Kaluli - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Sago is the staple of the Kaluli diet, processed from palms that self-propagate in the forest. This food is supplemented by garden produce—bananas, pandanus, breadfruit, pitpit, sugarcane, taro, and sweet potatoes. Protein is derived from wild game, lizards, fish, and crayfish. While the Kaluli keep domesticated pigs, these are only killed on ceremonial occasions, and the pig meat is distributed as gifts. Another ceremonially Important food is grubs, which are incubated in sago-palm hearts and distributed like pork.

Industrial Arts. Items of Kaluli manufacture are few and, for the most part, simple: digging sticks, stone adzes, black-palm bows, and net bags. Longhouses and fences are built of forest materials, and dams are sometimes built in streams. Stone tools have largely been replaced by steel axes and knives. Kaluli also make necklaces of shell and fashion Elaborate costumes and headdresses for their ceremonial dances.

Trade. Circulation of goods among Kaluli longhouses occurs in the context of ongoing, reciprocal gift exchange, as distinct from the more straightforward trade relations between Kaluli and non-Kaluli groups. Kaluli trade items such as net bags and black-palm bows in return for dogs' teeth, hornbill beaks, and tree oil from other plateau groups. These items are passed along with Kaluli goods to the Huli of the highlands in exchange for tobacco, vegetable salt, and netted aprons. Other items for which Kaluli trade include cowrie and small pearl shells from the coast, drums, and, more recently, glass beads, mirrors, and steel knives and axe heads.

Division of Labor. Some tasks are allocated according to a strict sexual division of labor. Men in groups do the heavy work of cutting down, dividing, and splitting the sago-palm trunk and pulverizing its core; they also clear the garden lands, build fences and dams, plant gardens and perform Garden magic, hunt large game animals in the forest, fish, and butcher meat. Women process the sago pith, weed the Gardens, tend the pigs, gather smaller forest prey and crayfish, and have the primary responsibilities of child rearing.

Land Tenure. Garden land and stands of sago palm are, to all intents and purposes, owned by individual men of the longhouse community, and each man is free to give, loan, or bequeath his property as he wishes. The general territory may be spoken of as belonging to the longhouse as a unit, but this group ownership does not imply any clan or lineage control over parcels of it. Ownership obtains as long as the land or sago is worked. Should it go unused for a generation, claims of ownership lapse. Rights in land and sago generally pass from father to son, secondarily to a man's brothers, his brother's children, or his sister's sons. Because the plateau is sparsely populated, there is little land pressure to give rise to property disputes.

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