Mafulu - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Mafulu are swidden horticulturalists, whose main crops are sweet potatoes, taro, yams, and bananas. Sugarcane, beans, pumpkins, cucumbers, and pandanus are also cultivated. They breed pigs, and they hunt wild pigs, cassowaries, wallabies, and bandicoots with the assistance of domesticated dogs. The Household is the basic unit of production and consumption. Most food is either roasted or steamed in sections of bamboo, while pig and other meat may be cooked in earth ovens.

Industrial Arts. Items produced include bark cloth (tapa), used for bark-cloth capes, widows' vests, dancing aprons, and loin cloths. Netting is used for string bags, hunting nets, and hammocks. Smoking pipes are made from bamboo. Stone adzes, used in the past to cut down trees and clear gardens, have given way to steel bush knives and axes. Spears, stone clubs, bows, and bamboo-tipped arrows are used in warfare and hunting. The Mafulu also make various musical instruments.

Trade: Trade consists primarily of pigs, feathers, dogs'-teeth necklaces, and stone tools. The Mafulu trade stone tools and pigs to the Tauade and others in neighboring Valleys, who lack the appropriate stone or skills, in exchange for feathers, dogs'-teeth necklaces, and other valuables. They also trade valuables to peoples on the coast for clay pots and magic.

Division of Labor. Women are responsible for planting sweet potatoes and taro, clearing the gardens of weeds, collecting food from the gardens and cooking it, and gathering firewood. They also care for the pigs. Men's work consists Primarily of planting yams, bananas, and sugarcane, cutting down large trees, building, and hunting. They also help women with their work.

Land Tenure. Members of a clan hold the rights to land which are exercised by resident clan members. Village land is owned by a particular clan, though individuals have private usufructuary rights to the land and ownership of the houses they build there for the period their houses stand. The Neighboring bush is also owned jointly by the clan. Individual gardeners control access to cleared land until it returns to uncultivated bush, at which point jurisdiction reverts to the clan. Hunting land is property of the clan land, with access Controlled by, though not restricted to, clan members. No Individual has the right of disposal over clan land.

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