(Photos copyright © 1998 Malachy McBride, ofmcap.; Drawings copyright ©1998 Alphonsus Mariot)
The complicated account of Huli
beliefs given in Glasse 1965 is based on data he gathered at Hojabia, near
Lumulumu. His view was limited by his being unable at the time of his
fieldwork to move freely in and out of what was then restricted territory,
and since his day others have queried his findings (e.g.. Goldman 1983; Frankel
1986), especially in regard to his main claim, that the Huli descent system
is cognatic. Consequently, what is and what is not Huli is not
easy to define. However, some aspects of Huli culture identified by
Glasse seem to hold, or to be known, in quite widely different Huli communities.
dama These make up a loose hierarchy of supra-human beings that inhabit the sky, rivers, water holes, caves and dense bushlands - especially the higher reaches of the mountains. They control the climate and the land, and affect fertility in both soil and livestock. They can cause a variety of of sicknesses and misfortunes in humans, including death, and are constantly and capriciously active in human affairs. The originating dama of the Huli and their neighbours are generally less malevolent than others, while all dama can to some extent be placated and persuaded to desist from causing harm. Sometimes they can be tricked or warded off, and it is even possible to manipulate some of them and harness the powers that they possess (cf Glasse 1965: 33-37).
is Huli for woman or women, who are regarded as being unwittingly endowed
with tomia, especially potent in their menstrual blood. They
are seen as being a baleful influence on and a potential source of danger
to men. On occasions they may consciously use their powers to cause
harm (cf Glasse 1968: 106), and men have to learn ritual strategies to guard