Muyu - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Muyu are slash-and-burn horticulturalists. The stone ax was used for clearing wood; it has been replaced by imported iron axes and machetes. The main crops are many varieties of bananas and root crops. Most important among the latter are yams, sweet potatoes, tobacco, and breadfruit. Sago palms are found and planted along the small rivers and in swamps, and they are a staple food crop for the southern Muyu. Commercial crops are difficult to grow in the Muyu area because of the heavy rainfall and poor soils. In 1960-1962 rubber and cacao were planted as commercial crops, with rubber providing hope for the development of the Muyu area. But the Indonesian Government apparently has not been able to continue these efforts and the promising developments have stagnated. Pigs are the most important domestic animals.

Industrial Arts. No important traditional industrial arts were known, with even stone axes imported from neighboring tribes. The Muyu did make their own bows and arrows, their drums, and in the southern part dugouts for crossing the rivers. The northern Muyu made rattan-cane suspension bridges. As far as is known, no new industrial arts have been introduced.

Trade. The Muyu had their own money system (cowrie shells) with which a trade system was developed. Pigs, pork, bows, tobacco, magic stones, formulas, ornaments, and services (namely the murder of an enemy) were traded. Shell money (or) also played an important role in bride-price payments. For most Muyu traditional money has been replaced by "modern" money. In 1954 a Chinese toko (trade store) was opened and the Muyu eagerly shopped for imported goods. After 1963 the supply of these goods decreased, and local inflation occurred with high prices (in Indonesian money) for local products such as pork and for bride-prices.

Division of Labor. Every wife has her own garden. The husband does the heavy work in the garden such as cutting trees, but the women clear most of the garden, grow the crops, and tend the pigs.

Land Tenure. All rights rest with the individual. The Entire Muyu region is divided into bits and pieces of land, each with its separate owner who is known to all neighbors. Upon a man's death his land and fishing ground are divided among his sons. Of course no registration of these rights is available in a culture without script. The danger in the "modern" situation is that these rights will not be fully recognized by the Government and land will be taken without proper procedures and compensation, leading to conflicts.

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