Rossel Island - Settlements

Earlier the settlement pattern was one of hamlets scattered along the coast and in the interior. A census in 1919 showed 145 villages with an average of ten inhabitants. During World War II the population was concentrated in about 10 villages on the coast. Most of these settlements broke up into hamlets or hamlet clusters after the war, but people did not return to the interior. Although there is no standard site plan, hamlets often feature a carefully weeded square or street surrounded by living houses and with one or two stone sitting circles, common in the southern Massim. In "traditional" hamlets, a seclusion house for menstruating and postpartum women is built behind the house line. Hamlets are surrounded by banana trees, coconut palms, and other fruit trees. Early house types included a barrel-roofed ground house and a pile house entered through a trapdoor in the floor. Today, living houses are regularly built on posts with a roof of sago-palm leaves and walls of sago-leaf sheaths. Cooking takes place under the house or on a clay hearth on the kitchen floor.

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