-price Thad not yet been paid. Fungata went to Alurkowati but 
came right back. 

[At this point I had to break off because death wailing began next 
door and conversation was impossible. In this last episode Mangma was 
probably using a dream form to tell a bit of current gossip.] 

December 16, 1938 

[On the preceding day Mangma went to Awasi.] 

Day before yesterday I dreamed that my grandmother, Tilamale, 
planted squash inside of a fence. Then I secretly entered the fenced-off 
place. The squash were all ripe. One was as big as my thigh. I took it 
and ran, but Lonali [his mother's younger sister] yelled that I had 
stolen a squash. Then I woke up. [I had the only fenced garden in the 
Five Villages at that time. Later in the hour Mangma said that Lonali 
was the person who prevented his staying to sleep with a Lakawati 
woman on one occasion.] 

This means that I shall have a sick stomach. That is what it means 
when I dream of a squash. [Meaning of thieving?] If we take some- 
thing from dead people and they are not angry with us, that is a sign 
that we will get sick and die. But if they are angry with us and chase 
us away, it is a sign that even if we get sick we won't die. We die if 
people are fond of us. 

Mangma the Genealogist 219 

Now I want to talk about Fuimakani of Awasi, the woman I almost 
married. When I was staying in Awasi as a young man, she came to me 
and said, "My husband does not give me any of the good things he gets; 
he does not take care of me. If he digs up a tuber, he goes up in his tree 
house to eat it and gives me nothing. I don't want to be married to him 
any more. Let us run away to your village." At that time there were six 
of my kin and five others, eleven in all, harvesting rice together. This 
woman wore anklets, so we could always hear her coming. She came 
during the day, looked at me, and smiled. In the evening she came again 
and smiled at me. She said I had better stop work and return with her 
to the village now. In the morning she came again and smiled at me. My 
kin all mentioned this and said that she wanted me. I thought too that 
she wanted me. We went to sit under her house and she brought me ar- 
eca and betel. As she gave them to me she said, "You and your kin eat 
this." Then she cooked rice and gave it to me and my kin. I ordered 
Lanmau to take back the serving basket but he wouldn't. No one would 
take back the basket, so I took it back myself. She said, "Tomorrow you 
cannot leave. In two days we shall leave together to go to your village." 
That night my father had dreamed and he said to me, "Last night I 
dreamed you had a shaved head. This means that if you stay here you 
will die. Today we must return or you will die." The woman didn't 
want us to go. We started to go, and her family came and gave us 
areca and said, "You cannot go until tomorrow." But my father said 
we had to return right away. So the woman stayed behind. I liked her 
and she liked me, but because of the dream we had to go back. When I 
reached my village I was sick anyhow. 

The night before I left I was threshing rice, and the woman came to 
me and asked me not to return. I said I had to leave the next day. She 
said, "You had better go day after tomorrow. Tomorrow we shall hunt 
rice and then we can leave together the day after tomorrow. I can't go 
now because I must wait for the rice and moko my father will give me 
for my dowry. My father has gone to get areca and betel. I must 
wait for him to return and fill my basket." 

I came back here to Atimelang and in seven days I returned to 
Awasi. Someone must have told her husband, because the man and 
woman had fought and exchanged blows. She was sick and was staying 
in her house sleeping, so I didn't go up to see her. I just came back 
home. Now this woman is dead. Before she was pregnant, my wife and 
I used to go to trade at Ayakingliking, where she would come with her 
husband. We used to go off and sit together. Every market day she 
would give me presents of kanari nuts. She used to say to me, "Oh, my 

220 The People of Alor 

husband has thick swollen lips and he is very black. I don't Want to be 
married to him." [Mangma was thin-lipped and light in color.] After 
she was pregnant, she didn't give me anything any more. 

I was back here for maybe five years before I married. After I came 
back here, that woman from Awasi would run to her mother's and 
father's house whenever her husband wanted to sleep with her. If her 
husband was along when we met to trade, she would look at me side- 
ways out of her eyes and show me where we should meet. Then we 
would slip off and sit together. She would have kanari nuts hidden for 
me in the bottom section of her areca basket. [Question.] My wife 
didn't know. I never told her. If she had known we should have fought. 

Later when my wife was with me at the market place, I called my 
wife and gave her the present this woman had given me. Then this 
woman knew I now had a wife, and she thought it better not to give me 
anything any more. Her husband was as black as Malelaka. 

After I had come back from Awasi, I went to gather betel from a 
vine that grew on a big tree near Lawatika. As I was getting it, Funga- 
lani, a tall woman from Lawatika [not his wife, who was also named 
Fungalani], called to me and said to bring her the betel basket. I said I 
had to get back to my village, but she said, "No, come to me first." So 
I went, and she took all the areca she had in the bottom of her basket, a 
lot of it, and gave it to me. I asked why she gave it to me. She an- 
swered that they had much areca. So I said, "Let us chew if there is 
lime." She said there was a lot of it, so we chewed together. When we 
finished chewing she said, "Alurkowani has four mokos, and he has sent 
word that he wants to marry me, but I do not want to." I said, "You 
had better marry him. He is a good man and he has four mokos. That 
is lucky." She said, "If I marry that man, where will you run? I had 
better marry you." I said, "Oh, you are older than I. Your father is a 
great-uncle of mine. You are my mother." But she said, "Oh, it is bad 
to follow one penis and vagina [i.e., for brothers and sisters to marry], 
but when parents are siblings, that is good [not true ethnologically]. 
We must marry. It may not be .otherwise. I don't want to go to a dis- 
tant village." I said, "You had better go and get wood and save it here. 
[When a woman fetches wood, it is a sign of her willingness to marry 
a man.] I have only one moko. But you had better bring wood to my 
house." She said, "Yes, but first we must finish harvesting the corn." 
That night I was slow to sleep with her, and she said to me, "Are you 
afraid of my high ladder and large door [i.e., of the wealth represented 
by the lineage house in which she lived]?" I said, "Oh, I have a tall 

Mangma the Genealogist 221 

ladder too, and I go up and down it in two steps." That woman was 
long in harvesting corn and didn't come. She said that evening, "We 
have talked until nightfall. We had better sleep together and be happy 
together before you return." But my mother sent her younger sister, 
my aunt Lonali, to fetch me. My mother knew where I was, and she said, 
"Those people from Lawatika are such that if you sleep one night with 
their girls they arrive with an expensive dowry consisting of a valuable 
moko [i.e., force a marriage with a high bride-price]." When I married 
my wife, Fungalani, the other Fungalani heard about it and said she 
had spoken first to me and that she too was coming to my house. But I 
said, "That is all right too, but you spoke to me first. If I had spoken to 
you first, it would have been all right. If you wish to come that is satis- 
factory, but I have only two mokos. Your bride-price will be only a Kol- 
male [worth 13 rupiahs]. Fungalani's bride-price will be the Hawataka 
[worth 20 rupiahs]." She didn't come. 

December 77, 1938 

Last night I dreamed twice. People had cut some papayas in the field of 
Fuipeni [wife of the chief of Alurkowati] and in Lanmau's field [Mang- 
ma's dead younger brother]. They had cut off the whole crown and 
just the trunk was left. The fruit had fallen around the base of the trees. 
We felt them and only two were ripe. Matingkalieta [Mangma's aunt], 
Lonfani [her daughter], and Padata of Hatoberka ate the papayas with 
me. There were only two ripe ones. The others lay there on the 
ground. The rain came and a large spate descended. We ran, but my 
younger brother, Lanmau, was washed away. We went to look for him. 
He came back and joined us, but he was a dead person and said nothing. 
The spate had split into two branches; one had cut through the field of 
the mandur of Dikimpe and one had cut through my garden. It had 
dried up. We followed its course down to the foot of the slope. There 
was a bubbling spring there. We went back up the slope a short way 
and then I woke up. 

[Meaning of the cut papaya tree?] I don't know what that means 
but I think of a human head cut off. Eating and peeling ripe papayas 
means I will get a rash. [Spate?] That means a big rain will fall, a very 
big one, and there will be many spates but they will stop soon. The 
spring at the foot of the hill means that if I wash my hands in it I will 
get many gongs. [Split spate bed?] When the big rains, come, they 
will come from two directions, and it will dry in the middle. [Afraid 
of spate? ] I was very afraid when the spate carried off Lanmau, because 
I was afraid it would carry us off too. I was afraid for myself. 

222 The People of Alor 

In another dream I went to cut weeds. Mailang [a Luba man] 
brought four new pieces of cloth and gave them to me, saying, "Later 
you can give me five cents for these." [This was a ludicrously low 
price.] This means that the weeds will be very thick in my garden. I 
dreamed this because yesterday I was weeding. If the cloth had been 
for shrouds, the dream would have meant that my rice would die. 
Now I will have a good crop, because heavy weeds mean the rice too 
is growing profusely. If the weeds grow fast I shall pull them out. 

[What do you want to talk about? ] I want to talk about a woman 
I almost married. I was still a young man when my father gave Berka- 
lani a Tamamia moko. My father and I went together to dun for its 
payment. They wanted to give me a woman instead. I said, "Oh, it is 
my father's moko. I am here only to help him dun." In two or three 
days the uncle of a woman came to talk to me, saying, "If Berkalani 
gives you a moko, leave it here as a bride-price." This girl's family was 
being dunned for a moko by other people, so they wanted to make a 
deal. But I said, "This does not belong to me. I shall have to take it back 
to my father." My father had already left, and I stayed on to get the 
moko. In two or three more days the uncle came to me again and said 
the girl was very fond of me and did not want any other man. He 
said I had better leave the moko and go back with the woman. In an- 
other two or three days the same thing happened. [He was relating this 
with much relish.] The girl's uncle gave a dance for his corn harvest. 
That night the woman came to me and without saying anything put 
six areca nuts in my basket. In the morning the woman said to me, "I 
have sent my elders to ask you and now I come myself." She spoke to 
me in my dialect, and I spoke to her in hers. We joked together in this 
way. I talked so much with her my mouth was tired. I was sitting on 
my host's verandah resting, when I heard the woman say to her mother, 
"Mother, I have talked to this man; he does not want to marry me." 
After that her family got a Kolmale moko from Rualmelang, and she 
married there. She is still there. 

[When did you first sleep with a woman?] I first slept with a girl 
from Karieta. We hid ourselves in the fields. Then I made a house for 
her and she lived there with her mother and father. They started raising 
chickens and pigs there. I slept there too. Then Fanalurka came and 
spoke crookedly to that woman, saying she should marry him. He 
talked crookedly to me, saying the woman wanted to marry someone 
else. So I went to sleep in another house. She sent word to me, saying, 
"Perhaps we don't cook good food in this house?" So I went back to 

Mangma the Genealogist 223 

sleep there. After we had been living together for some time, I put a 
Fehawa moko in the loft [as a bride-price]. When we slept under it 
that night, the woman heard the moko make a noise and she said, "Ts!" 
[an implosive whose meaning was that she was not willing to continue 
the relationship]. We had lived together for two years. When we 
changed our minds, Manialurka said I should get back my property; so 
I went and took away the moko. 

[This first sex experience, about which he had been reticent to date, 
was before he asked for the Rualwati girl, but after he had returned 
from Awasi; it was also before he was approached by Fungalani of 

I litigated against this woman. I gave the radjah and the kapitan 
eight chickens to eat. They threatened the woman with jail. She cried, 
so they let her go. The other man, Fanalurka, was afraid and would not 
go down to the coast to litigate. She married Fanalurka afterward. She 
cried and promised to pay when she got back to the village. [Here the 
hour was over but Mangma could not be stopped.] Kapitan Jacob 
helped the girl. He was still in school at Kalabahi. Two school children 
from Aila helped me. [Only school children had learned Malay and 
could serve as interpreters between natives and government officials.] 
Jacob wanted to punish me because I had already slept with her. The 
two Aila boys said it was true that I had slept with her, but I had given 
a moko, built a house for her and her parents to live in, and started 
raising pigs and chickens there; so we were husband and wife. They 
said, "If he has already slept with her many times, then she is his wife." 
Jacob wanted to have me beaten. He still said I was wrong. One white 
gentleman there was angry with Jacob for this and boxed his ears. 
Then he said the woman should marry a coast man, and the coast man 
would pay me back the moko. The woman cried. She said she wanted 
to go back to her village and that she would pay when she got there. 
The official said, "There is a small market to be held here in three days. 
You mast go through the water ordeal at that time to see who is right." 
[This is improbable, since the government tried to eradicate ordeals as 
a system of judgment.] Then Jacob's father came to ask what was 
wrong. Jacob said there was trouble over a woman. All the coast people 
sided with me. Jacob's father said, "If we stay and the girl is wrong, 
we shall have to repudiate her, so go tell her and her parents to run 
away." She and her parents did run away. The next morning people 
said they had left to fetch food. The water ordeal wasn't held. When 
the woman returned to Atimelang, she shouted as she came down the 
slope that it was my fault. But it wasn't. 

224 The People of Alor 

December 15}, 15)38 

I didn't dream. 

I want to talk about a dance in Afengberka. During the day Fana- 
lurka and Matingpada went on ahead. That night I went alone. I versi- 
fied, "Other young men I called. I awoke them but they did not want 
to come, so I lighted my torch and came alone. The torch died, but I 
went on in the dark and have come to stand near you." Then they 
answered me in verse, "You speak the truth. The hands and feet of 
the Maughieta lineage have come. This lineage is related to Alohieta 
[people who were giving a dance for their lineage house]." I answered, 
"Though there is a war, I am not afraid. [Kuyemasang, a village near 
Afengberka, was at war with Mangma's village of Karieta at this time.] 
The old men of the village are afraid of my bow and my weapons." 
They answered, "Don't think of that when there is a dance here in our 
village. People must not think of war." I answered, "True, we shall 
dance through the night. Tomorrow I shall deep and awake and eat 
much.". At dawn we danced a challenge dance [kak] and I joined in it. 
[He went into much more detail than is given here. He seemed con- 
cerned that I was not writing at greater length all these purely formal 
verse forms and their answers.] 

I went to a dance at Kamangwati. I versified, "I was just wandering 
and heard your dance and came." Someone asked who versified. I an- 
swered, "If I were just anyone, I would now be asleep. Manialurka and 
Padaalurka, my grandparents, fought over eggs and erected Manika- 
meng." [He went on at length about ancestral history that showed why 
he was there and that he was related to the dancers. I tried with little 
success to divert him from quoting dance verses.] 

Fanpada called me to go with him to Rualkameng to dance. There 
was a woman there all wrapped up in a shawl. She kept coming up to 
dance with me all night. Finally as the circle swung around into the 
shadow of a bamboo thicket, she pressed herself against me and placed 
my hand on her breast. I pulled it. I would have had intercourse with 
her if there had not been a bright moon. Toward dawn Lonmai went 
off to sleep with another man. I had pulled her breasts and she had to 
sleep with someone. [He laughed at this episode.] When I was young 
all the women were crazy about me. Everyone was afraid of my bow. 
Now that I am old, it is different. 

One morning I went to Hatoberka to help the chief of Lawatika dun 
Atamai. I had given the chief something, so I was helping him collect 
his debt so he would be able to repay me. We waited and waited, but 

Mangma the Genealogist 225 

they did not pay us. The chief said we ought to seize Atamai's pig, 
but Atamai said, "No, wait until I use the pig for my mother's death 
feast. Then I shall pay you." When he gave the feast, he paid only for 
his mother's shroud. He settled no other debts. The chief was angry 
and said he was going to litigate. Then Atamai went to Fungatau, re- 
ceived a Tamamia moko, and gave it to my father and the chief, who 
brought it here. As they came down the slope, my father said he would 
take the moko in return for a pig. The chief was not willing. Father 
asked him to come to the village and talk it over. The chief didn't want 
to do this either. He took the moko and went home. Father carried a 
pig of Malefani's to the chief, who then gave him the moko. Father 
promised to pay Malefani for the pig with a dowry payment. When 
the rice was ripe, Malefani came to father for the payment and father 
gave him two cans of rice. [Pause.] 

[I asked about dreams. He said he had not dreamed in several days. 
He seemed to have nothing he wished to talk about, so I suggested that 
he tell me about his siblings.] 

Once at Kafukhieni my older brother, Malelaka, and I fought with 
clubs. Malelaka had a big corn bundle which father had used up. Male- 
laka accused me of stealing it, so I was angry. I said we would fight it 
out. I looked around for a sword but could not find one. I took a club 
and a short stick to hold in my left hand with which to parry. Malelaka 
hit the short stick, broke it, and the end struck my forearm. I ran for a 
large bow to substitute for the parrying stick. Malelaka hit me in the 
calf of the leg. As we fought I noticed that Malelaka was swinging 
wildly, so I stepped in and hit him on the forehead with the bow. Then 
I landed a blow with my club on his chest. At this point Malemani 
came to separate us; he stumbled and fell between us. Malelaka's breast 
was hurting, so he ran away. [Age?] We were already grown up. I was 
about sixteen. Although Malelaka was older, we were about the same 
size. My father came and grabbed Malelaka, and Malemani grabbed me. 
They said to Malelaka, "You are the elder, yet you run away; we had 
better stop you." Malelaka cried because he was hurt and because the 
people told him to go away and not stay here any more. Father also 
said he should go away because he had accused me of stealing the corn. 
Father said he had used it himself. So Malelaka caught his chickens, put 
them in a basket, and started off. He met mother coming down the 
slope with a load of corn. Father called to mother, saying that we had 
fought and that she was to give Malelaka a bundle of corn to replace 
the one he had used. Mother said, "You are the eldest. The younger 

226 The People of Alor 

ones may cat food. Why do you act like this?" Malelaka cried and his* 
tears fell on mother's hands. Mother was sorry for him and gave him 
the corn. Malelaka came back and wanted to take his pig too, but father 
said he had better leave it, because in Karieta, where he was going, it 
would get into people's gardens and they would shoot it. So Malelaka 
left with his chickens and went to Karieta. Later he sent his wife for 
his corn. 

Once Lanmau [his younger brother] and I fought over an arrow. 
One of mine disappeared. I accused Lanmau. He had shot birds and lost 
it. I told him not to deny losing it because Manimale had seen him go 
off with it. He denied that he had taken it and told me to die [very 
insulting]. Then I took a sword and bow and we fought. My bow 
struck his eye and wounded him. My uncle Fanmale was in the next 
house and he told of Lanmau's cursing me. I was angry and said if 
anyone came in the house I would shoot him. No one dared come near 
the house, not even the older men. After I had wounded Lanmau, I was 
afraid and ran off to sleep in the fields. I went to stay with Atafani. I 
was about twelve or thirteen at that time. Atafani told me he had 
many such arrows, and since I had wounded Lanmau we had better not 
quarrel any more. He gave me an arrow and in three days I went home. 

[What of his sister?] Once I weeded a field. A Makangfokung 
woman came to Melangkai [Mangma's father's cousin] and asked who 
had cleared her field. When she heard who it was she said I had better 
marry her, but Melangkai said, "Maybe you can marry him, but he is 
still small and your breasts are already swelling." Then Melangkai told 
me about this and I said, "I am only small and remember [i.e., think of] 
only food, not women." This woman saw that I had weeded where 
she had not. She thought I was industrious and that she had better 
marry me. 

[I asked him again for stories of his biologic sisters.] When I was 
small I didn't play with my sisters; I didn't work in the fields with 
them. I played only with boys. Melangkai and Lonkari came to tell me 
of many women who wanted me because I worked fast in the garden 
and was industrious. These women thought, "We would only have to 
cook in his wake; he could do all the garden work himself." [He con- 
tinues to repeat general statements of how women wanted to marry 


In studying this autobiographical account of Mangma two factors 
must be taken into account: first, his reaction to the ethnographer, and 

Mangma the Genealogist 227 

second, the presence of the interpreter. As we have seen, Mangma is an 
extremely insecure, sensitive, and easily hurt person, who has deep un- 
conscious cravings to be loved, together with a conviction that these 
desires will not be fulfilled. It is not unlikely that such an attitude 
dominates his relationship to the ethnographer, whom he undoubtedly 
regards as a very rich and powerful individual. The presence of the in- 
terpreter is a factor that undoubtedly distorts Mangma's story. Mangma 
will not tell Anything about himself that will be disparaging either to 
his manhood or to his general standing. His account is therefore a 
rather stultified and unspontaneous affair until after he has got some- 
what better accustomed to the situation. He eases up in his account 
toward the end. 

That he was eager to make a good impression on the ethnographer 
and sought to express his affection for her is well illustrated by a dream 
that he narrates toward the end of his story (December 16), in which 
he is stealing a squash from the enclosed garden of his grandmother. It 
so happens that the ethnographer was the only person in the whole 
community who had an enclosed garden. The dream of stealing from 
her is therefore his characteristic way of expressing the wish to be fed 
by her, and also the conviction that this will not happen; hence the 

Because of these two factors, Mangma's story is full of great gaps, 
and, judging from the general makeup of the man, we may assume that 
what he tells is actually the least objectionable part of his life story. 
The material of his biography takes us up to approximately eighteen 
years before the narration. The story he tells deals almost entirely with 
his past; nothing pertaining to his current life is mentioned in any way. 
We can therefore guess that his representation of himself is something 
of a bluff to hide his inadequacies, of which he is, in his inarticulate 
way, quite well aware. 

Notwithstanding these deficiencies in the narrative, Mangma's life 
history is of great value. It is difficult to decide how typical Mangma is. 
I would venture to say that if he were typical the society could not 
continue to exist. We are dealing, therefore, with an extreme type of 
character formation under the influence of certain institutional situa- 
tions. The fa$ade of this character is misleading, for he is a person in 
good standing and is considered a strong, active man, and yet he does 
not participate much in the society. The reasons for this are all too 
clear. One of his claims to distinction is that he is a genealogist, but his 
recitations of genealogies were rapid and obscure. Careful checking by 

2i8 The People of Alor 

accurate. He apparently failed in this occupation as he had failed pre- 
viously in his attempts to become a seer. 

Mangma is the second child of a family of nine. This means in effect 
that he received the minimum advantages of parental care and was in 
turn expected to assist his mother materially, both in her gardening and 
in the care of the younger siblings. He evidently did not adjust very well 
to this situation, because the story of his late childhood and early adoles- 
cence is one of continual quarrels with his parents and siblings, as a 
consequence of which he ran away repeatedly. He did not settle down 
until late in adolescence, and at this time he was already a beaten man. 
He submitted to many of the new hardships that he was subjected to at 
that time, perhaps because the things he was then striving for were re- 
lated to his legitimate claims for recognition as a member of the society. 

For instance, he had great trouble with his father about getting mar- 
ried and collecting the appropriate bride-price. The development of his 
relations with women is not altogether clear, but it is quite evident that 
he was decidedly backward and inhibited. He married only once and 
in his own peculiar way he is faithful to his wife. With her he leads an 
extremely troubled and difficult life, which is repeatedly broken up by 
her leaving to live elsewhere. He has developed several skills as seer 
and as genealogist but the one for which he is most noted and in 
which he takes great pride is gardening. This is not a prestige occupa- 
tion for a man, but it is a skill that was appreciated by the women, who 
thought they could use Mangma to lighten their own tasks. 

What interests us most in Mangma is his character. He is a man 
whose wishes, desires, and ambitions are far in excess of his capacities 
to satisfy them. This has been true from his earliest childhood. He is an 
extremely vain person, a trait he shows sometimes by boasting about 
trivialities, but most frequently by exaggerating the injuries and wrongs 
he has suffered at the hands of others. This emphasis on his sufferings, 
this excessive vulnerability and touchiness, is the expression of a very 
deeply frustrated feeling, covered up by pretentiousness. Coincident 
with this he has a strong tendency to minimize pleasant things. He 
never has the courage to acknowledge his wrongdoings, always imputes 
evil motives to others, and unscrupulously blames other people for his 
own misdeeds. 

The violence of Mangma's feelings far outstrips his capacities. As a 
young man he attempted to express this violence in open aggression, 
either by force of arms or through finance. He made use of the former 
frequently in causes that did not directly concern him. His attempts in 
the latter were largely unsuccessful, whereupon he reverted to an earlier 

Mangma the Genealogist 229 

pattern, that of running away. He knows only one way of solving his 
difficulty, and that is to run away from the situation entirely, a tech- 
nique he continued to use until very late in life. These escapes were 
utterly ineffectual and did not contribute in any constructive way to- 
ward solving the difficulties in which he was engrossed. 

His distrust of others is profound, but at the same time there runs 
through his story a persistent current of an underlying longing for the 
good, kind protector. His life is one endless series of quests to find 
the good friend, the good parent longings that are always frustrated. 
This frustration is due not so much to the injuries that other people do 
him as to the fact that at no time in his life has he learned to make any 
kind of strong attachment to anyone. His romance with the woman in 
Awasi (page zipff.) is a typical one. Like any individual with paranoid 
tendencies, he does not know that he is largely responsible for the bad 
behavior of others to him. To these traits must be added his envious- 
ness, which is boundless, and his greed. 

In episodes when Mangma was seven or eight we already see indi- 
cations of his future character. He and his younger brother decide to 
kill a chicken and eat it, but they do it in such a way that the father 
will not detect it. When the father does apprehend them, however, 
Mangma refuses to take any responsibility for the deed. One day when 
he is working in the garden with his mother she punishes him by tying 
his hands, which is probably pretty severe punishment. Whereupon he 
runs away to a classificatory grandfather and sets to gardening. 

The general weakness of Mangma's ego structure is shown particu- 
larly in the ease with which he is discouraged, abandons enterprises, 
and then lapses into a complete black hopelessness. For example, he 
builds a field house and it burns down. He builds another, which also 
burns down. Then he gives up entirely and says that from then on he 
will live in a cave, a most unusual resolution for a man in this culture. 
On another occasion he raises pigs. Someone kills a pig or two, where- 
upon Mangma stops raising pigs. As a matter of fact, this killing of the 
pig by one of his relatives was not a wanton destructive act at all, but 
merely one of the conventional forms of making a kinsman participate 
in the giving of a feast. Mangma makes a great to-do about it, exagger- 
ates its significance as a tremendous wrong, and winds up by abandon- 
ing the whole enterprise. A corvte is levied upon him, which he resents, 
so he runs away. With this last running away to evade a corve, Mang- 
ma's life practically comes to an end. He is thenceforth a beaten man. 

It will be interesting to see whether the study of his actual produc- 
tions in the report can give us some clue to the structure and signifi- 

230 The People of Alor 

cance of these character traits. We do not have enough data to be able 
to reconstruct his character historically. It will have to suffice to de- 
scribe some of the dynamic interconnections. The opening interview 
with the ethnographer may be taken as typical. The associations run as 
follows: (i) hunger; (2) stealing; (3) his mother gives him bad food 
and refuses him good food, hence resentment; (4) he shoots a dog, and 
the owner breaks his bow and arrows and beats him; (5) his mother 
wants him to do so-and-so, but he refuses, so she beats him; (6) he runs 
away; (7) he begins gardening on his own; (8) he won't let his mother 
get his" harvest; (9) he boasts of his gardening exploits; (10) he fights 
with his friends; (n) he recounts a fantasy about raising a bride-price; 
(12) he plants a garden and the father and mother eat it; (13) he is 
falsely accused of sleeping with a girl and starts a financial war with 
the family. 

His first association is that of hunger. However, from our knowl- 
edge of this culture we cannot take this at its face value. "I was left 
hungry" means that he suffered from inadequate care. The association 
that can be made with this hunger motif is that the wish to be loved 
by his mother, expressed in terms of being fed, is frustrated. He there- 
fore reacts by stealing what was not given to him. His attitude toward 
his mother remains one of hatred plus the deep suspicion that she will 
never do anything for him and merely wishes to exploit him. His venge- 
ance upon her, therefore, is to refuse to obey. This leads to his run- 
ning away in an attempt to find a better parent and winds up in his 
learning to excel in gardening, whereby he makes good the deficit in 
parental care. 

Mangma's attitude of expecting nobody to do anything for him and 
his fear of being exploited lead to extreme touchiness and vindictive- 
ness. His low self-esteem, based on this original constellation, must ex- 
press itself in compensatory activities that take the form of pride, lying, 
boasting about trivialities, profound avarice, and envy of what other 
people have upon which he unconsciously has persistent designs. An- 
other offshoot of this leads to his feeling constantly injured, which is 
another way of saying that he expects a great deal from other people; 
but the tension between these expectations and the conviction that they 
cannot be realized is so great it ends in an impasse. His low self-esteem 
leads into another series of constellations, the most constant of which is 
the expectation of failure and the conviction of his own ineffectuality. 
This in turn leads to the abandonment of all constructive enterprise and 
to incapacity for any persistent effort. 

The unconscious hatred of his mother leads to a distrust of women 

Mangma the Genealogist 231 

in general and this, together with the obstructions to manhood offered 
by his father's procrastination on the bride-price, creates an insecure 
feeling about his own sexual value. Hence he has to permit every 
woman to make the first advance. The number of platonic relationships 
he carried on with women is also noteworthy. Furthermore, the frus- 
trations suffered through his mother lead him eventually into a feminine 
role. Toward his father he shows an attitude of limp and helpless pas- 
sivity by accepting a wife in partial payment for his father's debts. 
Hatred toward his father and everyone else is only increased by this 
and so aggravates his distrust of himself. 

His constant longing for a protector is beautifully illustrated by his 
dream of the ethnographer, toward whom he shows his longing by 
robbing her garden. His marriage shows no evidence of actual disturb- 
ances in potency, since he produced seven children, but he is wary of 
approaching women other than his wife in any but a platonic way and 
winds up his life by a kind of marriage to his sister, which is probably 
the most satisfactory relationship in his life. This relationship is prob- 
ably consummated on the basis of identification; that is, he gets along 
with her so well because they are two of a kind. 

These conclusions are borne out by some of the dreams reported. 
On December 8 he dreams of asking the chief for house posts. The 
chief replies that he plans to build a house with the posts and then in- 
vites Mangma to visit him when the new house is finished. This offer 
is apparently unacceptable because Mangma wants the whole house for 
himself. A compromise is suggested by which Mangma takes two of the 
posts and cuts two others. This dream strongly suggests persistent de- 
mands upon a paternal figure, perhaps even to the extent of robbing 
him. His associations with the dream are those of death. This would 
suggest that when his demands are refused his whole ego collapses. 

The next dream (December 12) is of being attacked by women, who 
give him a stick. From this dream I should be inclined to question his 
confidence in his own virility. It confirms the idea of his very divided 
feelings about women. All his associations following this dream are 
about fights between women and men. He feels compelled to be mascu- 
line according to the pattern of the culture but feels strong misgivings 
about being able to vindicate himself in this respect. And he resolves 
this dilemma, as he has usually resolved those in the past, by going away 
from women altogether and working alone. It is interesting to note that 
he blocks decidedly at this point and begins to speak about gardening 
and about how his father obstructed his opportunities for being a man. 

This is followed by a dream (December 14) about his sister, who is 

232 The People of Alor 

burning weeds in her garden. Then follows another dream of destroy- 
ing a man's garden, of which he denies the guilt. This is an abstract 
dream, and without more information we can only venture a few 
guesses. It suggests that his relationship to his sister is an erotic one 
based upon an old attachment, which was repressed because of its for- 
bidden character. Mangma ends this series with the dream about the 
ethnographer, leaving the story on the note of his continuing his quest 
for the affectionate parent. 

Mangma's Character Structure 

maternal frustrations 



L fear and hatred of father 

wish to be loved by mother repressed 

L hatred of her and fear of being exploited 
by her 

(taking by force (stealing) 


running away = gardening = "I will 
depend on no one" identification 
with mother 

refusal to obey 
hatred of siblings 

low self-esteem 

L touchiness, vindictiveness, and fear of 
being exploited 

pride, exaggeration of small achieve- 
ments, lying 

constant expectation of failure and 
conviction of ineffectuality 

-abandons enterprises easily 

-> denial and self-righteousness 
- = 'The world is against me." 

attitude toward women 

inhibited and unconscious hatred 
I (-distrustful of potency 

Iunstable marriage but no 

philandering (?) 

L_ takes feminine role (gardening) 
helpless passivity to father 

constant longing for protection 
(dream of stealing from 

adjustment to sister by way of identification 
and sense of guilt 

Chapter n 
Rilpada the Seer 


February /, 1939 

When I was about eight years old, my mother and father quarreled. 
Then my father went to live with his second wife, Kolkalieta. My 
mother cried because just then her older sister [classificatory] died in 
Atimelang. She cried very hard. I asked, "Why is this? I am still small, 
and my father goes to stay with his other wife, and you are crying for 
a dead kin? What shall we roast for her death feast?" I took my bow 
and arrow and went to Lenmasang. Lonmale's pig was in the pen and I 
shot it. His son Simon threw stones at me and wounded my knee. 
Alomale said, "Now you have wounded my uncle, so he must take the 
pig and roast it.*' The pig was worth a Piki [5-rupiah moko]. So I took 
it to Old Dikimpe and Fanleti carried it to Atimelang to roast. That 
night Fanleti brought home the ham, neck, and back. Before we had 
eaten it, Lonmale came to complain. So we paid twenty cents, a broken 
gong worth a rupiah, and ten corn bundles of forty ears each. Then 
Lonmale said, "The corn is for me to eat, but I shall count the money 
and the broken gong as a dowry payment. Next time ask me before 
you shoot and I will give you a pig." 

When I was about six or seven, I went to sleep in Alof e's house. We 
slept close to each other. His mother was cooking. She upset the pot 
and hot water spilled on my knee. It swelled and the skin peeled off. 
Father thpught I would die if he didn't doctor me, so mother carried 
me down to the ravine and father put algae on my wound. I urinated 
in father's hand as hejield me. Father then carried me in his scarf up to 
Puorkaivi, where he hunted rats. He shot two and gave them to me. He 
dug tubers, roasted them with the rats, and we ate. Then father carried 
me up to Old Atimelang. The people there were buying a Fehawa 
moko and were giving a dance for it that night. Father went to the 
dance, and I cried hard for him. 

When my leg was well and I was twelve or thirteen, I went to 
Dikimpe. There I joined the people who were having their teeth black- 
ened. We all went to hunt rats. One day I alone shot fifteen, the next 
day I got ten, and on the thkd day fifteen again. I got so many I lost 
track of them. I smoked them dry and saved them. There were three 

* Rilpada's dreams were collected separately and are given in a separate section. 



The People of Alor 
Genealogy of Rilpada 

-X Senniani 

= O Tilapada 

_ Q Ko i mau 

= O Lonseni (jrd wife) 
= O Maliepada (4th wife) 
= O Tilala (sth wife) 

L X Fankalieta 

= O ( ist wife) 

= O (2nd wife) 

= O Kolmanimai (6th wife) 
= O LonmaJe (yth wife) 
= O Kolpada (8th wife) 
= O Kolpadakaiieta (oth wife) 


= x Fantan thc 

X Mangina 

X Manifani 
O Tilafani - 
X Langniai 
X Lakamau 




-X M elangkai, d. 20 yrs. 
'X Kupaipada, d. 13 yrs. 

= O Lonseni, 45 yrs. 

X Senmani, 28 yrs. 

O Kolfant 

= XM55 U 

O Tilamobi, d. infancy 

O d. infancy 

bamboo tubes full [twenty to thirty rats to a tube]. When we finished 
blackening our teeth, we told the girls, twenty-two of them, to pound 
and cook corn. We had a feast. Each girl was given seven rats. We 
boiled the rest of the rats and drank the soup to set the dye in our 
teeth. There were thirty boys. When we returned to the village, Pada- 
male, who had blackened our teeth, collected all of us together and we 
paid him. He got fifty-two arrows. Our elders had helped us collect 
them and there were some left over, so the next day our elders sug- 
gested that we shoot at targets for them. They set ten banana stalks at 

Rilpada the Seer 235 

one end of a space and ten at the oth$r. We each had one arrow to 
start with and we got all those we shot into the targets. I hit them all 
and got twenty arrows. Then I stopped and went back to the village. 
The others kept on trying until all the arrows were given away. There 
were ten contestants. 

When I was about sixteen, my younger brother, Senmani, and Fan- 
tan were outside the house. Padalani came along with his younger 
brother, Atama, and one other person. We were playing a circle game. 
Padalani said he had tagged Fantan as Fantan tried to escape from the 
circle. Fantan said he hadn't. We began fighting. Padalani and I were 
very angry. We fought with cassava stalks and he hit me on the head. 
Then I took a peastalk and hit his head. Padalani picked up a stone and 
threw it at me. It hit my head and blood streamed down, so I went to 
Manikalieta, the former chief of Dikimpe. We all sat down on the 
ground in front of him [as is customary in litigation]. He fined Pada- 
lani twenty-five cents. He paid for his fault. Then the chief said, "An- 
other time are you going to fight or not?" I said we wouldn't fight any 
more. The chief asked, "Are you going to act like father and child?" 
and I said we were. Then he asked Padalani the same things. We prom- 
ised not to exchange blows any more and if we fought to fight only 
with words. The chief then told us to go. 

When we went away, Padalani called me and said, "I've made you 
bleed, so we had better be friends." He gave me a chicken and fifteen 
cents. Later when Padalani fed his Rui Nai [a form of sacred hearth], 
Igave him a pig to sacrifice. Then he set food out for me. He didn't 
speak but just looked at the food, and I knew it was for me. I took it 
and ate it. When the Yetok feast was given [customary time for ex- 
changing food gifts], he gave me young corn, fish, coconuts, and rats. 
I gave him meat my father had, and rats and coconuts too. 

Once Padalani called me to go hunt rats on a level place. Padalani 
got seven. We went to make a playhouse and built a fire. We set out 
flat stones and fed them, calling on our ancestors to come eat. There 
was a scorpion in the stones and it bit my thumb. I cried. Padalani 
told me to hold out my thumb and he would urinate on it. He opened 
his loincloth and urinated on my finger to cure it. [Interpreter and in- 
formant giggle a bit at this point.] 

The next day Padalani called me again to come to the field house. 
We got a rat and I cut a banana stalk to eat. While we were cooking, 
three men Lakafani, Fankalieta, and Maleta came into the house. 
The house was weak and collapsed when the three men entered. I fell 

236 The People of Alor 

and cut my eyebrow on a stone. Padalani carried me back to my village. 
Father doctored my eye. My wound healed, but father said, "You two 
are always playing together and getting hurt. You had better not play 
together any more." After that Padalani went to Kalabahi. He would 
stay there two or three weeks and then he would come back here. At 
the end of three trips back here he had five rupiahs, which he hid in the 
thatch. He was very sick because he stole people's bananas in Kalabahi, 
and he died. [Question.] The bananas were protected by a curse. 
[Question.] He wasn't sick long. [Question.] I was the older of the two. 
I was maybe sixteen or so. He was about fourteen. 

February 2, 1939 

When I was about twelve or thirteen, I and Alof e slept together in 
the field house where Lanwala's mother was living. I and Alofe said, 
"In the village there are many squash. Let's take them." So that night 
we went to the village and took some. I took three and Alofe took 
three. As we went home with them, one fell and rolled down the slope. 
We didn't go after it but just brought back the remaining five. We split 
one open and boiled it that night. The next morning we cooked an- 
other one. We hadn't eaten it yet and we put it in a dish covered with 
a coconut shell. These squash belonged to Senlaka. He discovered that 
six of his squash were gone. He followed our footsteps and on the way 
found the squash we had dropped. He picked it up and followed our 
trail. He came to our field house, parted the thatch, and looked in on 
me and Alofe. We were playing at gong beating with split bamboo and 
didn't hear him. Then Senlaka came in and sat down, saying, "Children, 
when you have cooked, we shall eat." But Alofe said, "I'm no wife of 
yours to cook for you." [A very impudent reply to an older man.] 
Senlaka looked in the pot and saw cooked and raw squash. He asked, 
"Where did you get this squash?" We said, "We got them yesterday 
when we were hunting rats." Senlaka said, "No, you took mine last 
night. I found your trail and the squash you dropped. You took mine." 
Then he drew his knife and stuck it in Alofe's chest. He wanted to stab 
me too, but I cried, so he didn't. Then Senlaka ordered us to come up 
to the village with the squash. He made us sit under a bench around 
which he built a fence. He put a pig in the pen with us. We stayed 
there together from early morning until late at night. Then Senlaka 
said we could come up and sleep on the verandah. He said he would 
judge our case the next morning. The next morning Senlaka wanted to 
give Alofe five lashes. But Alofe was still small, so his older brother, 
Atapada, stood up in his place because he didn't want his younger 

Rilpada the Seer 237 

brother to get hit. Atapada got five lashes. Then Senlaka wanted to hit 
me, but Alurkomau came and stood up for me. [Question revealed that 
he did not know the exact relationship of Alurkomau, only that he was 
of the same lineage and that he called him younger uncle. Rilpada 
was very vague about all his kinship ties because his father had been 
adopted into the Maughieta lineage.] So Senlaka struck Alurkomau five 
times. Then Senlaka said, "Next time you can steal from other people 
but not from me. I am your grandfather [classificatory]. You can take 
my greens, but if you are hungry and want anything else, ask me first 
and I'll give it to you. To come at* night and take things is stealing. For 
this I punished you." 

Once when I was about sixteen or seventeen, many of the young 
girls from Dikimpe had a field house in which they were sleeping to- 
gether. They spoke to the young men, saying, "You men go hunt rats 
and we will cook bean cones. We will play tanat [the name for children's 
mock feasts] ." So we went to hunt rats and the girls cooked bean cones. 
We were hunting below Old Dikimpe when a green snake bit the back of 
my neck. I felt dizzy and fell down. Blood came out of my nose. Lakamau 
carried me to the village. The others all ate the rats and bean cones while 
I slept in the house. The girls brought me three coconut dishes of raw 

When I was still small, maybe ten years old, many girls were danc- 
ing and playing at Fuhieng. The boys all went there to join them. The 
girls said, "Make a dance place." So we all leveled off the ground to 
make a dance place. The girls said, "Now we must dance for a human 
head and today we shall pay for it." So we took a dry banana stalk, 
made a bundle of it, and said it was a human head. We switched it back 
and forth and the boys and girls all danced challenge and beat it with 
sticks. Then the girls said, "That is taboo, so go throw it away." So 
we shouted defiance [mahoina] and threw the [mock] head away into 
the ravine. When we came back the girls said, "Now we shall feed the 
sellers." They cooked and used banana leaves as serving plates. We ate 
and then we gave a dance. We danced almost all night. Mariifani, who 
was chief, came with a switch and drove us away because we were 
making so much noise he could not hear the case he was judging. He 
tried to hit us but we all ran away. He set fire to our playhouse. We all 
went to our own houses to sleep. 

I was about six or seven when Manikalieta fed his wealth-bringing 
spirit [nera]. I wanted to go to my garden, which adjoined his. Mani- 
kalieta asked me to come eat with him. He said his guests were near. 

238 The People of Alor 

I and Fanmani went to eat there. Manikalieta smeared [i.e., sacrificed 
to] his nera carving. Then he went back to the village. Fanmani said 
to me, "Elder brother, let us go fetch the rice that Manikalieta left 
on his nera altar and go feed a stone so we shall be lucky in hunting 
rats." Fanmani went up first. I said, "This isn't right; we have already 
eaten rice and goat for the feast." But Fanmani said, "No, come on." We 
went to Fuhieng with the rice and smeared it on a big stone there, 
saying, "If yoy are really a person, give us luck in hunting rats." After 
that we went to hunt for them. But we didn't do it right. We only 
knocked down a small stone pile and shot lizards. We made believe they 
were rats. Just then Fankalieta came along. He was angry with us for 
what we had done. He said, "You are like witches who eat snakes." 
[Lizards and snakes are one category.] He chased us and hit us. I ran 
up and Fanmani ran down the hill. He caught Fanmani and hit him, 
but he did not catch me. [Fankalieta was Fanmani's paternal grand- 
father.] When I went home father had already heard what we had 
done. He 'asked why we had taken that rice and smeared a stone that 
didn't have a name [i.e., was not sacred]. He hit me with a rattan 

February ), i$}$ 

Once when I was about sixteen or seventeen, I went to Puorkaivi to 
get some areca. I took Fanlaka's, so he chased me and hit me. I wasn't 
wounded but I cried and cried all the way back to Dikimpe, where I 
went to call my friends. I said the people at Atimelang had hit me, and 
we had getter go wage war on the Atimelang boys. So all the Dikimpe 
boys gathered. We met the Atimelang boys at the ravine. They all had 
shields made of bamboo. We met and fought. There were a lot of 
Atimelang people, so we all went back to Dikimpe to get four more 
supporters. Then we came back and fought some more. We chased the 
Atimelang people to Haminberka. I came and saw Fanlaka, who had 
struck me. I grabbed him and we tumbled together down into the ra- 
vine. Fanlaka's face was wounded by a stone on which he fell, and I hit 
my elbow on one too. Then my father came along and said we must 
not fight, because we were related; we were father and son to each 
other. Father hit me and Fanlaka for fighting. That evening Fanlaka 
called to me and said, "Since we have fought we had better make up, 
so come to my garden and hunt rats." We went to his garden and each 
of us caught a rat. We broke off young corn and roasted it and the 
rats. We said we had better exchange rats as a token of friendship. We 
were in the field house of Padakalieta of Atimelang and he sat between 

Rilpada the Seer 239 

us. He said, "No, I sit between the two of you; you pass things to me 
and I will be your dog. I will share your food and after that you won't 
fight any more." He sat between us and got both the hindquarters. We 
ate only the forequarters. 

Once all the children gathered together to hunt mice in Alurkaseni's 
house. We got twelve of them. We tied their legs together like those of 
pigs and said we had twelve wild pigs. We went to Fuhieng and 
shouted challenge [mahoina]. There we built a hunting camp. We put 
our "pigs" on a bench and dug sweet potatoes. We made believe the 
potatoes were rice baskets. We roasted the mice and divided them up 
as men do when hunting wild pigs; each killer got the haunches. We 
ate and started home. On the edge of camp we shouted challenge 
twelve times [once for each mouse, as men do for pigs]. Manikalieta, 
former chief of Dikimpe, came running with a club and chased us. 
[Why? ] Because we had made so much noise he thought we were real 
hunters returning. 

[For the first time Rilpada seemed at a loss. What was his first mem- 
ory of his younger brother, Senmani?] 

Once when I was still small, Senmani got twelve boils, one after the 
other, on his buttocks. Seven were still unhealed. His buttocks were 
one large sore. Mother gave him the breast but he wouldn't drink. He 
wouldn't eat any other food either. Mother cried and said we had 
better feed her Male House's sacred hearth [maniara] in Atimelang. I 
carried all the things and mother carried Senmani. We fed the hearth 
but Senmani did not get well. So father divined, and this time he dis- 
covered that the cause was a pair of carabao horns that had been stolen 
from him at the time the village burned. Father bought another pair 
in Kewai and made a sacred hearth for them. We fed it a pig and a 
chicken. The rice and meat we brought back from the feast we gave 
Senmani, and he ate them. It was the first he had eaten in a long time. 
Then in a little while his boils began to discharge and he got well. 
Father said, "If we had remembered those horns the first time, he would 
have been well long ago. If we had forgotten them altogether, he 
would have died." 

When Senmani's boils were better, I was a little less than twelve and 
staying in Atimelang [where the family had gone to make sacrifices for 
Senmani]. There I got a headache. Senmani's boils were already well. 
Mother and father took me back to Dikimpe. My head was a little bet- 
ter. Mother said, "I am going down to the river to fetch water and wild 
beans. I'll give Senmani to Marailani to mind." Mother didn't return 

The People of Alor 

and I was alone in the house when I heard a noise in the thatch. I looked 
and there was a bird flying down in front of the privy doorway. In a 
little while it flew up in front of the entrance doorway. It was either a 
sisak or a tintopa [both birds favored by seers as familiars]. I thought, 
"What is this? Maybe people are surrounding the house and want to 
kill me or steal me. What shall I hit them with?" I saw father's sword 
and fetched it. I went to the privy doorway and stuck my head out 
through the thatch. I thought I would escape that way, but I saw a 
large stone under the house. I was afraid I would hit my head on it if I 
went out that way. So I pulled my head back in and went down by the 
house ladder onto the verandah. Then I noticed a sheep father had just 
bought, running up and down. I saw that many flies were coming out 
of its anus. These flies collected and all swarmed up my anus. Other 
people could not have seen them, but I did. Then in a little while I saw 
a large cluster of spiders coming out of the sheep's mouth. They all 
came and entered my mouth. I cried and cried. I said, "I am dead. Flies 
entered my anus and spiders my mouth." Then Kolkari came down 
from her house and sat with me. She said I was sick. She asked why I 
was holding my father's sword. I just grunted. Then I thought, "Whom 
do I want to kill? Kolkari or Falanata [an old woman]?" I took the 
sword and went to Falanata where she was beating bark cloth. Falanata 
asked what was the matter with me. I said there were many enemies 
who wanted to kill me. Falanata asked where, and she hit the walls with 
her rice pestle. She said I had better give her the sword so she could 
kill them. I gave her the sword and she hid it. Falanata had hung up her 
bark loincloth on the wall. I looked at it and it was a snake. I saw the 
snake come down the house ladder onto the verandah. It came near me, 
crawled up my leg, and bit my penis. I yelled, "Oh, the snake has bitten 
my penis." I cried hard. Many people came to see me. Fankalieta said, 
"Did this boy stick his hand in a hole or climb up on a stone pile, that a 
snake bit him?" He didn't know that I was sick. I sat in Falanata's house 
crying. Then Fankalieta carried me to his house. People called my 
mother and father. While I was in Fankalieta's house, I saw all the 
mountains sway as though there were an earthquake. I sat swaying too. 
Then father came with two chickens, saying it was Manikalieta's sacred 
hearth [wa ara] that was making me sick. He swept off my whole body 
with the chickens and gave them to Manikalieta to feed to his hearth. 
When it was fed, I was cured. I wasn't really sick. I was just crazy and 
seeing things wrong. When one hallucinates like this, it is a sign that 
the sacred-hearth spirits are after you. 

Rilpada the Seer 241 

February ^ 1939 

I was still small and could only walk a little. I was trying to climb 
the ladder up into the house. I was standing on the second step when I 
fell and hit my head on the corn-pounding stone and got a large wound. 
It didn't heal but got bigger and bigger. [He had just been watching 
me dress scalp wounds on children.] Then father divined, and the divi- 
nation revealed that the areca altar and a dead person would have to be 
placated. A dead person had grabbed me as I was trying to go up the 
ladder and that is why I fell. Father fed the dead person two chickens 
and fed the areca altar a chicken and a pig. Father put the rice and 
blood in my hand and held my hand to help me smear the altar myself. 
That night when I went to sleep, I defecated in my loincloth. [It is not 
customary for toddlers to wear loincloths. I asked about it and he 
changed the story, saying he was about twelve. I suspected this anec- 
dote was a fantasy in which he assumed the role of the children he had 
just seen doctored. This was the sort of thing he did often in his dream 
accounts.] So they divined again. [When a person who has learned 
toilet habits soils himself, it is considered a sign that he is ill and that 
his soul has left him.] This time they discovered they hadn't yet made 
the Bayorka feast for my paternal grandmother. Father then gave one 
of her death feasts, but he died before he made her Bayorka feast. I 
got well. 

[He asked if I wanted the story of how he lost his eye.] People were 
working in Likuwatang making the new trail. We were moving stones 
when a soldier came and hit me across the neck with a thorny branch. 
Mauglani, Padamani, Djetlang, and I ran away, following the Limbur 
ravine. On the way we looked for kanari nuts. At Kelawat-Lanmakani 
were two sacred pools and a large stone under which it was dry. We 
leveled the sand under the stone, made a fire, and roasted cassava to eat 
with the nuts. Then we tied bamboo twigs into a torch and with them 
hunted eels. I shot a large one and we came back, cooked it, and ate it 
with five or six ears of corn we had. I was just going to sleep that 
night when I heard a loud noise of bells. My soul vanished. I saw an old 
man coming down. He said, "Who told you to sleep here?" I said, 
"Grandfather, we were working on the new trail and the soldiers hit 
me, so we ran away and came here to sleep on the edge of your house- 
site." I saw him take out his lime but I didn't see him sprinkle it on my 
eye. When we woke we found that water was pouring down into our 
sleeping place, so we moved farther up the bank and sat there until 
dawn. I said to the three men, "My three friends, last night I dreamed 

z+2 The People of Alor 

and now I see double." I told them my dream and said we had better go 
straight back to the village. We had been back five days when I was 
sick. My eye protruded and I couldn't see any more with it. I said, 
"I had better shove this eye out completely and be rid of it." But I 
couldn't get it out. So I tied a strip of cloth over it. Then one evening 
about sunset I lost consciousness and was dead until dawn. I revived to 
hear Manifani, the former chief of Dikimpe, say, "Have you got his 
shroud yet?" Then I reached down and found they had taken off my 
loincloth [customary when preparing a body for burial]. I scratched 
Mangma, who was sitting next to me, and asked what had become of 
my loincloth. He said I had died and they had taken it off. I said to 
give it back. He did and I put it on. Mangma told the people I had re- 
vived. When I was dead, they told Malelaka, who was expecting a 
Good Being [nala kang] at that time [ 1929]. But Malelaka said to bury 
me, not to bring me near his place. While I was dead, Manifani had 
flexed my legs for burial and had broken one at the knee. After I re- 
vived, mother cooked rice gruel for me three times a day. I ate until 
my body became fat, and I began to remember pounded corn. Then 
she cooked me com and my body became strong. One night I dreamed 
that Malelaka came to me and called, "Rilpada, come to see me before 
I go to jail." I said, "Manifani broke my leg and I can't walk." I crawled 
to the doorway. I said to Malelaka, "Come up on my verandah." He 
came and said, "Come down." I answered that I couldn't. So Malelaka 
took a shawl, threw an end over either shoulder, and held the center 
across h*s extended arms. He told me to come down, to lower my head, 
and fall into his arms. I did. Malelaka put me down on the verandah and 
said, "I see your body is strong." He said it three times, and then I 
asked, "Why is my body strong? Why do you say this?" Then Male- 
laka said, "Now I am going to jail. You are not yet married, but you 
will be rich and give many feasts." Malelaka said in the dream, "You 
will buy a young woman with a Makassar moko, but that Makassar 
moko will go like the wind." Later I did indeed have a young woman 
and a Makassar moko, but her brothers gave me a pig for which I 
couldn't pay. My male children [male kin of descending generation] 
paid for it, and my moko went to them. Then in the dream Malelaka 
said, "The young wife will stay with you, but an older woman will 
come and disparage her. She will enter your heart and turn it. You 
will divorce your younger wife and marry the older one. After a long 
time, when you are older, you will buy another young woman." 
Then in truth after that dream Malelaka went to jail; my father died 

Rilpada the Seer 243 

and people gave me many pigs, gongs, and mokos. I had to ask only 
once for them. I was not married, but still I gave the death feasts. Then 
I bought a young woman [Fungalani]. We separated before long. Lon- 
seni [his present wife, much older than he] came and turned me from 
her. Fungalani's brothers gave me a pig as a dowry payment and Lang- 
mani paid for it, so that he got the Makassar moko I had for a bride- 
price. I married Lonseni. 

[Age when he lost his eye and broke his leg?] I was about twenty- 
six. [How long was he married to Fungalani?] About two months only. 
[Question.] I had not yet had intercourse with her when I divorced 
her. [How long between illness and marriage?] One year. [So he was 
about twenty-seven when he married for the first time. Immediately 
after separating from his first wife, he married Lonseni. He has had no 

February j 

[Note his avoidance of sibling relationships. Also note his emphasis 
on catastrophes and difficulties.] 

Once I, Manikari, and Fanlaka went to hunt rats. We found a good 
hole. Manikari dug. I stood guard at the other outlet. Manikari didn't 
follow the hole. He stopped up one end and started digging in the 
middle. We found another runway and he closed up one outlet and 
began digging at the other end. I asked why he didn't dig right straight 
along, since I was guarding the outlet. I said it looked as though he 
were hunting rats alone and expected to get them all himself. Then I 
put my hand down right where he was digging and he drove his digging 
stick doyvn on it; it went right through my hand. I took a cassava stalk 
and hit him. I was angry. Just then my father came along and dragged 
Manikari to the mandur of Dikimpe. We sat litigating until almost 
dawn, but Manikari wouldn't pay his debt. So we went to Kapitan 
Jacob, who was only a chief then. He punished all three of us by pour- 
ing water on us. Kapitan Jacob's family-in-law from Fungwati were 
there on a visit, and they chewed up kanari nuts and spat them on us so 
the ants would come and bite us, but Jacob told them not to spit on me 
because my fault was less. Still Manikari wouldn't pay a fine, so Jacob 
hit Fanlaka and Manikari with a rattan switch, two strokes each. He or- 
dered us not to play together any more. He said if he saw us three 
together again he would beat all three of u. Then we all went home. 

Two days later Manikari, Fanlaka, Maniseni, and I went together to 
Alurkomale's garden. There were many beans and we stole some. Just 

244 The People of Alor 

as we were going, Alurkomale came and chased us with a stick. I fell in 
the ravine and Alurkomale caught me by the hair. Then he let me go 
and said, "Go eat your beans. Tomorrow I'll come and settle this." 
That night we didn't go back to the village. We went to a field house, 
made a fire, and slept there. We didn't eat the beans. We had thrown 
them away. Early the next morning we heard people coming down 
from Padalehi beating gongs [the proce3ure when people are very 
indignant over a big theft]. We four ran and hid at Tungpe. The 
people went on to our village. Our parents called us to come, so we 
went. Our parents talked strongly. They said they would pay Alurko- 
male with beans, but he demanded four pigs. Our elders were angry 
and said we hadn't stolen pigs, we had taken beans. They would pay 
only in beans. Alurkomale said if they could put the beans back on the 
vine he would accept beans. So our parents decided to pay. I had to 
pay a red cloth and three cents, Manikari paid one cent and five arrows, 
Maniseni paid five cents and one arrow, and Fanmani paid six cents and a 
red headcloth. 

[Earliest memories? ] The first thing I can remember, before I could 
walk, was that father hung out his gongs, made his areca altar, and fed 
it a pig and a goat. Mother made a very small rice cone and put it on a 
serving dish. I grabbed it and spoiled it. I don't remember their divid- 
ing up the food with people. [What did mother do when he spoiled 
the rice cone? ] She told me not to do that and gave me a coconut-shell 
dish with rice that was left in the pot. 

[What is the second thing he remembered?] People were making 
a garden near Ayakingliking. I was still crawling at this time. When the 
time came to harvest the rice, mother carried me there. Mother cut 
and split bamboo to weave a basket. She put the bamboo to one side. 
I wound a strip of it around my neck, wounding my hand and cutting 
my neck in two places. [People were very afraid of bamboo cuts.] 
An old woman from Bakudatang, called Kawangmai, came. She had a 
knife in her hand. She saw I had cut my hand and said, "Oh, you have 
cut your hand; I guess I had better cut it off." She acted as though 
she were going to cut off my hands. I still remember that. [This sort 
of threat play was commoh with children.] 

When I was just beginning to walk, my grandmother Tilapada died. 
I sat next to her body, which was already covered with a shroud. I 
lifted up the shroud and looked at her. My mother was angry and took 
me away and hit my head. [Question.] Maybe I was afraid. I thought 
she was still alive. I didn't know she was dead. At that time my father 

Rilpada the Seer 245 

hung gongs to beat. I hit them with a stick, not a regular drumstick. 
I hit them hard and father was angry. He struck me with the end of 
a rope. Then when father roasted a goat he gave me its heart. I still 
remember that. 

When I was about six or seven, Fanlani and I went to a ravine. We 
said, "Let's go up and down this ravine by jumps." We were going 
down in jumps when Lakamau came and said, "Just go on jumping." 
I gave three more jumps and was near Lakamau [a man]. As I crouched 
to jump again, he shoved me in the back and I fell, wounding my head. 
He picked me up and carried me home. He lied to mother, saying that 
I had been jumping and had fallen and hurt my head, so he brought 
me home. Then mother heated some water and bathed my head. [Did 
you tell your mother the truth?] No, because when Lakamau was 
carrying me home he said, "Now, I'm taking you home. If you tell 
your mother that I pushed you, I'll beat you the next time I find you 
alone in the gardens." I was afraid to tell and didn't. 

When I was about twelve or thirteen, we had a swing. We played 
there every day. One day we went but didn't notice that someone had 
cut the rope almost in two. We swung once and it didn't break. I 
climbed on with Fanlaka and Ataleti. Lanwala gave us a long swing. 
On the second swing the rope broke and we fell. I fell on Fanlaka and 
was not very much hurt. Fanlaka, though, just lay there dead. Lanwala 
ran toward the village, yelling that we were both dead, and everyone 
came running. Maleta rubbed red pepper on Fanlaka's teeth and he 
came to slowly. They carried us to the village. Tilamau cooked rice 
and fed us. That evening I was well and could play. I just had the wind 
knocked out of me. But Fanlaka slept two days and his body was all 
swollen. [Who cut the rope? ] I don't know. But after we had fallen, 
the older people saw it had been cut part-way through. [Who would 
want to do that to children?] We played there all the time and the 
older people scolded us. They told us to go away, but we would run 
off and then come right back again. I don't think the older people did 
it; maybe it was our elder siblings or our friends. [Why did older 
people chase you away? ] They were discussing gongs and mokos, and 
we made so much noise they couldn't hear. They used to chase us and 
we would run, but come right back again. 

February 7, 1939 

When I was about sixteen or seventeen, Lakafani and his older 
brother, Langmani, were sleeping at Fuhieng in a field house. Alofe, I, 

246 The People of Alor 

AJofe deceased, Kafolamau, all 'of us, slept there too. One night Laka- 
mau stole Manimale's pig. He brought it back and said, "Let's roast it." 
But Lakafani and Langmani said, "No, let's raise it." So Langmani made 
a pen off in a stone pile and putLthe pig in it. The next day Manimale 
followed Lakamau's tracks, and when he came he said they had stolen 
it. He went to Kapitan Jacob to litigate. All seven of us were called 
to the kapitan. He didn't say anything to us but put us all in a pigpen 
with a pig. Then after a while he began questioning us. All the older 
ones denied knowing anything about it, but Alofe and I said, "Perhaps 
an older person took it, but we don't know." Then it came out who 
had stolen it. Langmani paid his younger brother's fault with a pig and 
a sword. He had to give back the stolen pig too. 

[Pleasant memories? ] When I was about sixteen or seventeen, I was 
working in my garden at Fuhieng next to Falanata's. She had collected 
cassava stalks and wanted to build a house. I asked what she was doing. 
She told me and I said they were not good for a house. So Falanata 
said I should come and make it for her. I said, "Today I am working 
but tomorrow I'll come and build you a house." Then Falanata said, 
"If you don't come and help me, the evil spirit of Fuhieng will carry 
you off." [This conversation represented an invitation to marriage, the 
curse a protestation of fondness.] So the next day I began building the 
house for her, using six posts. She picked corn and cooked it for me. 
I finished the house that day and then she said I had to build the ve- 
randah. So I did. Falanata and a younger kinswoman lived there to- 
gether. I wanted to go back home. I said, "Our gardens have one 
boundary and you must chase birds away from both." She said, "Yes, 
we have one garden above the wall and one below, and I shall guard 
both." [All this represented very romantic behavior on the part of 
both.] Then she said, "Since you have made my house, we had better 
marry. My mother and father said you are good friends with my 
brother Manimau, and that you have already exchanged gifts with 
him. You two had better go on being friends [and brothers-in-law, is 
the implication]. My father said that when your father gets gongs, he 
should bring them to our house [i.e., pay a bride-price]." About this 
time father went to Kafe and got a Tamamia moko. I went to our 
house after everyone was asleep and scattered ashes on their legs so 
they would not awake [a common device, supposed to be used by 
thieves]. I took the moko but I went to the house I had built for Fal- 
anata, not to her father's. When I got there, Falanata was sitting up 
watching our two fields. She said, "Do you remember our words and 

Rilpada the Seer 247 

arc you bringing a moko for my father?" I said, "I am going to hide 
this moko for your bride-price, but say nothing to anyone about it. 
My father always gives the mokos he gets to other people." I buried 
the moko in my garden. The next day father asked who had stolen his 
moko. I said that I had. "I am grown, but you don't think of buying 
a wife for me, so I took it and hid it." Then father said, "Manetati 
people are going to give me a Yekasing [i5-rupiah moko] and a Hawa- 
taka [lo-rupiah moko] if I pay them one Tamamia more. So go get the 
Tamamia and when I get the two large mokos, I'll give them to you." 
I said, "I'd better keep that Tamamia. When you get the Yekasing and 
Hawataka, then I'll give you the Tamamia." So father went to Mane- 
tati and got the two large mokos. When he brought them home, I got 
the Tamamia for him. But at this time another man gave Falanata's 
father a Yekasing. Our promise to each other did not come true. [He 
stopped. Why did you not protest? ] She, her mother, and her brother 
wanted me to marry her, but her father wanted her to marry this other 
man, Karseni. [He had difficulty remembering the name.] Her father 
kept insisting, so she married Karseni. [Question.] She later divorced 
him, married another man, and divorced him. Now she is married to 
Simon. [Had he slept with her? He denied that he had.] 

My father gave a dance for a dead man. Tilaseni attended it. She 
hadn't yet spoken to me. That night we danced, but not near each 
other. The next morning I was sleeping on the verandah and she came 
and looked through my areca basket, took areca, and spat the juice on 
both my cheeks. I stiU slept. Then she went home and slept on her 
verandah. I awoke and saw that my face was all red. I asked the chil- 
dren playing there what had happened, and they said they had seen 
Tilaseni come and search my areca basket, but they had not seen her 
spit areca juice on me. Then I set out to hunt rats. I passed her house 
and saw her sleeping, so I chewed some areca and spat juice on both 
her ears. Then Manikari and I went hunting. On our way home we 
met Tilaseni going for water. She called, "Who put areca juice on 
my ears? I have brushed it off and tomorrow I am going to burn it 
with a leprosy curse." I said, "I too was asleep and someone put red 
on my mouth and cheeks. Tomorrow I am going to old Falanata and 
have her make a kanari nut curse." Then she said, "Oh, I was the one 
who spat on you and you were the one who spat on me. That makes 
us even. We had better not bring down curses on each other." Then 
I went on home. That evening I wanted to go to a field house where 
Fungata, Kolmani, and Maliemai [three slightly older kinswomen] 

248 The People of Alor 

were living. I wanted to go there to sleep. There were four of us men: 
Manikari, Fanmani, Maniseni, and I. We all played at dancing there. 
Tilaseni came to join us. She spoke to Maliemai and said, "Tell your 
younger brother that if he wants to marry me he can." Then Maliemai 
called me to come into the house. Maniseni said they had better all 
come in, but Maliemai said, "No, just Rilpada. The rest of you wait 
until I am through cooking." So Maliemai told me what Tilaseni had 
said. I answered, "Oh, this morning she spat areca juice on my face. 
We had better marry. I am willing." Then one night there was a dance 
for the village guardian spirit [ulenai] given by Manikalieta. We all 
went. Tilaseni brought areca and betel to give me. I remembered that 
if a young man eats the areca a girl gives him, he breaks out with a 
rash, so I just put it in the bottom of my basket to give my father. 
[Exceedingly proper and conventional behavior.] At dawn I gave 
father the areca she had given me. [Question.] We didn't dance to- 
gether.- 1 told father that Tilaseni had given me the areca and if he was 
willing we could marry. Father said, "If you are happy with her, so 
am I. She is a good woman." At that time father wanted to feed his 
areca altar. He sent a child to tell Tilaseni's older brother to give him 
a pig. So they sent Tilaseni with a small pig, half a can of rice, and a 
bundle of corn. Father promised he would pay the bride-price in seven 
days and Tilaseni stayed in our house. In five days she came to sleep 
at my place, but just that night her uncle Fankalieta had called me to 
bring betel and areca, and we sat talking until the middle of the night. 
I went home to my place and saw that someone was sleeping on my 
mat. I felt the legs and felt two anklets. I thought, "This can't be my 
sister because she has only one anklet." I felt her calf. I ran my hand 
up her thighs, up her waist, to her breasts. I sat then and worried. I 
wanted to. It is customary here to wait seven days, but she came and 
wanted to sleep with me. I was ashamed. I crawled out, let down the 
ladder, and went out on the verandah, leaving her sleeping there. I 
slipped the ladder back up into the hallway and went to the chiefs 
house to sleep. The next day when I came home father was angry with 
me. He said, "You are afraid of women. You didn't sleep with her. 
You aren't your age. By and by you will die. You will be poisoned." 
I said, "All right, I could have slept with her, but you older people 
are always saying that one has to wait seven days until the bride-price 
is paid, and I was just remembering your words." In two days we paid 
her bride-price. I didn't sleep with her the night we paid the bride- 
price. I ran away and slept in another house. So the next day she went 
to Kalabahi for two days. On the way back she met her older sister, 

Rilpada the Seer 249 

who had married a man from another village and was living there. Her 
older sister, Marailani, said, "I am your older sister, yet I haven't been 
told of your marriage. I must be consulted when you marry. Now you 
can't return to your village. You must visit me." So Tilaseni stayed 
with Marailani for seven days. When she came back I was angry and 
hit her. I told her we weren't married and she could not stay at my 
house. So she walked right on and stayed with her older brothers. They 
said she would have to come sleep with me that night because they had 
no mokos to pay back the bride-price they had given. They gave her 
two bundles of corn to carry to us. But I didn't want her and told 
her not to stay. Then Maniseni, her older brother, spoke nicely to me 
and said, "I know your house is empty but we are one village and 
my eyes are watching you." [This means that the brother would not 
dun him for the rest of the bride-price.] But I went off to stay in 
another house. Then Tilaseni got sick. Her nose kept bleeding and 
blood came from her mouth. People said she had been poisoned in the 
village where her sister lived. Father fed her rice and gruel but she 
would eat nothing. Her head was limp on her neck. She couldn't hold 
it up. Maniseni came and carried her to his house. There she died. Then 
Senfani asked who had bought her and I said I had, but that I was to 
get my money back because I hadn't yet slept with her. They buried 
her that day and I took back my mokos. Manikalieta said I had to cut the 
rattan [to sever the soul of the dead from the living spouse]. He said, 
"I see this woman was not afraid of men and you have surely slept with 
her." I said we had not slept together, that I would not cut the rattan, 
and that I would even eat of the feast food [which no person close 
to the dead should do]. So I didn't cut the rattan, and that night when 
they distributed the food for the death feast they brought me some, 
but I was a little ashamed to eat it. [All this was told very unemotion- 
ally. I asked if he felt bad at her death, and he grunted in a way that 
may have meant yes.] 

February 8, 

[I asked yesterday that today he tell events connected with his 
younger brother, Senmani.] 

At the time I wanted to marry Tilaseni I went with her older 
brother, Maniseni, to the garden and we roasted cassava. Before mine 
were fully done, Maniseni took them. When his were done he wanted 
to give me part of them. He put a very hot one in my hand and then 
held my hand closed over it, so it burned me. I tried to get away but 
couldn't, so I bit his arm. His arm hurt, so he bent over with his head 

250 The People of Alor 

between my legs and brought it up sharply into my crotch, knocking 
me over. Then I grabbed his penis through his loincloth and pulled it. 
He yelled and yelled. I took a club and hit his head. He took one too 
and beat my head and shoulders. I got an arrow and aimed at his ear, 
but it only grazed the back of his neck. Then Simon came along and 
said, "You are only fighting in fun. Let's play horse." He got a bamboo 
and sat astride it, and Maniseni and I carried it on our shoulders. We 
ran back and forth with him. Finally Simon fell off and I fell too. 
Simon's face was wounded. Alurkoma came and said, "Simon doesn't 
know how. I'd better ride." So he rode the bamboo. Maniseni took 
withes and tied his legs together under the bamboo. Meanwhile Simon 
went back, and the old chief, Manifani, heard what we were doing. 
He came running with a rattan switch. We dropped Alurkoma and 
ran. Alurkoma lay there yelling. He was tied to the bamboo and 
couldn't move. [This tale was told dryly by Rilpada, but it kept the 
interpreter doubled up with laughter.] 

We ran to Fuhieng, where we always played. Maugfani, the elder 
brother of Kapitan Jacob, came down there yelling, because his 
familiar spirit had risen in him. He came talking and yelling as though 
he were a woman. He said, "Eh, you are all my husbands, all my men." 
We saw him take a piece of banana bark, hollow it out like a woman's 
genitals, and then stick it on his penis. He came toward us, saying, 
"This is my vagina, this is my vagina. Come sleep with me, come sleep 
with me." He ran after all of us. Lakafani was working in the field at 
this time. He fought with Maugfani. The people from the upper end 
of the village came to Maugfani's support and those from the lower 
end came to Lakafani's support. There were about five on each side. 
Then Andereas and Alofe fought together and the side of Alofe's face 
was wounded. Everyone fought together. That night there was a dance 
in the village. The next morning Senpada and Lakaseni still remembered 
the fight of the preceding day. When the dance was over and the men 
were doing the challenge dance [fcak], Senpada slashed at Lakaseni 
with his sword and struck his wrist. The older people all lectured us 
about fighting. They said that when we fought we involved them, and 
that it was as though we were waging war on them. 

[I reminded him of stories about his younger brother.] Once I 
was fighting over an arrow with Senmani of Alurkowati [not his 
brother]. We wrestled and Senmani, who was stronger, threw me 
down and lay on me. Then my younger brother came and grabbed 
the penis of Senmani of Alurkowati and pulled it hard. Senmani of 
Alurkowati yelled and got off me. Then my brother ran away. I 

Rilpada the Seer 2 5 1 

jumped up too and ran. I was afraid that Senmani of Alurkowati 
would beat me for what my brother had done. My brother was about 
twelve then and I was eighteen or nineteen. At that time Fanleti of 
Folafeng and I were friends. We were born the same day. [Always 
considered cause for a special bond.] If I hadn't been sick and got a 
bad eye and leg, my body would have grown big and strong. [Note 
this preoccupation with his physique. Actually this quarrel that led 
up to the remark occurred before he was crippled.] 

[I asked whether he took care of his younger brother when he was 
small.] Once mother and I went to the garden; there was a large field 
house and we lived there. One day she told me to carry Senmani while 
she worked. At noon he was hungry and wanted to nurse. I gave him 
food, but he only vomited it. He cried and cried and wouldn't stop. 
I cried too. Finally I went and told mother to nurse him, but she 
wouldn't come. So I took Senmani in the house and laid him down on 
a mat and ran off to Folafeng. From there I shouted, "Mother, your 
child sleeps in the house. If you want to care for it, good; if you don't 
want to, also good. I am going to Atimelang and play." I went to the 
house of my maternal grandmother in the former Atimelang. I don't 
know what mother did. Mother called, "All right, you have thrown 
away your younger brother. Tomorrow you will die." That evening 
mother came to Atimelang with Senmani and gave him to my grand- 
father to care for. In the morning she returned and tied my hands be- 
hind my back. She said, "You wear a loincloth but you aren't old 
enough to wear a loincloth." She took my loincloth away from me. 
Then my grandfather split his shawl and gave me half for a loincloth. 
I said to my mother, "You have hit me and you have taken away my 
loincloth. Now I don't want to stay with you." Then mother talked 
nicely to me, but I didn't want to go back. My grandfather said, "You 
hit him and opened his loincloth, so now go cut your weeds with your 
right hand and care for your infant with your left hand. Carry the 
child in front and your water tubes in back." I stayed a month with 
my grandfather, and then mother came back and asked me to go home. 
So I did, and cared for my younger brother. 

February p 

Once Andereas' mother had a child. His mother ordered him to 
care for the child. He didn't want to; he just ran away to play. So she 
called me and asked me to care for it. I went up and minded it. Early 
one morning Alurkoma said that he would mind the baby, and that 
I had better go fetch caterpillars for him [to eat]. I said, "I can get 

252 The People of Alor 

them, but when the caterpillars shake their heads I am afraid and can't 
catch them." Alurkoma said, "If you don't fetch them and come to 
me with them, I'll beat you with my. cane." So I went but .didn't get 
any. I came back to the village. I told Alurkoma that I had hunted 
for them but couldn't get any. Alurkoma said, "Go steal someone's 
chicken and bring it here so I can eat it." I went off as though I were 
going to hunt for one but I just went on to Old Atimelang. I didn't 
come back for two days. [How old?] About sixteen or seventeen. 
[This seemed to be a pattern answer, not to be taken too seriously.] 
When I came back Alurkoma asked why I hadn't brought the chicken. 
I said that I was still young, and if people caught me stealing a 
chicken, they would beat me or cut my throat. 

When I was at Atimelang my grandfather told me to go fetch my 
mother and father because he wanted to feed his ancestral hearth. As 
I went back I met Fanmale, who was looking at the rattraps in his 
garden. He called me and told me to wait. I saw him take his knife, 
which was hanging behind him, and pull it around within reach. I was 
afraid and ran away. He said that if I ran he would chase me and kill 
me. So I waited near Maikalieta's house for him to catch up with 
me. When Fanmale came he asked, "Who are you?" I said, "RUpada." 

"Who is your father?" 


"Your mother?" 


"Have you a younger brother?" 


"His name?" 


"Have you an older brother?" 


"His name?" 

"Melangkai. He often came here, but now he is dead. Perhaps you 
know him?" 

"No, I don't. Who is your grandmother?" 


"From what village did your father buy a wife?" 


"Whose child did he buy?" 


"But I know Tilapada's child. You are not one from here. You are 

Rilpada the Seer 253 

one from Karieta or Alurkowati. Maybe I know your grandmother, 
but I don't know you. You are probably a Karieta boy, so Til cut your 
throat." Then I cried and ran. He followed me. I looked back and saw 
he was still following me. I got as far as Hamintuku when I fell down 
and urinated in my loincloth. I looked at Fanmale. One of his eyes was 
blind. He came near me and said, "Oh,T was just joking with you." 
Then he picked me up and we went on toward Atimelang together. 
On the way Makalaka joined us. There in Atimelang I ran to my 
grandfather's house, went up the ladder, and pulled it up after me. 
Thereafter whenever I saw Fanmale on the trail, I used to hide until 
he had gone past me. [At this point he was blocked, which was un- 
usual in the informant.] 

[I asked about his father.] Before my father was married, he gave a 
moko to the tumukun of Bakudatang. Then when I was about twelve, 
father and I and three other men went there to take the tumukun 
another big moko. When we got there the people were not roasting 
animals or making a feast. They just cooked some rice and old meat 
they had in the house and asked us to come up to eat. Father looked 
at his dish of rice and saw there was a hair in it [a sign of poison]. 
He was angry. He broke the pots and tore up the serving dishes. He 
went outside and seized his weapons. He stood on the dance place, 
shouting, "I've brought a big dowry to you and now you try to poison 
me, but I shan't return empty-handed." They brought out a pig. I was 
afraid and took father's hand. Father said he wanted a moko. So 
they gave him a Piki moko as a fine for their fault. They also brought 
out a pig to roast and told the women to cook other rice so that we 
could eat before we left. They served us on the verandah this time. 
When we finished eating, they added a pig to our moko and we 
brought them both back. [Did they really want to poison his father?] 
No. The women had used a bamboo tube that had some hair stuffed 
in it. Some had fallen into the rice. 

When we went back home, Atakalieta of Folafeng and Letfani were 
giving a death feast [Ato]. Father took a Djawa moko to Atakalieta 
and a Maningmauk moko to Letfani, and a large pig to roast and a 
Piki moko as a free gift [punghe]. We roasted the pig we had brought, 
and father gave me part of the leg and a lot of other pieces to broil 
over the fire. As I was broiling the meat I called my friends to come 
and join me. I took a sliver of bamboo to cut the meat. I cut my finger 
with it, so that it bled; blood fell on the meat. Father picked me up 
and set me on a verandah. When the feast was over, Atakalieta gave 

254 The People of Alor 

father a Kabali moko as a dowry payment, and Fanleti gave a Fatafa 
moko as a dowry payment. 

When I was about sixteen or seventeen, father wanted to buy a 
Luba woman called Kolmanimai. She already had a husband but he 
hadn't yet paid her bride-price. Father went to Luba and just took 
her away. Then her brothers wanted to give a feast, so they came and 
asked father and Kolmanimai to come to Luba. Father said, "Kol- 
manimai's first husband said he would shoot me if I went to Luba, so 
I had better not." But her brothers answered, "Maybe if we weren't 
there he might, but with us there he would not be brave enough to 
try." So father took a pig, a Kabali moko, and a Fatafa moko and we 
went with the two brothers. The woman's husband was there with all 
his weapons. People were saying that he was going to hide on the vil- 
lage boundary as we left and shoot father. People killed a sheep and a 
goat for the feast. We were at one end of the village. Father sat down 
and began to sharpen his sword. He said, "Now lay the goat and sheep 
down, one on top of the other. If I don't slash through both their 
necks at one stroke, perhaps someone will kill me. But if I cut them 
through with one blow, no one will." Then people laid the sheep and 
goat on top of each other. Father jumped up and down off the dance- 
place altar so his enemy would see him and be afraid. Then he slashed 
through the necks of both animals at one blow and his sword stuck in 
the cutting block. All the people of Luba were surprised. They said, 
"You who are his enemies, look out. He could cut two or three men 
through at one stroke." When we went home M enemy did not am- 
bush him at the village boundary. The Luba people gave us a small 
goat, a pig, and a Fatafa moko to take home. We came home without 
meeting any enemy. 

February 10, 1939 

One day I and the chief of Dikimpe and many people hunted rats. 
Then we dug cassava in Manimau's garden, and we roasted them there 
in the field house. Jacobis and I went to smoke rats from a hole while 
the others were roasting cassava. I stood guard and Jacobis fanned the 
fire. I put some small sticks in the mouth of the hole so I'd know when 
the rats were trying to get out. I heard the sticks rattle. I covered the 
hole with my shawl and sat ready. In one hand I had a roasted cassava 
I was eating and with the other I was guarding the hole. Something 
wriggled and I grabbed it. It was a snake. [Interpreter here let out a 
cry and shivered.] I threw it away and ran. As I ran I fell. I cried 
and cried. 

Rilpada the Seer 255 

[I asked about his sister Kolfani. His response to all these requests 
came immediately and without apparent thought. He was seldom at a 
loss for an anecdote.] 

One day when Kolfani was still so small she hadn't yet laughed, I 
was sick with fever. Mother said, "You care for your young sibling 
until the fever starts and then give her to Maraima to care for." While 
I cared for her she cried all the time. At noon my fever began. About 
that time Kolfani went off to sleep. I heard her laughing in her sleep. 
I was afraid. I laid her down on a mat, covered her with a shawl and 
another mat, and went out to play. After a while I went back up to 
look at her, and she had disappeared. Then I saw she had rolled over 
to the ancestral hearth and her head was resting against it. I said, "Oh, 
this younger sister isn't big enough to laugh, so how did she get there? " 
My fever was high, so I called Fuimani. I asked her to call mother. 
Mother came back and I told her all that had happened. Then mother 
picked up the baby and cried because she was afraid of what had hap- 
pened. She thought maybe enemies had been there and might have 
stolen my younger sister. 

[More about Kolfani?] When Kolfani was about eight or ten, 
mother went to work in the garden. When she returned she asked if 
Kolfani had already cooked for her. Mother looked in the pot and 
there was some cooked corn there. She reached in and took it to eat. 
Kolfani was angry and hit mother's hand. Mother said, "Why do you 
hit my hand? I took good care of you and fed you when you were 
small. I worked in the gardens for you. You aren't working yet in the 
gardens and I am still getting your food. Why do you hit me?" Then 
mother struck Kolfani. Kolfani was angry. She took a knife and hit 
mother's face. Mother got a big wound. I saw this, and so I tied Kol- 
fani's hands behind her. Father was staying with his other wife at this 
time. Kolfani went off with her hands tied behind her. -I said, "If you 
go up to your father and he is angry, tell him to come down here and 
we can fight." Kolfani went and Langmani Besar untied her hands. She 
stayed there for three days and then mother called her back. 

When Kolfani was grown and father was dead, Manifani said, "If 
you wish, Alomale of Kalmaabui can marry her." Mother said, "All 
right." So when we made father's Hevelaberka and Hevelakang feasts, 
Alomale brought a pig to roast. [The suggestion for her marriage and 
her father's death must have been almost simultaneous.] He paid two 
Kolmale mokos and a Hawataka moko as a bride-price at the time we 
gave the Rolik feast. Alomale's siblings sent Kolfani an areca basket, 
which she carried. They were married but hadn't yet slept together. 

256 The. People of Alor 

Then Kolfani went to Kalabahi, where she met Maata, who wanted to 
marry her. Thomas also spoke for Maata. When she came back from 
Kalabahi we were making the Rolik feast, and Alomale came with the 
bride-price. I gave her meat to give her husband, but she was unwilling. 
She said she didn't want to marry him. Then Manifani said we had to 
pay back all Alomale had given us, "even if you have to sell your wife 
[Fuilani] and yourself to do it." Kolfani said, "We don't have to sell 
human beings to get mokos. I can fetch them myself." There were 
twenty tallies for her husband. She went up into the house to fetch 
her areca basket and left. It was already late afternoon. I thought I had 
better follow her and see where she was going. I went behind her as 
far as the government camp and I wondered whether she would go up 
the ridge or to Atimelang. She went on up the ridge and I followed. 
When we got to the top, I asked her where she was going and she said 
she was going to Kewai, so I followed her. She went and sat on Maug- 
lehi's verandah. That was where Maata kept his mokos, although he was 
still in Kalabahi. Kolfani stayed there all night, but I came back home. 
Early the next morning I went back to Kewai with Langmani Besar. 
They gave us a Makassar, a Hawataka, and a Kabali moko. We brought 
them back here. Manifani said, "Oh, you have already given your child 
to another man, so now you will have to pay two extra mokos. We will 
sit down again and reckon everything, the large and small gifts." So 
we reckoned again and it came to four mokos. Thomas came and said, 
"Manifani shot a large pig of mine. That is worth one of those mokos. 
You have already paid back two large mokos, so only one remains. 
You have to find only one more." That night Manifani cursed me, 
saying, "If you don't get that moko tonight, may you die and join 
your father." Then the chief of Rualkameng cursed me too, saying, 
"Tonight we can sleep, but if you sleep [i.e., don't fetch a moko] may 
you die." That night I went to Karieta and Alurkowati to look for a 
moko. Then I went to Luba, where Langmo gave me a Kolmale. I 
brought it back and beat it when I reached the village. The older men 
who cursed me were all asleep. I said, "I am a child. You are big, rich 
men, but you are asleep. I, the child, went out and got a moko. You 
will die soon." Then the next day I paid them the moko. We reckoned 
again and there was nothing left. We were clear. Then I killed a pig to 
"wash Kolfani's hands." 

February //, 

Once I, Lakamau, Mangma, and Fankalieta went to a field to 
demolish a cairn and hunt rats. There were many rats making a noise 

Rilpada the Seer 257 

in the stone pile. We stopped all the holes with weeds, but we got only 
two small mice. Then we came to a large hole under a stone. We 
cleared away around the place and Lakamau stood guard at the exit. 
We heard a noise inside like rats, "Ki, ki, ki." Then we shook the stones 
again and we heard a noise, "Tss, tss, tss." We shook it again and 
heard a noise like pigs, "Krr, krr, krr." We were afraid. Fankalieta 
said, "That's nothing. Rats also are smart and imitate those noises." 
Then suddenly a snake came out of the hole. It had a red neck. When 
it came out its breath struck Lakamau in the face. He felt dizzy and 
fell over. Fankalieta got a club and killed the snake. We opened its 
belly and there were twelve rats in it. We roasted cassava in the field 
and ate before coming home. 

[I asked for personal memories.] When I was about twelve, I, Alofe, 
Manikari, Lanwal, Fanalo, and Fanmani went to play at Fuhieng. We 
made believe we were going on a wild-pig hunt. Fanmani and I dug 
two tubers and. put them in our baskets. We made a pig rack at our 
hunting camp. Then we went to hunt deer, pigs, and carabao. We went 
to a banana clump and if we found a grasshopper we called it wild pig. 
We all came and shouted challenge and then put it on the rack. If we 
got a kind of beetle, we called it a carabao. We surrounded it and made 
believe we were shooting it. We called the praying mantis a deer. 
At midday we ate our tubers. In the afternoon we hunted again. [He 
spent a great deal of time going over these details.] In the evening we 
roasted our catch and went home. We shouted challenge [mahoina] 
for each of the insects we had caught. 

Once, when the red corn was ripe, Alofe's mother ordered me and 
Fanalo to go hunt rats in her garden, because they were eating up all 
her corn. We looked in all the stone piles. There were no rats. Then 
we saw a runway near a big stone. We caught a grown rat and her 
nine babies there. I said, "Now let us take these to our mother [i.e., 
Alofe's mother, classificatory]." But Fanalo said, "No, we shall roast 
them here and eat them." I didn't want to, but Fanalo went on collect- 
ing wood for a fire. He ordered me to go fetch fire. I didn't want to. 
I said, "We ought to take these to our mother. I won't get fire." So 
Fanalo hit me. I cried and went off saying I would tell our mother. 
Then Fanalo clubbed me on the head, making a wound from which 
blood flowed. I went to Fanalo's mother and told her. Fanalo's mother 
was angry with him. That night he did not dare come home but went 
to sleep in another house. 

Once, two days before the Yetok feast, Alurkoma, who was about 

258 The People of Alor 

five or six, helped me [about twelve] as we went to hunt rats ^ith the 
other people. He carried my basket. We followed the adults, who were 
all hunting rats for the feast. But the adults didn't divide them with us. 
At Falinfaking there were many rats and many people were beating 
the brush. I saw one rat get by Alurkoma and follow a good runway. 
I sat there guarding it. Then Lakamau called, "One rat just got by 
me." I caught it. I got all that passed him. There were ten of them. 
I gave Fankalieta two, Kafelmai one, and Lakakalieta one, and kept six 
for myself. Then everyone moved on toward the ravine. I saw grass 
waving and shot at it. I went and saw that I had hit not a rat, but a 
bird. Fankalieta said he wanted it for his ancestral hearth feast. Alur- 
koma cried because he wanted the bird. I said Fankalieta should give 
him a rat for the bird he took, and he did. We went to Karmasang. A 
stone rolled down the slope and hit Alurkoma's head. He was wounded, 
so we stopped hunting. 

[I asked whether he had any memory of having done his father an 
injury. This question was based on hostility dreams he had reported 
earlier.] When I was about five, father went to Liengwati to see 
Mokolo. He didn't give father a moko because he said he had none, but 
he gave father a mouth organ as a payment and to amuse father on the 
way home. [This was a token gift, makiling, so that a creditor would 
not have to return empty-handed.] Then later Mokolo came to our 
house near Atimelang, and for the first time father brought out the 
mouth organ. I hadn't yet seen it. Mokolo played on it. Father was 
sitting there talking to people. I went to stand next to him and said, 
"Oh, that is a supernatural being. He sings with that thing in his 
mouth." Father went on talking. I stood close to him and whispered 
in his ear, "Father, that man is a supernatural being." Then father asked 
Mokolo for the mouth organ and blew on it. I snatched it from father's 
mouth and he struck my fingers with a stick. I cried and cried all after- 
noon until nightfall. Then I saw Mokolo had taken the mouth organ 
apart and was cleaning it. I went up into the house and told mother 
and father that the supernatural being had destroyed his music. Father 
said, "You are a poor child [an insult]. Don't go near a rich man and 
his property. Don't touch it. Don't speak of it. That is why I hit you." 
Then I saw father was chewing areca. I went to him and held out my 
hand for part of his quid. So father gave me part of it and I chewed. 
Then father's guests left, and right after they left, mother and father 
fought. [Pause.] 

[Question.] When the guests came, father said to shoot a hen that 
belonged to my maternal grandmother, but my mother didn't want to. 

Rilpada the Seer 259 

She said it was a chicken to raise, not to eat. Then mother cooked 
rice and added coconut meat and milk to it for the guests. After Mo- 
kolo left, father was angry and hit mother, cutting the side of her face. 
Mother got a big wound. Then father gave mother a leaf as memo- 
randum [doli] and said, "In seven days you pay back my bride-price. 
We are going to separate." Then father went away and stayed in 
Dikimpe. In seven days mother went to fetch water and I followed her, 
crying. I heard people coming from Dikimpe beating gongs. Father 
came up and said, "This is my child/' He had brought a Kafoi chief 
with him. Father took my hand. I told him I was following mother, 
who had gone to fetch water. Father picked me up and carried me 
with him as far as Kokovi. There we met mother carrying water. Father 
said, "Kolmafc, go call your family so we can reckon our debts. If there 
is a surplus I shall pay it. But in any case I take my child." So mother 
called her kin in Dikimpe and Atimelang. They all came and reckoned. 
Father only owed a Maningmauk moko. So the chief of Kafoi said, 
"Oh, you don't have much of a debt. If you wanted to divorce you 
could pay it, but the fault is a little yours too; so get a moko and pay 
a fine for your fault [and don't divorce, was the implication]." So 
father got a Kabali moko and paid his fine. He shot a chicken to pay 
the judges. The judges said mother had better go live in Dikimpe with 
my father. So mother and I moved to Dikimpe to live there with father. 

February 12, 

Once mother planted rain corn and two patches of taro down in 
the ravine. People kept stealing the corn. We didn't know who they 
were. So I and Mangma went down there to guard it. Many rats ate 
it. We slept in a field house up on the ridge above the gardens and all 
day watched for rats. A bird came; we both shot at it but missed it. 
In the evening we cut wood and went back up to the field house. We 
were dozing off when Mangma dreamed that two old men were sitting 
near by, one on the slope above the house and one below the house. 
One was a little like his father, Fankalieta. One had a long beard all 
the way down to his waist. The one who was below said, "Shall we 
take the house down to the garden below?" Mangma woke up, rubbed 
my stomach to wake me, and told me about it. Then that night we 
didn't sleep there. We went to the village. Early in the morning father 
looked down and saw us on the verandah. He asked why we had come 
back, so we told him. Father said we were to go back to the garden, 
make a spirit altar, and feed it. In the afternoon father came with rice 
and a small chicken to feed the altar. After that we slept again in the 

z6o The People of Alor 

field house and did not dream. [How old?] We were already grown 
but not yet married. 

Once I, Lakamau, and Mangma went down to the ravine. We came 
to a large stone and saw a good rat-run. We smoked it out and got two 
rats. Lakamau and Mangma each took one, and then Lakamau suggested 
that we dig tubers. I saw a large tuber, dug it out, and left a sprout. 
I found another on the slope and dug that out too. Lakamau and 
Mangma found only small ones. When we roasted them, we found that 
the large tuber was no good because it was watery. So we roasted the 
others and ate them with the rats. That night I went home and dreamed 
that a female spirit came to me and said, "How does it happen you 
are brave enough to steal my food near my village? I don't come to 
steal from your gardens. If you come to dig in my gardens, you must 
leave the top and the bottom of the tubers and take only the middle 
part." The next day I told this dream to the older people. I said the 
spirit told me that the next time this happened the person would not 
return to the village. 

Once Lakamau called me to go bathe. We went down into the 
ravine. When we finished bathing, Lakamau said, "If we burn off this 
area people will see us do it and we shall be punished. So you go and 
start a fire with your strike-a-light; put it in a coconut shell and set the 
shell in the weeds. By and by the fire will catch but no one will know 
we did it." [Premature burning, before weeds have been cut, is in- 
jurious to proper cultivation. The extent of this social misdeed was 
indicated by subsequent guilt dreams.] I did as he said and we returned 
to the village. After a while we saw the brush burning. So Lakamau, I, 
and many people went with our dogs to hunt rats. I didn't get any and 
came home. The next day early I went again. I saw a hole and thrust 
a piece of wood into it. It hit something soft. I looked and saw it was 
a dead snake with a half-swallowed rat in its mouth. I was afraid and 
ran back. Langmani was standing under the big mango. I told him what 
I had seen and went on. Then I came to a civet cat that had been 
burned. I called to Langmani and he told me to bring it along. The 
older people said, "Let's cook it and tell the women to cook their food. 
We'll eat here." That night I dreamed that a man came to me and said, 
"Why did my wife, who was carrying her child, encounter fire that 
killed her? You burned this area. You burned my wife and child. The 
fire also destroyed my dog, and you took it to the village and ate it. 
If you don't pay a fine, you will receive three months' punishment." 
The next morning I told mother, father, and Manifani. Then Manifani 

Rilpada the Seer 261 

said, "That must be our spirit, Mopada-Lonpada. We had better feed 
it." So next morning they made a mock moko string, Manifani shot a 
hen, and we went to the altar [of Mopada-Lonpada, in the ravine] and 
fed it. That night I dreamed that the same man came to me and said, 
"You are good. True, you burned my wife, child, and dog, but you 
paid a fine and you cleaned off the fields about my house. You are 
good." When I told the dream, Manifani said, "It is lucky we fed him, 
or he might have stolen your soul for two or three months and kept 
it until your body wasted away." 

Once Padalani, a friend, called me and said he had shot a rat but it 
was still up in the pandanus tree. He said we had better take our dogs 
to fetch it. We did not find the wounded rat but we did get a live one. 
The dog chased it as far as Afalberka [dwelling place of an evil spirit]. 
We followed. The rat ran into a bamboo thicket. There was a large 
hole and we filled it in. It ran out, went up a liana into a large tree, 
came down again, and went into a patch of weeds. The dog chased it. 
It went in among the tree roots and from there up a liana back into the 
tree. We saw it sitting there. We shot at it until all our arrows were 
used up, but we didn't hit it. Then Padalani climbed up the tree to the 
first fork. I climbed the liana. When I was halfway up it was as though 
a person had cut it, and I fell. I was dizzy and my soul disappeared. I 
didn't remember anything more. It was as though I were dreaming. 
An old man stood near me and said, "Just now my child went to your 
garden for food; you too come to my garden when you are hungry. 
You have chased my child here. You may hunt him as far as the tree. 
But once he has gone up the tree you may not follow him. You see a 
tree but it is really a house, and my child has entered his house. You 
wanted to enter the house to hunt him, so I pulled up the ladder and 
you fell. Another time when a rat enters a tree do not pursue it. This 
liana is his ladder and this tree is his house." Then I returned to life 
and Padalani was sitting near me. He said, "I pinched your ear. I am 
small and if you had not come back to life I could not have carried 
you home." 

Two days before the Yetok feast, Riemau called me to go with him 
to hunt bats. So I, Riemau, and his brother Lanmau went to a cave 
below Lawatika. Riemau and Lanmau went down below. I stood guard 
up above at the entrance. I saw bats hanging to the roof of the cave 
and prodded them with a stick. Two fell and were shot by Riemau. 
One flew off. Lanmau also shot one. As I was standing there, a large 
bat flew out of the hole, bit my breast between the two nipples, and 

262 The People of Alor 

tore off the flesh so you could see the bone. [The interpreter shivered 
at this point.] I cried. I brushed it off. Riemau came to see and I told 
him that I had brushed the bat off and it must still be near. Riemau 
saw it in some weeds and shot it. In all we got five bats. Then Riemau 
helped me up to Lawatika and I stayed there overnight while the others 
went home. [Question.] No, I didn't dream of this afterward. 

February 13 

When I was about six or seven, I cried because mother said we 
should go to the garden and I didn't want to. So I stayed home and 
played with my friends in the village. In the afternoon mother brought 
me some corn, which I roasted and ate. Then I cried again. I cried a 
lot. I cried because I wanted to eat with father's guests. Mother and 
father said I couldn't. The guests, they said, had to eat alone. I kept 
crying until everyone was through eating. I cried until everyone was 
asleep. Father woke up and heard me still crying. So father put a 
basket over my head that reached down to my stomach. Father held 
me while mother poured water on my head through the basket. I was 
still crying hard. So mother and father talked nicely to me. They said, 
"When guests come, you can't eat with them. If you ate with them 
they wouldn't say anything here, but they would go home and say 
we didn't bring you up well because we let you eat with guests. We 
were angry with you for this reason, and for this reason we put a 
basket over your head and poured water on you." Then father said, 
"Will you act like this another time?" I was still crying under the 
basket and did not answer. Then father said, "Answer before I take 
off the basket." Then I said I wouldn't act like that again. Father said, 
"Next time guests come you mustn't stay near us but go with your 
mother." After that I stopped crying. 

When I was about twelve or thirteen, father and mother went to cut 
weeds in Puorkaivi. A big rain came. We were all there with my 
friends. [It is customary to have a group of children help in communal 
field work.] My friends went on working. I sat under a raincape be- 
hind the line of workers. Father was working at the end of the line. 
He came toward me but I did not see him. He snatched off my cape 
and asked why I was just sitting. He said, "When you grow up you 
won't be accustomed to work and you will be lazy." He took my hands 
and rubbed them in the dirt, saying, "Your nails are long. You are 
lazy." All my nails were ripped and they bled. So I cried and ran away 
to Alurkowati, to Kolata [his father's first wife]. She said, "Maybe 
your mother and father have many male children, that they rub your 

Rilpada the Seer 263 

hands in the earth." Then she said, "Why does your mother give you 
a bark loincloth like a woman's? You are the first child and a male. 
Why do you wear a woman's loincloth? I shall ask your older kinsmen 
to carry corn to Likuwatang and trade it for a loincloth." They did. 
I stayed with Kolata until she died a year later. I was half grown. Then 
I came back to stay with my mother. 

[Here I interrupted for a list of his father's wives and children. 
There were nine wives, of whom his mother was the second. She was 
the only one who bore male children. For the first time the informant 
mentioned that he had had two older brothers, Melangkai and Kupai- 
pada. I asked about them.] Melangkai was already married and had a 
wife. Melangkai's wife was only six or seven years old but she came 
to stay with us. Then Melangkai died just about the time she had 
breasts, but he hadn't slept with her yet. Father wanted to send her 
back to Maikalieta, who was her father, and get his expenses back, but 
Maikalieta said no, that she was to go to his younger brother [Rilpada, 
since Kupaipada was already dead]. But mother said Mangma [his 
mother's younger brother, who lived with them at the time] should 
get the girl. Mother said I wasn't old enough yet and that the girl had 
better go to her brother. So Mangma married her and she gave birth 
to Maieta. 

[Question.] Kupaipada died of yaws before Melangkai died. [The 
following was what Rilpada had begun to tell when I interrupted with 
a question about his father's wives.] One day Kupaipada and I sat side 
by side drawing pictures on the earth. We said we were building our 
houses. Then Kupaipada rubbed mine out. I cried and rubbed his out. 
Then he hit me. Melangkai asked why I was crying, and Kupaipada 
said I had. rubbed out his drawing, so he had hit me. Melangkai was 
angry with him. He said, "What do you mean by hitting your younger 
brother just when the sun is hot?" Then he hit Kupaipada, who ran off 
crying to mother. [Pause. I asked for more information about his two 
older brothers.] Kupaipada had yaws and had a big sore in his ear- 
opening. Blood and pus came out all the time. Mother warmed water 
and washed it. It didn't get well. Father then divined and it was his 
spirit carving [kari bileni]. So we all went to Atimelang to feed it. 
Kupaipada, although he had yaws, carried me there. On the way back 
it rained, so Melangkai carried me. When we were almost at the village 
Kupaipada fell, and father carried him the rest of the way home. After 
that he wandered about a bit, but when his ear hurt he just stayed in 
the house or on the verandah. Two or three months later he died. 

264 The People of Alor 

After a month or two Melangkai died. [He stopped. I asked how.] 
They both died from an evil spirit. When father was a young man he 
hunted wild pigs. He found a tuber that had only one leaf but was as 
thick as his thigh. He went back to his friends. They split it and 
divided it to quench their thirst. That evening they came home. Father 
didn't think of it any more until he was grown and had children. When 
he divined for the sick children, he forgot to include Lonmani-Silaka 
[name of the spirit in the place where he had found the tuber]. If he 
had remembered it those two children would not have died. They 
both died before he remembered it. Fankalieta and Manifani said to 
father that he had probably seen something bad [potent] and had for- 
gotten it, since two of his children died. So father thought hard until 
he remembered the tuber. Fankalieta and Manifani divined with a 
chicken, and sure enough the chicken's head hit Lonmani-Silaka's stone. 

February 14 

[What about the two older siblings in relation to you?] When I 
was six or seven, my brother Melangkai was sick. Mother cooked rice 
for him, put a little on the end of the spoon, and fed it to him. He 
didn't eat the rice; he just bit the end of the spoon. I said, "Mother, you 
are feeding my brother rice but he is not eating it; he is biting the end 
of the spoon." Melangkai said, "No, I am eating the rice, not the 
spoon." Fankalieta brought three rats for Melangkai to eat. Melangkai 
just wanted to eat their bellies, but that day his words had disappeared. 
He just said, "Mother, rats. Mother, rats." Mother didn't hear or under- 
stand. So he pointed to mother's belly and said, "Mother, belly, rats. 
Mother, belly, rats." Then Fankalieta understood and said to give him 
the bellies of the rats. Mother told him I had already eaten them, so 
Fankalieta sent Endirini to get some others in his house. Then mother 
roasted rat bellies and gave them to him, but he didn't eat them prop- 
erly. He just put them between his upper teeth and lip. Then his neck 
went limp and he fell back. He was about to die. He lay on the floor. 
Then he came to and said, "Mother, mother, people are pulling me arid 
I want to return, but you take good care of my younger brothers." 
Then he died and didn't revive. 

Fankalieta said, "Your two sons are dead in successive months. Your 
eldest said to guard the two young ones well. So now we must remem- 
ber all and divine. They divined and hit the tuber [see end of preced- 
ing day's story]. Then father bought medicine against that evU spirit. 
He smeared it on the joints at both ends of a length of bamboo and 
burned the bamboo. Some he placed on small sticks and set the sticks 

Rilpada the Seer 265 

one in each corner of the room and one in the center. He did this for 
six days and we didn't get sick any more. The evil spirit didn't come. 

[What did he remember first about Melangkai? ] It was before Sen- 
mani was born. I was about three. Melangkai was about twelve and 
Kupaipada was about six or seven. We were living in Puorkaivi at the 
time. Melangkai made a spirit boat carving and stood it in a tree. He 
said he was going to hunt meat to feed it. He got one small mouse and 
roasted it. The heart he fed to the carving and the haunches [the best 
part] he gave me. That is what I remember. 

When Kupaipada had a bad ear, he didn't want to eat corn or tubers. 
He just wanted bananas [infant's food]. Then he said, "Father, there is 
much food, but this is all I want." So father went to Bakudatang and 
cut a bunch of bananas. When I saw them, I cried because I wanted 
some too. Kupaipada was angry and said, "Why do you want my 
bananas? I don't eat other foods." He was angry and hit me. I cried 
hard. Mother came and I told her that because I wanted just one 
banana, her child had hit me. Then mother was angry and said, "Why 
do you hit your younger sibling? You are all my children. He is still 
small. You are the elder. You can eat these." She took two fruits and 
put them on top of the corn to cook and gave them to me. 

Kupaipada did not finish the bananas. He had finished one bunch 
but had eaten only two or three from another when he was very sick 
and didn't talk any more. He said, "Mother, I am cold." So mother 
[with whom Rilpada was still sleeping at the age of six or seven] put 
me in back of her and took Kupaipada in her arms. They didn't sleep 
until almost dawn. Then Kupaipada began to groan [literally, "make 
a noise in his heart"]. After a while he stopped. Mother thought he was 
sleeping soundly and went off to sleep herself. When we awoke in the 
early morning, she put her hand on Kupaipada. He was already cold, 
dead. Mother cried. Manifani heard her, came, and for Kupaipada's 
death feast killed a large pig that mother was raising. He continued to 
stand there in the pen until father came down and gave him a small pig 
that we had in the house. Then mother came down and said, "It is 
also your child who died [i.e., his nephew]. Because he is under your 
jurisdiction [Manifani was chief at that time] and because you are his 
Male House, we shall have to pay you something if you stand there. 
Let us divine to discover whether the paternal or maternal ancestors 
are responsible for his death. If my kin are guilty we shall pay a fine 
to his father's kin. If his father's kin are guilty, we shall receive a fine." 
But they forgot to divine until after Melangkai died. 

After my two brothers died there were just I and Senmani. Then 

266 The People of Alor 

came the time of the big cough [influenza epidemic of 1918]. Mother 
said that since I could climb trees I should go with her and help her 
pick mangoes. On our way home mother carried the mangoes. She 
went up first into the house and came right back down. I followed her 
up and sat down next to Padaalo's feet. Nobody told me he had died 
while we were away; I thought he was just lying there sleeping. I sat 
next to the dead man's feet eating a mango, which I hadn't peeled but 
was just biting into. Father came up and tugged my hand. I asked why 
and he said, "Didn't you see? Padaalo is dead and you are sitting at a 
dead man's feet." I was afraid and went out with father. I sat on the 
verandah but father said, "Don't sit there. Go elsewhere. People are 
coming to bury Padaalo." So I got down off the verandah and told 
people Padaalo was dead. They all knew it. I told what had happened 
to me. Then I went and sat on Fankalieta's verandah, and people came 
to bury the dead man. When they were burying him, the dead man's 
wife, Tilamau, didn't look at the rattan as she was severing it [to free 
her soul from the dead spouse], so she missed it. Fankalieta said, "That 
woman's husband must want to follow her. She will soon be dead be- 
cause she didn't cut the rope." 

That night a great many people came to stay with Tilamau because 
her husband had just died. They were all crowded together, sleeping 
side by side. Tilamau suddenly went crazy. She looked around, saw an 
arrow, and began jabbing it into each sleeping mat. [The interpreter 
shivered at this point.] She drove the point into one mat and it went 
into Kawaimau's chest about half an inch. She also struck Mauglang's 
forehead and made a long wound. Everybody sat up and shouted; they 
thought an enemy had entered the house and was killing them. Then 
father and Alurkoseni threw thatch on the fire. When it was light they 
saw that Tilamau's place was empty, but the door was still shut. They 
searched the house and saw Tilamau crouched under the eaves with 
the arrow. Alurkoseni spoke nicely to her and coaxed her to come out- 
side with him. When she started up the house ladder again, he snatched 
the ladder from under her, pulled it up, and shut the door. Then he 
called to all the village to shut their doors tightly and to guard them, 
that Tilamau was crazy and was loose outside. So she stayed out all 
night. In the morning Alurkoseni called all the strong men of the village 
to come and tie up Tilamau. People said, "Let us make sure she is dead 
before we bury her." So they divined, and the banana midrib sections 
fell so that the answer was "dead." They asked if she would be dead 
soon or not, and it fell on "soon." While -they were divining she went 
up into the house. Alurkoseni told Manifani and Padamai to fetch her. 

Rilpada the Seer 267 

They went up and she was in the loft. She dropped a knife on Mani- 
fani, and he dodged just in time to miss it. He yelled and said they had 
better smoke her out. So they made a lot of smoke with the sleeping 
mats, all there were in the house. In a little while she dropped her legs 
through the loft opening to come down. Manifani struck her knees and 
she fell. She was half dead. Then they cut the floor away from around 
her where she lay and let her fall through to the verandah below. She 
was a little alive and they were afraid of her. On the verandah she re- 
vived again. So Padamai rushed up and seized her by the throat. People 
hurriedly dug a grave and they dragged her by the neck to it. They 
didn't cover her or bind her body; they just dumped her in the grave 
and buried her. She was dead, but an evil spirit was animating her. 

February /JT, 1939 

It was during the big illness [influenza epidemic of 1918] that Fan- 
laka got sick. His wife had just died and he was living alone in a large 
house. People came to tell father [a seer] that Fanlaka was sick and 
wouldn't eat anything. Mangma hunted rats for him and got three. 
They roasted and ate two and brought one home for Fanlaka. Mother 
pounded a little rice for gruel, which I took to him. Father was stand- 
ing outside watching for evil spirits or ghosts. I went up into the house 
and said to Fanlaka, "Mother has sent rice and a rat. If I cook it will 
you eat?" He said, "No, let us wait for your father to come up and I 
can tell him all my debts." [It is customary for a dying man to list all 
his outstanding financial obligations.] I was a little afraid because Tila- 
mau had just died [see preceding day's story]. I said, "I'd better go 
fetch my bow and arrows outside so that I can shoot rats here in the 
house. There are many of them." So I went out and told father what 
we had said, and that he had better go up. Father said, "No, you go up 
first." I said I was afraid, and so we went up together. I cooked for 
Fanlaka, but he didn't eat; he just put the food in his mouth without 
swallowing it. He said, "Younger brother, my heart is no longer clear. 
It is dark." Father said, "Perhaps you are grieving for the dead and 
want to go with them to their village. You are my grown child. If 
you leave and all the rest die, who will make my death feasts? These 
other younger brothers [classificatory] of yours are still children. But 
if you go they will grow up to make my death feasts, so if you want to 
follow the dead, go." That night father and I slept on a small raised 
platform and Fanlaka slept on the floor. In the middle of the night 
father woke, put out his hand, and felt Fanlaka. He had changed to a 
bark loincloth and his body was cold. We used half of the cloth he had 

268 The People of Alor 

got previously for his father's shroud and covered him. In the morning 
Manifani came to bury him. 

[I asked for personal tales, for the strongest feelings, good or bad, 
he remembered having.] When I was about twelve, I and Maniseni 
played the bean game. Mother called me to fetch water. I didn't want 
to go, so mother picked up a stick and beat my back. I saw Maniseni's 
bow and his two-pronged bird arrow lying at my feet. After mother 
turned away from hitting me, I picked it up and aimed it. Maniseni 
shouted to mother that I was shooting her. As she turned, the arrow 
grazed the back of her head, wounding her. Mother screamed and be- 
gan crying. I threw the bow and arrow away and ran down toward 
Afalberka. Lakamau and many men ran to hunt for mie. I saw a rock 
crevice and hid in it until the men left. Then I went up the opposite 
slope and saw that many people had gathered around to look at 
mother's wound. I went up to my grandmother's house in Atimelang. 
I heard people yelling that I had probably gone to Atimelang and that 
father was on his way there, carrying a sword and club. He said he 
was going to cut off my fingers. I told my grandmother what had hap- 
pened and that father was coming to cut off my fingers. So grand- 
mother took me up in the loft, put me in a large storage basket, cov- 
ered it, and then laid heavy food tubes over it. Father arrived just as 
grandmother came down. Father asked where I was and grandmother 
said I had not come there, or if I had she hadn't seen me. Father said 
I had gone in that direction and probably she was hiding me. Grand- 
mother said, "If I am hiding him you had better look for him." So 
father came up into the house with his sword and hunted everywhere 
in the room. Then he came up to the loft and hunted everywhere. 
[Interpreter shivers.] He looked up in the second loft too, but he 
didn't look in the basket where I was hiding because there were big 
heavy tubes on it. He left without finding me. If he had lifted the 
heavy food tubes and that basket cover he would have found me and 
cut off my fingers. After father left I hid there for three days. I hid 
in the basket, only coming out to eat and sleep. Then we heard that 
mother was a little better and was able to work in the garden, so I 
came out of the house but I didn't go home. I stayed with my grand- 
parents for two months before father asked me to come home. He said 
mother was better and that she wanted to go out and fetch greens, so 
I had better come home to care for my younger brother. But grand- 
father didn't want me to go. He and all die old men there said that if 
I went home they would hit me. I also said, "No, I don't want to go 

Rilpada the Seer 269 

home; you will tie me up." So father went home alone. Then father 
had guests who brought him a loincloth. Father brought me the loin- 
cloth, saying we had better go home. I could wear the loincloth and 
mind the baby. So I put on the loincloth and followed him home. 
[Were your parents good to you when you got back? ] That evening 
mother talked to me, saying, "When our parents hit us, it is so that we 
can learn what our work is; it is only to teach us so we can learn. Be- 
fore I gave birth to you, my familiar spirit spoke to me, saying that I 
would give birth to two boys who would make many mistakes and that 
I would have to pay for their faults, but that they wouldn't die. 
Another time don't act that way. There are only two boys, you and 
your younger brother. Your elder mother [father's first wife] has only 

Once father built the verandah for a death feast [Ato]. He intended 
to feed it, but instead he just went off to Kolpada [another wife] and 
from there he went on to the ravine to fish for eels. Mother was angry 
and went to quarrel with him and his other wife, Kolpada. She asked 
why he went off and didn't feed his verandah. When she left, father 
followed her home and hit her. Mother was crying as I sat by the fire 
eating. I became angry, took a stick, and hit father on the forehead. 
Much blood flowed. There was blood on his face, breasts, hands 
everywhere. [He kept repeating how much blood there was.] Then 
I was afraid and ran and hid with Fankalieta, my grandfather. I told 
him what had happened and he said, "We Senhieta lineage people are 
used to fighting with Maughieta lineage people. There aren't many 
Maughieta, but there are many Senhieta. Don't be afraid. If he comes, 
I am standing here. We know how to use both swords and clubs. I 
know how. Don't hide. Just sit here." [Rilpada was Maughieta but 
sought protection from a Senhieta. Personal considerations outweighed 
lineage allegiance.] Then father came. I sat wondering if he would hit 
me or not, but he went on by to Lenmasang, saying he was going to 
call the chief. He said, "Kolmau and her child have wounded me. 
Reckon expenses so they can pay me back. We shall be divorced." So 
the chief called mother. She came and said, "This isn't my verandah 
feast. He makes a verandah and then won't feed it; he just runs off to 
hunt eels. So I was angry." Then the chief asked father why he had 
hit his wife. He said it was father's fault, but because I had struck him, 
my mother's siblings must pay pigs with which father could give his 
feast. Mother agreed but father wouldn't accept the judgment. He 
collected his weapons and valuables at our house and went to Kolpada's 

270 The People of Alor 

house. After two days mother went to her brother Manifani, and he 
promised a large pig. Her other brother, Langmani, promised a Man- 
ingmauk moko as a dowry. Then mother told me to go out and raise 
money and arrows to pay the carriers bringing the dowry. I set out 
to raise money. I passed by father and he asked what I was doing. I 
said I was raising money to pay my uncles, who were bringing me my 
mother's dowry. Father said, "You are a child; it isn't as though I were 
not here to do this. I will raise the arrows and money. Before this 
happens I must die, and then you may hunt money for my death feast." 
I went home and told mother. She said, "We were only following the 
chief's words." As we spoke, father came with a pig and a chicken, 
but mother quarreled with him, saying, "You are staying with Kol- 
pada. Go there. Let her cook your feast. We are making our own 
feast." Father just stood there. He didn't speak. Then Manifani and 
Langmani came and said they were giving the dowry to reconcile 
them. So mother and father made peace. We fed the verandah, but in 
two months father died and we never gave the main part of the feast. 

February 16, 1939 

I was grown. Manikari called to say that he had found a good rat- 
run, so we went to his garden to smoke out the rats. We got all the 
little ones but the female died in the hole. Manikari thrust a stick in 
and could feel its fur, so he told me to get his knife in order to cut it 
out of the hole. Then Manikari said we had better dig tubers to eat 
with the rats. As Manikari was digging, his mother, Kolkari, came and 
was angry with him for digging the tubers in her garden. She wanted 
to know why we always came to her garden to dig tubers. She said if 
we wanted them, we ought to go to the woods for wild ones. She took 
a stick and beat Manikari across the shoulders. Manikari was angry and 
hit the side of her head with a piece of bamboo he had in his hand, and 
blood flowed. Then his mother cried and went to complain to the chief. 
The chief called us, saying, "Now I am going to give you three cooked 
bananas [meaning blows]." Manikari refused to pay a fine. I cried, but 
Manikari said, "Go ahead, hit me." Then Thomas said, "I had better 
take Rilpada's place." So Thomas stepped forward to get the blows. 
As he did, he said, "Now the chief hits me, but by and by Rilpada will 
pay me something." I said, "I didn't ask you to take my place. When 
you offered to take my place, I had a clear heart. But now you are 
asking to be paid and my heart is dark. I had better pay the fine." So 
I got six cents and paid them to Kolkari. Manikari was given three 
blows. Now still Manikari and Kolkari do not come near each other. 

Rilpada the Seer 271 

[I asked why he was involved.] The chief said, "If Manikari had been 
alone, he alone would have to pay; but you two are together and have 
one heart, so both of you have to pay." 

Senmani and Padalani were fighting about an arrow near Lenmasang. 
Kolmau's corn was still young. [Kolmau was the wife of Rilpada's 
maternal uncle.] Senmani tugged at the arrow shaft and split it, so 
Padalani took it and hit him with it. Senmani and Padalani wrestled 
and Senmani fell and hit his head on a stone. He cried. I grabbed Pada- 
lani and asked why they were fighting. Then Atama, Padalani's 
younger brother, came up and fought with me. Padalani and I fought; 
Senmani and Atama fought. We broke off all Kolmau's corn. Kolmau 
was angry. She picked up some of her broken corn and went to Mani- 
fani to litigate. [Manifani was her husband's brother.] Manifani didn't 
say anything about our fight; he just talked of corn. He said each of 
us had to pay a large corn bundle for what we had broken. We said 
we didn't have them, so he said we would have to pay a pig. But we 
said we didn't have pigs, so he said we would each have to pay a small 
gong. But we said we didn't have any. So he said, "Now you four must 
sit here on the ground until dawn, and then the four of you can pay 
one piglet together." So we agreed. We sat on the ground and after a 
while I said I had to urinate. I ran away to the village boundary, where 
I sat on a stone in the bamboo thicket. Lakamau built up the fire and 
called our parents, saying that since I had run off they would have to 
pay our fine right away. I was up there listening. Then father came 
bringing a pig. Lonata [mother of the other two] gave father half a 
rupiah for their share of the pig he was paying. Then Manifani told 
father to call me so that he might give us orders. They called and I 
came down. Manifani hit my legs twice and my shoulders twice, and 
then he took me by the ears and twisted them hard. I was angry and 
bit his chest. It was very hairy and I got a lot of hair in my mouth. 
Manifani cried. He said, "Why do you bite me? I passed good judg- 
ment and you ran away; for this I hit you." Then he said, "You four 
can play in empty places or you can fight with words in gardens, but 
if you want to fight, go to empty places. Don't do this again." 

[I referred to the episode when his father threatened to cut off his 
fingers and asked if people had ever threatened to cut off his penis. 
He said, "Eh!" as though he were startled and then told the following 
story.] When I was about twelve, we were living in Puorkaivi. I, father, 
and Mangma hunted rats. They got a big one and gave him to me to 
hold. As I held him by his tail, I saw that he was still breathing, so I 

272 The People of Alor 

rubbed up and down on his tail and the rat revived and got away. 
Father and Mangma were angry and went after it once more. After 
that we went to roast the rats and eat them. I said, "That big rat whose 
tail I rubbed is mine; I get its haunches. 9 ' Father said, "If you knew how 
to eat rats, you wouldn't let them go. But you don't know how to eat 
rats, so I get its haunches." I cried and father gave me the haunch of a 
small rat, so I stopped crying. Father said, "Next time you hunt rats 
with your father or elders, you mustn't play like that. If you play like 
that another time, we will cut off your penis, and you can eat that 
instead of rats. If you do this, even people who are clever won't have 
any luck in hunting rats. The rats will just hide. People will cut off 
your penis, put it on a spit [like a rat], and give it to you instead of a 

rat to eat." 

[I asked whether this was the first time such a threat had been made. 
He said it was, then continued immediately with the following.] Three 
days later Kolata [his father's first wife] told me to hunt rats. I went 
near Lakakalieta's house. There were many papaya trees there with 
ripe fruit. I said, "Grandfather Lakakalieta!" He said, <c Who talks out 
there? A person who brings me firewood may approach, but a person 
who doesn't bring me wood can't come near or take any papayas." So 
I said, "If that is so, I shall go fetch wood for my grandfather." Kaf el- 
kai had already cut a lot and piled it up. I took small pieces, nothing 
heavy. Then I thought, "If I go back by the main trail, Kafelkai will 
see me and beat me. I'd better follow the ravine to Afalberka before 
I ascend." I reached Lakakalieta's house and threw the wood down 
hard so it would make a big noise and sound as though I had brought 
a lot. Really I didn't have much. Lakakalieta said, "Oh, what's that?" 

I said, "I've come bringing wood to grandfather." 

He said, "Who are you?" 


Which Rilpada?" 

"The child of Padafani and Kolmau." 

"Oh, so you are their child?" 


"Oh, then you are my grandchild, so take what you want of the 
papayas ripe fruit, green fruit, or leaves." 

So I climbed up in the tree, picked fruit, came down, and ate it. 
When I finished eating, Lakakalieta said, "If you have finished eating, 
bring up the wood and put it on the fire." I did and he began talking 
to me. He said, "Grandson, you may take those papayas whenever you 

Rilpada the Seer 273 

want them. But I sit here all day in the house and the sun speaks to me, 
saying, 'Don't lie to people and take their things. You must pay before 
you eat their food. If you take pigs, pay for them before you roast 
them. If you take gongs, pay for diem before using them. You may 
not take things raw [i.e., unpaid for]. Now you sit alone in this house. 
These papayas are substitutes for your siblings and your wife. If people 
come to ask you for them and bring you wood, you can give papayas 
to them. All your kin may come and ask you for them, but see that 
they carry wood to pay for them. If they don't, they eat raw.' Thus 
the sun speaks to me. So even when my grandson comes empty-handed 
and just begs, I don't want to give them to him. Matingpeni brought 
me pounded corn and it is still in the loft. But I have no meat. My teeth 
are gone and my mouth is empty. There were two chickens here, but 
I think Lakamau has taken them to sell for gongs and mokos, so you 
had better go hunt for rats in the stone pile outside. Then we can eat 
them with the corn." I said, "I can do it, but I am still small. Who will 
lift the large stones back on the cairn?" He said, "Just take them off. 
When grown people come for my papayas, I'll get them to rebuild the 
cairn." So I hunted and shot two rats. I saw another hole and smoked 
out five more. I went up and told Lakakalieta there were seven. He 
said, "Good, now you have come and given me something to drink 
[i.e., rat soup] for both evening and morning. You are good, therefore 
you may have my war arrow." I cooked the rats; five I stored for him. 
I cooked the corn and some peas. I ate only the heads of the rats. The 
rest I gave to him. When I left he told me to take the arrow, but I said, 
"I can't take it. I brought you wood and you gave me papayas. Then 
you told me to hunt rats and I did. People would say you only bought 
them. Another time when I bring you rats, you can give me the arrow." 
He said, "Another time you don't have to stand outside and ask, but 
come right up and sit next to me." [Rilpada stopped. I asked whether 
he ever went back.] Two days later I went back and he gave me the 
arrow. Once I killed my maternal grandmother's chicken and took it 
to Lakakalieta. Then he gave me three other metal-tipped arrows. He 
took my arm and said, "If you are like this, you will grow to be as old as 
I am." About a month after that he died. 

February 77, 

When Alofe and I were having our teeth blackened, there were ten 
men and ten women. Alofe was pounding the dyestuff for our teeth. 
The girls didn't give us much food, so Alofe was angry. He said, "Why 

274 The People of Alor 

do I pound tooth dye for you? You stay in the house and eat. We boys 
outside get what is left over." Kawaimau sided with Alofe and they 
fought with Lonata. Lonata twisted Kawaimau's mouth. Alofe got a 
stick and hit both girls. Lonata and Alofe fought and finally bumped 
into me where I lay asleep, wounding my leg. I was angry and took a 
knife. I meant to hit with the flat of the blade to frighten them, but 
somehow I cut Lonata's leg with the edge so the blood flowed. She 
ran to the chief of Dikimpe. I, Alofe, and Kawaimau were all at fault. 
I had to pay seven cents, Alofe paid one pig, and Kawaimau paid seven 
cents. Then the chief said we would have to stop dyeing our teeth and 
sleep at home that night, although we had been at it only five days 
[instead of the customary seven or more days]. In two days we paid 
for the tooth blackening; each one gave a cent. The chief also said that 
we couldn't eat the rats we had, but must take them home and share 
them with our families. There were twenty-five of them. We ate them 
at home, so our elders got the best parts. 

Once David scalded his side with hot water. He came to me and 
asked me to fetch him water because his siblings wouldn't. He said he 
would give me money for it. At that time we didn't understand money. 
I went to fetch the water and skimmed off the algae. I returned to the 
village and David said, "Wash my wound before I pay you." So I 
washed his wound and put algae on it. The wound hurt and so he cried 
and cried, saying he would die that day. I said, "You are crying but I 
have put medicine on you, so you had better pay me." David said, "I 
am still in pain. Wait until it is less; then I will pay you." That night 
David slept soundly and his wound didn't hurt him any more, so the 
next morning I went and asked him again for the money. David said, 
"Mother is saving money. I saw where she hid it, but you had better 
hunt rats for me before I give it to you." So I went out with Lakamau 
and others to hunt rats. I saw a rat go down a hole and dug it out. I 
got two. I went right back to give them to David. He was sleeping on 
the verandah. I woke him and said, "Here are your rats." He said, 
"Mother is busy now; you had better cook them for me." So I cooked 
them and we ate them together. Then David said, "You had better go 
out and sit on the verandah while I get the money. If you see where it 
is, you might take it all and then mother would be angry." [The in- 
formant and interpreter were laughing heartily at each new incident 
in the tale.] I said, "Let me see first what money is like," but David 
insisted that I should go out. I sat on the verandah and heard David 
running to and fro, hunting for the money. Suddenly he pulled up the 

Rilpada the Seer 275 

ladder and shut the door, saying, "Come up now and fetch your money 
if you are brave enough." Then I thought to myself, "I'd better go 
hide in my house and wait for him to come out, and then grab him." 
I sat and sat in the house but David did not come out until evening. 
I wanted to play, so I went out. I thought, "Good. You lied to me, 
but in the evening you will have to come out and play." When I saw 
David come down, I hid near his house. As he came down I ran up, 
but David hurried back in the house and pulled the ladder up again. 
He said, "Good, come up." Then I called to him and said, "You lied to 
me, but never mind; those rats were a present, so come and play." 
David said, "Friend, my mother probably carried that money off in her 
areca basket. I have looked and can't find it. But you can have my elder 
brother's war arrow. When mother returns I shall search again for the 
money." I said, "You can't give me your elder brother's war arrow. It 
is all right even if you lied. It is all right. Take back the arrow." So 
David took it back but promised to get his mother's money when she 
returned. He never did. He said, "My brother has gone to Kupang 
[generic designation for any place not on the island]. When he returns 
he will bring shirts, cloth, and many things. I'll give you some." But his 
brother returned and I got nothing. Then David went to school in 
Kalabahi. He came back and married. When I reminded him that I had 
bathed his wound and that he had recovered, he gave me ten cents to 
buy areca. [Question.] We were both about fourteen at the time. 

Thomas also deceived me. He was sick. I went to his house. His 
father, Atalan, was on the verandah shredding tobacco. He asked me 
to help because it was all ripe now. Thomas heard us and asked, "Who 
is there?" His father said, "Rilpada." Then Thomas called me to come 
up. I went up and he said, "If my younger brother wishes, it would 
be nice of him to get me three eggs, for which I shall pay him six cents. 
Father sold tobacco for a rupiah last month and I've hidden a little of 
it away." So I went out to the verandah and saw there were eggs. I 
went back to fetch Thomas's shawl and returned, hiding the eggs in it. 
As I went up, Atalan asked me what I had hidden in the shawl, but I 
said, "Nothing." Then I gave Thomas the eggs. Thomas said, "Cook 
them." So I did. I gave them to him. He ate his eggs and corn while I 
sat watching. Then he said, "Give me water." I did. He said, "Tip the 
tube for me." I did. [Here the informant and interpreter were laughing 
to the point of incoherence.] Then Thomas fell back in a faint. I 
twisted his ear to revive him, but he only groaned. I spoke to him but 
he didn't answer. So I called his father and Atalan came up. I told him 

276 The People of Aim 

all that had happened. Then Atatan reached down to twist Thomas's ear 
and Thomas burst out laughing. He didn't give me money; he was just 
deceiving me. I left. 

February 18, 1939 

Once father and I made a garden. The corn was beginning to yellow 
amid the rice. The birds were eating the grain, so we made a field house 
and slept there to guard the garden. One day father said he was going 
to the village for tobacco and he would be back that evening. When 
father reached the village, there were guests, so he told Manimau to 
stay with me. That evening Manimau came. The next day we decided 
to hunt for crayfish in the ravine. There is a deep pool there, which we 
drained first. Manimau dug into some sand and a large eel bit his finger. 
He yelled that a snake had bitteii him. I took a thorny branch and 
prodded in the hole. An eel as thick as my calf came out. We were 
afraid and didn't shoot it. We thought it must be sacred [berka] be- 
cause it was so big. We went home with just a few crayfish. We ate 
them that night and lay down to sleep. Manimau was still sitting up 
when he saw a person with a wasted body standing near him. Manimau 
woke me and told me what he had seen. In a little while Manimau said 
the man held his hand out toward him. I was afraid, jumped up to run, 
and struck the side of my head against a post. I felt sick and dizzy, lay 
down, and went to sleep. I dreamed too of the spirit, who said, "Whom 
shall we take, this one or the one who touched us [i.e., Manimau, who 
had touched the eel]?" I awoke and was afraid. I made a torch of bam- 
boo and the two of us went back to the village to sleep with Manimau's 
mother at Lenmasang. In the morning father asked why we had re- 
turned, so I told him, "If you grown people want to guard the field, 
good. If you don't and the pigs eat it all up, we can eat the remnants. 
That's all right too." [He was indicating that he would not go back 
to the garden.] Father was angry about this, so I did not go home but 
stayed on at Manimau's for three days. 

On the third night, in the middle of the night, Lakakalieta [Mani- 
mau's grandfather, not the Lakakalieta of the preceding story] woke us 
up and said, "You two children, don't sleep the whole night through. 
Wake up and think of what you can do. Go fetch something. Near 
our house Kolkalieta's squash is now large. It would be fine if you went 
and brought some here. We could cook and eat." So I and Manimau 
went. I picked a squash first and sat down to wait for Manimau, who 
was hunting for another one. As I sat watching I saw Langmani Besar 
[son of Kolkalieta] approaching on all fours. He came near but did not 

Rilpada the Seer 277 

see me, He started back up the slope. I whistled softly to Manimau, 
who stood up to listen. He saw Langmani Besar coming. He ran. Lang- 
mani chased and caught him. Manimau urinated on Langmani's foot. 
Langmani said, "Your mother's vagina [or 'copulate with your mother,' 
a common curse]. Why do you urinate on my foot? Go cook your 
squash. I'll come for you tomorrow." I ran away to Loma and slept 
in Manikari's father's house there. I told him I had been guarding the 
garden from rats, was cold, and so came to him to sleep. At dawn Lang- 
mani beat gongs in Dikimpe [to announce the theft]. Then I told 
Manikari's father about what had happened. I said, "If no one mentions 
my name, don't say anything." He said, "All right, we won't say any- 
thing. Hide in the loft." The father of Langmani Besar shouted after 
they had beaten the gongs and said, "Lakakalieta, my pig came and de- 
stroyed your garden but I paid for it. That wasn't theft. It came in day- 
light. N'ow your child comes to my garden to steal. Give me back my 
pig and my squash. Put my squash back on the vine so it will live." 
They went before the chief to litigate. Manimau said that I had gone 
with him, so people set out to search for me. Manikari's father said I 
wasn't there. The people said I had been mentioned in the litigation, so 
I came down from 'the loft. Father called that I had better come and 
talk clearly. I went to the chief and sat on the ground. The chief asked 
if I had taken a squash and I said, "Yes. But we were sleeping soundly 
when Lakakalieta woke us and ordered us to go fetch squash that grew 
near the house." The chief said, "If that is so, the fault is not yours. 
Lakakalieta must himself pay the fine." Then Lakakalieta's familiar 
spirit possessed him and he ran up and down, shouting, "I'll pay. That 
isn't much. I'll pay." The chief hit him because he was acting crazy, 
and Lakakalieta defecated in his loincloth. Lakakalieta had to pay a pig, 
a red headcloth [masala]^ and eight arrows. 

February 19, lyjy 

When I was about sixteen or seventeen, Padama of the Maughieta 
lineage died. The older men assembled all of us Maughieta people to go 
ask for a shroud. We went to Alurkowati to ask for Makanma's. He 
gave it to us with a pig, two large corn bundles, and a can of rice. Alofe 
carried the rice, Fanalo carried the corn, and I carried the pig. I tripped 
in a tuber hole and the pig fell. Father was angry and said, "If you 
throw away pigs, by and by you won't know how to get any." So 
father carried the pig as far as Lanwala's field and then gave it back to 
me. At the village the older men wrapped the corpse while we younger 
ones sat on the verandah. They buried Padama that day, and on the 

278 The People of Alar 

next the older men called us all again to go to Muruwating, where 
the dead man had kin. I said, "Yesterday I fell. Today I had better stay 
and beat gongs. You can go." I and my friends stayed home; the older 
men went to Muruwating, where they were given a goat. They were 
going to save the goat for four days for the Hevelakang feast, but the 
goat went 'crazy and butted me in the stomach. Therefore the older 
people decided to kill it the next day for the Hevelaberka feast. They 
were afraid it might kill a child. For the Hevelakang they used only a 
small pig. Father went to Metingfui with a large gong as a dowry, and 
they gave him a big pig as a bride-price. Four men carried it back. 
They saved the pig for the Rolik feast three months later. Father gave a 
big feast at that time; thirty gongs and mokos came in. 

In two months Tilapada, my maternal grandmother, died. People 
came to call mother and told her that her mother had defecated in her 
loincloth and didn't drink any more. So mother went. Her mother 
wouldn't swallow food. She died. They carried her to Dikimpe. Her 
other children [stepchildren], Manifani, Langmani, and Lakamau, said 
she had to be buried with the Senhieta lineage of her husband. But 
father said, "She can be buried with either the Senhieta or with her 
own lineage, the Maughieta, either above or below the village." Then 
Tilapada came, back to life and said, "No, I must return to my fathers; 
bury me with the Maughieta. I can also be buried with Senhieta, but 
my Senhieta children have bad voices and talk roughly. Better bury me 
with the Maughieta." So they carried her to her father's house. That 
night Manifani spoke to her, "Mother, it is now the hungry season. 
Think of me if I go to ask people for food for your feasts. People 
won't give it to me." [He was asking his mother to send her soul with 
him to give him luck in raising the necessary death feast provisions.] 
But she didn't speak to him. She just grunted. Then father talked to 
her, "Mother, at present there is neither corn, nor beans, nor rice. I 
don't have gongs or mokos either. Think of me." So she said, "Oh, your 
gongs and mokos are many. You will have no trouble. You will also 
be given food. Now the people of Sehiek [village of the dead] want 
me to go, Put you will have no trouble." Then she died. Father went 
to get food, gongs, and mokos. Me had to speak once only and people 
gave him what he asked for. But Manifani and his brothers got nothing. 
They didn't make a feast for their mother. Only father did. 

At the time we were making Tilapada's feasts, father told me to go 
ask our various kin for pigs, and if they didn't give them, just to shoot 
the pigs in their pen; he would pay for them later on. I saw that Ataka- 

Rilpada the Seer 279 

lieta of Folafeng had a pig in his pen and I shot at it. Atakalieta was 
up in his house and said, "Oh, you shot my pig. I shall kill you now 
to add to the pig." I said, "Grandfather, I come to collect a bride-price. 
We shall pay you later. Father ordered me to do this." So Atakalieta's 
wife said, "Oh, our grandson has come to ask for a pig. It is the first time 
he comes to ask [i.e., he is just a young man], so we had better give 
him rice too." They gave me rice and helped me carry the pig. Then 
Atakalieta sat on the dance place, not on the verandah [a sign that he 
wanted to be paid right away]. Father took a Djawa moko [an expen- 
sive one] and set it out near Atakalieta. Then Atakalieta said, "No, you 
can't get any more dowry from me." [He was implying that their 
affinal exchange relationship had ended with the death of Tilapada.] In a 
couple of days he brought back a Kabali moko and a Fatafa moko as 
dowry return on the Djawa moko. 


For a period of about three months before telling his autobiography, 
Rilpada gave a series of one hundred and seventy-five dreams. He was 
noted for his prolificness in this respect. Obviously some of the things 
he told as dreams were only fantasies and local gossip. A tabulation of 
the major themes runs as follows: 

Number of 

Theme Dreams 

Ceremonies and litigations, which reflect Rilpada's most constant ac- 
tivity, although only in a spectator role. In these accounts he discharged 
fully and rapidly many transactions. This had no basis in fact. They 

represent obvious fantasies of being a successful financier 40 

Rilpada as the recipient of gifts, tokens of esteem, solicitous care (22), 
ana food (8). Very often his familiar spirits treated him as an honored 
guest. Frequently these dreams contain bids for compassion with such 
comments as, "I am lame," "I am blind," "I am only a child," "I can't do 
this or that." 30 

Derogation or punishment of other people 27 

Rilpada in the role of dispenser: giving gifts and money, curing illness, 

or the like 24 

Fearing or suffering physical injury (12), or fearing spirits (6) 18 

Injury of some person in authority (i i), or death of his mother (5) ... 16 

In addition there were a number of significant dreams revealing his 
relationship to more intimate kin. These were often long and confused, 
so that in the accounts that follow only digests are given where this is 
possible without doing violence to the material. Only a few of the 
dreams are given, and the numbers refer to their position in the total 

i8o The People of Alor 

September i8 y 1938: no. 19 

His mother died and he gave a lavish burial ceremony. 

September 20, 1938: no. 41 

His mother sold thirty-five cents worth of maize in Kalabahi and 
gave him the proceeds to buy a shawl. In the course of the purchase a 
coastal Mohammedan boxed his ears. A kinsman drew a knife in his 
defense with the intention of killing the aggressor. The police inter- 
fered. They were taken to the radjah and die coastal man was put in 

September 20, 1938: no. 42 

"I dreamed that my father [who had been dead seven years] came 
back to life. I said, 'Father, formerly you were dead, but now you are 
wandering about.' Father answered, 'I am not dead. I only disappeared.' 
Then I said, "Long ago you died. I asked for a shroud. I returned, 
wrapped your body, and buried you. I paid for your shroud with 
thirty pigs and gongs. I divided wealth worth fifty-eight rupiahs among 
your Male House kin.' He said, 'You are blind in one eye and you are 
lame, but I believe you are a rich man. Give the rest of my death feasts. 
Do thus; but in truth, I have only disappeared.' One dream was thus." 

September 24, 1938: no. 60 

His father urged him to wake up, and then led him to their village, 
where he gave Rilpada a large gong and a broken one as well. The 
latter was "medicine" to bring him good fortune in financial enterprises. 

September 26, 1938: no. 70 

His father killed his mother with a club. Rilpada collected pigs for 
an elaborate death feast. While it was under way, his mother revived 
and said, "I am not dead. Use the pigs, gongs, and rice for your father's 
death feast [since He is really dead]. I am not dead." 

September 30, 1938: no. 82 

His mother died and he paid off obligations in a rapid and ostenta- 
tious fashion, in which the ethnographer assisted. 

October j, 1938: no. 94 

He visited the old village site and saw his dead father's soul. His 
mother and brother Senmani were asleep in the house. He shook them 

Rilpada the Seer 281 

awake and said, "This is a dead man's house. Don't sleep here." The 
dead father replied, "Just last .night I brought your mother here to 
sleep and she is already pregnant. She has already borne a male child." 
Rilpada replied, "A dead person has begotten a child. Throw it away." 
But his father answered, "It is my semen, so don't throw it away." Ril- 
pada took a club and fought with his father. His brother Senmani 
awoke and killed their father, who turned to dry leaves in their hands. 
Rilpada said, "This is not a person; it is rubbish, so burn it up." They 
brushed the leaves into a pile and his brother set them alight. They 
burned to ashes and the soul of the dead man ascended. When the 
brothers scattered the ashes, there was a snake on the hearth. They 
were very frightened and ran away. 

October 7, 1938: no. 99 

Rilpada visited the village of the dead, where he met his father. His 
father urged him to leave but Rilpada was unwilling, so the father 
drove him away with a club. The father followed him to a large tree, 
where they chewed areca together, and the father then urged him to 
continue the journey home. When Rilpada got home, his brother asked 
where he had been. Rilpada told him. Then his brother said, "Were 
you looking for something?" Rilpada answered, "No. I just went to be 
near our father." His brother suggested that hereafter Rilpada should 
sit quietly at home. He acquiesced. 

October 8 y 1938: no. iof 

He heard that his mother had died, but when he went to her he 
found she was not dead, but was ill from spirit possession. He told his 
mother to eat heartily. "Spirits will not possess a full belly. So eat some- 
thing that your body may grow strong rapidly." His mother, however, 
said that her cooking pot was empty. Rilpada's wife prepared food for 
his mother. She ate and recovered. 

October 77, 1938: no. 120 

He heard that his mother was dead, but learned later that she was 
only possessed of an evil spirit. Rilpada called to his maternal uncle to 
assist him in casting out the spirit. His mother denied that she was 
possessed. Rilpada urged the maternal uncle to come up into the house 
since he feared there would be a struggle with his mother. The uncle 
entered the house and built up the fire. They held the mother over it to 
drive out the spirit. She beat her brother's chest until he cried out. 

282 The People of Alor 

Brother (Senmani) 
September 30, 1938: no. 79 

Rilpada dreamed that his brother returned from a successful dunning 
expedition, but when he awoke Rilpada said the dream meant his 
brother would have no success in the wealth-raising venture in which 
he was then engaged. 

October 4, 1938: no. 92 

His brother had intercourse with a woman from the Kafe area. The 
chief struck his brother. Their maternal uncle protested. Three male 
kin, including Rilpada, paid the brother's fine. 

October 7, 1938: no. 101 

His brother purchased a wife. Rilpada and his brother-in-law helped 
him, but the girl's father was dissatisfied with the payment. A third kin 
promised to make further payments for the brother in three days. 

October 18, 1938: no. 126 

Senmani wounded a playmate in a fight and was beaten for it. When 
summoned Rilpada refused at first to go to the litigation. A message 
was sent, saying, "If Senmani is your younger brother, come; if he is 
not your younger brother, stay." Rilpada then went, protested at pay- 
ing his brother's fine because he was physically incapacitated, but fi- 
nally did pay it. 

November /, 1938: no. 131 

His brother and a friend received food, tobacco, and areca from him. 
Senmani cut his hand at Rilpada's house after receiving these gifts. Ril- 
pada put lime in the cut (the customary treatment) and Senmani cried. 

Sister (Kolfani) 
September 28, 1938: no. 74 

His sister's garden was very lush. Their maternal uncle's pig dam- 
aged it and there was a quarrel, in which two younger maternal uncles 
took the sister's side against the older maternal uncle. The older uncle 
was wounded. Rilpada paid for his sister's fault (the wounding ojf some- 
one in a quarrel over her). The younger uncle was also wounded in 
defending Kolfani and so claimed payment from Rilpada too. There- 
upon Rilpada married his sister to another man, who paid a large bride- 
price (which her present husband had failed to do). The dream turned 
into an account of affinal wealth exchanges. 

Rilpada the Seer 283 

September 30, 1938: no. 81 

His sister was accused of committing adultery. Her husband's kin 
blamed Rilpada; they said he insisted on her living in her own village 
instead of in her husband's. Rilpada denied all knowledge and responsi- 
bility in this connection. The chief beat him. He still pleaded innocence 
and drew attention to his blindness and lameness but said that since he 
had been beaten, his sister should not be. His brother-in-law threat- 
ened a divorce and reckoned wealth. Rilpada derogated the amount of 
bride-price that had been paid, comparing it unfavorably with that paid 
by his sister's former husband. The sister was consulted about the truth 
of the accusation. She said it was true and asked Rilpada to pay the fine, 
which he did. (Ordinarily the adulterer would pay the fine. Was the 
unconscious implication that Rilpada was guilty of incest?) He finished 
the account with the remark, "I awoke and my dream seemed Very 

October 9, 1938: no. 108 

He shared a garden with his sister. He told her he was lazy and re- 
fused to contribute any labor. She was angry and reminded him that 
he had done the same thing last year, and that at that time his wife had 
given only a minimum of assistance, although they had shared in the 
harvest. She refused to share the present harvest. Rilpada was angry. 
They litigated. The chief ordered Rilpada to pay his sister some money 
and the sister to share the harvest. 

Brother and Sister 
September 29, 1938: no. 76 

His brother and sister quarreled. They exchanged blows and the sis- 
ter ran away to her husband's village. Rilpada made peace and brought 
her back by making an unfavorable dowry-bride-price exchange with 
her husband. 

Wife (Lonseni) 
October /, 1938: no. 83 

He divorced his wife for no stated reason. He quarreled with his 
brother-in-law over a dowry payment and struck his wife. He finally 
received a dowry and left. 

October 9, 1938: no. 107 

His wife stole from a neighbor's garden. There was a public scandal. 
Rilpada and his wife's brother paid an excessively high fine for her 

284 The People of Alor 

October y\ 193$: no. 1 12 

He went with his wife to Kalabahi. He wanted to buy salt there, 
but a spate came that prevented them from crossing the river. They 
camped on the far bank, ate, and returned home. 


In addition to these dreams of kinsmen, two others deserve brief 

September 21, 1938: no. // 

"My familiar spirit and my soul went single file to Lemia, which is 
the dwelling place of an evil spirit. My familiar took his sword and 
killed the evil spirit. Then its soul followed us. My familiar has good 
legs and eyes; he ran. My soul is lame and its eyes are blind; it ran 
badly. Thereupon my soul hid under a rock. It took a thorny weed and 
covered up the entrance. My soul sat hidden. The evil spirit did not 
find me. I was very much afraid." 

October 6, 1938: no. 96 

"In another dream I saw my soul run. It stepped over a fire and my 
thighs were scorched. [Actually two children had been badly burned a 
few days before when they were jumping over a fire, and they had 
been brought to the ethnographer for treatment.] People carried me to 
the nonya,* who took medicine and put it on me. She said, 'Another 
time don't step over the fire.' Then people carried my soul to Dikimpe. 
Manikalieta said, 'There are several children who have been burned. 
If the nonya had not come they would have died. Our nonya has a 
good heart. She puts medicines on both cuts and burns.' Thereupon 
the chief of Dikimpe said, The one who has come up to us has many 
ways of doctoring. To those with sickness she gives medicine to drink. 
She also puts things on cuts and wounds.' " 


This man makes an excellent contrast to Mangma. He lacks the 
pretentiousness of the latter, but has a vivid fantasy life, which he even 
embellishes now and then with a bit of confabulation. He is as much 
of a mystic as one can expect to find in this society. In view of his 
serious physical handicaps, he seems to make quite a successful ad-' 

* This is a Malay word meaning u lady," which was generally applied to the 

Rilpada the Seer 285 

justment in certain aspects of his life. He comes fairly close to the 
characteristics of certain neuroses in Western society. 

He is about thirty-six, the middle of five siblings, and is married to a 
woman ten years older, who has two daughters by a previous marriage. 
He has no children. He is a seer, and has some standing but little wealth. 
Physically he is blind in one eye, is crippled and emaciated, and has an 
irritating skin disease. He is a dreamer and an interpreter of dreams. 

His father, now dead, was a prominent seer who had risen from the 
position of a slave child by dint of persistence and enterprise. His father 
is the dominant influence in Rilpada's life. The son not only follows his 
father's vocation of seer, but he is constantly occupied with the latter's 
finances rather than his own. He takes pride in his father's sexual prowess 
in having had nine wives. Rilpada is the offspring of his father's second 
marriage. His mother is still living. 

The tone of Rilpada's autobiography differs notably from that of the 
others. We are dealing here with a contemporary picture that differs 
strikingly from the childhood picture. Also, Rilpada's story differs from 
the others in emphasis. Whereas the general cultural picture is the same 
in his case as in the others, he insists upon giving a picture of good care 
in childhood. He felt the influence of both maternal care and paternal 
guidance, and both seem to have been intelligent and directed. The 
evidence for this is that he is actively partisan, now toward his mother, 
now toward his father. He recounts plenty of quarrels with both, but 
always adds a forgiving note, indicating that both his parents made 
persistent efforts to placate him and understand his feelings. He is al- 
ways reconciled to them, and his story abounds in episodes of gratitude 
to them and solicitude for them. His earliest recollection, one of grab- 
bing and spoiling a rice cone that his mother had prepared, is followed 
by the comment, "She told me not to do that, and gave me a coconut 
dish with rice that was left in the pot." It is natural, therefore, to find 
that he behaves the same way toward his friends, with whom there are 
plenty of fights but always rapid reconciliations. 

Only in the case of women are Rilpada's reactions true to the cultural 
type and even worse, for he has a decided neurosis on this score. There 
is some likelihood of his being impotent, though his childlessness cannot 
be taken as evidence to support this, since he is married to a woman now 
forty-five. There are indications of shyness toward women; he runs 
away from them and finally marries one whose chief virtue is that she 
can work well and be a good caretaker a replica of the desired mother 

i86 The People of Alor 

Rilpada seems to have been crushed by his father's greatness. He feels 
reverence for him and, save for his sexual activities, tries hard to be the 
shadow of him. 

In short, in Rilpada we have a man who insists on giving a picture of 
better-than-usual care, with the result, however, of enormously inflating 
the paternal ideal, which he seeks to emulate. Consequently he has more 
than the usual inhibitions. Rilpada needs constantly to justify his inability 
to be like his father, and this seems to be the significance of his constant 
emphasis on his physical injuries and handicaps. "How can I be like him 
when fate doesn't permit me, when it strikes me down again and again! " 
He is not trying to win sympathy but to justify his mediocre achieve- 
ments. What he fails to do in deed, however, he makes up for by an 
eager confabulation, which serves to comfort him. 

He begins his narrative (at the age of eight) with the desertion of 
his father to another wife, his solicitude for his mother, and his efforts 
to comfort her by shooting a pig for his aunt's death feast. The father's 
desertion enrages the little boy, and he seeks at once to take his father's 
place. He follows this anecdote immediately with one of an injury to 
his knee. 

His narrative about being scalded is likewise a commentary on his 
father's help; but, he continues, he, Rilpada, was a good rat hunter. The 
next episode, one in which he quarrels with another boy, is likewise 
significant. He is pugnacious but has plenty of resources. He values the 
friendship more than the opportunity to be angry. He does not discard 
the object that displeases him, though he may get angry. His father al- 
ways stands between him and his misfortunes with advice, which he 

Of pertinent significance are Rilpada's references to food. The em- 
phasis is not on nutriment which confirms the interpretation that food 
hunger in this culture stands for poor parental care but is rather on the 
side of prowess, of being a good rat hunter, in which the paternal ideal 
can easily be identified. The influence of the paternal ideal is shown even 
more clearly in Rilpada's early leaning toward contacts with spirits 
through very exciting and anxious dreams. Yet he is an unusually fearful 
child, and even until he is twenty-five he is constantly getting hurt, 
sometimes quite badly. Some clue to the anxious dreams of childhood 
is contained in his story that he had these dreams when he was staying 
in the field house, so he had to go home. The dreams were of being 
pursued by men. Though their chronology is not definitely indicated, 
these terror dreams must have come after the father's desertion. 

Rilpada the Seer 287 

Up to his seventeenth year Rilpada steals a good deal, often using 
as his justification the claim that others put him up to it. But for an 
Alorese he is quite honest. He deceives an old man for a while, then 
decides to be honest and compensates for his earlier deception by doing 
several things not expected of him. He refuses, despite a friend's sug- 
gestion, to eat rats while on a rat-hunting expedition for a woman, and 
then proceeds to tell her what a good boy he is. This is a child who ap- 
preciates approval and who has some incentive to accept parental ideals. 
Whether or not his autobiography is accurate, it shows the picture of 
himself that he wishes to give. 

He is not malicious, except in one episode when he set fire to some 
fields, a decidedly pernicious act. But then he goes home and dreams 
anxiously of being reproved by the spirit of the field. He wakes up in 
distress, confesses to his parents and brother, and feeds the spirit, who 
reappears in a dream the next night to tell Rilpada, "You are good. You 
transgressed but you paid a fine." In short, for the reasons already indi- 
cated, Rilpada has a conscience and is consequently educable. He is 
repeatedly losing consciousness and having long moralizing visions. 
Three are reported on February 12, 1939. One vision is quite remark- 
able. He goes rat hunting and injures the rat, which runs up a tree. 
Rilpada follows, falls, and in the ensuing "vision" develops a "conscience" 
about killing rats. 

But it is also quite apparent that his paternal ideal is too much for him. 
He hasn't the resources to live up to it. He is too much the good boy, is 
decidedly passive, is never a leader, and is never a financial success. He 
is living on his father's glory. Note the story (February 9) of his father's 
being ambushed by an enemy and challenging his adversary to bring out 
a pig and sheep, which he will kill with one stroke. This threat and its 
validation constitute the kind of episode that would impress a child with 
his father's fearlessness and strength. On another occasion, when Rilpada 
was twelve, his father was a guest at a feast and when served saw a hair 
in his food, a sign of poison. He flew into a rage, broke the pots and 
serving dishes, seized his weapons, and shouted defiance. Rilpada says, "I 
was afraid and I took father's hand." The old man compelled his hosts 
to pay a fine, kill a fresh pig, and cook a new meal and give him a live 
pig to boot! Here again die father's vigor and overassertiveness was 
enough to impress anyone. 

In other words, Rilpada grew up under the influence of an over- 
weening, self-assertive father. But he used his father as someone whose 
strength was for his own use; he sought to be protected by this strength 

288 The People of Alor 

rather than to emulate it. His father is always mentioned as the curer 
of his ills. If he got into trouble his father got him out. However, his 
father did not condone Rilpada's lack of skill; the boy got many scold- 
ings and on one occasion a castration threat, not for a sexual misde- 
meanor, but for lack of skill in rat hunting. 

Rilpada's relations to his mother are less distinct. He slept with her 
until he was six or seven. He often disobeyed her, and once shot a bird 
arrow at her and injured her. This was the occasion of his running away; 
but his father coaxed him back after two months 9 absence, and he found 
both parents forgiving and understanding. He once attacked his father 
when his sympathies were aroused by unjust treatment of his mother. 

His father died when Rilpada was about twenty-seven, and only on 
this single occasion does Rilpada present himself as an important person. 

The account of his attitude toward his brothers is devoid of details, 
but in the few episodes he does narrate, hostility is obvious. He does not 
mention his two older brothers until he is asked about them. He refused 
to take care of the younger brother, but he does tell of one episode in 
which he was getting the worst of a fight when his younger brother, 
six years his junior, came to his aid. He likewise neglects his younger 
sister. On one occasion when the younger sister was creating a great 
to-do by refusing to marry the man to whom she was contracted, Ril- 
pada (age thirty) attempted the role of paterfamilias but failed badly. 
He was totally ineffectual. 

His relations with women are likewise bad. In fact, they hardly count 
at all. Four times he mentions playing with girls, and in connection with 
three of them he recounts some untoward incident. He enters into rela- 
tionship with a girl for the first time at seventeen. He offers to build her 
a house and she proposes to him. He accepts and steals a moko from his 
father. His father detects the theft but nevertheless offers to help Ril- 
pada collect his bride-price.* But he loses the girl anyhow to another 
suitor. He denies having had intercourse with her, and we can well 
believe him. 

His next relationship is one in which he and a girl exchange areca. 
She sends a go-between and again he is willing. His father helps him with 
bride-price arrangements. Five days later the girl comes to sleep with 
him. He is away on an errand and when he returns he finds her in his 

* In several of the biographies very inhibited men make an early effort to get a 
bride-price as if in preparation for marriage. These efforts usually occur immediately 
after adolescence and represent impatience to acquire status rather than a need for 
a sexual mate. Several of these precocious efforts are followed by a long history of 
troubled relations with women owing largely to deep anxiety provoked by them. 

Rilpada the Seer 289 

home. He is overcome with scruples because it is only five days after 
the bride-price was given instead of the customary seven, and he runs 
away to die chiefs house to sleep. Despite reproaches by his father, 
Rilpada is willing to break up the projected marriage if he can get the 
bride-price back, but he cannot. He nevertheless refuses the girl. His 
father recognizes Rilpada's abnormality and says, "You are afraid of 
women. You didn't sleep with her. You aren't your age." His father was 

He has one other episode with a girl; he has no intercourse with her 
but sends her away too. He finally succumbs for a small bride-price to 
the advances of a widow with two grown daughters. Rilpada justifies 
his marriage by saying that it is better to have an older woman who 
knows how to take care of the garden. This choice is quite telling. He 
fears forward women and finally marries one who is a maternal figure, 
so that after marriage his general life-situation changes scarcely at all. 
Nominally he is head of the family; actually he is again one of three 

What are the operating constellations in this personality? What in- 
formation do his voluminous dreams give us? Most of them deal with 
litigations and ceremonies, in which he is in reality only a spectator. He 
represents himself as discharging all financial obligations. In his dreams 
he is a great and generous person, feeds the needy, fixes everything, acts 
as judge, and sees to it that wrongs are punished. He also cures people 
and receives gifts in token of his good deeds. These are all compensatory 
fantasies in pursuit of his paternal ideal. 

His father and mother both die in his dreams. (His mother is still 
alive.) His dream relations to familiars are quite revealing. These beings 
take his side in fights and they are injured in his stead. They therefore 
replace the dead and powerful father. In one dream his father denies he 
is dead and promises him that he, Rilpada, will become rich. Similarly it is 
with the aid of his familiar spirits that he is able to be important and to 
overcome his physical handicaps. "My familiar has good eyes and legs; 
my soul is lame, its eyes are blind." But even so the fantasy of protec- 
tion by these supernatural creatures is often of no avail, and often Ril- 
pada is threatened by an evil spirit. 

He evidently cannot tolerate guilt feelings. Many of his dreams deal 
with litigations, in which he is always judged right by some superior 
judge. Another version of the same situation occurs in dreams in which 
he is made to pay damage for other people's wrongdoings. For example, 
his wife commits theft, and Rilpada is humiliated and made to pay a 

290 The People of Alor 

fine. He pays the fine for his sister's adultery. Since this is probably in 
response to some sexual temptation of his own, it supplies us with a 
valuable bit of insight. Even in a dream he cannot formulate his own 
sexual wishes. He must accuse someone else of the deed, though he pays 
the fine. His martyrdom is really a sense of guilt and inadequacy. This 
is followed by a dream of his mother's death, which means great ex- 
penditure for him, and he accordingly pays all the death obligations. 

One dream in particular gives us a clue to his sex life. In this dream 
his dead father has intercourse with his living mother and has a child. 
Rilpada wants to throw the child away but his father says, "This is my 
semen, so don't throw it away." It was pointed out before that Rilpada 
admired his father's power over people and also his sexual prowess in 
having had nine wives. The father's sexual power is clearly seen in this 
dream when he impregnates Rilpada's mother after he dies. This causes 
great anger in Rilpada, and he and his brother (he confesses to be too 
weak to do it alone) kill the father. This is a typical Oedipus dream. 
But he cannot have done with his father; after he kills him a snake 
(penis) rises out of the ashes. His brother and he are frightened and he 
wakes up. (In another dream he sets traps to catch rats. But instead of 
rats he catches a snake, which speaks to him. Rilpada promises to build 
an altar for the snake and they become friends. But when he tries to catch 
it, it runs away and then bites him. The father as snake is again discern- 

In other words, just as his father's influence on Rilpada stunted his 
growth, since he could not emulate him, likewise in his sex life he can- 
not do what his father has done. Despite his jealousy he succumbs to 
fear of his father. The result is complete passivity, consequent fear of 
women, and sexual inhibitions. 

That power and importance always fascinate Rilpada is very clearly 
shown in a little episode bearing on the ethnographer. Two children in 
the village who were jumping over a fire and got badly burned were 
brought to the ethnographer for treatment. Rilpada dreams, "People 
carried me to you [the ethnographer]. You took medicine and put it on 
me and you said, 'Another time don't step over the fire.' " Then follows 
more flattery of the ethnographer's kind and wonderful deeds, and then 
a report of another dream of the same night. A girl (Fuipeni) dies and 
Rilpada diagnoses that an evil spirit had entered her mouth. With a 
knife he cuts off the skin of the evil spirit possessing her. His wife boils 
rice and feeds the girl. Next come a dream of the ethnographer's giving 
a feast, and another in which Rilpada visits his dead father, much to the 
latter's annoyance. 

Rilpada the Seer 291 

This remarkable sequence confirms our original conclusions about 
Rilpada's relations to his father. He now repeats the same pattern with 
the ethnographer. He is injured in order to be the recipient of her 
bounty; he flatters and idealizes her in the same way. He takes over her 
role as a healer and performs a miracle too. Then he is feasted by the 
ethnographer and visits his father. It is clearly no accident that Rilpada 
always mentions his father in connection with his injuries. In this in- 
stance he walks right into an accident in order to satisfy his passive 
longings. In another dream at this time he has a large boil on his thigh. 
The ethnographer lances and treats it, but it recurs. She lances it again 
and a stone falls out, and so on. The motive is the same. It is a solicitation 
for love and an extenuation of his own weakness. 

maternal care 

paternal ii 

accidents that 



Rilpada's Character Structure 

probably strongly attached to mother, but 
attachment deeply repressed 

Cscious attachment to father as powerful 
gure \pedipus 

: ... . f , , /complex 

hostility repressed; exaggerating fathers 

powers for good 

ego stunted through passivity to father 
accepts father-ideal 

I- becomes seer and adopts some of his tute- 
lary spirits 

compensatory traits in grandiosity 
(in dreams) 


L- becomes shadow of father; clings to 

sexually inhibited 
Imarriage perfunctory 
a mother-replica 

ego ideal strongly patterned after father, but too weak to exe- 
cute it. Always seeks to consummate it vicariously by taking 
passive attitude to any powerful person and identifying him- 
self completely with him 

superego: more delicate conscience than average 

Chapter 12 
Malelaka the Prophet 


Malelaka's claim to fame rested on his supernatural relationships to 
Good Beings. In 1929 he had predicted the imminent arrival of these 
Beings, whose presence in the village would put an end to death and ill- 
ness. The people were very much excited by his prophecies and were 
willing to build special houses in which to lodge the supernatural guests. 
The government was suspicious of these activities and sent troops to 
demolish the houses and arrest Malelaka. 

At the time that Malelaka gave his autobiography he was once more 
cautiously predicting the arrival of Good Beings, but the people were 
far more skeptical this time. In the first hour I made no mention of these 
activities, but instead stressed his life history and early memories, saying 
that I did not want descriptions of ceremonies and other comparable 
ethnographic data. 

He launched into a long imaginary conversation he had had recently 
with "my friend, the Good Being." 

April 30, 1939 

When I was still small, perhaps twelve or thirteen, the sun spoke to 
me, saying, "I come now to tell you that you won't get sick. You may 
have boils and wounds, but other sicknesses will not afflict you. The 
first time you have a child I shall come and speak to you and you must 
make a house." When the people heard these words, they said, "We 
iriust make a house," but I said, "No, we should wait till they [the 
Good Beings] come down from above." They said, "No, we must make 
the house first." [With utter disregard for the time element he was now 
off on his Good Being exploit of 1929.] Then Mobikalieta's familiar 
spirit said I should use a bow and arrows. When the five Good Beings 
came, they saw the bows and arrows in the house we had built for 
them. They were afraid and went away again. I was asleep and woke up 
to see that the Good Beings' mountain was hanging in mid-air. They 
held up their hands with their five fingers spread. This meant they 
would return in five years. 

When I got out of jail, I waited two years, and in the third year I 
made a house again. [This was about August 1938.] Seven days ago 
I heard them tell me that in one month they would come, and that 



= OTila 


X Makanma 

Malelaka the Prophet 
Genealogy of Malelaka 


= X Rilpada the Seer 

X Chief of Alurkowati 
= O Fuipeni 


X Manialurka 
= O Melani 


OFiyekalieta l O Maliemai 

O Tilapada = X Thomas 


= O Lonfani 

X Padamakani, d. 1938 
= O Fuimaf 

X Senmani 

= O Maliemai 

O 14 yrs. 

'O Kolfani, 16 yrs. 
X Padamakani, 13 yrs. 
X Atamau, 5 or 6 yrs. 
O Fuimani, i yrs. 

O Kolfani 
(ind wife) 

X Motlaka- 
O Lonma 

X Mangma, d. 16 yrs. 

X Senmani, disappeared at 20 yrs. 

X Fanma, d. 1 2 yrs. 

O Maliema 

= X Manialurka 

'X Aranglaka, d. 1938 

O Tilapada 

O Kolmau 

O Maraipada, d. infancy 

X Mangma, d. infancy 

X Fanmale, d. 5 or 6 yrs. 

O Kolpada, d. infancy 

X Lakamobi the Calendarer 

-X Chief of Karieta 

O name unknown 

- O Lonma, who cared for informant as a child 

then I was to beat gongs just once so the people of the Five Villages 
could come bringing wood. I do not know exactly whether their prom- 
ise was for one month or one year. When they spoke to me they asked, 
"Shall we bring an arrow or not?" I said, "If you bring an arrow, this 
world will turn over. If it does, who will be your subjects?" [The idea 
is that they would overturn the world with their arrow and the world 
would end.] So the Good Beings went back. In two days they came 
again and said, "Seers are the pupils of the eyes of the dead. They treat 
sick people and make them well. So when we come, call them just once. 

294 The People of Alor 

Then the kin of the seers must make food baskets, hang them on the 
seers' sacred carvings, and throw the carvings into the ravine. Then all 
the familiar spirits will run away. We have already given the arrow to 
our elders." I said, "If there were no seers, all the sick would die." But 
the Good Being said, "Oh, when my time comes, all seers must go. I 
alone will be here." [One seer, Rilpada, who was the most influential in 
the community, was skeptical of Malelaka's prophecies. The implica- 
tion of these remarks was that after the Good Beings came there would 
be no more sickness and death.] 

I asked, "Does someone from above want to come down, or is it an 
ordinary person who will come here?" The Good Beings said, "Oh, 
Malielehi's mother and father want to come down and search for their 
child." [Malielehi was a woman who was believed to have been a Good 
Being and who was the cause of the uprising in 1918. She was arrested 
and sent to Timor. No one knew what had become of her.] I asked 
how they would find Malielehi, and my friend the Good Being said that 
they would send a letter for her. I asked whether the letter would 
come from above, or would the government send it. Then my friend 
said, "I too have letters." So I said, "Place the message here. I too have 
children who have been to school and know Malay. I can send the mes- 
sage." But he said, "Last time you did this you were sent to jail. So this 
time we must do it ourselves. Don't do anything until we come down. 
Now you have only one pig and no goats. When we come down, we 
must have seven pigs and seven goats. The goats are for those who do 
not eat pig, and the pigs are for us." I said, "If you wish to come now, 
I shall have to speak only once and there will be many goats." The 
friend said, "When I come, white clouds will fill this valley entirely. 
Then beat the gongs once for the people to bring wood." I said, "No. 
We have to pay people who have rice four cents for a mugful, and we 
have to pay them one cent for an egg. How shall we pay for the pigs?" 
He answered, "You can buy the pigs and goats with the gong you have. 
Now you can't eat people's rice without paying for it. Also, you pay 
for their chickens before eating them." [This was doubtless a reference 
to my system of paying for the food gifts brought me.] I said, "If 
people like me and bring rice and chickens, I cook them and feed them 
to the givers. I don't eat them myself." Then the friend said, "I haven't 
come yet, so it doesn't matter. But when I do come, you must pay for 
the water you drink; when you eat others' food, you must pay. But 
when people come to you, you must feed them and they must not pay 
you. Now that I haven't yet come, you pay before eating; also, people 

Malelaka the Prophet 295 

may make feasts. When I come, people 'may not beat gongs. They may 
make lineage houses and village guardian carvings, but they may not 
make any other feasts." 

Then I said, "If a native missionary copies here, he will designate for 
destruction the guardian spirit/' The Good Being said, "Oh, that is noth- 
ing. If he destroys it, just replace it. When I come down to earth, you 
must feed the village guardian spirit six times every month. If your 
lineage house is broken down, the owner must rebuild it and feed the 
people. Each owner of a lineage house must do this. This will take 
the place of other feasts. When you were born I wrote down your 
years; now you are nine hundred and ninety. When I come down a 
letter will be sent to all those who have had contact with Good Beings, 
and they must all come. That was written down above. It has been nine 
hundred and ninety years since the big earthquake came and carried off 
Mauglaka [a well-known event that occurred sometime between 1890 
and 1900]. If others, like those in the government, were to summon a 
Good Being, they would send a letter. But we must use our own kind 
of records." I said, "If we sent a letter and beat gongs, the government 
would hear about it right away. Nowadays if I beat a gong the whole 
island hears of it." The Good Being said, "Those who have ever had 
contact with a Good Being can have their shrouds and grave-wrappings 
split from them [i.e., will come back to life]." 

May / 

Last night I dreamed people put me on a ship, but it didn't sail on 
the water; it sailed in mid-air. It didn't go up into the sky but sailed in 
mid-air toward the rising sun. We went until we reached an island. I 
asked where we were and they said it was Japan.* I asked where was 
the highest tree of the island [the ruler]. People said they were the 
rulers and that we must go away and return to our own island. Then 
the ship left and came back. It followed the north coast of Alor until 
we reached Kalabahi. There we got off. Then the officials in Kalabahi 
asked me, "You are a mountain man. How is it that you went so far 
away? How did you go?" I said, "Oh, the captain of the ship took me. 
We went all the way to the rising sun, and he brought me back." At 
the bridge in Kalabahi people were building a house. I asked why they 
were building a house and they said, "We are building this house for 
the officials from over there [Japan? ] so they will come and stay here 

* This is the only reference to Japan I ever heard a native make. All that Malelaka 
knew of it was that it was an island to the north. 

296 The People of Alor 

in Kalabahi." The clerk of the radjah said we were to tell the chiefs and 
the tumukun that people from Atimelang must come down to the coast 
and work on the house. I got as far as Lakawati when this big wind 
shook the door and woke me. [A monsoon storm was blowing. Male- 
laka was sleeping in the house he built last winter for the Good Beings.] 

When I was still small, about five or six, my grandmother, Maliemai, 
fed her familiar spirit's altar. Many people whom she had cured came 
bringing chickens and rice. Then my grandmother killed a big pig, and 
the three villages all brought food to her feast. 

When I was a little bigger, my mother, father, and Padakalieta were 
living together. My father made a circle with his hands on a beam and 
Padalang shot an arrow into it. They were building their lineage house 
at that time. Padalang, who was the first owner, had to shoot into the 
circled hands of the second owner. They did this before cutting down 
the beam, while the tree was still standing. After that they could cut the 
beam. At that time they had to feed the house-building partner three 
times with rice cones. [He continued with details about building the 
lineage house.] 

Some years later Maliemai bought carabao bones for a death feast. 
[He continued with details of the ceremony. For the rest of the hour 
he discussed in detail various important feasts given by his kinsmen and 
himself. He refused to be diverted. In the first hour he had concen- 
trated on the great things that were to occur through his agency. In this 
second hour he dwelt primarily on past financial achievements. He gave 
the impression of a man preoccupied with asserting his importance.] 

May 2 

[A bad storm was raging and several houses had been blown over. 
The people were apprehensive and had not slept much.] 

Toward dawn I dreamed that my wealth-bringing spirit came to me 
and said, "You have not yet heard, but now you will." Then he hung 
me upside down by my feet. He was punishing me. [Why? ] I had dis- 
obeyed the spirit, who had ordered me, "Call all the people to come to 
you carrying wood, because this world is to become dark," but I didn't 
tell the people of the Five Villages to do this. [I asked who the spirit 
was. He answered that it was a fish being who lived near the Good 
Beings' village and was their friend. This led to a digression about the 
hereafter. I then asked him what early memories he wished to talk 

When I was still small, about two or three years old, I remember 

Malelaka the Prophet 297 

that Loma [a cousin of his mother] came to fondle me. For a long time, 
until she went to sleep with her husband, she cared for me. Then Tila- 
lani [an elder paternal cousin] came and cared for me until I was five 
or six. Then she married and left. When I was about that age, my 
grandfather took a gong to Atimelang and I went with him, carrying 
his areca basket. There I was given meat to eat. I lived for a time with 
my grandfather. When I was a little bigger, he took a pig to Foraafeng 
in the Kafoi area and I went with him. The people made a lineage house 
in Afengberka, and my grandfather took a pig and I carried his areca 
basket for him. My grandfather went to fetch Padamani's dowry pay- 
ment and then took him a bride-price payment. When he returned the 
bride-price payment, I went with him to Bakudatang. Whenever my 
grandfather went anywhere to feasts, I had to go with him [had to in 
the sense of "wanted to very much"]. 

When I was twelve or fourteen, I did not want to follow my grand- 
father anymore. I just wanted to shoot at banana stalk targets with my 
friends. They were Malelani, Lakamau, and Manimau. We played in 
two teams. We gathered all our arrows and whoever hit the target got 
an arrow. It was like playing cards [a form of gambling, now popular 
among Alorese young people]. When they started to build my lineage 
house, I forgot shooting at targets and just went for gongs and mokos. 
I thought only of roasting pigs. I too began for the first time to roast 
pigs and chickens. I was about sixteen. At that time a human head was 
brought to the village as a "husband" for my grandmother, Tilamani, 
whose husband had been killed in a war. I roasted a big pig. We prom- 
ised the creditors that they might return in six days. When they came 
back my uncle shot a big pig and I gave a little one and a chicken. The 
creditors had brought the head of one of their own village members, 
so they did not eat of the feast. When the time came to pay, they said 
to me, "You are still single, but you kill pigs and chickens, so you too 
must pay." [Typical financial flattery.] So I got a Maningmauk moko 
and a large broken gong I had been saving to buy a wife, and used them 
to pay for the head. 

When that was paid for, an uncle died. My elder kin said, "Go to the 
house of whatever woman wants to marry you and tell her parents to 
give a pig for the death feast." Marailani had spoken to me, so I went 
to her parents and got a big pig. In five days she came to live with me. 
At this time her family was giving a feast. I took three mokos and a 
chicken to the feast. Marailani had gone on ahead. When I got to her 
house she had disappeared. She ran away. So I was only throwing away 

298 The People of Alor 

my gongs and mokos on her family. Then after a time she came back 
to me, I began to look again for her bride-price. But she went off and 
slept with other men. Then I didn't want her any more. I asked for my 
expenses back and her family paid them. 

May 3, 1939 

Last night I dreamed I had a school at my house. The native mis- 
sionary-teacher was not a man from these parts. His face was different. 
Fantan, Mateos, and Jacobis [local boys] helped to teach the children. 
I collected the children of the Five Villages for the school. There was a 
schoolhouse, kitchen, and sleeping place in Lonlaka's field. The school 
was near the place where I built the Good Beings' house that the gov- 
ernment demolished. The teacher said, "In six days the Lord from 
above will come down." I asked what the Lord wanted and the teacher 
said, "He is going to peel all the people [i.e., give them immortality]. 
When he comes down, build his house in one day. He will call the 
government officials of the island so that their skins too may be peeled 
off." I asked what would happen then, and the teacher said, "When 
they come to collect taxes, you will have to pay them all at once. You 
will also have to follow the word of the Lord who is above. He will 
make laws for all- people. Every person will have a garden, but only 
one. Even infants who have not yet laughed must have a garden." Then 
I woke up and it was dawn. 

When I was half grown my father bought a gong, and the Five 
Villages came to dance it into the village. Father divided twelve rice 
cones among those who came. Then people brought a Piningia moko 
here, which father also bought. 

[I stopped him and asked for early memories of his mother.] When 
I was five or six, my mother wanted to go to the fields to work. I cried 
and followed. She ran back and said, "Don't cry, and don't follow me. 
Go back to the house. I am going to the gardens and will catch rats for 
you." Then she took me back to the house and gave me an egg. I called 
all my friends to come and eat my egg with me. Soon there were a lot 
of us playing outside the house. I dug a hole and put hot ashes in it to 
roast the egg. While we sat there, Manimale [a man] came and tugged 
Rualberka's breasts. Her husband wanted to shoot Manimale. We were 
afraid and ran off. As we ran, my dog followed me. I tripped over him 
and fell, splitting open my eyebrow. I had a big wound. My grand- 
mother, Maliemai, carried me to her verandah and cared for me there. 

I and my friends were playing a game. We played until we fought. 

Malelaka the Prophet 299 

Malelani pushed me and I fell, rolling over and over like a stone until I 
landed at the bottom of the hill. I cried. Motlaka, an uncle who had a 
house near there, passed by and saw me crying. He picked me up. My 
body was covered with wounds. I was almost dead. He carried me to 
his house, heated water, and washed my \younds. I stayed there with 
him. Then I saw young women bringing rice, first one, then another 
seven of them. They said, "We have brought rice and today we are 
going to your garden and play house. We shall cook rice cones; and the 
egg your mother gave you is still there, so get it and we will eat it with 
the rice cones." I went back to the house and saw there were four eggs 
in the hen's nest. Two were good. I went to another nest and took six 
eggs, leaving five in it. Then I went to where the seven girls had cooked 
rice. I gave them the eggs, and each of the girls gave me rice until there 
was more than I could eat. So I put the rest in a basket and took it to 
my uncle Motlaka. We finished it together. 

When we were ready to go home, the seven girls spoke to me and 
said, "In three days tell your elder kinsmen to shoot rats; follow them 
with a carrying basket to collect rats. Then we shall play house again. 
You bring the rats and we will bring rice." I asked, "Whom shall I call 
to hunt rats?" and they said, "Call the two Padamas, Senmale, and Lu- 
palaka." So I called those four young men and we hunted rats. I carried 
the basket for them. [Malelaka was much younger.] We filled the bas- 
kets and then we went to a large field house. The seven girls were al- 
ready there. Each girl got two rats and there were four left over. These 
we roasted and boiled there. The girls then cut the rice cones and we 
ate them with the rats. But there was a lot of rice left over. We five 
men got a basketful, which we carried home and ate. 

When we were halfway home the girls said, "In three days there is a 
dance, so we must play house here again. We have eaten rats, but in 
three days we must eat chicken." The four grown ones hunted for a 
chicken but couldn't get one, so Malelani and Lupalaka shot a pig. 
They called me to come. Lupalaka was sitting near the pig. He told me 
to take it to the field house, but not to follow the trail because people 
would see me. I took the pig and went without being seen to the house 
where the girls were. I threw it down and ran home. Then my four 
elder kinsmen said, "Now we don't have anything to carry, so we can 
hunt rats." They went to hunt but shot none. Four of us sat and 
watched the trail to see that no one came while Lupalaka butchered the 
pig. When it was time to eat, he called us to join them. The meat was 
all piled up and the rice cones were cut when we arrived. Lupalaka 

300 The People of Alor 

divided the meat among the girls. The girls said, "Aren't you men tak- 
ing any of the meat?" We said, "Oh, we are satisfied with just a drink 
of water." Then we cooked the head of the pig, and that is all we got. 
We told the girls that we could not carry the rice home and that they 
would have to carry it to our houses for us and give it to our mothers. 
The uncooked meat Lupalaka also gave the girls. In the evening the 
girls went on ahead and gave our mothers the rice. We followed them 

The four older boys told me and Malelani to watch the house while 
they hunted areca nuts. They wanted them for the dance that night. 
Lupalaka, the two Padamas, and Senmale went to Lawatika and each 
one stole a cluster. Three of the clusters filled a large basket. When 
they came back, they told us not to tell the owners. They said if we 
did they would not let us follow them any more. We two children got 
twenty nuts from each of the older boys. They hid their share of the 
areca in Malelani's attic. We two dug a hole to hide our share. We took 
just a few nuts to the dance with us. At the dance Lupalaka tugged 
the breasts of an Atimelang woman. We saw it because we were sitting 
near them chewing areca, but we did not say anything. She was the 
daughter of Karmale, married to Fanpeni of Atimelang. The next 
morning they decided to litigate. At that time the government was be- 
ginning to give us laws and a way of litigation. Lupalaka denied he had 
tugged the woman's breasts. Then the mandur said, "Children, you fol- 
low this young man. Did you see it?" But I said, "I am young. I don't 
know how to dance. I just go to watch people's legs. I don't know." 
Then the chief and the mandur said, "They were sitting near you when 
this happened." I said, "That is true. They were sitting near me eating 
areca. That I saw. But pulling breasts I did not see." Lupalaka had to 
pay a pig and a gong as a fine. I was about twelve years old at that time. 

May 4, 

[The storm was still raging. Everyone was very disturbed.] Last 
night I dreamed that this world broke up and darkness settled down 
over everything. Lost night at about eight o'clock my friend the 
wealth-bringing spirit came and said to me, "I told you that people must 
go fetch wood and gather together a lot. This world is about to turn 
over." He went on speaking to me until I went to sleep. Then I saw 
this world about to turn over and everything was dark. There was no 
sun or moon. When my spirit friend was there with me, he said that 
darkness was coming and that women must prepare for it by gathering 

Malelaka the Prophet 301 

wood. He said that for the first days it would be light, and during that 
time women must gather wood, but after that it would be dark. I asked, 
"If it is dark when the officials come, how will they get along?" My 
friend said, "When it is dark, people must always go in pairs. When 
women go to fetch water, they must go along with someone else [as 
formerly in days of warfare]. If they don't, the souls of the dead will 
shoot them." I asked what would happen after it had got dark, and he 
said, "In time it will be light again; then an earthquake will come. After 
the earthquake you will see a large lamp hanging in mid-air. Thereafter 
the earth will be good again." [When Malelaka talked with his spirit 
friend, he stood on the dance place in front of the special house he had 
built. He heard the voice of the spirit in the house but did not see him.] 

When I was about fourteen years old, people were waging war. If 
father or mother went to Likuwatang to market or went to work in the 
fields, I stayed home and took care of my younger siblings. I stayed in 
the house with them all the time to guard them and cook for them. 
When mother and father went to work, I took cassava, pounded it, 
took out the fibers, and pounded it again. I fetched water. When my 
mother returned she had only to cook. 

When I was about sixteen, I started field work. I joined my friends 
in work groups [tatul]. Our mothers would cook for us. Young boys 
and girls worked together. We worked, fought, played, and pulled each 
other. The older people saw that we did not work and that we thought 
only of playing and fighting. We told them that we worked before we 
started playing, but really we used to get lazy and just play. This went 
on all year until it was time to cut weeds again. Because we were young, 
we would cut only one or two fields and then play. When rain began 
to fall, we finally cleaned up our fields. We .planted our own fields 
before we planted those of our elders. We weeded our own fields be- 
fore we weeded those of our elders. They said, "Perhaps you are going 
to eat food only from your fields?" After that we all went and helped 
our elders. Then we began to raise pigs and chickens in partnership 
with people. But when they were half grown, our elders took them and 
roasted them, giving us only little ones in exchange. Since our elders 
took our pigs all the time, we didn't care to raise them any more; we 
just went to play instead. We gave up raising pigs. 

When we were still older, father said, "We shan't need your pigs 
any more. You had better raise some and buy gongs and mokos for 
your bride-price with them." 

When I was about sixteen, I worked with a group [tatul]. When 

302 The People of Alor 

they came to my garden, they didn't work. They just sat and watched 
the sun. They talked and played. So I thought I had better work alone. 
I built a field house and lived there. When others called me to join in 
group work, I said, "When I work in a group, I work industriously 
each day. When you come to my garden, you are lazy. I had better do 
my own work. When I am working, don't disturb me. I want to work 
my own garden myself. If you see sweet potatoes behind me, you can 
take them, but don't bother me." Young women also came to ask me to 
work communally. [He repeated the 'whole speech again.] When my 
parents came in the evening, they asked where my tubers were, and I 
said I had hidden some but most of them my friends had carried off. 
I had a very large crop of cassava and sweet potatoes that year. I hid 
them in three holes lined with banana leaves and covered with big 
stones. I saved them until corn-weeding time, and they were still good. 
[Later he said there were ten caches.] I gave mother one heap, and she 
took the tubers home and cooked them. Everyone asked her where 
she had got them at that season. She said I had saved them. Everyone 
wanted to weed my garden to get some sweet potatoes in return. I g'.ve 
them one heap for their work. That was a lot for their work. Tilaka was 
one of them. Later when she had much cassava, mother passed by her 
garden. Tilaka still remembered what I had given her and gave mother 
some cassava. When her cassava had dried up she asked me for fresh 
cassava, because her teeth were all gone and she couldn't chew. So I 
said, "It isn't as though I had a wife who went to the garden. Just take 
what you want." 

We ate up our corn that year before the rainy season even began, 
but I had a field of cassava that was very good, and many people 
brought us corn so they might dig cassava in my field. I said to them, 
"Take the tubers but replant a shoot in each hole that you dig. That 
way you just take off the waste. The real food still remains." Of dried 
cassava I got a big basketful. Then Lakama [his uncle] went to Maikuli, 
who was observing food taboos before feeding his sacred hearth and 
told him that I had a big basket of cassava, that I was still unmarried, 
and that he could buy it from me. So Maikuli went to Mobikalieta and 
got a pig from him, which he gave me to pay for the cassava. I raised 
that pig until it was worth a Kolmale moko. When Manulani died they 
came to ask for the pig. I gave it to them with a Piki moko, and they 
paid me back a Hawataka moko. With this Hawataka moko I bought a 
wife, Fuimale, but she didn't go through with the marriage. Instead she 
married Manifani, and her father paid me back a Fehawa moko to cover 
the Hawataka, a goat, and other things I had given. 

Malelaka the Prophet 303 

[I tried again to get him talking on human issues, but he reverted to 
the preceding event in greater detail.] 

When a kinsman of Fuimale's died, she wanted to marry me. Her 
grandfather said, "If you really wish it, jye will ask him for his Hawa- 
taka moko." So Fuimale came to my house. At that time I had to leave 
to do corve. Other wives brought food for their husbands, but Fuimale 
did not bring me any. So I ran off to get food. On the way I met Fui- 
male carrying some of my corn to Kalabahi to sell. She offered me some 
of the food she was carrying, but I said, "You are going to Kalabahi. I 
am returning to our village, so you keep the food." She was selling the 
corn for me. I got to the village and shortly afterward Fuimale came 
back from Kalabahi: She gave me thirty cents. That night I wanted to 
sleep with her, but she refused. This went on night after night. So I 
said, "If you don't want to, you can't live here." At that time I had 
given Karmau a gong, and he had paid me a Fehawa for it. Fuimale did 
not go, so I threw out the wood she had brought to the house and said 
she had to leave. Fuimale didn't go; she just sat there in front of the 
house. I told my mother and father to ask Fuimale to come up, saying, 
"She is also my child. Ask her to sleep in the house. I can give her to 
some other man." She came up and stayed with us for a month or so. 
Then the soldiers came and made us aU move down from the old site 
into the valley. At that time Fuimale went off and lived with her grand- 
father. I told her to come help us carry down the bamboo of our house. 
But she didn't, and I had to do it alone. After that she did not follow us 
any more. Then I went and caught Lonfani [another girl], using as part 
of the bride-price the Fehawa I had got from Karmau. When I did 
this, Kekalieta [Fuimale's mother] was angry with me and wanted to 
know why I didn't pay more bride-price on Fuimale instead of getting 
another wife. I said, "Don't fight. I have bought another wife with 
three mokos, but I will give another moko for Fuimale and she can 
come back." However, Manifani was already marrying her with a big- 
ger bride-price than I could pay. 

May 5 

Last night I dreamed I went to Karfehawa's village [Sahiek, the vil- 
lage of the dead]. Someone's familiar spirit took me. Karfehawa was 
sitting on a chair. He didn't look at us but just hung his head. Then the 
familiar spirit said, "Karfehawa, I have brought a man." Karfehawa said, 
still not looking at us, "Why did you bring him?" The familiar spirit 
answered, "I just brought him." Then Karfehawa said, "You must take 
him back." So the familiar spirit took me to an island, a little one with 

304 The People of Alor 

ocean all around it. There wa$ much ocean. I looked and saw there 
were five villages there. I asked where we were goirig, but the familiar 
said, "Don't be afraid; I'll take you to your village." Then we went 
along to Batulolong. There I went into a kitchen, but the people didn't 
feed me. They just gave me tobacco to smoke. [Was this a reference 
to the ethnographer? He sat at the kitchen door while waiting for the 
interview. This was the only kitchen house in the mountains. He was 
given tobacco but not food.] There it was very bright and hot. There 
was no rain there. [Rain had been falling heavily for days at the time.] 
Then we went down to the ravine, where there was a big spate. I asked 
what we were to do and the familiar spirit said, "Don't be afraid. Sit on 
my shoulders." I did, and he jumped across the river. Then he shook his 
shoulders and tossed me off, so that I landed on my feet. I was very 
hungry and told my friend so. He took someone's tubers that were 
growing there and gave them to me. I bit into one and it was raw. I 
said, "This is raw and I can't eat it. Let's just takw it along." When we 
reached Manetati I woke up. 

When I was small, maybe two or three, I was sick and wouldn't eat 
anything. I almost died. My mother cooked rice and I didn't eat it; she 
cooked pounded corn and I didn't eat it. My father had a large dog, 
very smart in hunting rats. My father hunted rats and got ten. He 
roasted one only and hid the rest in the thatch. This rat I ate with the 
rice mother cooked. Whenever I cried, my father would take another 
rat from the thatch and feed it to me. Whenever I cried they would 
take rat meat and feed it to me. When I looked at the thatch and cried, 
father would give me meat. When I had eaten all but one or two, he 
hunted rats again. This time the dog caught seven to ten. But father 
brought me just one at a time and hid the rest. [He continued repeti- 
tiously.] My mother too did not go to work because my body was thin. 
She stayed home. This went on for a month; then I got well. 

My uncle Manialurka shot at a man from Kafe but the man got 
away. My uncle sold his blood [i.e., he sold a bloodstained arrow, which 
is considered among those seeking vengeance a substitute for a head]. 
The buyers roasted a pig and gave him twelve coconuts, which he 
brought home. He gave me part of the meat and I ate it. The rest 
father cut into strips and hung in the smoke above the fire to dry. They 
cut off little pieces and fed me until I was well. 

When I was still small, my mother gave birth to Mangmau. When he 
began crawling, I could already walk around alone. Our mother took 
us to Falefaking. While she worked in the lower part of the field, I was 

Malelaka the Prophet 305 

to sit on a stone and care for my little brother. I didn't watch him 
carefully and he fell off and rolled under the stone. I called mother and 
when she came and saw him under the stone, she hit me. I ran off to 
Dikimpe to stay with Alurkaseni, a kinsman whom I called grandfather. 
He was neither a man nor a woman. He didn't have either a penis or a 
real vagina. At that time Tilafing had already begotten Alurkomau and 
his older sister Kolmau. Her husband was Mauglaka. While the children 
were still small he was carried off in a landslide caused by an earth- 
quake. Kolmau could already walk when this happened. I stayed in 
Dikimpe and played with Kolmau. Whenever Alurkaseni got meat or 
food he would always set it out in three dishes for us three children. 
Alurkomau could not walk yet. I took care of him while his mother and 
father went off to work. Tilafing threw away her two children. She 
left them to her mother, Kolmaukalieta. Kolmaukalieta went to live with 
Alurkaseni as his wife, although they couldn't sleep together. Then 
Tilafing went to hunt for another man. I would take care of Alurko- 
mau one day and one day Lonmani would care for him. Once Alurka- 
seni went to Likuwatang and bought two loincloths. The long one he 
gave me and the short one he gave Lonmani. He said, "Now I have 
given you both a loincloth, so you take care of Alurkomau all the time." 
When he went to work in the garden and shot rats there, he would give 
some to Lonmani's mother to cook for her. Ours he cooked himself for 
us three. Kolmau used to follow her grandmother to the fields and cook 
for her, so she didn't take care of her younger brother. When the har- 
vest came, they gave both me and Lonmani a big bundle of corn. After 
Alurkomau could crawl, we didn't watch over him any more. I ran off 
from Dikimpe to Lawatika to stay with my aunt Fiyekalieta. That was 
when she had just married Kafolama. I went with her and her husband 
to the fields and cooked for them while they worked. When Kafolama 
got rats or meat, I was the one who ate them. Tilamani, the daughter 
of Fiyekalieta, went to stay with our uncle, Manialurka, and our grand- 
mother, Tilakalieta. [Note this shifting around of children among sib- 
lings of the ascending generation.] While I stayed with Fiyekalieta and 
Kafolama, I went to the ravine to hunt crayfish, crabs, and eels. Kafo- 
lama, when he caught an eel, would bring it back to our garden. There 
he would boil the eel with shredded coconut. I stayed with them for a 
year. When he brought eels, we ate them the same night. The crabs 
Fiyekalieta mashed with red pepper and salt for Kafolama because his 
teeth were bad. The rest Fiyekalieta and I would eat together. 

Kafolama had many children of all ages by his first wife. They used 

306 The People of Alor 

to go out early in the morning to inspect the line of rattraps in their 
gardens, and then I would eat rats with his children. Kafolama's wife 
would ask us all to go chop weeds in her pea field and then she would 
cook peas for us, and we would eat them there in the field. 

May 6, 1939 

Last night I dreamed until dawn and I was late coming here because 
I stopped to tell my wife and children what I dreamed. I dreamed there 
was a big earthquake. Trees, houses, and stones all fell until there was 
not one left standing. [The storm had stopped, but there had been a 
severe tremor the preceding night, which, however, had done no dam- 

Toward dawn I dreamed that all the dead awoke and gathered at my 
dance place, carrying fighting clubs. They said, "You don't have to 
divide all your corn with us. That isn't good." But all the people divided 
their corn with the dead anyway. Each got a small bundle. Then the 
dead left, but they did not follow the usual path; they went by Old 
Dikimpe and down into the ravine to the waterfall. 

Then I had another dream. Someone said, "The women and children 
must not go anywhere." The world was shaking and about to turn over. 
It wanted to break apart. Every man held his wife by her hand, and 
every child held the hand of another child. We all sat quietly. All the 
people said, "Let everyone stay in his own house. Don't stay with each 
other." So every man went with his wife and children, and they sat 
either in their houses or on their verandahs. Everyone swept around 
their houses and threw all the stones far off. Then the dead came back 
and sat down on the dance place. They said, "This time we can't go 
empty-handed. Give us pigs or whatever you wish." So we all gave 
each person a piglet. Then they said, "Now that you have given us 
something, we can go; but hold hard to each other's hands, because the 
world is going to turn over." Then it was dawn and I awoke. 

Last night also my wealth-bringing spirit came and talked to me, say- 
ing, "Plant areca and coconuts for every person, even the small children. 
Each person, large and small, must have his own areca and coconuts. 
People may no longer take areca and coconuts from others. They must 
fetch their own. People who take those of others must pay for them be- 
fore eating. They must also pay for pigs and chickens before eating 
them. If we ask our male children for a pig or a moko, we must first 
pay a small pig or a small moko. Don't take people's eggs in vain [with- 
out pay]." I asked what we should do, and he said, "If you take people's 

Malelaka the Prophet 307 

eggs without paying, this world will turn over. Those who have taken 
eggs without paying are liars and must be stabbed with wires. You 
watch. When all the people are gathered together, those with white 
hair, those who have grown up like yourself, the youths and the small 
children, and also the liars [deceivers] will be taken off." I said, "How 
will liars be stabbed with wire?" My spirit friend said, "Those who are 
bad will g6 to naraka [the Malay word for hell]. Now you are speaking 
so people may know that they may not take raw [without paying] ; 
they must not lie to people about paying." I said, "If we do thus, are 
we to give feasts?" [Note the idea of deception as a correlate of giving 
feasts.] The wealth-bringing spirit said, "We can give the feasts if we 
have the goats and pigs ourselves, but we must not take other people's 
unless we pay for them first. Now widows and orphans must not be 
deceived. You must pay them too before taking their things. [Note 
again the acknowledgment of a system of exploiting the helpless.] Even 
if a person has a great deal of food in his fields, you must ask before 
taking it. If they don't want to give it, that is all right. Don't take with- 
out asking. Older people can't take food from children's gardens, and 
children can't take food from their elders' gardens." I asked what 
would happen to children who didn't know how to cultivate fields, and 
he said, "A mother can make a field for her child, but she can't go there 
to take food. If the elders have no food left, then the mother may go 
with the child to harvest the food." I asked, "If the child is still an 
infant and the mother is carrying it, what will happen?" He said, "The 
mother must go with the child to the field. To go to its field without 
the child is theft." 

Then the spirit said, "The world has not yet broken up and I am 
going. You stay and listen to the world. I am returning. Speak to the 
men and women. If people listen to your words, it is good; if they do 
not, that is all right too. Women may not go to their fields. People who 
are at the base of the mountains must run to good level places." I asked, 
"Will this island shake every day?" He said, "No, on one day only. 
Twice it will move to the north and twice it will move to the south. If 
you don't talk to the people, that is also all right. But if the people who 
are near the bases of the mountains are hurt, they will ask why you 
didn't speak, since you knew what was to happen. Those who listen 
will remember; those who don't listen to you will forget." I said, 
"When this world turns over, what will happen?" He said, "In one day 
it will turn over, but a day or two later the land will be flat and all will 
be good." When he left he said, "You have not given the final death 

3o8 The People of Alor 

feast for your father. You had better order it now." When the spirit 
left, I went into the house, and the earthquake came. 

[The informant had consumed three fourths of his hour in telling 
these dreams. He talked slowly and repetitiously. I suspected he was 
avoiding tales of his youth, which he considered insignificant in com- 
parison to his dreams and prophetic fantasies.] 

When I was about fifteen, father was sick. I went alone to get areca 
and ordered people to divine. The diviftation fell on his carving for an- 
cestral spirits. So I ordered people to go cut fragrant wood. Motlaka 
and Fanlaka went for it and I sacrificed rice and chicken where the 
wood was cut. Then we brought the wood back and Atakari's father 
carved it. That night we had a dance for it and I killed a big pig to feed 
the people and to sacrifice to the carving. Then father got well. But 
there was also a valuable moko that had not yet been fed, so we got a 
goat. [I again asked for personal and early memories to forestall feast 

When I was about twelve or fourteen, people were blackening their 
teeth. I was staying at that time with Mangmani [his uncle by mar- 
riage] in Karieta. Tilapada, his wife and my aunt, had asked me to come 
to them to care for their child. While I was there, Maliemau [son of 
Tilapada] asked me to go with him to where they were having their 
teeth blackened. Senma had asked us to come and do this. The women 
brought food and fed Senma, who was pounding the dye. Finally 
Mangmani came and said to Senma, "Are my two children your serv- 
ants, that you order them to come here and cook for you?" When the 
blackening was paid for, we each got a calabash dish of rice rolls and 
three rats. I said, "We are not grown people, we are only children, so 
we had better take this food to our parents." We took it home to Tila- 
pada and Mangmani. [I asked why during his childhood he stayed so 
often with other kinsmen. He avoided an answer by saying, "Tilapada 
called me. She said she had called others to take care of her baby but 
they had run away."] 

May 8, 

Last night I dreamed that all the familiar spirits of all the people here 
gathered in my spirit house. Then my wealth-bringing spirit said, "This 
is not a house for familiar spirits. This is mine. Tomorrow morning you 
must take down my house because all the familiar spirits have gathered 
here and spoiled it." [Actually the house was in bad shape owing to 
the recent storm.] So this morning I called all the men and we took the 

Malelaka the Prophet 309 

house down. My spirit told me, "Tomorrow take down this house. 
There are many people talking, saying that tomorrow or the day after, 
Good Beings are coming down to earth. They say that tomorrow or 
the day after, an earthquake will come. But it won't happen. So tear 
down the house." I said, "You had better tell me the promised day on 
which this will happen." But he said, "No, just tear down the house." I 
asked again, "If I take away this house and the people's forecast comes 
true, I shall have torn down the house in vain. Better tell me the truth." 
But he said, "No. There has already been an earthquake. That is enough. 
If you don't take down this house, we can continue to sit here and talk. 
But you keep pigs under the house, and the smell of their feces strikes 
my nose." So I said, "Shall I take the house away then?" He said, "Yes, 
take it down. It is not our custom [i.e., the custom of spirits] to keep 
pigs under the house and to defecate from our houses down to them. 
We make enclosures on the edge of the village and defecate there. [Was 
this another reflection of Malelaka's acculturation struggle?] I said, 
"There are people saying that in one to three days a Good Being will 
appear or an earthquake will come. If their prophecies come true, I 
shall be shamed." Then he said, "No. If their prophecies come true, 
that is all right; but we must just sit quietly and say nothing." I said, 
"All right, but there is someone below [in the village] who has bought 
an Aimala moko, and I too shared in its purchase. My wife cooked for 
it and I killed a chicken for it. But someone took it away to pay for his 

[He was speaking in a very low tone of voice and with veiled refer- 
ences. The references were to the purchase some months before by 
Maliseni and his lineage of an Aimala moko. Maliseni had the moko in 
his house. Without consulting the co-purchasers he sold it. Malelaka 
seemed to have brought this into the conversation with his wealth spirit 
in order to tell me about it. He was in a very depressed state of mind 
that morning. He talked in a low, slow voice, hung his head, and used 
no gestures. He seemed to be in a sulky, dreamy state and a defeated 
frame of mind.] 

Last night I dreamed that the soul of the kapitan came and struck me 
with a rattan. It was time for corvee and the kapitan had collected all 
the people to build a kitchen and toilet at the government camp. [This 
actually occurred some months ago.] I didn't go to work, so the kapi- 
tan beat me. 

When I was still small, we played a game. There was a feast and we 
divided up the meat they had given us. The loser had to pay his share 

310 The People of Alor 

to the winner. We shot at banana stalks for arrows. Those who were 
not able to hit the banana stalk when they tossed for themselves got 
someone else to toss for them, and then we all shot at once. [As he told 
this he became more vivacious, began looking around and using ges- 
tures. He elaborated on all the kinds of targets they used.] We played 
thus until we were hungry and then we said we had better go to some 
older man and ask him to hunt rats with us. We went to Padalang 
and while we went hunting, his wife cooked corn kernels for us and 
pounded-corn meal. When we came back she gave us a dish of whole 
corn and we spooned into it. Later when we had cooked the rats, she 
gave us pounded corn to eat with them. Then Padalang said, "Just now 
we hunted at random. We shall hunt again as a kind of divination. If 
we get many rats it will be a sign of the gongs and mokos I shall get if I 
give a feast. Those rats will be the souls of my gongs and mokos." So 
we hunted and got many rats, more than a large basketful. So Padalang 
ordered his wife to begin pounding corn because the day of his feast 
was near. Then Padalang asked the older men of the village to come to 
his house and eat. He set the day for his feast. They asked him how 
many rats he had got and he said seventy-five. [The informant contin- 
ued at length about the feast and its success.] 

[I asked again for his own life history. As we stopped to smoke a 
cigarette, we overheard some people say that the bridge over the ravine, 
which is about thirty feet high, had been carried away by the recent 
spate. Malelaka went on from there.] 

Once we played swing. We tied a rope to a high tree. The third 
time we swung, the rope broke. There were six boys and five girls 
playing at the time. I was about fourteen or sixteen years old. We 
played below Mobikalieta's house. We fell from the rope where the 
ground sloped up toward us. If the rope had broken as we swung over 
the place where the ground dropped away, we should all have rolled 
down to the bottom of the hill. 

Another time we tied a rope to a tree in Kolpada's field. There were 
older children higher up on the rope, and I, with the smaller ones, was 
hanging onto the end. There were a lot of people watching us. The 
rope broke and the end snapped back and struck Lonpada, who was 
watching, just over the eye. We all fell in a heap. Her father came and 
chased us and we ran off helter-skelter. In running away Malielani 
struck his forehead against a mango tree and was badly wounded. Then 
Lonpada's father called to us and said he was only teasing us. We all 
came back to the village. 

Malelaka the Prophet 3 1 1 

It was tooth-dyeing time. There were twenty girls and only three 
boys I, Lakamau, and Mangmani. All the other boys were off in an- 
other house to the east. There were four girls on whom a few small 
mokos had been paid as preliminary bride-prices, but who hadn't yet 
gone to live with their husbands. They stayed in another house. These 
four girls came down to our house to get their dye and then went back to 
sleep in their own place. One night they had boiled sweet potatoes and 
set them aside in the pot. When they were sleeping soundly, Malimale 
and Malelehi entered the house and bit the centers out of all the sweet 
potatoes and then pasted the two ends together. The next morning the 
women looked at their sweet potatoes and saw that they had been 
partly eaten and had tooth marks in them. They said, "We had better 
not stay here. We had better go stay with the others. Perhaps it was an 
evil spirit that came here and ate our potatoes." So they joined us in the 
large house. When they did, the other boys came with sticks and 
wanted to beat us three boys. Twenty of them came and called us to 
come out and fight. We were only three but we went out. Each one of 
us fought five or six opponents. Then Senmale tripped in a hole, and 
while lie was down Langmani hit him on the head with a club and ran 
away. That left only me and Lakamau to fight them. The next morning 
there was a litigation. We told why the girls had come to stay with us. 
[He repeated the whole story.] We said we had not called to the girls. 
They slept in the loft and we three boys slept down below. The others 
were at fault and we were not. [No fines were paid. Allocation of guilt 
seemed to have been all that was required.] 

May ]> 

Last night I dreamed bad things. People had been cooking rice cones 
on two dance places of Alurkowati. People had begun to cut them up 
and divide them. When they wanted to give me some, I said, "I can't 
eat this. I am afraid of it." The women of all three villages were there 
to help cook. I asked, "Is this a feast, or what is it?" They said, "The 
Senhieta lineage is feeding its wealth spirit and the Lakahieta lineage is 
feeding its spirit altar." They said, "Padakalieta is the first of the Sen- 
hieta, so he must eat alone in the spirit house." He entered the house 
and cut and ate the rice cone. Maliseni's rice cone for the spirit altar 
had just been cut by his first wife. I said, "Oh, we must eat this together 
because I am also a Lakahieta man." But Maliseni's wife said, "No, we 
shall put this in the house. Tonight we shall dance. The rice cone is to 
be eaten tomorrow after the dance." Then I went back to my house. 

3i2 The People of Alor 

The Lakahieta people danced that night but the Senhieta people did 
not. A Senhieta man called, "Why don't you people come down and 
join in the dance?" but the people answered, "Our stomachs are full of 
rice cone and we want to sleep. You owners of the spirit altar can 
dance." Then the dream broke off. 

Near dawn I dreamed again. I dreamed there was a wire chain hang- 
ing down from the sky and my soul climbed up to the sky on it. As I 
approached there was a tree. It was hanging upside down with its roots 
in the sky. I took hold of it and went on up and found myself with my 
head down and my feet up. I was afraid and searched for the wire chain 
to come down. I was afraid of falling. Halfway down I said, "In that 
tree I was upside down and nearly fell. It is lucky I got away." When I 
got down to my house, I looked up and saw the sky was very dark and 
distant. Then someone spoke behind me, saying, "Who ordered you to 
climb that wire? It is very far. If you had fallen, your bones and body 
would have disappeared in mid-air. They would never have reached the 
earth." I went to the next dance place and people were tying a python 
to a carrying pole. I asked what it was for, and they said, "We wanted 
to sell this to the nonya [I had a short time before bought a python 
skin], but she has one already and that is all she wants. She is through 
buying. So now we want to take this to Kalabahi to sell." Then Paulus 
Besar and his younger brother, Jacobis, carried it off. I woke up. 

[I asked why these dreams were bad.] When I dream of rice cones, 
it is a sign that people will fight and get wounds. Once before I dreamed 
of them, and my female kinswomen, among whom the cones were di- 
vided in my dream, have all been wounded Maliemai [his sister], the 
adopted daughter of the chief of Alurkowati, and my wife. [These 
% women had really received more or less severe wounds during the last 

[Question.] The ascent to the sky is a sign of hunger. It means there 
will be a big storm and the people will be hungry because the cassava 
and sweet potato crop will fail. [Actually the recent storm had made 
bad inroads on the gardens. Question.] The snake was already tied; so 
that was a sign of buying a moko. Maybe someone will bring a valuable 
moko here, and we will buy it but resell it right away. 

May /o, 

Yesterday the tumukun called the people to work on the government 
camp. Last night I dreamed all the people gathered and worked very 
hard until they had repaired it all and even removed the sand washed 

Malelaka the Prophet 3 1 3 

down by the rain. The chiefs drove all the people to work. The tumu- 
kun said, "If you don't follow the order of the officials, you will be 
punished." Then the men all went to their wives and borrowed baskets 
and used them to move the sand away. They dumped it in the creek 
bed. The tumukun said, "Finish this work and then pay up the rest of 
your taxes." When the people had almost finished the work, my child 
kicked me and I awoke. At that time the chief was calling all his people 
to finish pay ing. their taxes. He was telling us we must go to work on 
the government camp today. Then I thought I had dreamed truly. 

Yesterday also I dreamed correctfy. I dreamed that Padakalieta went 
up to eat a rice cone in the spirit house, and yesterday Padalani was hurt 
by a beam. [A man had been severely wounded the day before while 
cutting a beam. Malelaka was present when the man was brought to the 
house for bandaging.] 

Early last night I dreamed of corvee. While I was sleeping, the chief 
was going around to the people for tax money. I awoke but fell asleep 
later and dreamed again. I dreamed I went to the ravine to fetch sand. 
While I was there I turned over stones, looking for eels and crayfish. 
It was daylight while I searched for them. I shut my eyes and when I 
opened them it was already dark. I was afraid and started right home. 
When I reached the ridge the roosters crowed. I met Kafelkai and he 
asked, "How is it that you are returning at night? Aren't you afraid?" 
I said I was afraid and told what had happened. Then I woke up. 

When I was about twelve or fourteen, we were cutting a field. The 
rice was already in head. My father took me to our field house to sleep 
with him and help guard the field. One night my father awoke, took a 
torch, and went down into the ravine to hunt eels and crayfish. He left 
me alone in the house. I was awakened by the creaking and crackling of 
the house. I found father had gone and I was very afraid. I looked but 
there were no pigs or people around. I was very frightened. I lay down, 
but again I heard this noise. I looked but there was nothing. I tried to 
sleep, but this time there was rustling in the thatch. Just then father 
came back with a basketful of crayfish and crabs. I said, "Why did you 
throw me away here? If you wanted to hunt for crayfish and crabs, 
why didn't you call me to accompany you? While you were gone an 
evil spirit was here. Probably it has eaten the cassava in the pot." 
Father then looked, and the cover had fallen off the pot. He picked out 
the two top tubers, and there were the teeth of evil spirits in them. He 
picked out some tubers from the bottom of the pot and began to eat 
them. He got evil spirit's teeth in his mouth. [These teeth were sup- 

The People of Alor 

posed to resemble those of bats.] I told father he had better throw all 
the cassava away. I was longing for dawn so that we could leave. I said 
to father, "We had better go back and sleep with mother. We must not 
sleep here any more." But father did not want to leave. He said I could 
carry the basket of crabs and crayfish back to mother. I set out. When 
I came to Talemang, there was a woman who frightened me. She said, 
"Who are you?" I said, "Is it my name or my father's you do not know?" 
Then I left her and went on. I met another woman who said, "I am 
your father's sister, so give me some of your crayfish." I gave her some 
because I was still small. I came to the middle of the village and it was 
empty. All the people had gone off to work. Only Alurkomani was 
there, picking areca. He asked me, "Child, where did you sleep last 
night, that you are now returning from there?" I told him that an evil 
spirit had come and that I had been frightened and was going home. I 
said, "Your younger brother [i.e., Malelaka's father] is guarding the 
field." I went on. When I reached Tangfei, I heard the people of Alur- 
kowati wailing. I went on to the village, and people said my grandfather, 
Mangma, was dizzy and people were weeping for him. [Dizziness was 
considered a bad sign, indicating death and the departure of the soul.] 
Then I didn't give mother those crayfish and crabs, but went right on 
into my grandfather's house. When I entered he asked, "Is that Male- 
laka who has come?" and the people said, "Yes." I gave grandfather the 
crabs and crayfish. Then he ordered me to fetch my father, but I said that 
an evil spirit had come to me the night before and I was afraid to go 
back. So my uncle went to call my father. At this time my grandfather 
was defecating in his loincloth. He was about to die, but by the time 
my father came he was coming back to life. 

My grandfather recovered. It was time to harvest the rice. We de- 
cided to live in Kalmaabui and harvest the field from there. We didn't 
want to sleep in that field house. My friends from Kalmaabui said to 
me, "Your mother and father are harvesting rice and you are not help- 
ing. You can't sit here doing nothing, so come with us to gather kanari 
nuts." We went to Wale. We wanted to pick nuts, but we saw they had 
all been gathered and were piled here and there. Then we saw an old 
woman asleep wrapped up in her shawl. We didn't know what it was 
because she was completely covered by it. I called, "Friends, this is an 
evil spirit that sleeps here." We all ran. One boy took a stone and 
wanted to throw it at the evil spirit. He said, "Whether it is a human 
being or an evil spirit, I shall kill it with this stone." Then the old 
woman woke up and said, "Don't! Don't! I was just scaring you. Don't 

Malelaka the Prophet 3 1 5 

throw it!" We said, "You wanted to frighten us, so we had better 
throw this stone at you." Then she said, "You may take from my pile 
all the nuts you want to eat, but you can't gather nuts from these trees. 
My husband has already put a taboo on them. However, you may eat 
what you want now. I have gathered these to crack and sell at Likuwa- 
tang." So we went lower down the slope to hunt for nuts. There also 
people had picked them all and put them in heaps. I said, "I am afraid 
of all these heaps. Maybe an evil spirit has made them." My friends 
said, "In that case we had better follow the ravine to Lamaing." We 
came to the top of a waterfall where there were some areca trees. One 
of the Kalmaabui boys climbed them, tied all the treetops together, and 
began picking the nuts. When I saw him doing this I was afraid that he 
might fall and we should all be accused, so I ran away. On the way 
home I picked a fern and ate it. When I arrived mother said, "Why 
are you 'eating this fern when we are harvesting rice? You mustn't do 
that." [Malelaka's parents had a harvest "medicine" that forbade eating 
ferns while the harvest was in progress, on pain of diminishing the 
crop.] She said, "Your rice is there in the pot. Take it to the village 
and eat." So I did. 

The rice was all threshed and stored in the guesthouse where we 
were staying. A girl was burning off her weeds near there. The guest- 
house caught fire and all our rice was burned up. Mother and father 
said, "Our rice is all gone. You had better pay for it with this child. 
We shall take her with us and raise her." But her parents were unwill- 
ing. They said they would pay with rice for the rice. I said, "Grand- 
father, we had better return to our village." 

[I went back at this point and asked how he happened to know that 
evil spirits' teeth were like bats' teeth. He said he had once seen an evil 
spirit, and told of the encounter.] 

I was sharing a field with another man called Malelaka and his wife, 
Kolaka. We had nearly finished tying the corn into bundles. I said they 
should start off with a load and I would finish the corn I had at hand 
and then follow them. While we had been working there in the field, 
Rualberka had come to roast corn. When I started back I saw that 
Rualberka was at Padabiki's field house. She was combing her hair. 
Over her forehead, where she was combing it, it was just wavy; over 
the ears, where she had not yet combed it, it was kinky. I then noticed 
that her mouth was pointed and that mosquitoes were flying in and 
out of her ears. I said, "Oh, that isn't Rualberka. That is an evU spirit." 
When I drew my knife to kill her, she turned into a night bird and flew 

316 The People of Alor 

into a tree. I went to my house and spoke to Malelaka and his wife 
about it. I said an evil spirit had almost got me. 

May //, 1939 

[I began the hour by asking for all he could remember about Rual- 
berka, the woman who turned into an evil spirit.] 

Rualberka was married to Padama. She ran away from him and came 
to our house to sleep. She said that we had to marry and that I could 
pay back her first husband's bride-price. I said, "Before you married 
that man, I offered you my moko [i.e., offered marriage]. Now you 
have married another man and I don't want you." She took off my 
bracelets and put them on her arms. She took off her necklace and 
hung it on my neck. I didn't give them to her; she took them. 

When I was working on the corn in my garden, she followed me. 
She was possessed of an evil spirit, and I almost slept with her [thought 
to be a fatal act]. She left the field first and then I left. When I saw her 
again, she had become an evil spirit. She almost took off her loincloth. 
She was just about to take it off when I said, "Whether this is a human 
being or an evil spirit, I shall kill it." Then she turned into a small black 
bird and flew off. When she reached the forest, she turned into a night 
bird. When I got back I told the older people what had happened. "An 
evil spirit rose in Rualberka, and we almost slept together." The next 
day as I was sitting chewing sugar cane, she came to me. I told her 
about the preceding day. She said, "Good, now you must pay my 
bride-price." But I said, "No, I don't want to. I am afraid of litigation." 
Later her brother Mauglo gave her a necklace and some anklets [cus- 
tomary when a girl is marrying]. He brought her to my house, saying 
we must marry. I said, "I did not take off my bracelets and give them 
to her; she took them off herself. I did not take off her necklace; she 
took it off herself. We shall go as far as Likuwatang to litigate. If the 
case is not judged fairly, we shall take the litigation to Kalabahi." 
Mauglo said, "If that is so, you need not take the litigation to Kala- 
bahi." Then Rualberka returned to her own house. Later she married 
into the village of Fungwati. When they shot the radjah in Fungwati 
[1918], she ran away and came down here. Within a year after her 
return both she and the child she had borne in Fungwati died. 

Once I passed through Kuyamasang. There was a woman there I 
did not know, and I asked her name. People said it was Falongmating. 
She told me they were all going to Karieta for a dance and that I was 
to have betel ready; she would bring areca and we should chew it 

Malelaka the Prophet 317 

together. At that time they were carrying in the beams for the Lan- 
wati lineage house. That next day I ran to Makangfokung to ask the 
former chief for a pig to roast. He said he had had a pig but other 
people had already taken it off. He said, "Don't stay. People are carry- 
ing in the beams and you must go back and help." So I went home and 
reached Alurkowati just after sundown. Mother cooked, and fed me. 
Then I went down below the house to build a fire and wait for the 
people. A lot of young women from Alurkowati came by on their way 
to the dance and asked me to go along with them. I said, "Better wait 
until all the people begin dancing." They said, "There are many people 
gathered there already. We had better go." So I went on with them to 
Karieta. There was a big crowd there; people from all three villages 
came. The Dikimpe and Alurkowati people shouted triumph as they 
arrived. Then the women from Kuyamasang arrived and Falongmating 
scratched my back. I looked around and saw her standing behind me. 
She said, "Come, let's go down there and chew areca." So I did. She 
put areca in my shawl. She took off her necklace and gave it to me. 
I said, "I am afraid." I took the necklace and gave it to my aunt Malie- 
mai. Old people said we must give our elders the tokens received from 
girls. Then the girl said to her younger sibling, "Don't stay here. Go 
up to the dance place." Just then a crazy woman dashed onto the dance 
place brandishing a club, and all the people scattered. When she ran 
toward us, we ran away too. The girl pulled my hand and said, "Let's 
go down there." I said, "Don't, My grandparents taught me that when 
a woman spoke with me, we could not sleep together. If we did, our 
mokos would become small and disappear." [This means that the mokos 
young boys have out at interest would be eaten up in small repayments 
which the boys would want for immediate purposes, and they would 
never get the big mokos necessary for a bride-price.] I said, "If we 
sleep together, we must be married first. I have mokos. Your aunt is 
in Karieta and you can come and stay with her." But the woman said, 
"No, we had better sleep together first." But I didn't want to. Then 
this girl came to stay with her aunt in Karieta, and people came to 
tell me to go there [from his own village of Alurkowati]. I went and 
she had a big basket of peas and taro for me, which she gave me, telling 
me to take them to my mother to cook for me. I said, "We could eat 
together, but first I must think of wealth." Her aunt said, "You two 
can eat together whether or not you are married, because you are my 
younger brother." So then I took the basket to my mother and brought 
it back with fifteen cents in it, which I gave to the aunt. Then the girl 

3i8 The People of Alar 

said, "We are dyeing our teeth here, so you had better come tonight 
and join in." I said, "If it is near the time to pay off I can't come [i.e., 
it is too late to join the group]." But she said, "No, there are still five 
or six days." So that evening I went up there. She already had my strip 
of dye ready for me. That night a friend and I slept alongside each 
other. The girl was sleeping on the bench between the floor and the 
thatch. In the middle of the night I wanted to turn over but couldn't 
because someone was pressed close against me. I felt on one side of me 
and felt die rough skin of my friend, who had a skin disease. Then I 
felt on the other side and touched this girl's breast. She had come over 
to lie down on the other side of me. She put her arms around my waist. 
I said, "Don't hug me. My grandparents told me that if I slept with a 
girl my large credits would become small and disappear. You can sleep 
here, but we can't have intercourse. You go back to your village. When 
you hear the mokos being beaten on Mt. Laling, it will be I, and you 
can come for the moko." Her aunt was awakened by the sound of my 
voice', and Falongmating lay quietly after that. At dawn when we went 
out, she took a stick and beat my back until blood flowed. 

I went away to dun for mokos. A man came and told me that while 
I was away the chief of Kanaipe had caught [i.e., married] Falongma- 
ting. I said, "Good. He has gongs and mokos; he can pay for her. When 
there is corvee to be done, she can cook for a chief. He is my kinsman, 
and when I go there she can cook for me." [Women with whom a man 
had had intercourse were ashamed to cook for the man should he later 
be a guest. Also, the man was ashamed to be a guest in that household.] 
Then the man said, "This woman said that you were going to pay 
gongs and mokos for her." I said, "Yes, that is true. I am dunning for 
diem now. But since she has married my kinsman, she can still cook 
for me." This woman is still living in Kanaipe and she has cooked for 

May i2 

Last night I dreamed that people called, 'Today the earthquake 
comes. Don't go anywhere. Stay in the village. When the earth- 
quake comes, people must not be on steep ground. Remember the 
earthquake." I awoke, and later I slept again. I dreamed there were 
a great many people at the government camp the officials, the tumu- 
kun, the chiefs, and all their people. The officials beat them. The tree 
that fell across the kitchen buildings during the storm was picked up 
in one piece and thrown away. All the people were running here and 

Malelaka the Prophet 3 19 

there working. The tumukun said, "Yes, when the officials are here, 
you work like this; but when they are not, nothing is done." And the 
officials said, "How is it that you don't work?" The women all went 
to fetch thatch for the kitchens. The officials then came to your house 
and said, "Let us have a sale of your things right now," but you said, 
"No, not now. Wait another month until I go." Then the chiefs said 
to the tumukun, "Speak to the officials and say it is better for the 
nonya to stay here. Who will stay in her house after she leaves?" 
Then the officials said to the tumukun, "If you sleep in her house 
[the tumukun wished to have my house], you will be afraid. This place 
is now for the government camp." Then the officials asked the chiefs 
for tax money. Just then a pig began chewing its pen, and I woke up. 

[I asked what he wanted to talk about. He was quiet for a time.] 
When I rst met my friend [familiar spirit] it was at Mt. Laling. The 
spirits were Atamau, Malemau, and their wives, Tilamau and Kolpada - 
four of them. At that time I was about eighteen or twenty. When I 
came back, I didn't keep food taboos for these spirits. I ate peas, crabs, 
and everything. I thought at the time that they were evil spirits. I went 
on my way to Af engla. I didn't speak of it. I went back to Alurkowati, 
and people cooked dried fish and I ate it. This was six or seven days 
later. I stayed at Af engla six days. After this eating, my face and body 
swelled. People said maybe it was some kind of disease. Then my four 
spirit friends from Laling came to me. I didn't see them, but they spat 
areca juice on me. I felt the cold dampness of it first on my left breast, 
then on my right one, and then on the base of my throat. I said, "Who 
spits areca juice on me? Why have you come?" Then they said, "We are 
good; we are not evil. How is it that you didn't abstain from sea food?" 
From this I knew that my familiars were wealth-bringing sea spirits. 
Then I put an arrow point in my mouth and brushed my teeth with it, 
saying, "All the particles of sea food in my mouth and my stomach, 
leave me and let me get well." Then I washed my mouth with water 
and spat. In one day I was well. That night I defecated water all night 
and my stomach turned over. By morning I was well. 

About a month later Makanma [an uncle] went to Rualwati and 
caught eels, crabs, and crayfish. He returned and cooked them while 
his wife cooked corn and beans. We all ate them. By evening I was 
swollen. My stomach was big and hard; even my feet were swollen. 
Then I remembered about eating fish. So I scrubbed out my mouth 
again. Again that night I defecated water all night, and by morning 
my stomach had become soft and small again. I was well. 

320 The People of Alor 

About seven days later it happened a third time. People were feed- 
ing their verandah [preparatory to a feast]. We split a rice cone, which 
we ate with meat, and drank water. When we were through eating, 
I vomited everything the rice, meat, and water. After that I stopped 
eating feast foods too. 

About half a month later I got sick when I ate some peas. Again I 
washed out my mouth and recovered. Then only about a month ago 
I ate beans that made me sick, but I recovered. After that I abstained 
from all these foods and wasn't sick any more. I didn't have fevers, or 
coughs, or any of the other illnesses. Now I am never sick any more. 
If my mouth offends a little and my face and stomach swell, then I 
wash out my mouth and I get well. 

[When Malelaka first encountered the four familiars, he was not yet 
married. It was during the Rualberka episode. His various affairs with 
women ran in this sequence: Marailani, Rualberka, Falongmating, Fui- 
male, Lonfani, who is his present wife, and Kolaka. He has not yet 
mentioned Kolaka. I asked him about the coincidence between his ill- 
nesses and the Rualberka episode in more detail. Rualberka returned 
from her Fungatau husband, stayed about one year, and then married 
her Fungwati husband. At the time of Malelaka's encounter with the 
spirits, he was wearing Rualberka's necklace and she his bracelets. To 
check this version against the previous one, I asked about the Marail- 
ani episode.] 

Marailani and I didn't speak together ahead of time. Her father came 
to me first and said, "I see people are almost ready to pay your debt. 
So if you want, you can marry Marailani." Then Lakama, my uncle, 
died and father said, "If people have spoken to you, you can go and 
ask them for a pig to roast for the death feast." So I went to her family 
and they gave me a pig and a Piki moko as a free gift. In two days they 
gave Marailani food to bring me, and I gave a Maningmauk moko to 
her brother, Alurkaseni. At that time her parents wanted to give a 
ceremony, and I took a Kolmale moko, a Loken gong, and a chicken. 
The girl went on ahead and I followed. When I came I gave them my 
gifts and stayed on for the feast. That evening Marailani's mother said, 
"Carry this rice home." I said, "I am no woman. Your child can bring 
it." So I went home empty-handed. Later her father and brother came 
to my house with food. I didn't want it. I thought, "That girl has run 
away." Then her uncle Padama said, "We have law now, and you had 
better eat this food. If you don't, you may be committing an offense 
against the new law [referring to the recent establishment of Dutch 

Maklaka the Prophet 32 1 

rule]." So I ate it. Bat the woman didn't come. Her mother and father 
hunted for her but did not find her. She had gone at night to sleep in 
a mango tree. I asked for my expenses back. [Question.] We worked 
in the field together but we didn't have intercourse. [Why?] She was 
still small. Her breasts were not yet big. We could work together but 
could not yet have intercourse. [Question.] I never had intercourse 
with any woman but my wife, Lonf ani. 

May 15, 

I didn't sleep well last night, so I didn't dream. When I was about 
twelve or fourteen, my grandmother Maliemai and her cousin Male- 
farka went to Likuwatang. My grandmother was left behind on the 
shore. Her cousin and tincle went on. She saw a large crabhole and 
began to dig for the crab. When she was near its nest, she thrust in 
her hand and grabbed the crab. When she pulled her hand out and 
looked, she had a sea pebble [token of a supernatural being]. She said, 
"Oh, maybe I have something bad. I'd better throw it away." So she 
threw it away, not into the sea but on dry land. As it fell, a pool of 
water formed and the pebble splashed into it. Then she wanted to go 
on, but she saw water flowing ahead of her. She turned to go back and 
there was water behind her. To her right and left water flowed. On all 
tides water was flowing, and she was in the center of it. She said, "Eh, 
I am in trouble here." With that the water dried up. Then she went 
on and saw pots cooking, but no one was about. They were dead 
people's pots. She opened the first one, and corn and peas were cooking 
in it; she opened the second one, and corn and beans were boiling in it; she 
opened the next one, and corn and another kind of beans were boiling 
in it. She saw no one, so she went on and joined her uncle and cousin. 
She said, "You threw me away, and while I was there alone ... [he 
repeats the whole story]." Then as she sat there her eyes focused far 
off, and she saw Padaimau of Karieta stealing a bunch of bananas from 
her field here in Atimelang. At that time her eyes became clear. [She 
had second sight, which seers were supposed to possess.] 

When she returned she married a Rualwati man. She had a lot of 
rice in Talemang, and her friends wanted to carry it here. She told her 
friends to start on ahead and she would follow them later. She must 
have flown here, because while her friends were still in Kalmaabui she 
was already here at Vi Natu. She bathed and dried herself, and when 
her friends arrived she was sitting under a mango tree. [I asked that he 
continue with the account only if it had some relationship to him.] 

The People of Alof 

Once I and Maliemai were cutting weeds together at Fuimelang. My 
grandmother disappeared near an orange tree. She went to Afalberka 
[a ravine just below this spot that was the abode of dangerous evil spirits] . 
I hunted and hunted but did not find her. Then I came back, and there 
she was, carrying a corn bundle, a calabash dish, and an arrow [pre- 
sumably received from a spirit friend]. 

Another time Maliemai and I went to Likuwatang to feed her fa- 
miliar spirit. When it was time to light the fire, she left and went to the 
edge of the sea. When she returned, she brought back a new basketful 
of rice. All the people with us ate of it/ 

Once Maliemai wanted to feed her familiar spirit's altar. She took 
her necklace and tried to buy a chicken with it, but people would not 
give it to her. Then she went off, I don't know where, and came back 
with two chickens. She cooked them, and two people who were her 
patients ate them. [I said this was getting us nowhere in his own his- 
tory. I asked about the woman Kolaka, whom he had mentioned yester- 
day. He started on this tale, but he seemed slightly annoyed.] 

When I had got a Sosilau moko for my sister's bride-price, Kolaka's 
father spoke to me, saying, "Give me that Sosilau and then you can 
have Kolaka." I said, "All right, but first I must go myself and talk to 
your child. I must search her heart and then we shall see." I asked her 
and she said, "The old man asked for your moko. You can give it to 
him. I shall not say anything." So I gave him the Sosilau and he gave 
me a Piki moko and a broken gong. However, this woman did not 
come to me but spoke with another man. So I didn't want her and said 
that her father had better pay back my Sosilau. They said I would have 
to pay back the Piki and die broken gong. I litigated at Likuwatang, 
where the kapitan and the radjah were. They said the chief of Dikimpe 
should judge the case, which he did. Her father paid back my moko 
and I paid back his. 

Kolaka married Mauglaka, who was then the chief of Hatoberka. 
Once the mandur of Dikimpe and I went to Kalabahi. On the way we 
met Mauglaka and Kolaka, also on their way there, so we all went to- 
gether. We sold and bought and wanted to return, but Mauglaka was 
away talking to the kapitan. When I and the mandur wanted to go on, 
Kolaka said she would go with us. I said she had better wait until her 
husband came, but she didn't want to. Therefore we all waited for him 
to come and then left together. We got as far as Lelangtukai when the 
chief stopped to talk to some people. We two went on. Kolaka did not 
wait for her husband but followed us. We reached Latulang, where we 

Malelaka the Prophet 323 

stopped while people cooked and fed us. Then the chief caught up with 
us and said, "I ran and ran until I was tired. Give' me back my knife so 
I can clear the fields." When we came to Rualmelang, the chief turned 
off to go to Hatoberka, but Kolaka followed us. I began to understand 
that in her heart she was still following me because we had once had 
an agreement. I decided I had better run on ahead. So I and the mandur 
went on to Laling. There we looked back, and she was still following 
us. She said, "Go on." We went on until we reached the village. After 
that she brought me rice and three eggs, saying, "My father must have 
that moko. I can't go to a distant place to live." But I didn't want this 
and I said, "You can look for my son-in-law and I can look for your 
mother." [He was calling to her attention a distant child-father kinship 
tie. He meant by this that he would try to find her a husband, and she 
must search for another wife for him.] But Kolaka said, "No, we 
must marry." She took off a white shawl she was wearing and said, 
"My mouth is not large [i.e., her words were sincere]. You can have 
this and I can wear your wide shawl." So we exchanged shawls. Then 
Kolaka came to stay at my house for six days. After that she didn't 
return any more. At this time people complained against me because I 
was bringing Good Beings to earth, and I was sent to jail. [Question. 
He said that he had not slept with Kolaka and that his wife, Lonfani, 
had not fought with her over this second marriage. I asked why he did 
not have intercourse, and he said it was tabooed because of his Good 
Being activities. At the time he was sleeping by himself in a small 
house.] Her father and mother brought me two small baskets of rice, 
and I gave them ten cents. Then they brought me rice again, and I paid 
them ten cents. [They kept this up] until they had brought fourteen 
baskets and I had paid seventy cents. In all I gave her father one rupiah 
and twenty-five cents, which he never paid back. 

[I commented that he had never mentioned his imprisonment.] They 
took me to jail and three times in one day they tried me. The con- 
troleur asked me, "People say you have become an official. Is this true 
or not?" I said, "I never said I was an official. Who came to complain 
against me and said this twisted thing to you?" Then he said, "Your 
chief said you had become a radjah." I said, "No. Has my chief be- 
come a radjah himself, that I should become an official? Whoever said 
all these twisted things, whoever is witness to this complaint, let him 
come and talk before us all. If he is sick, carry him here and we can 
all talk together." For two days I went back to jail. Then they brought 
me back. Again I spoke as I had the first time. I said nothing else. Then 

324 The People of Ahr 

the controleur said, "Maybe people have twisted things. 1 ' People had 
also reported that I planned to have a government camp at my house, 
that I said taxes were not to be paid. All these things die controleur 
asked me. Then he said, "You have not named Maliseni, Manipada, and 
Manimale, so I shall hang you up in the house." [These were three 
brothers who were supposed to have gathered together the people of 
the Five Villages.] I said, "I myself gathered the people together. They 
didn't. If the officials want to hang me in the house, good. I want it 
too." The official said, "You did not name your three fellow conspira- 
tors, so we shall put you on a ship and throw you into the middle of the 
sea." The official threatened to send me to Bata Vi. [Malelaka did not 
know where this was. To all threats he said he answered simply that he 
was innocent, and that if die officials wanted to inflict punishment, he 
was willing.] Then the official said, "The witnesses who have testified 
against you spoke truly and they all told the same story." I said, "You 
had better call the witnesses, and we could eat rice mixed with lime 
right here. Then we could see which one's tongue swelled." [This was 
an ordeal used to establish innocence.] So the witnesses were all called, 
but they ran off and hid. The official said to Kapitan Jacob, "You 
said the chiefs were your witnesses, but they have all run away. Now 
you must be the witness." Then the official said to me, "You must go to 
jail for one year here and six years in Pantar." I said, "This is my island. 
Perhaps it would be better for me to go right away to Pantar." They 
took me back to jail. The next day they called me again. The official 
said, "Your punishment is one year. If those witnesses who twisted 
things had come, you might have gone free yesterday." By that rime I 
had been in jail six months. I stayed one more year in jail. 

May 14 

[He seemed upset. There was a prominent pulse at the base of his 
throat; his breath was hard and short. The village was upset because 
officials were arriving that day.] 

Last night my wealth-bringing spirit came and said to me, "My words 
the nonya probably knows already; my kernels I have already given 
her. Has she already told you or not? My words said that in eleven 
days this world will be dark, and if other people do not carry wood, 
you must." I asked, "What will happen?" and he answered, "Darkness 
has been ordered." I asked if it would always be dark. He said, "No. It 
will be dark for five days, and then it will be light again." I asked if we 
should stay here or not. Then my spirit stopped talking. 

Malelaka the Prophet 325 

After that I dreamed. My wealth-bringing spirit in the form of a 
man ordered me to go to the government camp and stand on the slope 
above it. Then he ordered me to stand on the slope below it. I said, 
"Why do you turn me around and switch me about like this?" And he 
said, "We ordered people to come and tell you to clean up around your 
house and you didn't; so we are 'teaching you to do right. 9 ' I said, "I 
have already been punished, but I can't order people to work. If I want 
to weed or to sweep, I must do it myself, not order others." Then an- 
other spirit came and stood behind me with a rattan switch. He pulled 
me. From this I awoke to find myself sleeping on the bench. 

[He then sat looking confused and anxious. He looked at me as 
though he expected a pronouncement of some sort, probably an answer 
to his indirect question about my knowledge of things to come. I asked 
about a -large area of scarred tissue on his side.] 

When I first met my friends [familiars] they spat areca juice on me 
and I have been well ever since. My scars are from boils. They are my 
only sickness. I got a boil on my side and then it kept coining back. 

When I first met my friends I was about twelve or fourteen and I did 
not yet have those boils. I ate all foods. I didn't observe taboos. Then I 
got a boil, and every rime one started, two or three more developed. 
I kept on having them until I met my friends on Mt. Laling and they 
taught me to avoid certain foods. Then my boils stopped. I got this big 
scar when I went to jail. It is not from those early boils. When I was in 
jail I did not observe food taboos. When I came back also I ate all 
foods peas, bananas, pork, feast foods. I also drank sea water. When 
I got back from jail these wounds developed, first one on the calf of my 
leg, then one here on my side. They developed the same month I got 
back. [They had not yet fully healed, although it had been seven years. 
He considered them punishment for not keeping food taboos.] At that 
time I took fifty cents for injections and went to the doctor. After I had 
taken one my leg got well. Then the wound in my side developed. I took 
fifty cents again and got an injection, but my back did not heal. I 
took fifty cents again for an injection. As I was leaving the hospital in 
Kalabahi, I heard my wealth spirit say, "You are throwing your money 
away in vain. You won't get well fast." Then I didn't go back again. 
When the officials came for taxes I showed my back [to get excused 
from taxes as physically incapacitated], and the officials asked why I 
didn't have injections. I said I had already had three, had thrown away 
one rupiah and fifty cents, and was not yet well. So the official said I need 
not pay taxes or do corvte. After that I roasted a white hen for the village 

326 The People of Alor 

guardian spirit, and I cleaned out my mouth. Then my spirit friend said, 
"Before you get well you must also kill a goat." This I did, and my back 
healed. When I sacrificed the goat my spirit friend said, "If another time 
you don't observe taboos, your other side will develop wounds, and you 
will wear scars like a belt." I asked why they did this to me and they 
said, "We talk to you and you don't listen. We forbid red corn, and you 
eat it. We taboo things and you pay no attention." 

[I asked about his first encounter with spirits.] When I was about 
twelve or fourteen, I went out of the house and left my shawl lying 
under the threshold of the room. When I went back up in the house 
there were two red fish there, still alive; their tails were still flapping. I 
went down and told Kafolama what had happened, and we two went 
back up. The fish had disappeared but the cloth was still wet. This hap- 
pened in the morning. My father and mother had gone to weed. Only 
Kafolama was there. It was in Old Alurkowati. The fish did not speak 
to me, but that evening my eyes became clean. I was in the house, and 
it was as though the walls of the house split open and I could see out- 
side.There were two people there standing on the ground. They were 
red like the fish. They said, "Perhaps you think we are not good, but 
we are. Why don't you carry our name to the people?" They were 
two men from the sea. One was called Yerkiki and one Maleakani [both 
names of fish]. For their sake I abstain from pig. 

When I was a little bigger, perhaps two years older, I went to Liku- 
watang. I was sitting on die beach. I looked and saw a piece of drift- 
wood coming in. It hit the shore, and suddenly where there had been 
no one, two women were standing. They were Lonf ani and Fuif ani, the 
wives of the two fish men [his wealth-bringing spirits]. They came 
toward me with some plates. Each one set down two plates and told me 
to take them. I was afraid, so they said, "If you don't take the plates, we 
shall follow you home carrying them." 

Once, when I was just married, I was doing corv6e on the trail near 
the coast. We were making a tbne wall. Suddenly I saw two people 
coming with a fishline, each holding an end. They stretched the line 
over the stone wall, and the pile fell down. They stretched it again, and 
it fell once more. They were Yerkiki and Maleakani. They said, "Don't 
build this wall. We shall only destroy it. When the time comes to har- 
vest rice, make us a house in a mango tree." I promised to build them a 
house here, but I didn't do it. Then the kapitan came for taxes and beat 
many people. I ran and hid at the foot of my field. I saw many clouds 
gathering above the government camp. [This was at the foot of a gap, 

Malelaka the Prophet 327 

where clouds often drifted into the valley.] 1 then heard a noise as if, 
two hawks were approaching, but I didn't see any people. Then I saw a 
boat. It was covered and no door opened. But from within I heard 
a voice saying, "Go back and cut posts for a house as we told you. We 
shall point out its site. You have built a house for yourself to sleep in, 
but when we come down, erect ours in a single day." So I went to a 
wooded area and cut posts. Two I pulled in, two I carried in. I set them 
down at the hdusesite. I told the people, and they said we had better 
erect the house right away. It was after this that I was punished. 

May /;, 1939 

So many people are talking of the arrival of a Good Being that the 
dead are becoming evil. Last night I dreamed that all the dead came to 
ask their children for food. This morning I asked Lakamau for a pig 
to feed to my verandah [a preliminary for any death feast]. The dead 
know that when the Good Beings come, there will be no more death 
feasts and they won't be fed. Nine of my dead came to me: Padamakani 
[his father], Fuimai [his mother], Kolfani [his father's second wife], 
Aranglaka [a younger brother], Makanma [his father's older broth- 
er], Maliemau [wife of Makanma], Manialurka [his father's younger 
brother], Melanglani [wife of Manialurka], and Maliemai [daughter of 
Melanglani]. If the Good Beings do not come, we shall beat gongs 
[i.e., give a death feast]. If they do come, probably there will be no 
more death feasts. I will only feed my village guardian spirit after that. 

Toward dawn I dreamed that people took my soul and put it on a 
small island that was moving about in mid-air. This is the way Good 
Beings are supposed to travel. In a little while the island came down in 
the middle of the sea. Then two other islands floated near me. On one 
of them was five villages [this area] and on the other, three villages 
[the Fungwati group]. On the one where I sat there was just one vil- 
lage. Then a wind came and drove us against the shore. Each of the 
villages then gave me a letter. I was on dry land then, but not here. The 
people there told me not to throw away the letters but to keep them. I 
went on to Alurkowati and then I awoke. Now the dreams are finished 
and we can talk of something else. 

When I had just one child I went to Kewai. People there gave me 
some newly split areca. If it had been split a long time, I might not have 
taken it [since Kewai is a notorious center of witchcraft]. When I 
reached home my stomach began to hurt. The witches were already 
biting my liver. I cried and cried and could not sleep. So Lonfani [his 

328 The People of Alar 

wife] went to Padatimang of Kewai and said, "One of your young kin 
gave Malelaka areca nuts, and now he cannot sleep." Then Padatimang 
came. I took areca, rubbed my stomach with it, and gave it to Padati- 
mang. He sat down beside me and rubbed my stomach, saying to the 
witch, "You can't stay here." He extracted something and put it in his 
basket. When I recovered, I gave him ten cents and he left. Then the 
guardian spirit of the village came to me and said, "Why do you want 
to eat that areca? They will pull off your head [a custom of witches]." 

Then another time I went to Kewai to see Alurkopada. His daughter 
Kolata was fetching water. I looked; her head and right arm disap- 
peared, and her body was leaning against a rock. Blood was not flowing 
at the stumps but had just collected there. Her head and arm were look- 
ing for snails in the taro, and she was eating them. [Snails were a source 
of great revulsion.] I went to Alurkopada and said, "Father, when your 
daughter returns and cooks, I won't eat of it, because she was out hunt- 
ing something in the taro." He said, "That child does not do right. If 
one wants to hunt something, one must do it secretly." Then he went 
to the chief, who gave an order, saying, "Another time you can't do 
this. Hereafter no young woman may step over a young man, and no 
young man may step over a young woman [a witch's system of casting 
a spell]. If that person does, he will go to jail, and we shall be shamed. 
If you have food that is cold or old, you must not give it to others; eat 
it yourself. If the person eats and is sick, we shall be shamed." Then two 
people from Kewai who were not witches put medicine near the spring. 
When the witches drank that spring water, they became ordinary 
people. They put the medicine in a bamboo tube with a hole in the 
joint, and the water from the spring flowed through the medicine and 
out the hole. Before this, when their husbands were away, women ate 
their own children's livers and substituted tuber leaves for them. When 
their husbands slept they would step over them, and that would make 
their husbands sleep deeply. Then they would take tuber leaves and put 
them in place of their husbands' livers. They took out the livers and 
cooked and ate them. When they did this, they ordered their hus- 
bands to go stay with their mothers and fathers. [That is, they ordered 
them to leave for their own villages so they would not die in Kewai, 
since this would create suspicion. Note that the informant spoke of 
witches in female terms, although they were of both sexes. He even 
acted as though residence were matrilocal, in order to place blame on 

[I asked if he remembered any castration threats.] No, but when my 

Malelaka the Prophet 329 

mother and father went to the fields I cried a lot, and mother said, 
"Don't cry. By and by you will eat your penis and buttocks." Some- 
times when I cried she would count my fingers. She would take my 
little finger and say, "This is your young corn. By and by I shall harvest 
it and \v,e shall roast and eat it." She would then take my fourth finger 
and say, "This is your young beans. By and by I shall harvest them 
and we shall boil and eat them." She would take my third finger and 
say, "This is your rat. By and by I shall kill a rat and you will eat it." 
She would take my index finger and say, "This is your sweet potato. 
By and by I shall dig it so that we can cook and eat it." She would 
take my thumb and say, "This is your tuber. By and by I shall dig it 
and come and cook. You will eat." [The informant repeated foods of 
various sorts that his mother named in this kind of play.] Then she held 
my hand up to my mouth and said, "Here, eat them; eat their souls," 
and I made believe I ate them. 

Once someone was sick in Karieta and Maliemai [his grandmother] 
was going to treat him. I wanted to follow her, but she told me I could 
not. She said she would bring me back a piece of the chicken and the 
rice they gave her in payment, and I could eat them at home. 

When I was still small, a woman gave birth to a child. The child had 
come down, but not the placenta. People called Maliemai to come. I 
and Aloma [his cousin] wanted to follow, but she said we were not 
women and we could not go. I turned back but Aloma went on, carry- 
ing her basket for her. When they reached the place, the placenta had 
already come down. People gave grandmother rice and a chicken. They 
brought them back home and we cooked and ate them. 

One day people said that a woman was dead. They called grand- 
mother. When she got there, the body was covered with a shroud. 
People were beating gongs and killing pigs. I had gone with grand- 
mother and Aloma. People shot and roasted a chicken for grandmother. 
When it was almost dawn, the dead woman threw back her shroud and 
sat up. She came back to life. Then grandmother said, "That woman 
must eat this feast; she must eat the liver of the pig [a delicacy]." 
Grandmother and I ate the chicken. The next morning people gave us 
a big pig and a basket of rice. Grandmother took the pig home and 
raised it, but we ate the chicken. 

May i6 

[Yesterday I asked Malelaka to recall all castration threats he had 
heard and tell them today. He did not dream last night.] 

330 The People of Alor 

This I never saw, but I have heard that when a man and woman 
sleep together before they are married, the woman's family and her 
husband quarrel, and the woman's family may cut off the man's penis 
and split the woman's vagina. If I bought a wife and my wife talked 
with another man [i.e., committed adultery], I would do as my grand- 
father did. If a man goes off and his wife stays behind and cooks for 
another man and they sleep together, I would do as my grandfather did. 

This was my grandfather Momaug [really his father's grandfather] 
from Fungwati. His wife was Lonma. Momaug went to see friends in 
Tengate. While he was gone his wife pounded rice and cooked eggs. 
Her children saw her but they did not know what became of the rice 
and eggs. Their mother did not give them the food. This went on day 
after day. Then one day Momaug came home and asked for his wife. 
The children told him what their mother had been doing. So Momaug 
said he wanted to go back to Tengate. He went as far as Kolvi and 
from there dipped down into the ravine. He saw a cave that had been 
closed up, but the ground inside was fine and dusty, as though people 
had been walking there. He hid in the weeds above the cave. After a 
while he heard his wife singing a dance song. He saw her go into the 
cave. She took off her loincloth and lay down naked. She wanted 
the man to have intercourse with her before he ate. Then the man 
came, making a lot of noise. He took off his loincloth too and lay on 
her. Momaug drew his bow and made a rustling noise in the under- 
brush. The man raised himself and Momaug let an arrow fly. It went 
through the man's chest and came out his back. The woman yelled, 
"Ahuahu! Ahuahu! The other's penis has been withdrawn; your prop- 
erty is still here. Don't shoot." But he shot her too and the arrow went 
into her breast. They were both dead. He cut off the man's penis and 
slit the woman's genitals. He thrust the penis into her vagina. He then 
laid the bodies on each other and took a bamboo spear and pounded it 
with a stone through their two bodies. He went off and left them. He 
ran off to Abuiwati. [This horrible tale, which seemed to be traditional 
in Malelaka's family, might serve in part to explain his caution in rela- 
tion to illicit intercourse.] 

The man's family came to Momaug's brother Lakama to ask for a 
fine. The woman's family also came and said he should pay them. But 
Lakama said, "We bought that woman. She is ours. That man wanted 
to sleep with our wife, so it is his fault. The woman we had already 
bought; if we wished to kill her, that is our affair." So the woman's 
family didn't come any more for payment. The man's family also 

Malelaka the Prophet 331 

wanted to be paid, but Lakama said it was the man who had committed 
the fault and he was the one who should pay a fine. Then the man's 
family didn't ask to be paid any more. 

There was a dance at Abuiwati, where Momaug was staying. To the 
dance came the son of a man Momaug had once killed in a quarrel over 
a deer. The son, who did not know Momaug by sight, gave a shout of 
challenge, saying, "Sapaliek! I am going to kill Momaug." Then Momaug 
said also, "Sapaliek! I am going to kill Momaug." The man thought 
Momaug was promising to help him. At dawn Momaug called the man 
and said, "Come to my house and my wife will cook for you and you 
can have tobacco. So the man went with him and ate. As he lay down 
to sleep, Momaug said to him, "Oh, here is a tube of tobacco for you. 
Put it under your head as a neck rest." When the man was asleep, Mo- 
maug told his wife and children to go as fast as they could to Rualwati. 
He told his wife to hold up her raincape as a signal when she reached a 
certain place, and then to wait for him there. When he saw her waving 
her raincape, he went in the house. The man was sleeping soundly, with 
his neck on the tube; so Momaug chopped off his head and, carrying it, 
followed his wife. 

[Here Malelaka launched into the details of the financial exchanges 
associated with the sale of a human head. I asked for other castration 
themes.] When we were children, we boys and girls played together in 
the dust. If we fought a little, our boy friends would say to each oth^r, 
"If your penis itches, cut it off." If girls fought, they would say to each 
other, "If your vagina itches, slit it." 

When I was about five or six, two boys and two girls went off to- 
gether to roast cassava. I came along and saw the two boys lying on the 
two girls. I went to Lupalaka [the older brother of one of the girls] and 
to Makanma [the father of the other girl] and told them what they 
were doing. The two older men said, "We shall beat those children 
half to death and cut the penes off the boys." They went to get them, 
but they had gone. They hunted but could not find them. The two 
girls cried and went to their mothers, but the two boys did not return 
even at night. The two elders said, "We shan't cut off their penes, but 
we shall tie the boys up." 

Another time the same four went to the edge of the village and 
played together, drawing pictures on the ground. Lupalaka saw them 
and said, "Now I shall beat you." The boys ran away. He said he was 
going to cut off the boys' penes and slash the girls' vaginas. [The four 
children were about ten or twelve.] 

332 The People of Alor 

May 17, if 39 

Last night I dreamed that as I was weeding, a large wild pig came 
and ate my corn. I called people to hunt it. They chased it as far as 
Lakamobi's garden, where they killed it. They carried it down to the 
trail. It was already cut up. They roasted and ate it there on the trail. It 
had long tusks. The neck they gave to Karfehawa [chief of the village 
of the dead]. I went with them and I saw Karfehawa's mouth. His teeth 
were black as charcoal and so was the rest of his mouth. His teeth were 
long and curved. Karfehawa said, "You have given me a pig and I have 
eaten. Next time bring me a carabao to eat." I said, "You have al- 
ready eaten many people. Is that to stop or not?" He said, "Watch your 
island. When it turns a little, I shall stop eating people. Speak to 
your village guardian spirit. If he speaks and red rain falls, he has spoken 
truly. If I speak truly, the world will turn over." I said, "If red rain 
falls, what will happen?" Karfehawa said, "If red rain falls, hang up 
your lamp when it is over." I asked, "If the world turns, what will 
happen?" Karfehawa said, "You are always invoking your village guard- 
ian spirit. If he speaks truly, red rain will fall. You have given me a 
pig; next time give me a carabao." Then I left and suddenly I saw Hain- 
intuku [island of the dead] down below. When I reached our village, 
there was an official and his wife. They both sat on chairs. The official 
asked me in our language, "Where do you come from?" So I told him. 
He said, "We too are afraid of Karfehawa. How is it that you are so 
brave as to go there?" I said, "Oh, people take me and I just follow." 
Then suddenly I was up on the mountains of the south coast. I awoke 
lying on my mat. 

[I asked him about Karfehawa's eating humans.] Karfehawa eats the 
souls that the familiars of seers bring him. Seers' familiar spirits take 
him souls, but we see only pigs. They are really the souls they have 
stolen. When a person is sick, a seer comes to sit with him and spits on 
him. If the seer or his familiar eats well, the person recovers. If not, the 
familiar takes the soul and gives it to Karfehawa. Familiar spirits are like 
the soldiers of Karfehawa. The seers know all about this, but last night 
was the first time I learned of it. [For the red rain Malelaka had no ex- 
planation. He did not know what the words "hanging up your lamp" 

After a while I went back to sleep and dreamed again. Then the moun- 
tain above the valley made a big noise, and people thought the world 
was going to turn over that day. All ran to the government camp [one 
of the places safest from landslides]. Then the mountains slid down and 

Malelaka the Prophet 333 

covered over the houses, pigs, and gardens until you couldn't see them 
any more. The rocks and sand all went rolling down into the ravine. 
All was good earth where the village had been. People decided to make 
new houses there, little field houses. They began building them. I saw 
Manifani of Dikimpe walking with a cane. He had been hit in the leg 
with stones as they rolled down from the mountain during the earth- 
quake. Manimale [a distant kinsman] had a large wound on the side of 
his face and was being doctored in one of the houses. There were no 
stones or trees left; there was only empty earth. People were going 
right and left, shouting and calling. Someone shouted to me to come 
quickly and help with the house of Manimau. I started to jump up. The 
roosters were crowing and it was dawn. [Pause.] 

[I asked what he wished to talk about.] My grandmother, Tilamau, 
slept with a man. Her husband followed the man down into the ravine, 
shot him, and cut off his penis. He hunted eels and crayfish and wrapped 
them all up in leaves along with the penis. He went home and put the 
bundle on the rat disk and went up into the house. He told his wife 
there was a bundle of eels and crayfish below and she should get them 
and cook them. She went down and opened the bundle and said, "Eh, 
evil spirit, evil spirit." He said to her, "Just eat it. Maybe it will be 
tasty." When father was telling me this, he said, "When wives slept 
with other men, your forebears cut off their penes and thrust them back 
into slit vaginas. Some cut them off, wrapped them in leaves, and gave 
them to their wives to eat. So your wives can't wander about at ran- 
dom. My wife cannot hunt lice in men's hair or eat their areca. If she 
does, my heart becomes evil and I shall do as my forebears did." He 
said, "Now my wives are dead, but you, my children, must watch your 
wives. When they go to the fields, they must go right through to their 
destination, not stop to talk and delouse or to chew areca. We do as our 
forebears did, and we follow our forebears in this too." 

At that time Fuipeni [wife of a cousin of the informant] gave Laka- 
fani money 'to play cards. Her husband was angry, and we all took our 
clubs and fought with Lakaf ani. Now we also talk to the small children 
and teach them. When we were small and didn't work, our parents took 
our hands and rubbed them on the ground. We too educate our chil- 
dren in this fashion. When I didn't work in the fields, father twice had 
to rub my hands on the ground, and twice he had to tie my hands be- 
hind me. [Question.] He was the one who told us these stories of our 
forebears and he was the one who taught us. But the very first time I 
heard these stories was from my grandfather, Mangma. He told of 

334 Th e People of Alor 

his father's father. He said he was the first to kill men. When it was 
deer-hunting time at Abuiwati, people came and asked him to join 
them. At that time, when Abuiwati people shot deer, two brothers were 
accustomed to come and take the deer from them. They asked Momaug 
to help, because he was a strong man. [Malelaka then repeated in sub- 
stantially the same form the episode of the preceding day.] 

[I asked about masturbation and scolding for it.] When I was still 
small, about twelve or thirteen, Senmale put a wild bean in his penis. 
His father and mother were angry with him; his mother slapped his 
hand and his father scolded him, saying, "Now you are doing some- 
thing bad." 

Once some girls were playing. They were pouring sand on each 
other's backs. Two of them stuffed the third one's genitals full of sand. 
Then her father hit the two playmates. [Question.] They were still 
small, about five or six years old. When we were older they teased Sen- 
male about putting the bean in his penis, and I teased the girls for put- 
ting sand in their playmate's vagina, and they hit me. 

Once Lakamobi, when he was still small, twisted and bent his penis 
so hard as he played with it that it wasn't straight any more. It just 
stayed crooked. Lakamobi's father said, "Why don't you work? You 
just play with your penis. Now I am going to scrape your hands on 
stones. When I was small my father dragged my hands in dirt all the 
way to the garden to teach me industry. Now I am going to drag yours 
over stone." 

When I was still small I put a pea in my ear and we could not get it 
out. It was there for two years before it came out. It almost sprouted 
so that leaves came out of my ear. When they pulled it out, its skin was 
already split as if to sprout." [Question.] I was five or six at the time. 
My father pulled my ear for this. He was angry and said, "Why do you 
stuff peas in your ear in view of the fact that I don't strike you?" [The 
implication was that a child might harm himself out of spite, but that 
in this case there was no cause for spite.] 

Two years later Kolata, a Kewai girl, whose mother was my father's 
kinswoman, was here planting corn. The child cried and said an insect 
had entered her ear. I looked and there was a small Chinese bead in her 
ear. I tried to take it out but couldn't. The girl's ear hurt, and her 
mother's stomach ached. Both of them cried all night long, and the 
next day they went home. When I looked in her ear it was not an in- 
sect but a bead, and even a seer could not take it out. Later I met her 
and asked about it, and she said it must have fallen out of itself or gone 
down the ear hole, since it no longer hurt her. 

Malelaka the Prophet 335 

Kewaimau also put a bean in her ear, and she cried. I saw the bean 
there. I took a needle and fished it out very carefully. [He demon- 
strated with gestures.] The bean fell out then and blood flowed. 

May 1 8, 

Last night I dreamed and when I awoke this morning I told about it. 
I dreamed I was guarding people who were repiling the stone cairns in 
their fields. I said, "These stone cairns make the gardens small. Make 
walls on the boundaries instead.' 9 I was just standing guard over their 
work to see that it was done. [This order was actually given out two 
days ago by the officials and was relayed to the villagers by their chiefs. 
Was Malelaka giving , himself governmental powers in this dream, or 
was he trying to impress me? This work would soon be actually done, 
and perhaps he thought I might not know of the order.] I watched and 
watched until the fields of all the three villages were finished. I awoke 
and the roosters were crowing. Then I went back to sleep and dreamed 

The earthquake had come. People beat gongs and mokos and ran 
around. I said, "Don't beat gongs and mokos. It is as though you were 
calling people to give them to the earthquake. Sit quietly." But the 
people did not stop. Suddenly a big noise came from the mountains and 
all the houses fell down. I said, "You did not follow my words, and now 
it has come full force." If my dream is true, it means that next month a 
big earthquake must come. If not an earthquake, then another big wind. 
When the earthquake came, I saw the large houses were all aslant and 
the small ones were all down. Then my dream broke off. 

[He continued immediately with the following.] If a familiar spirit 
extracts an object from a sick person and the sick person doesn't pay 
well or doesn't do right, the stone returns to his body. Last year Lon- 
fani [his wife] got sick and people came and took out flints, sea pebbles, 
and plate chips. One hundred and fifty they extracted. They would 
take one out and in a little while she would cry and they would take 
out another. This year I paid a pig for all this work. But now she is sick 
again and they have already taken out fifteen. Each day they take out 
one, and I pay three cents or five cents each time. I throw away five 
cents. I throw away three cents. Last year I threw away one rupiah and 
fifty cents. Now I already have thrown away ten cents. Maybe the seer 
is deceiving us. Does he take one out and put it back again? [Who is 
the seer? ] It is Rilpada. Formerly, when his father was a seer, his father 
would put a stone in his mouth first and then suck and pretend to draw 
it out as he sucked. But Rilpada is different. He pulls them out with his 

336 The People of Alor 

hands. He says, "Look while I pull them out." Then he pulls them out 
with his fingers. I told my wife that if the seer didn't cure her, she 
could drink something else. [Was he hinting at medical care from me? 
Note how indirect all approaches are. I said nothing, and he went on.] 
That is finished. We can talk of my familiar a civet cat that turned 
into a human being. 

Once I was sleeping with Kafelkalieta at Manifula. We were guard- 
ing the field of sun corn. Each afternoon and evening I shot rats but 
didn't hit them. Once I went to the jungle near there and sat down. 
After a bit a large civet cat came and ate corn. I had only a bird arrow 
with me, so I used it. It hit the cat's head but didn't stick in. I looked 
and suddenly a man stood there. The man said, "You have shot me. An- 
other time I won't come back to eat your corn. If you hadn't shot me, 
I surely would have come back. If we come to your house to take 
chickens, even if they sleep under the eaves of your house, don't chase 
us. I was a good friend of your grandfather, Senmani, so don't shoot 
me." [Malelaka here interpolated that his grandfather once saw a large 
eel going over dry land at Manifula, and whenever it brushed against 
grass or twigs it was as though a large man had passed by. His grand- 
father built a spirit altar there, after which gongs and mokos poured 
in.] This man said, "If you find something the next time you dig for 
rats, you must not be afraid." The next day I found a rathole. At first it 
was small, but as I dug, it became larger. I dug as far as the nest. It was a 
very large one and I pulled it out. I looked in it and there were aren 
palm fibers in it, as if a man had put them there. There were also floor 
boards of split bamboo in the nest. But there was only one small mouse. 
I was afraid and ran away. 

Another time I found a honey hole, and later we went back to get 
the comb. I saw then that the honey had gone and that a green snake 
slept in the hole. Then the spirit at Manifula said, "How is it that you 
did not take what you saw the first time? If you don't hurry and take 
what you find, it disappears. It does not redly disappear, but people 
hide it." 

Once I wanted to take beans from our field and mother hit me for 
picking them, so I ran off. As I ran, I tripped, fell, and slid down a steep 
slope. My grandmother, Maliemai, said, "If you hit this child, our 
grandparent [a euphemism for evil spirit] may come and help your 
hand, and you may kill him. If you chase the child and he runs away, 
our grandparent, or perhaps some other evil spirit, may come and hide 
him." When I ran and fell, the beans spilled out of my basket. As I 

Maklaka the Prophet 337 

went to pick up the basket, it was full of beans again. An evil spirit had 
put them back in my basket. My grandmother looked at the beans and 
saw they were those of an evil spirit. Then an evil spirit possessed 
Maliemai and spoke through her, saying, "If I were an evil spirit as you 
said just now, you would surely have been dead long ago. Evil people 
wanted to sleep with you, but I sent your brothers to guard you. If I 
hadn't, you would surely have been dead long ago*" Thus my grand- 
mother's spirit spoke. It said, "I have been a good spirit. I have given 
you much food, many gongs and mokos, and very many pigs and goats. 
All these I have given you. I am not bad." 

Once my grandmother was living alone in a small field house near 
Lakamobi's field. At night she took off her belt and was adding new 
decorations to it. Meanwhile the spirit Lanpada had gone visiting. 
When J\e returned his wife said, "Oh, your sister is over there making 
her belt. I heard young men say they wanted to sleep with her, so you 
had better guard her." Lanpada came in the form of Langmani. He 
built up the fire to give light, and he sat and watched her hands. Then 
my grandmother said, "Langmani, your wife Fuimau is bad. She is 
accustomed to talk harshly to people. You have come to me, but your 
wife will be angry." Then he said, "I have no wife called Fuimau." 
At this my grandmother's hands began to shake with fear. Then he 
said, "I am not Langmani. I am the spirit Lanpada. I have been away 
and when I came back your amoi [the term for a sibling's spouse] told 
me to come and guard you because some young men were planning 
to come here and sleep with you." My grandmother was afraid. Lan- 
pada asked her, "Whose child are you?" She said, "I am Maipada's 
child." He said, "Then you are my real kinswoman. Another time you 
must not sleep here, because boys are all very bad." Then in the morn- 
ing she ran back to the village and said to her mother, father, and 
siblings, "Oh, you are bad. I stayed alone in that field house until an 
evil spirit came to me." At that rime her family wanted her to marry, 
but she did not want to. She was still young and unmarried at this time, 
but spirits had already come to her. She had run away to the garden 
house because she did not want to marry die man her family wished 
her to marry. 

May 19, 1939 

Last night I dreamed my soul was taken to the seven villages of the 
evil spirits. First I went to Lemia [a spring] and there was a village 
there. The evil spirit said, "We have guests, so cook and we shall eat." 

338 The People of Alar 

But my soul did not want to. The person who took me told them I 
did not wish to eat, that I had just come to inspect the village. At Lemia 
there was a person who was supposed to be bamboo, but he wasn't 
really bamboo. One leg was like a human being's and the other was a 
piece of bamboo. He sat on a verandah. He asked my friend why he 
had brought me, and my friend said, "We have just come to look." 
[Did this reflect the fact that five days earlier the missionary and I had 
"inspected" the villages? ] The bamboo man asked me why I had come, 
and I said, "Some of my people [dead] have come here, so I wanted 
to see. Melangseni and his wife [dead kinsmen] have just made a house 
here. My younger sibling, Senmani [dead] is also here." Then Senmani 
said, "Elder sibling, why are you here?" I said, "Oh, just to see." He 
said, "All right, but you must not stay here long." 

Then the evil spirit who was guiding me took me to Foramelang. 
We went on to Kelakaik [a spirit tree]. Two houses were standing 
there and Senpada was living in one of them. He asked, "Father, why 
are you here?" And I said, "Oh, I've just come to look things over." 
He said, "If I were as formerly [alive], I would surely order your 
daughter to cook, but now I can't." I said, "I've just come to inspect." 
Then we went on up to where there was a house, and in it was Malie- 
mai [a dead cousin]. She asked, "Elder brother, why do you come?" 
I told her, "I've just come to see what sort of village you have." 

Then I went up to Manialurka's field. It is really steep, but there 
were many houses that had sprung up, and the place had become level. 
There lived Manialurka, Tilakama, Lonmani, and Manileng; all were 
there living in a house. There were pigs and mokos for feasts and for 
paying for burial shrouds. They were all in one house, in a small field 
house that they had built, with pens below for the animals. Then Man- 
ialurka said, "My child, you have come to my village. I was brought 
here to live. Children [living] may not come here to play." There was 
a large house there with a guesthouse, and there was a thatch roof 
running from the guesthouse to the main house. The owner of this 
house had a long beard reaching to his stomach. He asked why -I came, 
and I said, "I hear that my people are happy to come and stay with 
you." He said, "I don't pull them here [i.e., kill them]. They are just 
glad to come here and live." He then asked if I was willing to eat his 
food. He said, "Your eyes will not become infected, nor will your 
stomach swell." [This is the usual result of eating the food of evil 
spirits.] I said, "I don't want food. I am not hungry. I only chew areca 
and smoke tobacco." 

Malelaka the Prophet 339 

I went on to Fuida. There was a small village. I saw Fanmanikalieta, 
his wife, and his children, all gathered there. He said, "Our son-in-law 
Jias come. What are you looking for?" I said, "Oh, this man came and 
said we should inspect all these villages. I have already inspected all of 
them between here and Lemia." I saw they were preparing a feast in 
the Lanwati lineage house. People were carving designs on the posts. 
There were seven rice cones there and very many pigs and goats, not 
yet roasted. 

Then I left and went on up the slope. There were many villages. 
We see it as steep land, but it is full of villages. The evil spirits with 
their weapons were assembled on the boundary of the villages to re- 
ceive the rice cones. They were the house-building partners of Lan- 
wati. The evil spirit who brought me said that we should stay and 
watch them receive the rice cones, but I said, "You have brought me 
to bad villages. We had better go on up until we reach the customary 

So we went on up to a house that Malealurka and Senmale had built 
and where they stayed. They were there chewing areca, one cud after 
the other. They said, "My child, from where have you come?" I said, 
"My friend has taken me to inspect all these villages." He said, "There 
are many children in your family. Guard them well. When we travel 
we follow only the steep paths, and children should not come up here, 
because this is where we travel. Children must stay on level ground. 
We [the dead] won't do anything, but we don't know the hearts of 
the evil spirits. I thought the evil spirits here were just garden spirits 
and not bad, but now I know they are evil." 

I went up to Yenabuk, and a village of evil spirits was there. An old 
man there asked what I was doing, and I answered that my friend had 
brought me to inspect the places in which people stay. He said, "People 
were bad to me, so I am bad to them." I said, "Do my people [dead] 
who come here have red hearts [evil in intent]? Why do you say 
that?" He said, "I sent my dogs to meet them and they shot them. I 
thought if they shot my dogs they would shoot me too. Now I am 
bad toward them. You have a law and so do we. If people have done 
wrong, we pull them here. If they haven't, we don't. They shot our 
dogs, and so I pull them here when they are bad." 

Then I went on up the slope and there was a small village. Malefani 
[died in June 1938] and his older brother, Fanmale, were living there. 
Malefani said, "Where is our brother-in-law going?" I said, "People are 
always taking away our kin, so I have come to inspect them." Malefani 

340 The People of Alor 

said, "I was brought here by a woman* Go back and tell my older son 
that he must warn his youngest brother that people here want to take 
his child [who is sick]. He must live in another house." I asked, "Why 
did people steal you and bring you here?" He said, "I was planting 
tubers. They were not those of an evil spirit, but were mine. However, 
the evil spirit came and put her tubers in my hole. She put hers on top 
of mine. I took mine away. Then she came and carried me off [i.e., he 
died]." I said, "Why didn't you tell us? We could have paid." He said, 
"When an evil spirit stands near us, our words disappear. Perhaps I 
would not have come, but my daughter Fungata didn't want to marry 
the man I wanted her to, so I took our sacred stone and cursed her, and 
then the spirit of the sacred stone was angry and helped the evil spirit 
carry me off." I asked, "Why are you sending word to your youngest 
son?" He said, "It looks as though he and his wife had no house, be- 
cause they live in a field house, where the evil spirit comes and stands 
near them. [Actually Alurkari did live with his oldest brother for a 
time in the new lineage house his father had built, but he had recently 
moved to a field house.] My child has many fields. He must not culti- 
vate the Fuida field any more." I asked, "How did your older brother 
come to stay here?" He said, "Fanlaka did as you did [prophesied the 
arrival of a Good Being]. A Good Being was to come, but an evil spirit 
took her place. Fanlaka slept with her [this was always supposed to be 
fatal], and, having begotten children, he came here to live. Be careful. 
Your elder sibling first tried to bring a Good Being here, but instead 
he slept with an evil spirit and came here to live. Be careful." I counted 
Fanlaka's children and there were six of them there [the offspring of 
a ghost and an evil spirit]. Then Malefani's child began to laugh. I 
asked why Fanlaka had slept with the evil spirit woman, and Malefani 
said, "The Good Being woman came, put rice in a tube, and waited 
for him; but he did not come, so she went away. Then an evil spirit 
woman came, and when Fanlaka arrived he saw the rice and thought 
the evil spirit woman was a Good Being. He slept with her. When he 
came out of the house, the Good Beings saw what had happened and 
didn't come near him again." Then Malefani said, "You had better go." 
So I went on up to Padalehi [a real village] and then I woke up. 

June 2, 1939 

The encounter at Mt. Laling [see the story for May 12, 1939] gave 
me the familiar spirits called Atamau and Malemau and their two wives 
Kolpada and Tilamau. I was climbing up the mountain when I met two 

Malelaka the Prophet 341 

women. The only thing they said was, "Come, we shall go to our 
father." But I thought they were evil spirits and I said, "No, I am going 
off to dun." I didn't know they were supernatural beings. At that time 
I didn't know there was a Good Beings' village above Mt. Laling. The 
women asked me again to go up with them, but I wouldn't. 

Then I went to Kafoi and in two days I came back. On the way 
back I didn't see anything. 

When I went to Kafoi, the people from Fungwati were busy pre- 
paring for their Good Beings [1917 or 1918], Shortly after I came 
back, the radjah went there and was killed. Then the war began. I had 
a big house at the time, but I went to sleep in my small field house. 
Once I was lying there on my back looking up when a frond of coco- 
nut or aren palm fell on my chest. As this fell, it was suddenly light in 
the house, as though a lamp were lighted. I looked but I did not hear 
or see anything. This was a tally of their coming [resembling the split 
coconut leaf used as a tally in connection with invitations to feasts]. 

Then after the war was over, an official came and gave out tax slips. 
There was a dance that night at the government camp. As I stood 
watching it the officials told me to join in. I told them I had a fever, 
so they said I should go lie down and sleep. I went to my house and 
slept. I heard someone call. I looked out the front and back doors but 
saw no one. Then the one who had called struck a storage basket up in 
the loft. I looked up into the loft and saw a person, who said to me, 
"Now the government is changing everything right and left. You must 
follow the government. If you don't they will beat you. You must not 
eat crabs, crayfish, or fish." I said, "Come down." He said, "No, I 
only came to say what I have said." A big wind blew as he went up 
from the first loft to the second. He parted the thatch as one opens a 
window and went out. One bundle of thatch fell down where he had 
left. [Note that Malelaka reported fever at the time. This was probably 
malaria, since it is endemic in Atimelang. He also had an enlarged 
spleen. In general, how many of the sincere hallucinations were at- 
tributable to delirium? People took fever so much for granted that 
they scarcely noticed a high temperature or thought it worth men- 

At that time I was not yet married. Shortly after that I bought Lon- 
f ani. One day I was doing corute on the new government camp. I was 
stamping down the earth floor. The kapitan shouted at me to work. 
I said, "You call only me to work. There are many other people here 
also." Then the kapitan took a rattan switch and stood alongside me. 

342 The People of Alor 

He was fingering it to hit me, so I ran away. Then the kapitan beat 
the men who had been working with me. First I ran up to Watahieng 
and then I doubled back down to my garden at Falingfaking. At the 
time I left the government camp the sky was clear and cloudless. By 
the time I reached Falingfaking the mist had gathered and was already 
over the large mango in Kafelkai's field. Then a wind came and the 
mist floated over to the eucalyptus tree of my field. My supernatural 
friend spoke to me, saying, "Now you must make a small house in 
the mango tree." So I cut beams. I dragged two in and carried the other 
two, all in one day. [Was this a compensatory show of strength after 
running away from the kapitan, who was a little man half the size of 
the informant? ] Then I set to work and made a house in the mango. 
Before it was thatched I heard a noise like twelve gunshots in the direc- 
tion of Mt. Laling. I thought the soldiers were fighting. But later when 
we asked the people from the vicinity, they said the noise came from 
our direction. My supernatural friend came and said, "I was dragging 
a rope around this island [as Karmale and Alomale did when they in- 
troduced death to the world]. Did you hear? The two ends of that 
rope are here. Fold them over and sit on them." Then my friend said, 
"You are now busy doing corvee; also your wife is pregnant and cannot 
cut thatch. So go do one day of corvee and then order other women to 
cut your thatch." This I did, and I killed a chicken for the women who 
cut thatch. I went to cut weeds, and when I came back to the field 
house my friend said, "Your rice is in full ear. If you wish to feed dry 
wood [dead kin], go ahead with it." So I tied a pig and gave a death 
feast for my two mothers. Then my friend said, "Now you have made 
your house, but it is only the kitchen [a small outhouse]. Now you 
must make a big house. It must be finished in a day. [Malelaka then 
enumerated all the parts of the house that must be cut and erected in 
a day.] All this must be done in one day, but I must come here before 
you make it." So I told the older people what my friend had said. The 
next day Tilapada came and woke me as I slept. She said that all the 
people were building that new house and that I should go look at them. 
I awoke and took three plates of ten areca nuts each and three plates 
of tobacco and gave them to the workers. I said, "Since you have 
started the house, the women had better cook." Then my supernatural 
friend came and said, "I told you to wait for me before making the 
house, but since they have started, gather up all the people and give 
them a law." I said, "What shall I order them to do?" He said, "Tell 
them, 'Now you can no longer eat crayfish, crabs, eels, fish, sea water, 

Malelaka the Prophet 343 

red corn, red rice, snake tubers, red tubers, green bananas, or foreign 
bananas.' " So I collected the people together and gave them this law. 
After that people went to the government and complained against 


This man was about forty-five at the time his autobiography was 
taken. His life history is in every way typical. His childhood and 
adolescence were quite normal, and his parents seem to have been true 
to the cultural form in their treatment of him. He is not a very success- 
ful man, and his standing as a seer is questionable. Rilpada holds him 
in great contempt. His story itself is faulty in that many details needed 
to establish the continuity of his life are lacking. 

Of particular interest in this man are his reactions to having his 
autobiography taken down. The ethnographer had evidently estab- 
lished a justified reputation for being quite a healer and a powerful 
person. Malelaka's attitude toward the interviews is unusual. He is 
eager for them and often comes early for his appointment. Before long 
he has a very decisive attitude toward the ethnographer. He feels that 
he can get something out of this situation, and his dreams reveal time 
and again his disappointment at what is happening. His sole motive is 
to play on the ethnographer's sympathies in one way or another in 
order to get her to give him something. Judging from his dreams, we 
would say that what he really wants is food without paying for it. 
From time to time he becomes exceedingly impatient with the situation 
when his wishes do not materialize. Furthermore, he wants to impress 
the ethnographer, and perhaps in some ways he regards her as a com- 
petitor, but indeed one for whom he has great respect. 

The greatest emphasis in Malelaka's story falls on his vocational 
activities, in connection with which he has some very interesting and 
revealing dreams. The story is short on the affective side, just like 
those of other Alorese, and is extremely poor in the description of his 
human relationships. Like other Alorese too, he tends to emphasize the 
infantile, and his current life is hardly touched upon. This may be the 
result of the way the situation was described to him in the initial in- 
terviews. Here the influence of the interpreter may be important. Very 
little mention is made of his wife and children. 

For the light that his autobiography casts upon this society, perhaps 
the most striking features are the story of his relations with women, 
the persistent manner in which wealth-status is associated with mating, 

344 The People of Alor 

and the many anxieties to which the growing young man is exposed 
on this latter score. 

Malelaka's early childhood was marked by illness. He observes that 
when he was two or three years old he was very sick and could not 
eat. His mother cooked food for him, but this he rejected; his father 
cooked a rat for him, and that he ate. This may be a falsification as 
far as the facts are concerned, but only too frequently in his story does 
he appear to regard men as good spirits and rescuers and women as 
evil spirits who lead him to temptation and destruction. He seems not 
to have lacked care as a child; while his mother worked in the field he 
was taken care of by two cousins in succession until he was about five 
or six. Both of them married that is, were taken away by men. It is 
to be noted in this connection that the loss of his mother-surrogates 
to men is a constellation that seems to have dogged him all his life. He 
is constantly giving up his women, whom he fears for other reasons, 
to some apparently more powerful man. He is always mortally afraid 
of the man to whom the girl belongs, her father or her brother, be- 
cause of the litigation they might bring against him. 

After his two mother-surrogates left, he was taken care of by his 
grandfather for a time. About him he relates several pleasant episodes. 
He narrates an incident from his fifth year in which he tried to follow 
his mother into the field. She sent him home with a promise to get him 
food. She gave him an egg, and Malelaka boasts that he called all his 
friends together to eat it with him. From this same period, and in fact 
immediately after the narrative of this episode, he speaks of witnessing 
a quarrel between two men over a woman. He was frightened, and in 
running away he tripped and injured himself. He seems throughout his 
life* to have had a dread of woman's infidelity, and he himself claims 
never to have committed adultery. He always denies having seen in- 
stances of infidelity among women during his childhood. 

When Malelaka was about five or six his mother gave birth to 
another child. It soon became Malelaka's duty to take care of this child. 
But he did not perform his task diligently and the child was hurt. 
Thereupon he ran away to his grandfather. But on the whole, his rela- 
tions to his parents seem to have been quite friendly. On several occa- 
sions he boasts of his father's exploits. His adolescence seems to have 
been quite typical. He claims at this time to have taken good care of 
his younger siblings and often cooked for them. At about this time he 
started working in the fields with girls with whom he played house. 
They were not very diligent at their work. He seems to have culti- 

Malelaka the Prophet 345 

vated some fields of his own too, and he was generous about disposing 
of the products for the needs of others. He also began raising pigs in 
partnership, but this was rather discouraging because his father was 
constantly claiming them. Eventually Malelaka protested against this, 
and his father finally told him that he didn't need Malelaka's pigs any 
more and that he should begin collecting money for a bride-price. 
From this point on his story is lacking in details, but two aspects of it 
are well carried through first, his relations with women, and second, 
his career as a prophet. When he was about thirty-five his father died. 
His relations to siblings are hardly touched upon. 

His relations with women began when he was comparatively young, 
somewhere about seventeen or eighteen. During his life he had relation- 
ships of some sort with seven women, one of whom he married. Several 
of these relationships were purely platonic, and on some five occasions 
he was about to become engaged to girls, at their invitation and very 
much against his wishes, only to find that they were undesirable, that 
they talked to other men, or that they were evil spirits. The first epi- 
sode occurred shortly after the first flush of his independence. He 
worked hard, made enough money for a bride-price, and then proceeded 
to look for a girl. He made an arrangement with one but she refused 
to go through with it, and he had difficulty getting his bride-price 
back. When he was called away to do corvte, the girl refused to bring 
him food. She also refused repeatedly to sleep with him, so he threw 
her out. But the forwardness he showed in connection with this first 
girl did not last. The next encounter was entirely on the woman's initia- 
tive. She made the advances by taking his bracelets and giving him a 
necklace in exchange. She tempted him, but then he discovered that 
mosquitoes were coming from her mouth, which meant that she was 
an evil spirit. He had a difficult time getting rid of her because she 
insisted on marriage. He was eager to get away partly because he had 
great fear of the litigation that might follow his being falsely accused 
of intercourse with her. On another occasion, when it was again the 
girl that proposed marriage and made all the advances, he got panicky 
and gave to an aunt the necklace she had given him. She invited him to 
have intercourse but he refused because he said it would lead to finan- 
cial ruin. She tried again to seduce him and again he refused. This time 
she was enraged and finally beat him with a stick. In short, Malelaka 
says he never had intercourse with any woman but his wife. 

The exact chain of events that led to his fear of women cannot be 
traced from his narrative. When he was very young he heard his grand- 

346 The People of Alor 

father threaten to castrate any man he caught with his wife and to put 
the penis into the slit vagina of the woman. His great-grandfather had 
actually done this. At the age of five or six he witnessed intercourse 
between a boy and a girl, whereupon he decided to uphold public 
morals by informing the girl's older brother. There were no threats 
about masturbation that he can remember. He reports that in child- 
hood he stuffed a pea into his ear, but the significance of this cannot 
be determined. The most common tie-up in his fears of women is with 
his anxieties about wealth and prestige; he is in constant fear of being 
impoverished by them. Although this is possible in the culture, Male- 
laka's attitude about it is decidedly neurotic. 

Malelaka's career as a seer dates from puberty. He had his first en- 
counter with spirits when he was about twelve. One day when he was 
alone in the house, he found two red fish in his shawl. He was amazed 
and rushed out to tell someone of his great discovery. When they re- 
turned the fish had disappeared. Malelaka says that on that very evening 
he began to have second sight. He saw two strange beings, who in- 
formed him that they were kind spirits from the sea. 

On another occasion, while he was visiting a man he saw the man's 
daughter as a witch whose head and arm, separated from her body, 
floated about searching for snails, which are revolting to the Alorese. 
When he was about seventeen or eighteen, after an illness following the 
eating of fish, several good spirits announced themselves to him. They 
said they were not evil creatures and asked him why he did not ab- 
stain from sea food. Whereupon he knew that his familiars were sea 
spirits, which meant they would bring him wealth. Before he identified 
these spirits as sea beings, he had a vision of the sun speaking to him, 
promising him that he would not get sick and ordering him to build a 
house. This was a promise of supernatural aid. Later he had a vision of 
the mountains suspended in the air. 

Malelaka's dreams are constantly occupied with supernatural beings. 
In his dreams he is always foretelling doom earthquakes, the end of 
the world, pestilence, or some similar disaster. Some of these dreams 
of doom took place at a time when there was a severe storm raging on 
the island; there had also been an earthquake, which did very little 
damage, however. On this occasion Malelaka dreamed that the world 
was coming to an end and that all the dead were waked; but the dead 
reassured him, telling him he would not have to feed them. 

Another dream quite vividly describes his relations with the ethnog- 
rapher and is very revealing of Malelaka's character structure. He 

Malelaka the Prophet 347 

appeared for his interview one day (May 8, 1939) looking quite 
depressed, and stated that he had had a dream in which the kapitan 
had beaten him for not working. In association with this dream he 
describes an accident in which he fell off a swing in childhood. The 
next day he recounts another dream, in which he sees a chain hanging 
from the sky and proceeds to climb it. When he comes near the sky 
he sees a tree with its roots in the air, and as he climbs this he realizes 
that he is hanging head downward and fears that he is falling. Then 
he finds himself in his own house. He next goes to a near-by village, 
where he sees people tying a python to a pole and is told that it is for 
the ethnographer; but, says Malelaka in his dream, she already has one. 
(This was a fact; the ethnographer had bought a python skin.) So in 
the dream he suggests taking the python to Kalabahi to sell; then two 
people carry the python off and sell it. 

Not only does this dream reveal Malelaka's relations to the ethnog- 
rapher, but the context in Afrhich it occurs tells us a good deal about 
the man's character. His first dream about being beaten is evidently 
a dream of guilt for not working. Then follows a wish fantasy of being 
pulled up into the sky that is, lifted into mother's arms. But he finds 
himself falling; in other words, he is rejected. The ethnographer does 
not come across, so he proceeds to rob her. He had noticed that she 
had bought a python skin; in the dream the python skin is sold at his 
direction. The implication obviously is that he appropriates the money. 
As a matter of fact, he needed money at this time; he was in difficulty 
about paying taxes. And he expected the ethnographer to take up his 
burden for him. The dream says, "You buy luxuries while I am in need. 
Since you do not give me what I want, I shall steal it." 

This dream reveals Malelaka's general infantile adaptation. He is too 
indolent or too inadequate to be successful, and he is always looking for 
some superior being upon whom he can throw the burden. The dream 
further reveals a strongly envious and strongly repressed predatory 
trend. In the previous dream about the dead's not asking to be fed, 
Malelaka wants to play the role of the great prophet but feels too poor 
to be the benefactor and great man he would like to be. His dream of 
not feeding the dead is really a dream of stealing, for in his associations 
he turns this impulse into a text for moralizing that one must not steal, 
that one must pay for what one takes, and then he expatiates on what 
would happen if one stole, especially from children. These impulses are 
largely directed toward the ethnographer. He is really threatening her. 

His relations to the spirits are of a similar character; that is, these 


The People of Alor 

beings are parent-surrogates through whose power he is able to become 
someone of importance in the world. His attitude toward them is en- 
tirely passive, however; he merely tells what they inspire him to do. 

Malelaka's Character Structure 

maternal frustrations 

W inhibitions about women 
L fear of then, (evUfemde spirit) 
* .1 ,_ .1 

to supernatural to 
whom jie is entire- 
ly passive 

eeble ego development 


^f supernatural par- 
- compensated by^^^ ent surrogates 

^^ expectations from 

-complete passivity toward father 

(-accentuated by tales about grandfather 

L L 

inhibitions about women accentuated by 
castration anxiety = fear of infidelity 

I Lgives up women easily to other men 
Wears impoverishment by women 

ego ideal: feeble replica of father externally, actually is 
an obedient child to supernatural 

Chapter i$ 
Fantan the Interpreter 


The beginning of this autobiography was collected in the usual man- 
ner. It was the first of the eight secured, and I suggested that Fantan 
tell me his life story so that he could understand the kind of information 
I hoped to get. The last part is a combination of Fantan's own casual 
accounts of his daily affairs and my observations on the difficulties he 
encountered. This latter part is written in the third person instead of 
the first and consists partly of casual jottings on Fantan's behavior and 
attitudes made in connection with other topics. 

Genealogy of Fantan 

X Senmani- 


= O Mahcmau 


O Maraima. 


t Kolalo 
\ Lonpada 
> Malielani 

-X (dead) 

-X (dead) 

-O Kolaka (dead) 

O Maraima 

= OTifi 

X Manifani 





= X Lakamau IQ 

O Malielani 

= X (man from Rualkameng) 

= O Tilamau 

X Lehcmai 
O Kolrnau 


O Maraima the Divorce^ [ 


350 The People of Alor 

November 74, 1938 

[I suggested that Fantan begin by telling early memories. He was 
unable to start, so I asked whether he had dreamed the night before. He 
told the following.] I dreamed that a white woman either you or the 
new nonya,* I don't know which it was went out to the toilet in 
the back. Maliseni was standing there. He went to the door. We told 
him the white woman was in there and not to stand there. We were 
angry with him. He opened the door and looked in. [What brought 
that to your mind?] When I was very small, someone I don't remem- 
ber, maybe my father's older brother, hit me. My mother came and 
made the man stop. The man picked me up and fondled me. Another 
man with a big sore on the small of his back came and took me from 
the first man and fondled me. I cried. This was the time there was a war 
in Atimelang [i.e., in 1918; Fantan must have been about three at the 
time]. People came to stay at our house. A little girl my age stayed in 
the house with us at this time. I had a stomach-ache. In getting up to 
run to urinate I defecated on her head because I couldn't control my- 
self. My mother scolded me and washed the little girl. The feces were 
in her hair. [Urinating on a person is a device used by witches to get 
people in their power.] 

At that time the men had built a stone enclosure and covered it over 
with bamboo. It was a sort of fortification, and the men were hidden in 
there. I did not know about it and went up on the roof of this enclosure 
to defecate. As I defecated on the men's heads I heard them saying 
softly, "Uh, uh." Then my father, who was in the fort, took a stick 
and chased me away. 

About this time I remember that I cried in the morning until I was 
fed. My paternal parallel cousin, Lonmale, was about my age, but she 
didn't cry. The girl's father poured water on me because I was crying. 
We two children turned on him and fought him. My sister [cousin] 
gave me her food to eat. 

When I was about six or eight, my father sent me with my mother to 
fetch a moko from Alurkaseni. Father gave me bird arrows and a back 
and a side shield of areca bark. I danced challenge as though I were an 
adult. Alurkaseni gave me the moko, and I beat it as is customary. It 
was only a short way from Alurkaseni's house to ours, but I beat it ten 
times while carrying it home. I delivered it to father, and father said, 

* This was Miss Nicolspeyer from the University of Leyden who joined me for 
three months. 

Fantan the Interpreter 351 

"Here is a rich man." I felt very proud and went around all day boast- 
ing of what I had done. 

A year or two later they were building the lineage house Kolwati in 
Dikimpe. I said to my mother and father, "We had better roast a pig 
for it." I talked as though I were a rich man. So my father said, "You 
had better go to your Male House and ask them for a pig." I put on my 
side shield and back shield, took my bow and arrow, and went all the 
way to the site of Old Karieta [about an hour's walk], I stood on the 
verandah and asked my Male House for a pig. Just as I spoke the pig 
began to squeal. My Male House didn't even wait for me to come in. 
They went and tied the pig for me right away. I had a hard time carry- 
ing it home all by myself. I carried it in my arms, on my head, and on 
my shoulders. It was heavy for me. When I got home I gave the cry of 
a man returning with wealth. My father said, "He is already a rich man; 
he doesn't travel empty-handed." That day we roasted the pig at the 
lineage-house feast. 

When the soldiers were here [about 1918-20] I made friends with a 
Rante man [i.e., a civil prisoner used as a servant for soldiers]. One day 
a soldier was butchering a pig and asked for my father's knife. I gave it 
to him, but when he was through using it he did not return it to me but 
just stuck it in his belt. I asked him for it but he wouldn't give it to me. 
I asked again. He began chasing me. I was afraid I would be killed. A 
white officer stood in one doorway of the government camp with his 
legs together, blocking the doorway. Another stood blocking the other 
door with his legs spread. I made a dash as though I wanted to get out 
through the door that the first officer blocked, then I doubled quickly 
in my tracks and ran between the spread legs of the second officer. I got 
away. The next day I was afraid to go to camp, but my Rante friend 
said it was just play and not to be afraid. He had some cooked rice and 
he gave it to me with two pieces of fish on top. He kept guard so no 
one could come and take it from me. Alurkoma wanted to take my rice. 
He came sneaking up, but the Rante man took a stick and chased him 
away. He wouldn't let anyone near. My father was sitting under a tree 
off to one side. I wanted to give him the food but I couldn't; so I ate a 
little and hid the rest in my basket when the Rante man wasn't looking. 
Then I gave him back the empty pot to wash. I was too small to wash it 
myself. Then I went off and gave father the food I had in my basket, 
and he ate it. This Rante man also gave me the head of a pig they had 
killed, and my father and I went off together into the gardens and ate it. 

At this time we were living in the garden house at Mainmelang. A 

352 The People of Alor 

corporal wanted to buy a chicken, but my father didn't want to sell it, 
so die corporal just took it without paying for it. He said he would kill 
my father. We went off to tell Kapitan Jacob. 

The soldiers went away but in a month they came back. People ran 
to tell Kapitan Jacob, because at that time he was the only one who 
knew how to talk Malay. The rest were all stupid. Some women were 
in the field and I was the only man there. I climbed a tree and saw the 
soldiers coming. One came down to our field and asked who we were. 
We didn't know Malay, but my mother said she was the mother [classi- 
ficatory] of Kapitan Jacob. At our house people saw the soldiers com- 
ing and slipped out through the floor of the house and went to hide in 
the rice fields. Some people hadn't yet finished paying their taxes, but 
my father had. The soldiers took my father. The present radjah was 
clerk then. He said my father had paid his taxes and let him go. I got 
home. My father had a big body, but when I got home he was sitting 
there small and all shrunken together. 

[Up to now this had been a free flow of narrative. There was a pause 
and he went on.] A young girl came to our house, and I said she was 
my wife. I always said girls were my wives, whether they were my age 
or already big girls with breasts. My father and mother said, "Good. 
That's settled." I got worse and worse because my mother and father 
weren't cross with me. [Question.] My sisters entered the game too and 
called these girls their sisters-in-law. 

One day when I was about twelve, I went into the house while my 
older sister, Malielani, was defecating. I watched her buttocks. She was 
angry and smeared her feces on my mouth. We fought. I took my bow 
and arrow and wanted to shoot her. Mother came in and scolded my 
sister and washed my mouth. I told my sister, "Your husband will never 
pay for you." I was only a child, but I spoke the truth. Now she is mar- 
ried, but her husband has only paid one Fehawa moko, worth thirty 
cents. [Here Fantan corrected himself and gave the right price of thirty 

About this time I had a large, dry tree in my garden, which broke 
and fell. Everyone came running to strip it for wood. I said, "All you 
women are my wives, so come get wood. 1 ' The people laughed and said, 

Also about this time I had been sick and couldn't walk very well. My 
paternal uncle died and I had to go up to Old Alurkowati. The ve- 
randah was high and I couldn't climb onto it. People helped me up. I 
held the corner of the shroud that people had fetched and helped lay 

Fantan the Interpreter 353 

it over my dead uncle. [Question.] I wasn't afraid because I was only a 
child, without thoughts. At that time we were staying in the house of 
Lakamobi's wife. It was a hungry season. Father and mother took 
gongs, mokos, anklets, and necklaces and went to Kelaisi to buy corn 
with them. The corn was partly to eat and partly for the death feasts. 
There were many people sick at that time and many died. Mother used 
to go fetch insects for us to eat. Mother cooked some rice for Malie- 
lani and me. I saw Tilamau pinch her mother and whisper to her. She 
was grown, but she was asking her mother for food. So my mother se- 
cretly took some of my rice and gave it to her. She took it secretly so I 
wouldn't cry. But I saw there were only three of my rice rolls left; one 
had been taken. I asked where my rice had gone and my mother said a 
dog had eaten it, but there was no dog in the house. I didn't cry. I just 
kept quif t. Tilamau used to cry when she saw her mother giving us 
food. She was a grown woman but she cried. Her mother and my 
mother wanted to give us food, but Tilamau didn't want it. [Question.] 
My older sisters were already married and living with their husbands. 

[I interrupted to get a list of his siblings. Fantan was the youngest. 
Two older brothers died before he could remember them. An older 
sister, whom he recalled, also died. I asked whether he remembered Ko- 
laka's death, and the temporarily interrupted flow began again.] I re- 
member that a big rain was falling and I was sitting on the verandah. A 
pig rooted up the skull of my paternal parallel cousin. [Question.] She 
had been dead a long time; there were just bones. My father called in the 
gravediggers to rebury her and fed them a chicken. 

Kolaka came with her husband to ask my mother to help her cut a 
garden. W.e all went. They gave us corn and a chicken and we all re- 
turned that evening. 

Evenings I used to come home with my friends. I had two. One was 
Senmani, brother of Rilpada. He was older, but he was my friend. The 
other was Sefatcha. One day we went to my garden and dug sweet po- 
tatoes. I and Senmani wanted to roast them in the garden, but Sefatcha 
wanted to take his home and roast them. I didn't want him to and said 
he had dug potatoes in my garden and he should eat them there, so he 
threw down his sweet potatoes and ran away. Senmani said we should 
make a house; so we built one out of cassava stalks and made the thatch 
of cut weeds. Then Senmani said he was going to get a pig. We went to 
a pile of stones and caught a rat. We tied it like a pig and carried it 
to our house on a pole. We shouted like men bringing in a pig. Then 
Senmani said the house was a pig-hunting camp. He said that since he 

354 The People of Alor 

had caught the rat he would get the -hindquarters and I the f orequar- 
ters. We ate them and divided the belly. Senmani said the sweet pota- 
toes were rice baskets and tubers [i.e., the two vegetable foods taken 
by men on their communal pig hunt]. We made believe there was a 
feast. There was a pointed stone like an altar stone, and we took the 
heart of the rat, mixed it with sweet potato, and fed the stone. Senmani 
said the tail of the rat was the hunter's share, which must be taken home 
to feed the women. So we pretended to give it to our two wives, but 
we ate it ourselves. 

[At this point there was a half -hour's interruption, during which we 
looked at some cloth brought up for sale by coastal men. Fantan tried 
to get me to buy him a piece of cloth that he admired. He made ridicu- 
lously low bids on it and was refused. Then he returned to his story.] 
Thus we played until I was bigger and began to have thoughts. One 
day I was working in my garden and Senata called me to say that his 
bow had been broken by Manipada. I was angry and went to help him. 
I hit Manipada. Senata picked up a stone and pounded Manipada on the 
head with it. He was wounded and went to Manifani, the former chief 
of Dikimpe. We each had to pay Manipada a fine of ten cents. Another 
time a group of us were playing a ring game. Rilpada was angry with 
me and called me a redhead. Padalani, Lonata's son, helped me. He called 
Rilpada "Peppercorn hair." The two fought. Padalani and I had to pay 
a fine of a large corn bundle apiece, and Padalani had an extra fine of 
twenty cents. 

By the time I was fourteen or fifteen I was working hard in the gar- 
dens and helping my father. By then I had thoughts. I went to Kala- 
bahi, where I guarded Jacob's coconut garden for a year. Then I came 
back here to Atimelang and went to school for two and a half years. 
Now, I have been married four and a half years. [Question.] I married 
after school was finished. Also before I married, I went to Pantar [an 
adjacent island] for six months. I followed the native schoolteacher 
there. He was good and asked me to come with him. In six months I 
returned. [Why?] I was not happy. I remembered my father and 
mother and came back. There was a schoolteacher there who hit us. 
There was no boat. Finally I got in one and when it was well offshore, 
I stood up and said I would return in seven days. When I got back to 
Atimelang a woman wanted to marry me, but I didn't want her. She fol- 
lowed me down to Kalabahi. When I got there, there was no boat, so I 
returned to Atimelang. When I got back, another woman wanted to 
marry me. Both of them asked for me. The first was Matingma of Ka- 

F ant an the Interpreter 355 

rieta. I didn't want her because she went around to her friends and said 
I had no gongs and mokos to pay a bride-price; that was why I would 
not marry her. The other woman was Kolani, sister of Rilpada, but I 
heard that her father hit her because she wanted to marry me. So I 
didn't want her either. Matingma's family also wanted her to marry me, 
and I had given her some presents. 

[Question about his present wife.] One day I was playing cards and 
Tilafani [now his mother-in-law] came to me and asked me for money. 
I said I didn't have any, but then I found five cents in my basket and 
gave them to her. She was my Female House. Then she went to my 
house and saw my Fehawa moko standing there. She spoke to my older 
sister, Maraima, and, said that it was ours [Fantan's and Tilafani's]. 
Maraima answered, "There are no gongs and mokos here." Maraima 
was just-repeating the words Matingma had said. Then Tilafani said she 
had never repeated such gossip. The day before I had gone to Tilafani 
to buy a chicken. She wanted twenty-five cents. I offered fifteen cents 
but she would not accept them, so I left. The next day she told me I 
could come and get the chicken and pay for it later. I thought maybe 
her daughter had sent her for me. So I went to Maiyarnelang [the girl's 
village]. The former tumukun [the girl's father] was sitting on the ve- 
randah talking. He said I could get the chicken, but when I started to 
shoot it he didn't want me to. Lakamau was standing there. He told 
Lakamau to shoot the chicken, but Lakamau went off in the opposite 
direction before he aimed, so it was a very long shot. He said, "If I hit 
the chicken in the neck, it is yours; if not, you do not get it." [All this 
was symbolic reference to Fantan's marriage to the daughter.] Lakamau 
shot, and the arrow hit the chicken right in the neck. So I took the 
chicken home with me and we ate it. At that time the former tumukun 
was selling a valuable moko because he wanted small ones for change. 
So I sent the chief of Dikimpe to ask if they wanted mine. Tilamau 
[his present wife] laughed. That showed she was willing to marry me, 
so I sent the Fehawa moko. But Tilamau did not come to me for half a 
month. Meanwhile Matingma and Kolani said if she didn't want to 
come, they would. I told them they could come and work to earn their 
own bride-prices. Finally when my father was sick, my wife came to 
me. We did not sleep together for a month or so. Then I wanted 
to sleep with her, but she said, <f Where is the shawl for my mother?" 
[Before consummating a marriage it is customary for the husband to 
give his mother-in-law a shawl] So I gave Tilafani a moko with which 
to buy a shawl. Then we slept together. [Question.] I had never slept 

356 The People of Alor 

with a woman before. I had not slept with those women who wanted to 
marry me, although they asked me to. I thought that if they married 
and went to other villages and I was traveling and wanted to stop and 
ask them for food, I would not be able to do so if I had slept with them. 
I would be ashamed. I was afraid that later I might have to travel hun- 
gry. [Question.] My wife too was a virgin. 

November 16, 1938 

When I was about ten or twelve, my mother was sitting in a corner 
of the house. Mobikalieta was sitting across the hearth from her. I was 
standing in another corner of the house with my bow and arrow drawn 
to shoot rats. A rat ran down and I was all ready to shoot it, but instead 
of shooting it I whirled around and shot my mother. I don't know why 
I did it. My soul just left me, and I don't remember. [Question.] I 
wasn't angry with her and she wasn't angry with me. It was a long iron 
arrow and it entered her breast about two inches. She cried and pulled 
it out herself. I began crying too. Mobikalieta was very angry with me 
and said he would kill me, but my mother said, "No, if I die he can sit 
in my place." [As he described his mother's forgiving attitude, his voice 
was husky; he seemed very moved.] 

When I was about that same age, Maraima [his oldest sister] was 
fighting with her husband. He drove a comb into her hand. I was very 
angry, and picked up my bow and said I would shoot him. He ran and I 
followed, throwing stones at him. I chased him all the way to the gov- 
ernment camp [about a quarter of a mile]. He was afraid because he 
knew I was only a child and didn't yet know how to bluff. My mother 
and father were in the house at the time my sister and her husband 
were fighting, but they did not interfere; they just tried to make peace 
with words [literally, spoke between them]. [Question.] I don't know 
why they were fighting; I was still small. 

Once when I was very small but could talk and walk, I was in the 
house with father and Fuimau, the wife of Kapitan Jacob. She cooked 
some tubers and we ate. This was the time of the war, when the soldiers 
brought many heads here and buried them near the government camp. 
That night we heard the heads making a noise. Some were saying, 
"Wah! wah! wah!" Some were crying, "Nia, nia [mother]." There was 
a lot of noise. I went to sit between father's knees, and Fuimau also sat 
close in front of my father. We sat thus all night. In the morning I went 
to look where the heads were buried, and all the leaves were trampled 
down as though people had been walking there. 

Fantan the Interpreter 357 

This was the time that Kapitan Jacob bought two wives in one day. 
One night he was sleeping between his two wives, and I was sleeping on 
the other side of one of them. In the middle of the night I woke up and 
sat on the corn muller to urinate. I was small and didn't know better. 
Kapitan Jacob woke up and spoke, saying, "Look, he has urinated on 
the muller." He took hold of me and said he would cut off my ear. He 
got a knife. I was afraid and cried. Then he picked me up and fondled 
me and I was qjiiet. 

My father bought one of Kapitan Jacob's two wives for him, the one 
who was called Fuimau. [Why?] Because my mother was Kapitan 
Jacob's full sister. At this time Kapitan Jacob came to stay with us. A 
little later he made two houses on the upper dance place of Dikimpe, 
one to store corn in and one just to sleep in. At this time we lived in 
Maiyarhelang with my older sister, Maraima, who had married there. 
But when Kapitan Jacob made these two houses, we went to live with 

Once when the corn was young, I roasted three ears for the kapitan. 
When they were cooked I handed them to him, but as he reached for 
them I drew them away. I handed them again and drew them away. 
Then the kapitan grabbed me and tied a rope around my neck as 
though he were going to hang me. He said he was going to cut off my 
ears. I cried and cried. 

Kapitan Jacob bought a lot of bananas. He held three out to me. He 
stood close to his horse and held the bananas out to me. When I came 
near to get the bananas, he grabbed me and held me under the horse's 
head. I cried. Then he gave me the bananas. I ate them and was quiet. 
Then he grabbed me again and put me on the horse's back. The horse 
started going, and I screamed and cried until finally the former chief of 
Lakawati lifted me off. 

Once Kapitan Jacob rode his horse to Lakawati and back. He held 
me on in front of him. When we got back he got off and left me on the 
horse. I cried, and the chief of Lakawati picked me off and set me on 
the ground, but I couldn't stand because my buttocks and legs were 
so sore. 

I have already forgotten much. [Pause and interruption. I asked for 
his dreams on the preceding night.] 

I dreamed I saw a large flat place like this one here, only it wasn't 
here in Atimelang; it was flatter. There was a mountain at its edge, the 
mountain on which Padalehi stands. A large, round stone like a ball 
dropped from the sky and struck the side of the mountain, but it 

358 The People of Alor 

did not roll down; it just rolled sideways, following the slope until it 
came opposite me. Then it rolled down straight toward me. As it came 
to me I ducked under it, and it struck a wall in back of me. The wall 
was not like those here; it was of planks. The stone hit the wall and 
bounced back in front of me. Then I woke up. When I told this dream 
to the old people last night, they said it was a good omen and meant I 
would buy a valuable moko. [Question.] In the dream I was not afraid; 
I thought the world was coming to an end, and I just thought of Tuan 
God and Tuan Jesus. This flat place didn't have cacia trees growing on 
it, just eucalyptus. [Question.] When I woke up I thought too that it 
was a good sign, and that if I didn't buy a valuable moko, at least I 
would receive some valuable property. [Any further idea about the 
dream?] I thought to myself at first that maybe the stone was a grave- 
stone. [Whose? ] I don't know whose. Maybe my own, maybe some- 
one else's. 

I had another dream too. I saw a bird flying, and it perched on a bay- 
orka tree. It was hidden by the tree and I only saw its tail. I crawled 
up carefully and grabbed the tail, but all the feathers came out and it 
flew away. I followed it and got it. Then I came to some corn. The ears 
were very small, just about as big as my little finger. I took these and 
went on, and I saw some tuber leaves that looked as though the tubers 
might be ripe and large. It was on the bank of a small, steep ravine, and 
water was flowing below. I began digging but reached water. Then I 
began searching for crayfish and eels. I got two small crayfish and 
about ten small eels. Alomale [a cousin] was there. He searched and got 
crabs and a large eel. I woke up and thought those two crayfish and eels 
were a sign of gongs a good sign. The eels were a sign of mokos. The 
bird is a sign of a shawl. I thought maybe someone might die and I 
would fetch a shroud, gongs, and mokos. 

[What was your relationship to Alomale when you were small?] 
Alomale and his sisters lived with us when I was small. Their father and 
mother were dead. David [a younger brother of Kapitan Jacob] stayed 
with us too. I was only five or six and Alomale was already a 'grown 
man, but he wasn't married yet, although he was as old as Nicolas 
[about thirty]. A lot of young people used to stay with us. The house 
was always full. They would arrive and my parents would ask them to 
stay and eat. When my mother and father died, they all came and 
helped me with the death feast. They did not eat the food [a sign of 
close attachment to the dead]. [Question.] Alomale did not play with 
me like Kapitan Jacob. He always pitied me and gave me rats and 

F ant an the Interpreter 359 

things to cat. [Who cared for you most?] They \vere all the same; 
there was no one person especially who cared for me. 

I can't remember any more. Maybe this afternoon or tomorrow 
morning 111 remember more. [He sat silent for a time.] 

People stole corn from our garden. We -found the husks. One night 
we heard the corn making a noise like this, "Ko, ko, ko, pah, pah." I 
was sleeping with my father. He got up to see who was there. I was 
afraid and went over to sleep next to my mother. Father went out and 
threw a stone. The person thought the stone came from the other di- 
rection, and he ran right down into my father's arms. Father grabbed 
him by the belt, but he had just a single cord there and his loincloth 
was tucked into it like a woman's. Father grabbed for his hair, but his 
hair was cut short. The belt rope broke and the person ran away. The 
next morning we saw the corn broken down and we found the piece 
of rope and the loincloth, but we didn't know who had stolen the corn. 

One night too a man from Karieta came down to steal our corn. 
Ours was the only corn ripe yet. Malalehi, my sister Maraima's first 
husband, went out in the field to watch. Three men came, but only one 
entered our garden and began to break off corn. My brother-in-law 
shot, and the arrow went right through the thigh and came out the 
other side. The next morning my brother-in-law followed the trail of 
blood. It led up to Padalehi. There was Augfani, wounded. Malalehi 
accused him of stealing corn. Alurkaseni too was one of the three men, 
although he had stayed at our house. But people urged him to steal and 
he had gone. However, he refused to enter our garden. Kapitan Jacob 
beat gongs and went up to Padalehi. One man, the wounded one, paid 
us a pig that was pregnant with five piglets. The other paid us a sword 
and all for the corn they had stolen. [Pause.] 

One time my father wanted to buy a wife for me, although I was 
still small. I was about ten or twelve. Fuimai was already big and had 
breasts. My father asked her for a long tuber and she gave it to him. 
Then some people from Hatoberka came to get a spirit-bird bundle of 
which my father was second owner. He was paid a Vifal moko, and he 
used it to pay for Fuimai. I was small but I was not ashamed. I carried 
that moko and ran fast to take it to her. After a while I began to have a 
few thoughts. Whenever Fuimai came people would say, "There is 
your wife." When I looked at her I saw she was a big woman, and I felt 
ashamed. Then her father died, and the moko stayed there. I never got 
it back. [Question.] I could go ask for it back but I am ashamed. Be- 
sides, maybe she gave my father something in return for the moko. I 
don't know about the transaction because I was still small then. 

360 The People of Alor 

November 77, 1938 

Last night I dreamed I saw a trail coming down the mountainside. It 
circled back and forth. A cement ditch for water was alongside the 
trail. Then the cement ditch turned into a bamboo water pipe. I saw an 
eel as big as my leg enter the water pipe. I thrust my hand in where the 
pipe was open, and with my other hand I cut the eel ten times and 
pulled it out. It was as thick as my calf and half an arm-span long. Just 
now I told my dream to old people and asked what it meant. They said 
it meant I would get a valuable moko. 

[He blocked on any further explanation. I tried to explain cultural 
dream interpretation versus free association dreams.] 

When my father was sick but not yet dead, I dreamed I saw a big 
snake flying overhead. It had a beard of tree moss. When it got over my 
head it dropped the beard, and five fish fell at my feet. There was a 
pool of water there suddenly. I searched about in the pool for the fish 
and pulled out a great many crayfish. The old people said that meant I 
would get a great deal of wealth. Then when my father died people 
came from all over with gongs and mokos and pigs. [He then gave an 
animated account of all the pigs that were killed for his father's death 
feast. He was obviously impressed himself and wanted to impress me.] 

[I asked how old he was and how he felt when his father died.] It 
was only about three and a half years ago. I still didn't have real 
thoughts then [yet he must have been over twenty J. I didn't know 
about feasts. I didn't know how to pay the gravediggers. I brought out 
the mokos and gongs, but my elder relatives divided them up. [Was 
your father sick a long time? ] No, just about two years. It began in 
Hatoberka. When he felt a little better he came back here. Then he had 
a boil high on his thigh, but that healed. Then he had ordinary sickness, 
headaches, but no fever. He coughed but no blood came. Once when 
there was a war my father was shot in the breast, and the arrow point 
broke off and stayed there. The arrow point moved around, and when 
it moved, my father had pains in his chest. He died of that. One night 
father died and we beat gongs for him, but in the morning he came 
back to life and said, "I am not dead. Just beat the gongs for my elder 
brother [who was dead]." Then my father died again and came back to 
life. Four times it happened. All the people thought we should send for 
Rilpada [the seer] and ask his familiar to take away my father's soul. 
My father sat up and chewed areca. He asked the seer for tobacco. 
When he smoked he said, "All my children are gathered about me. If 
the smoke I blow out sails out of my mouth straight ahead, I shall live. 

F ant an the Interpreter 361 

If it curls around my mouth, I shall die." He blew out the smoke and it 
sailed out straight ahead. He said, "Now I shall live." But the seer sent 
his familiar spirit, and it took father's soul far off, and my father died. 
As I was holding my father in my arms I put my hand under his mouth, 
and a tooth dropped out into my hand. That was a sign that there 
would be another death soon, and in a short time mother died. 

[How long was it before your mother died?] Mother died a year 
and a half after my father; it was two years ago. [How?] Padata the 
Leper and his wife separated. The wife married a kinsman of ours in 
Makangf okung. The Makangfokung people would not eat the food that 
the people of Karieta [Padata's village] cooked and vice versa. The 
Karieta people made magic against Makangfokung with their namoling 
stone. Makangfokung made magic against Karieta with their maheng 
spirit. Padata gave a feast and paid my mother for a shroud with a 
moko and rice. My mother carried them right through to the Makang- 
fokung people, to our relatives. In Makangfokung the maheng spirit 
must have hit my mother, because she came home and was sick. She 
defecated blood. Mother was sick for two and a half months. [Which 
hurt most, your father's or your mother's death?] When mother died 
I cried for ten days. But I cried for ten days too when my father 
died. Whenever I went any place alone I would think and then cry a 
lot. I feel my mother and father were good because they gave birth to 
me. If they hadn't I wouldn't be here now. I am still here, so I feel I 
have a debt to pay. They fed me and gave me drink when I was small. 
I must pay that debt to them. I am raising three pigs now, and the next 
good year [ 1940] I shall give a death feast for both of them. That is the 
debt I must pay. I think and think of my father and mother. They slept 
together. Father used up all his semen. Mother was pregnant and had 
trouble because of me; people had to watch over her until I was born. 
I was small but she fed me. When I slept she made me comfortable; she 
had to clean up my f eces. My mother and father went to work and had 
to come back to fondle me when I cried. Mother had to come back 
from the fields, from fetching water and firewood. Father would start 
someplace and I would cry, and he would have to come back to fondle 
me. When I was hungry they cut bananas for me. My maternal grand- 
parents came bringing things and had to be fed. When I was still bloody 
[i.e., newly born] my mother had to sit in the house from four to six 
days with me. My mother had trouble because of me. Death feasts are 
to pay for all this care. [Pause. I felt throughout this speech that Fan- 
tan was saying something rehearsed, or was expressing just a standard 

362 The People of Alor 

cultural sentiment, and yet that all these things were full of emotional 
content for him.] So now too it is the hungry season. If people who 
have lots of food remember us and give us food, good food, we remem- 
ber them when food is plentiful and pay them back. [Long pause. Was 
this last speech a bid for a food gift from me as an expression of love? I 
definitely played a maternal role for the informant.] 

When I was maybe six years old, a man from Kelaisi was our guest. 
He gave us a coconut. I was out in the fields with my father when he 
was cutting weeds. I took a knife to open the coconut and eat it. My 
father told me not to do that but to plant it. I wanted to cut weeds, but 
my father didn't want me to. I cried, but he would not come up to 
fondle me. So I took the coconut and threw it down the hillside at him. 
It hit his side. He took a stick and chased me. I ran, but he caught up 
with me and beat me from my head to my thighs. y 

When I was ten or twelve years old, Kolaka [an older sister] called 
me to come and mind her baby. We went together to Lakmelang. I 
took care of the baby for five days; then Kolaka wanted to go to 
Atimelang. I was afraid to be left alone and I cried, so she came back 
and we went up into the house together. Then after a while Kolaka 
went out. While I wasn't looking she went off to Atimelang. She left 
me there. I left the child in the house and started out to follow her. I 
got down as far as the Limbur ravine, and there I met a big man from 
Rualmelang. He pulled out his sword and said he was going to kill me. 
I was afraid and ran away. When I got back to Kolaka's house the baby 
was still sleeping. That evening Kolaka came back. The next morning I 
went back to the river and saw a large eel trap. There was a dead rat in 
it. I took it away and saw a great big eel in the trap. Then I carried the 
eel back to the village still alive. When I got there Padata's father said, 
"A child has brought back an eel, so my women had better cook rice." 
His women cooked rice and we all ate together. [This he told with 
much pride.] The next day I went again to die trap. There was nothing 
in it but there was a bird near it. I caught it and went back to the vil- 
lage to play with it. An old man took it from me to eat. [Question.] I 
wasn't angry, because his wife was my mother's cousin. 

After a while I came back to Atimelang with Kolaka and my father. 
One morning I got up at sunrise and looked at the sun. I saw two, one 
on the eastern horizon and one overhead. I went in and told my mother 
and father, and they told me not to speak about it. It was a sign of good 
luck. [If one told good omens, they would not materialize.] 

Font an the Interpreter 363 

[Long pause. Again he said that he had forgotten much. I suggested 
that he listen to the thoughts that traveled through his head.] 

When I was still small my hair was reddish. Falanata was staying 
with us. When we fought she called me redhead. I answered by calling 
her Faleata. [Play on the name of Falanata; faleata is the name of a 
wild plant used as food.] She called me Fankai [a dog's name, a play on 
his name, Fantan]. We fought; she was bigger than I and clamped her 
hand over my mouth and hit me. [Pause.] 

One time when I was about twelve years old, my father took me to 
Kelaisi. We went because Atakalieta had come to ask for a pig. When 
we delivered the pig, he killed a chicken for us and we ate it, but the 
two legs we saved for a very old woman, grandmother of my mother, 
called Koleti. We took them to her in Kaminwati. She cooked rice and 
fed us. She gave us a bunch of bananas and a full basket of areca nuts. 
We went back to Kelaisi and slept there overnight, and the next day 
we came home here to Atimelang. 

When I was that old I could not go to Makangfokung because if I 
went there I would die. [He paused to make me ask why.] My father 
and uncle had begotten many boys there, but they all died. Only the 
girls lived. Kaloi, the spirit of our lineage house, had killed them; it 
said that all the male children belonged to it. My two brothers had al- 
ready died, so my mother and father thought I would die too. Father 
went to Kelaisi to buy a medicine. He paid a piece of cloth and a moko 
for it. When he brought it home he killed, a pig, a big one, to feed the 
medicine. After that father could go to Makangfokung, and when I was 
older I could too. Father went to Makangfokung, put the medicine on 
a stone, and threw the stone in the house. Then a snake rose halfway 
from the ground. My father placed some of the medicine on a little 
stone and held it in front of the snake, and the snake died. Father didn't 
hit it; it just died. After he had this medicine father could kill the evil 
spirits that lived in trees and other places. He could burn off spirit 
abodes, and everything would dry up there. The trees would die and 
dry up, and with them all the taboo strings. [Fantan had had several 
"taboo strings" extracted from under his sternum that year.] Manifula 
is a spirit abode. I placed the medicine there and burned it over. I went 
up and there were many dead snakes. [How long since you have cut 
this garden at Manifula? He spoke as though it were in the present.] I 
haven't cut that place in about six years. It was while father was still 
alive. He died less than a year after I cut the Manifula garden. 

364 The People of Alor 

November 18, 1938 

[He wanted to begin with other data I had asked him to collect. 
When I asked him to begin with his own story there was a very long 
pause. I felt much resistance this day. Was he punishing me for not ac- 
cepting his bid of the preceding day for food and nurture? ] 

When I was small an old man from Kewai, called Maugf ani, came to 
stay with us. He was my father's Male House. He used to sit by the fire 
and doze. He would fall over and then wake up and say, "Na lakieli" 
["Indeed, I was dreaming." In local dialect this would be na la pieli. 
Such dialectic variations were always cause for much laughter and 
ridicule.] He was very old and all the time he was there my mother fed 
him pounded corn. [Question.] He stayed several months and then re- 
turned. [Question.] I liked him because I was still small. I called him 

One time Alomale, Fanlani, Maraima, and Kolfani [all siblings or 
cousins] were staying with mother and father. I was still small. Alomale 
and Fanlani went to hunt rats near the Limbur ravine. A rat went down 
a very steep slope. Alomale followed it and rolled down the slope. He 
was dead. People carried him to Mainmelang. Many women cried for 
him. But when he got back to Mainmelang he came to life again. 

Fanlani's wife was Tilamau. I was still so small I couldn't talk clearly. 
Tilamau fondled me and took me to a dance. She danced holding me in 
her scarf. [Question.] I myself remember this [i.e., it was not hearsay]. 
When Fanlani died Tilamau wanted Alomale, but Alomale stole 
three small ears of corn from Lakamobi's garden. Lakamobi took Tila- 
mau as wife to pay the debt, just for three small ears of corn. Now 
Lakamobi doesn't pay Tilamau's bride-price. He just took her. [Inac- 

One time father, I, and Kolaka's husband, Mailang of Hatoberka, 
were all at Hatoberka. The three of us went down into the ravine to get 
crabs. A young spirit bird flew up. Mailang shot and missed. He shot all 
his arrows. Then father gave him his bird arrow and he hit the bird. 
When we got back to Hatoberka, Ataboi bought the spirit bird and 
cooked and pounded corn. We ate. Father got a Vifal moko as the 
second seller of the bird. 

Once we were near Fiyaipe cutting a garden. Three men were shar- 
ing the work and the crop. At burning time we went down to the river 
to hunt for crayfish and eels near the place called Talmang. We drained 
a pool and got an eel about the size of my wrist. Then we saw another 
as big as my calf. Fanlaka shot it and jumped into the water after it. We 

F ant an the Interpreter 365 

also got a basketful of crabs and crayfish. The smaller eel we ate and 
the larger one we brought back to the garden. 

[I commented, "This morning you are riot saying what you think or 
feel."] Before I went to Kalabahi, when I was maybe thirteen or four- 
teen, my friends Senmani, Sefatcha, and Samuel and I played. Senmani 
said, "We must get sweet potatoes and young corn and go down to the 
Limbur ravine to play and bathe." We hunted and got three rats first. 
Then we went to the ravine. Senmani made a fire with a strike-a-light. 
We cooked the rats, pounded up the sweet potatoes, mixed the inner 
organs of the rats with them, and cooked them in a bamboo tube. Then 
Senmani said we must go look for eels and crabs. I looked in a pool near 
our camping place. There was an eel. I had only a bird arrow and was 
drawing it when Atapada came. He was crazy; a spirit had already 
possessed him. The others all ran and hid. Atapada came to me and 
raised his knife over my head, saying he was going to kill me. I was not 
afraid. I talked quietly to him and said I had an eel that I would share 
with him. Atapada's body was thin because his spirit possessed him. He 
sat down near me and I shot the eel. The other boys came. We gave 
Atapada the head, the tail, and the inner organs. Each of the rest of us 
had only a small piece. Atapada also ate our rats. [Pause.] We played 
there and only returned to the village late in the afternoon. 

[Pause. I asked, "Did you dream last night?" He answered that he 
hadn't. Very long pause. He sat and sniffed, picked his nose, rubbed his 
ears, and shifted about. I looked at him. We smiled at each other and he 
said, "I don't remember any more." There was another very long pause. 
I asked, "Why do you talk so much about eels?" He answered, "You 
said I could talk about anything." I answered, "Yes, of course. But why 
do you happen to think so much about eels?" He answered, "Because I 
like to hunt for eels and crabs and crayfish." My response was, "But 
you are afraid of snakes, aren't you?" "Yes, but eels are meat." "Did 
you get any this year?" "Yes. When you asked me to go out and catch 
crayfish one day, I caught an eel and took it home to eat." "Did you 
catch many last year?" He then continued his narration.] 

No. I was in Makangfokung/ 1 made a garden there. I was there a 
year and a half in all. It was after I had thrown away my wife for the 
first time. I was there half a year and then came here to litigate. My 
wife went back with me and was with me in Makangf okung for a year. 
When my mother died and the feasts were over, she ran away from me 
again. She went back to her parents and stayed with them until after I 
came to work for you. [Why did you separate?] After my mother's 

366 The People of Alor 

death we fought over meat. The chief of Alurkowati came to help me 
when my mother died, and brought a pig. So when he gave one of his 
wife's death feasts, I gave him twenty-five cents. My father-in-law was 
the Male House of the chief of Alurkowati, and he took a pig, which 
he got from me. That evening my father-in-law sent me some meat. I 
said I didn't want anything and not to send the meat. Tilamau, my wife, 
went back to see about it. She found out I had given the chief twenty- 
five cents. She was angry because I hadn't given the money to her par- 
ents. We quarreled and she left me. I sent back the meat too. 

She stayed a year with her parents, and then I placed the litigation 
with the chief of Dikimpe. I cooked a chicken for the chief, and my 
wife came back to me. We made a litigation to see whether she wanted 
to return or not. If she didn't want to come back I wanted my bride- 
price back. At the litigation her mother didn't want her to return, but 
my wife said, "He is my husband and I don't want another." Her father 
also didn't want to break up the marriage. He said they had already 
received a moko from me. [Why did your mother-in-law want to break 
up the marriage? ] Her mother didn't want us to be married, because I 
had quarreled with her child. [Did you beat her? ] No, I don't know how 
to beat women. If my wife is angry because I go to play with young 
girls, she can hit me; but I don't know how to hit a woman. [He had 
always very strenuously denied extramarital affairs. I asked, "Are quar- 
rels cause for divorce here? ] Her mother gave a lot of little feasts and 
expected me to give her things all the time. If a man is old or rich he 
can bring gongs and mokos, but we children [meaning himself] can go 
free if we don't have anything. She wanted to be given a great deal. But 
her husband said, "We are rich people. If we get gongs and mokos, that 
is all right; but the rest of the things don't matter. [At this point the 
informant looked as though he were near tears. He was much more 
disturbed than during accounts of his parents' deaths, for example.] I 
wanted to separate but my wife didn't want to. She wanted to use me 
right through. 

[Why did you separate the first time?] We had a child that died. 
My wife and her parents- said my evil spirit was following me and ate 
the child. My mother-in-law didn't want us to stay together. [What 
spirit?] The kaloi spirit in Makangfokung that ate my father's sons. 
[True or not? ] No, it wasn't true. If it had been true I wouldn't be 
here, because the kaloi would have eaten me, but my father fed it 
medicine. [Question.] My child was a boy about seven months old 
when he died. He was big enough to laugh but not to sit up. I had been 

Fantan the Interpreter 367 

. * 

married a year when my wife became pregnant. At the end of the sec- 
ond year she gave birth. 

[Question.] At the end of the first separation it was I who made a 
litigation to get back my bride-price. Her parents said I hadn't come to 
one of their feasts to help them. I wanted to get my bride-price back, 
but the chiefs I mean my wife said I was her husband. [Here I felt 
that he had started to say that the chiefs heard the litigation and didn't 
approve the divorce, but he corrected himself and stressed the point 
that his wife was deeply attached to him.] So Malikalieta, a relative, 
paid a free gift [punghe] for me, and my wife returned to live with me. 
[This free gift was what he was expected to contribute to his parents- 
in-law's feast.] 

[Question.] My wife is pregnant now; she has been for four months, 
and in another six months she will give birth. [Shortly after his wife's 
pregnancy began he built his own house and stopped living in his sis- 
ter's. He had said nothing to me previously about his wife's pregnancy. 
I asked, "Are you glad?"] Yes. [He smiled in a pleased fashion.] A 
child is like having wealth. When we get a child it is like getting the 
bride-price back. A girl brings luck too. When she grows up she brings 
us a bride-price. A boy when he grows up and is big makes our death 
feasts. [Which do you want more?] It is just the same whether it is a 
boy or a girl. 

November 19, 1938 

[Yesterday I told Fantan that for one month I could use him only 
half time. He was very angry and unwilling. Finally, at his suggestion, 
I agreed to give him more than half pay for half time. He said that then 
people wouldn't think I was dissatisfied with him. This morning he 
started in much more willingly than yesterday.] 

Last night I dreamed. My soul went to the market at Aiyakanliking 
to barter. The women of the Five Villages had gone on first. When I 
got to the market there was no one there. The women had finished 
their trading and were down below the market place. Malielani; Ma- 
raima [his two older sisters], and Lakamau [Maraima's husband] were 
there. Lakamau was angry with Malielani. I and Lakamau fought, ex- 
changing blows. I told him to go back to his own village. "Your wife is 
my sister, but I have given you a lot for her. It is better that you don't 
stay with us." I was helping Malielani. Malielani is from a distant vil- 
lage, and when she comes here she must stay with us. Then we returned 
to the house. I woke up and told my wife. I think this is a true dream, 
but I think I shall hit Lakamau only if I go to Aiyakanliking. 

368 The People of Alor 

[Have you been quarreling with Lakamau?] Yes, we are having 
much trouble over areca, and his wife [i.e., Fantan's sister] is moving 
my boundary stones. [Fantan lived with his sister on their adjoining 
fields.] I told them they had better leave. The field is mine. I am a man 
and the youngest son. [Actually these were not claim