Under the Mountain Wall: A Chronicle of Two Seasons in Stone Age New Guinea
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Peter Matthiessen was the cofounder of the Paris Review and is the author of numerous works of nonfiction, including In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Indian Country, and The Snow Leopard, winner of the National Book Award.
motes on the white cumulus, strayed on the afternoon’s high horizon, sad to descend out of the sky. From where they stood their whole world and their whole life lay before them, all the northeast corner of the valley. The Elokera slid away beneath their feet, forsaking the mountain near the village of Takulovok, which lay invisible under the crest. The river entered a woodland of albizzia and emerged a slow brown grassland stream, unwinding along the mountain wall. Then it curled off westward,
Werekma remains inside the cooking shed, protesting modesty and indifference, but after a while she wanders out. The sisters then ask if they may take her back with them to their village, and, when permission is granted, a request is made for all her property—not only the nets, ye stones, shell goods that she may have been given by her family, but the leftover pig meat of the late feast. Werekma then goes off with the women, while the man remains behind; he is now forbidden his own village and
Kabilek, son of Ekali, who may be twelve, wishes now to be known to his people as Lokopma. The latter name will commemorate the death of Kabilek’s nami, who was killed in a Wittaia raid near a stand of lokop cane, or “place of cane”—lokop-ma. Kabilek sees no reason to retain his present name, Kabi-lek, which means “Sharp Not,” or Dull. While the people try as best they can to adapt to the frequent name changes, the chances are that Kabilek will henceforth go by two names rather than one. This is
and running feet struck down forcefully upon the earth, an avalanche of black muscle and white feathers. The battle raged between the silent hills and then, as transient as a thunder squall, it ended, and the men streamed back, singing in etai. The wild battle had been indecisive, and both sides claimed victory. The Wittaia gathered at the base of the Siobara, and the enemies sat in the warm, waning sun, shouting out insults and shrill laughter. The insults included coarse remarks about the
23, 222 Hunuk palin, see Men, violent Husbands, wives and, 41-42, 140, 195, 253 Iki palin, see Mutilation ritual Illness, 225; treatment of, 222-24, 227 Initiation of boys and girls, 179-80, 181 Insults, exchange of, 251 Intelligence, 72 Kains (clan leaders), 15-17, 26, 39, 44, 47, 50, 52, 54, 73-75, 76-77, 102-104, 110, 116, 144, 161-62, 196, 200, 212, 214, 229, 246-47, 250; power struggle among, 114, 253-54 Kainship, 16; criteria for, 122, 186 Kaio ceremony, 66 Kaios, see Lookout