The Enga Horticulturalist Tribe of Papau New Guinea Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 13 February 2017

The Enga Horticulturalist Tribe of Papau New Guinea

Hypothesis:

The Enga culture was unique to the Enga society; it was their acceptable traditional way of life that worked for them for many generations.

Introduction

The Enga Tribes were from the hilly highland terrain of Papau New Guinea. All Enga were horticulturalists, in other words farmers working small fields in which the planted and gave special individual attention to large mounds of tubers (taros and sweet potatoes) that constituted the bulk of their diet, but they also produced large quantities of sugar cane, bananas and leafy vegetables. (Nowak & Laird, 2010) They had livestock for protein however; pigs were the valuable wealth items.

They were a fairly laid-back, sedentary set of people who respected the terrain in which they lived and adapted various aspects of their culture to deal with the changes in their natural surroundings, environment and the social climate. (Nowak & Laird, 2010) Their culture was what defined the tribes; it was the way in which they behaved, it was what they believed, and what set them apart from the other tribes. The Enga culture was unique to the Enga society; it was their acceptable traditional way of life that worked for them. It was not anybody else’s to judge them or try to change them to fit into what is considered normal in the western world.

Kinship

Kinship or social and family relationship was at the core of the Enga culture. The family, however strange the cultural practices, is the first group that provides satisfaction for the basic need to belong. Humans are social beings and do not exist in isolation. People have a deep-down desire to belong and to be associated with a group of one kind or the other. The Enga tribes believed that they were descendants of one common person/being; hence the kinship or family was rather extended. As Horticulturalists, the Enga people developed specific farming practices and passed them down through the generations within the kinship. They lead a sedentary lifestyle so they studied ways to make farming easier for their own survival. (Nowak & Laird, 2010) Enga people adhered to the cultural traditions of the kinship.

Gender Relations

Enga women were responsible for cultivation, caring the livestock, raising the children, doing all the domestic chores and caring for the men. According to the Enga culture, the purpose of a young adult’s life was to find a mate and marry. In the Enga world, life after marriage was different by gender, than how life was before marriage. The more wives a man had, the greater his potential wealth. The women helped their husbands to accumulate wealth in the form of pigs. In the kinship pigs meant wealth. This is exactly what a big man needs in order to ensure appropriate-sized feasts for his redistribution of food to his followers and gift giving to allies and potential allies. Multiple wives (polygyny) also meant alliances were developed with the wives’ families, which was important to the Enga.

Women were also used to broker peace alliances and gain wealth through marriage. In Enga families, marriage alliances included a series of gifts to the bride’s people: live pig, pig meat and labor. This was referred to as bride wealth. Boys, on the other hand were socialized to war. At an early, the men taught the little boys how to shoot arrows. As the boys grew older, they allowed them to follow them to war; remaining behind at a distance. It was a shame for boys to do what was culturally considered to be woman’s work. The women ploughed, planted and maintained the gardens; tended to the livestock; prepared the meals and fetched water so the few duties the men had was the occasional hunting of wild pigs; homeland security, maintaining the cultural laws and fighting off the enemies.

Political organization

In the Enga Tribe, the political inter-tribe negotiator was titled the Big Man. His political power was based on his articulation, his interpersonal skills and his skills in negotiating peace, organizing inter-tribes exchanges and building up a following of dependents. He hosted regular ceremonial exchanges between the tribes and his political power was bound up with the manipulation of his wealth. Many Big Men accumulated their wealth through their wives’ hard work. They had an abundance of pigs and could afford to host many big feasts to woo would be enemies and pay them off to become Enga allies. When one of these events was held, the entire tribe participated in the gift giving process with the expectation that the receiving tribe will reciprocate at some later time. The Enga Mr. Big had folllowers who he fed and they in return worked in his fields. The Enga culture included showing off of their wealth to put their enemies to shame.

Conclusion

The Enga culture was unique to the Enga society; it was their acceptable traditional way of life that worked for them. It was not anybody else’s to judge them or try to change them to fit into what is considered normal in the western world. Kinship or social and family relationship was at the core of the Enga culture. The family, however strange the cultural practices, was the first group that provides satisfaction for the basic need to belong. Enga women were responsible for cultivation, caring the livestock, raising the children, doing all the domestic chores and caring for the men. According to the Enga culture, the purpose of a young adult’s life was to find a mate and marry.

They lead a sedentary lifestyle so they studied ways to make farming easier for their own survival. (Nowak & Laird, 2010) Enga people adhered to the cultural traditions of the kinship. Boys, on the other hand were socialized to war. In the Enga Tribe, the political inter-tribe negotiator was titled the Big Man. His political power was based on his articulation, his interpersonal skills and his skills in negotiating peace, organizing inter-tribes exchanges and building up a following of dependents who labored for him. All Enga were horticulturalists, in other words farmers working small fields.

Reference
Nowak, B., & Laird, P. (2010). Cultural Anthropolgy, San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education Inc.

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