Kiwai - Settlements



Villages, which range in population from about 50 to 500 Persons, are built close to the water. Traditionally, the Kiwai built two types of houses: the móto, or communal dwelling where the women, children, and married men lived, and the dárimo, or men's house. Both types of houses had raised floors of split palm and thatched roofs that extended almost to the level of the floor. Some móto were very long—one measured by Landtman was 154 meters long—and were inhabited by the members of a single totemic clan, although two or three clans would sometimes occupy separate parts of the same house. The móto had an open passageway running lengthwise down the middle of the house and a row of fire-places on each side. Each family had its own fireplace along the side of the house. The dárimo were constructed like the móto, but served as ceremonial houses and as residences for the unmarried men. On some occasions, married men would also sleep in the dárimo. Today, the móto and the dárimo are largely things of the past, and most villages consist of small single-family dwellings with raised floors of split palm, walls of sago palm frond stems, and thatched roofs.

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