Garia - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Garia practice shifting cultivation; fencing assists in soil retention on the steep slopes of gardens. Each stage of garden work employs both secular and religious techniques, with garden Leaders' magic necessarily preceding any other activity. Traditional staple crops include taro, yams, native spinach, pitpit, bananas, and sugarcane; in recent decades these have been supplemented with Xanthosoma taro, corn, coconuts, and European vegetables, all introduced by Europeans. The wet season is a time of food shortage, but the dry season is a time of plenty. Limited wild game in the region restricts hunting to a casual and individual pursuit. Fishing, using arrows and spears, is done mainly in the wet season. Chickens and dogs are kept, but domestic pigs are few and saved for ceremonial occasions and as items of bride-wealth and exchange at feasts.

Industrial Arts. Everyday items manufactured locally include net bags, conical clay pots, wooden plates, round wooden bowls, digging sticks, axes and adzes, bows, arrows, spears, cassowary-bone daggers, betel lime gourds, bamboo smoking tubes, and hand drums. Traditional stone tools have now been replaced by steel, and other Western implements are also popular.

Trade. Garia have long been linked with the Madang coast to the east and Usino and the Ramu Valley to the west through trade networks. Pots are the main item of export, being traded to the east for shell valuables and to the west for sorcery medicines, tobacco, wooden plates and bowls, stone axes and knives, and bows and arrows. Individual men make special trips for the purpose of trade or engage in barter in the course of pig exchanges. Nowadays there are trade stores in the area selling Western goods, but the networks of trade partnerships remain active.

Division of Labor. A sexual division of labor governs everyday activities, with males taking the responsibility for heavier garden work and construction. Net bags are made and used exclusively by women. In the work of producing pottery, the main trade item, women are charged with collecting the clay while men are the actual potters.

Land Tenure. All useful land is said to be owned and each demarcated area bears the name of the cognatic stock and human proprietors associated with it. All members of a cognatic stock have permanent rights of personal usufruct and the responsibility of collective guardianship over landholdings bearing its name. In the north, the holdings of a cognatic stock may be scattered within a general locality and rights are vested in individuals, while in the south land plots tend to be concentrated in huge tracts, rights to which are allocated to a group of agnates within the cognatic stock. Temporary Usufructuary rights are usually granted to most members of a man's "security circle" (see the later section on social organization) . Rights to land are inherited by male agnates, but they can also be purchased by male enates, especially sisters' sons.

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