Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Men’s house at Novah 1

Novah 1 men’s house:

The village of Novah 1 on the west coast of Buka still has its men’s house, and they have managed to adapt modern culture into their traditional culture, while still retaining tradition too. In the past women weren’t allowed into the men’s house or even to walk near it. Now women are allowed in, but tradition culture is upheld by having a section that only men are allowed in. The women’s side is larger than the men’s side, and the men are also allowed in the women’s area.

This picture shows me sitting in my proper place. The men’s area starts at the decorated pole, and also on the other side of the small wall/bench seat. (Note also, shiny yellow truck in the background! Infer: some people here have money).

If a woman crosses the boundary and goes into the men’s area, she and her family have to give a pig to the chief, otherwise I think the chief is entitled to marry her. There are garamut drums (slit gongs) in the men’s area, but nothing in there is secret as it is fully open for all to see inside.

When people have a feast and eat pigs, they eat them in this men’s house. The keep the jaw bone of the pig and stick it between a post and the roof, as a reminder, and they can count how many times they have eaten pig in that men’s house.

The men’s house is mainly used for community discussions and the people told us that it is good to have women present too, because it’s good to have their input in discussions. They said that the men’s house is a ‘resource centre’. I guess their definition or understanding of ‘resource’ is different to mine, as I didn’t see any resources inside the men’s house! Perhaps they are thinking of people as resources.

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