Traditional Huli Society: 4
(Copyright ©1998 G. C. J. Lomas)

(Photos copyright © 1998 Malachy McBride, ofmcap.; Drawings copyright ©1998 Alphonsus Mariot)


This word is used to designate the means employed by a society to control its environment and enhance its well-being.  Under this heading I shall briefly consider gamu religious formulae, gardening, animal husbandry, and houses and other artefacts.
gamu    is the term used generically of religious formulae, directed primarily towards achieving material well-being through the manipulation of non-material controlling forces.  There are gamu associated with nearly every situation to be encountered in daily life, and a simple working knowledge of these is considered normal.  There are also gamu performed at clan and subclan levels, led by those who have the specialist knowledge required - such as the kebeali keepers of shrines, mentioned above.

mabu    There is a variety of gamu to accompany the important practice of gardening.  Large gardens, called mabu, are made by clearing the bush and digging over and composting the soil before planting.  Each person has such a garden in an area of cleared bush, drained by deep ditches and protected from stray pigs by wooden fences.  The initial heavy work of clearing the bush is done by the man, but the woman will then do the mounding and planting if the garden is meant for her, otherwise the man will complete the work by himself.

anda    A similar division of labour is observed in constructing anda house/s.  The man cuts down the trees and adzes the planks from which the walls and rafters are made, while the woman brings bundles of sword grass to be used for thatching.  anda are scattered individually throughout the bush, and are not usually alongside the owners' mabu.  A smaller garden, called a gama, surrounds each anda, in which a few vegetables and mundu tobacco are grown.  A typical anda is about 1 metre in height, 1.5 metres wide, and 3 metres long, with a dirt floor that has a scooped out fireplace in the middle.

Typical house
A typical Huli anda house

Some artefacts.    Essential artefacts for Huli undertakings are the stone axe, aju, and the hardwood digging stick, keba.  String, pu, is made by rolling tree fibres together, and is used to bind the axe head to the helve.  It is also used for a variety of other purposes, one of them being to made the woven string bags, nu, carried by men and women alike.  Men also weave it into an apron or sporran, dambale, to cover their genitals, using sprigs of leaves to cover the buttocks.  Most men wear a manda wig woven from human hair, and most have a danda bow and timu arrows for hunting and for warfare.  Women dress in hurwa reed skirts, and, like men, will frequently carry a dalu tu raincape rolled up in their bags.  Women seldom smoke, and those that do use pipes made of bamboo, mundu be, as do the men.  Other important artefacts are the tabage drum, played by dancers, and the gãwã mouth bow and hirijule jaw's harp mentioned above.

Animal husbandry.    The most important domesticated animal is the pig, nogo.  It is easily cared for, being allowed to roam free during the day, or simply left tethered to a clump of grass while its owner is busy in the garden.  At night, pigs are herded into a separate part of the woman's house, into a pen called a golia, and there shut in and fed on hina sweet potato.  Other animals domesticated for food are chickens, which were introduced by white people, and jari cassowary, although these latter are regarded as exceptional, and do not play a significant role in the Huli economy.  biango dogs are kept for hunting purposes or as household pets, and are not considered to be edible meat.