Holmes, J.H. 1924. In primitive New Guinea: An account of a quarter of a century spent amongst the primitive Ipi & Namau groups of tribes of the Gulf of Papua, with an interesting description of their manner of living, their customs & habits, feasts & festivals, totems & cults. With an Introduction by Dr. A.C. Haddon, M.A., F.R.S. With many illustrations & a map. London: Seeley, Service & Co. Limited.
Contents; I) A Retrospect; II) A Descriptive Survey; He calls the tribes between Cape Possession and Orokolo the Ipi group and those in the Purari delta the Namau group. Names are important, e.g. Toaripi is a contraction of Toare, firstborn and ipi to imply the origin of the tribe; On September 30th, 1908 they ascended to Bevan’s rapids on the Purari River; Between the Vailala and Purari Rivers is a “extensive and precipitous area” subject to sudden and extraordinary floods (32); On the east bank of the Vailala he talks of nomads, “Papuan gipsies” who were “nameless and seemed to have no fixed abode” (33);
III) Heredity. “His tribe [Ipi and Namau] was a complete entity: the whole man. Its conscience was its supreme chief; its headmen, or sub-chiefs, were the respective faculties which thought for the tribe…his tribe was the alpha and omega of his life, the sole reason for his being, for his social position in it” (37); “But the sorcerer! His professional name was on everybody’s lips almost daily…He was a mysterious somebody supposed to be endowed with all kinds of evil and powers” (39)IV) Monogamy and Polygamy; V) Marriage and Motherhood; Vi) Domestic Life; VII) Primitive Art; Spoons carved from coconut shells; ceremonial bark belts (in the hinterland); (77); ceremonial bull-roarers (82); tattoos (tatooer was female—85); Carvings; ceremonial drum of Namau (90); sacred buildings; VIII) Occupations; houses, canoes, double canoes; fishing; making bows and arrows; fishing; IX) Masks—the ravi masks were in houses of 200 feet (picture, facing 112); X) Initiation—picture of boy in third stage facing p. 120; totem masks, facing p. 128;
XI) Totemism—probably came from the far west (132); totem objects and totem communities; child’s names was associated with a totem object; “What was the significance of all these totemic expressions to the Ipi tribes? It was their confession of belief in the cult which was the heart and soul of life as they knew it. Their quest was after God, and they sought for Him along the trail their ancestors had blazed because they knew not of a better way” (143); XII) Animism; “The Maipuans of today speak of Urama, the district adjoining the Purari delta on the west, as their ancestral home; the life force is the imanu, often in the sacred objects or totems (148); “The Ipi tribes abhorred cannibalism and cannibals; they eschewed polygamy and resented bigamy” (156); XIII) Feasts and Festivals; “Usually a feast for the dead was prolonged for two days—food was dedicated to the spirit of the deceased (162); facing p. 168 a view of the Maipuia dwelling house; Description of cannibal feasts and orgies; XIV) Gods, Spirits and Ghosts; XV) Legends, Myths and Folk-lore;
XVI) Sorcery; Holmes observed a great deal of sorcery and outlines a number of such acts, including ingredients for the sorcery substances; He attributes a lot of it to blackmail and payback; XVII) Obligations to the Dead; Demonstrations of grief—he saw people just lie down and die; XVIII) Property Rights; XIX) Fishing and Hunting; XX) Native Foods; staples were sago and coconut; XXI) Tribal Quarrels and Inter-tribal Warfare; XXII) Games and Pastimes; XXIII: Group Languages; Holmes observed “the importance the Namau people attached to duality of expression—two classes of verbs, masculine and feminine gender, and so on.; Counting was a body tally system beginning with the little finger of the left hand, the thumb, wrist, elbow, until the left eye and then crossing to the other side (290); Gives a greeting dialogue (292)—What are you doing?, Where are you going? XXIV) Resume—his own observations and opinions on the peoples and their cultures. Index. Detailed.
Introduction by Haddon: Refers to the book by James Chalmers (1887), Pioneering in New Guinea; Bevan as an early explorer; mentions “a primitive pygmy element” (Dr Wollaston, Pygmies and Papuans (1912) and that they are a “mixed group”; S.H. Ray’s classification; of “dark-skinned, woolly-haired natives” who are “Papuan”. Has three groups: 1) Pygmies; 2) Papuans; and 3) Melanesian. “A cultural drift is exemplified by the transmission of objects or customs by one tribe to another by a process of diffusion or by trade.”
Sees Gulf Culture as quite unlike any other (with some resemblances in the Fly River) and the closest parallel being “the middle region of the Sěpik (Kaiserin Agusta Fluss)…and this in turn has some affinities with the cultures found in the Bismarck Archipelago (New Britain, etc., and there were probably cultural migrations up the Sěpik from northernmost Melanesia.” Does not believe migrations came from the east because Mekeo District has no traces of Gulf Culture and also because the people are not seafarers. Their outriggers and double-canoes are borrowing from the Motu. The Namau use only dugout canoes.
One evidence for the immigration form the north across the central highlands is the distribution of the rattan cuirass (body armour cylinder to protect the chest, with “a front and back projection from the upper rim”). These are found north of the “Netherlands boundary” and a similar cuirass among “the pygmy people of the Nassau range.” Other cultural characteristics: initiation ceremonies with masks and bull-roarers, kava drink (the “complex” is also with the Tugeri, at the mouth of the Merauke, near the boundary, with the Gogadara, Bamu and the Baku and Jabim (Morobe), and the Bogadjim and Bongu). Tugeri have a “stone-headed club surmounted by an elaborate wooden fretwork, which is again found in the Middle Fly area, anther are linguistic and other points of resemblance between these two areas.” He sees the Tugeri migrating down the Strickland branch of the Fly to the Merauke and sea (also see Haddon JRAI XLVI, 1916:334-52).
He sees a pattern from the Ramu across the Highlands to the upper waters of the Strickland. No record of kava drinking among the Purari and Kikori. Nothing know of Kiwai migrations although they have bull-roarerss, masks and human effigies. The agiba shrines are found among the Kerewa and to the Bamu and as far west as the Fly. Kerewa culture of the Goaribari Island and inland has long houses and shines with skulls, masks of basket-work (also along the Sepik) and use river canoes. Finds the Namau cult of Kopirivi (Man, XIX, 1919, No.91) and the Ipi version similar to the Orokolo.