|One morning Minme, Gomb, and Mbi,
Minme’s oldest child, came by our
window. Mbi was married to a young man from Fogaikump, the Kono hamlet
more than an hour’s walk away to the north. Mbi had been visiting
family for several days and had come by our house to say good-bye
back to her husband’s family.
030-36: Mbi wearing the red laplap
we had given to her
|We sensed something was wrong when
Minme gave Gomb a resounding slap
on the face, but we didn’t know what was up until an hour later
when Bossboy Kwipn of Fogaikump arrived. He went straight to the upper
the yard, announcing that he had heard that the people of Gunts did not
want his daughter, Kant’, to remain in Gunts. He intended to take
back home with him.
023-01: Bossboy Kwipn presents his case to Luluai Pfun.
|Kant’ was the wife of Minme's
son, Gonda. Kant'
Mbi had been exchanged in accordance with the preferred Maring marriage
pattern: sister exchange. Two young women
marry each other’s brother. Mbi was very happily married and
enjoyed frequent visits home to her family in Gunts. Kant’,
however, was not content
as Gonda's. Word had gotten back to
father that she wanted to come home.
A sister-exchange marriage is meant to
solidify ties between two
families and two lineages. If one of the couples breaks the
link, the other must do so, too. Kwipn was speaking on his
daughter’s behalf, but there was more at stake than her personal
happiness, and the opinions of the many people involved would have to
Mar sang out in the direction of the Dega
gardens where Pfun was
working. About an hour later Pfun arrived together with Tultul
Banka of the neighboring Korama clan. Sitting down at the upper
edge of Gunts Yard, they listened to Kwipn make his case.
023-06: Luluai Pfun
responds to Kwipn
Bossboy Kwipn, Mukongwai and Aikapo
|As representative of the Australian
government, Luluai Pfun was
central to this gathering for talk that the Maring designated with the
Tok Pisin word kot’,
court. Tultul Banka from nearby
Gembiama also happened to be present, but he soon declared the matter
was none of his business. Bossboy Kwipn used his fine long spear
to advantage as he talked.
023-13: Tultul Banka and Luluai Pfun listen to Kwipn’s
024-02: Bossboy Kwipn listens
to the Fungai men.
|Down at the bottom of Gunts yard some
women had gathered and were
listening to the talk and chatting among themselves.
024-00: Kua, Kant’, Ke and Urum on the women’s side of
|Allison: "The talk died down, and
I asked our interpreter, Worenai, what was
going on. He replied that the kot’ could only
father-in-law, Numbi, would arrive."
|Shortly after noon, we heard the
unmistakable voice of Minme, Numbi’s
wife. She was in the grove behind Gunts yard, out of sight of everyone,
but shouting so that all could hear.
024-16: Minme delivers an
024-26, 024-28: After five minutes Minme comes right into
the yard, keeping our house and the haus kuk
and the men at the top of the
|Standing at the edge of the steep bank,
Minme faced up hill, and continued to talk, still shielded by the haus
kuk from the direct view of the men further up the hillside.
024-34: The women listen to Minme's fiery talk,
knowing that the men above can hear it perfectly well.
|The kids in front of the haus kuk were
the only people aside from Marek and me who could actually see both
groups of people.
024-32: Marek stands across from
the haus kuk tape-recording
|Numbi arrived an hour later, sitting
down with the men inside the men’s house without every speaking
enough for us to hear or record. Kwipn spoke to him from outside the
house, while Pfun continued working busily on weaving his rattan
belt. The “public speaker” of the
family had been Minme, and she had had her say for the moment. The
family was not at
all in favor of Kant’ returning to Fogaikump.
025-05: Minme and At’ema grin as the mood of the event
|The high energy of the event was
winding down. Many of the women
had wandered away.
|Kwipn came down from the top of the
yard and stood midway between the men’s and the
women’s groups. He asked his daughter if she would return
home with him. Kant’
answered, “Na wo!”
(I won’t come.) Urum kept
|025-11: Kwipn and
listen to Kant's response.
Kant', sitting with Pewai, Gomb and Urum, refuses to go back to
Fogaikump with him.
025-14: Kwipn turns to go. Worenai, the interpreter, stands with the
boys in front of the haus kuk
Above, by the haus man
, Pfun continues
weaving a new belt.
025-23: Kant’ stays behind with her young sister-in-law, Gomb
|Bossboy Gul came out of the haus man just as Kwipn
fetched his spear from where he had placed it in the ground at the
beginning of the discussion.
025-28: Kwipn turns to leave Gunts and return to Fogaikump.
|Kant’ and the remaining women
yard via the women’s stile, Gomb in the lead carrying some
Gomb, Kant' and the remaining women leave Gunts yard.
Completed on July 7, 2011
1999-2011 Allison Jablonko.
All Rights Reserved.