Tangu - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Tangu believe in a group of divine beings called puoker, water beings called pap'ta, and ghosts of the dead, who ultimately become ancestral beings. Spirit beings of all sorts are thought to be capable of affecting human affairs, but they are somewhat capricious and difficult to placate.

Religious Practitioners. The nature of Tangu religious practitioners is linked to the belief in ranguova, men who practice a combination of sorcery and witchcraft. Ranguova are responsible for inflicting many types of illness and death. Their identity can be determined by dreamer-diviners, and they can be killed by a different sort of specialist.

Ceremonies. Dances and feasts are held frequently to mark a variety of social occasions. Formerly, elaborate ritual accompanied boys' circumcision and also the manufacture and positioning of wooden slit gongs, but these rites are no longer practiced.

Arts. While goods of European manufacture are increasingly taking the place of certain traditional arts, finely produced personal accessories are still made, including bananafiber underskirts and pandanus-fiber overskirts, bark-cloth breechclouts, woven-cane ornaments and waistbands, and string bags. Slit gongs and hand drums are made, but without the carving, incising, pigmentation, and decoration that they formerly carried.

Medicine. Tangu recognize certain types of sicknesses as physiological and treat them with a variety of medicines. Other illnesses are linked with the activities of ranguova (sorcerers). Such illnesses are "treated" by determining the identity of the sorcerer, exposing him, and forcing him to cease his harmful activities.

Death and Afterlife. In Tangu, death is matter-of-fact, and deceased are buried quickly, often within an hour or two of dying. Traditionally, personal valuables were buried with the corpse. People mourn individually, on slit gongs, when they think of deceased loved ones from time to time. Each Individual is thought to have a "soul" or "mind" called gnek. After death, this soul becomes a ghost temporarily, then Finally becomes an ancestral spirit.

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