Lesu - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. An individual's place in the Lesu social order was based on kinship, locality, and gender. The exogamous nature of the moieties and the reciprocity involved in relations between individuals, families, clans, and the moieties were the major forces welding the fifteen hamlets into a cohesive group. Status distinctions between individuals and families were based on wealth and degree of magical knowledge, which itself provided wealth through payments for magical services.

Political Organization. Community leaders ( orang ) were important old men in each clan who formed an informal council that decided issues for the village. Orang status was not inherited but was based on age, wealth, strength of personality, magical knowledge, and oratorical ability. In the past, there was also a warrior chief—a role that disappeared with the cessation of intervillage warfare. Under European administration an intermediary ( luluai ) was appointed to act as the village's representative. This person was sometimes also an orang, but whether he was or not, he always consulted with the orang council. Today, village representatives are elected.

Social Control. Incestuous relations were the most serious violations of norms and various mechanisms such as taboos and avoidance served to prevent incest from ever occurring.

Conflict. Prior to German colonization, warfare between the Lesu and other island groups was evidently quite common. Wars were often begun for revenge and ended through negotiation and the payment of compensation. Conflict between the Lesu hamlets was rare.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: