Mythological Dimension of Foi Sociality [along Mubi river, and around lake Kutubu]

p. xvii phonetics















(The written forms of mutes resemble official mainland-China Pinyin transliterations; and are similarly misleading.)

pp. 55-56 souls & ghosts

p. 55

"i~ ho~, "eye ghost"" : "The i~ ho~ leaves the body during sleep and experiences the actions apprehended during dreams. {Could the term "eye ghost" allude to "rapid eye movement" characterizing the physical body of a dreamer?}


The ghost of a man who died from sickness ... takes the form of one of three birds. [One of these three is "named Gaburiniki. ... people who die from illness are transformed into the bird of this name." (p. 193)]


However, a man who was murdered or killed in battle becomes a far more dangerous bauwabe or taruabo and takes the form of the Palm Cockatoo or other black cockatoo."


"There is also a specific sickness, attributed to ganaro or da~bu spirits, whose symptoms are jaundice and other liver disorders. These spirits inhabit tabia trees, and pieces of the bark of this tree are used in effecting the cure for ganaro sickness."

p. 56

"certain ghosts ... gave Usi initiates the power to heal illness".

pp. 56-57 origins of male and of female Usi secret-societies

p. 56

"The woman’s name was Dugunu ..., and the [her] brother’s name was Hobo" :

{with /DUGUnu/ cf. Maori /Kura-ngai-TUKU/}


they both quaffed a potion (consisting of "the bitter-tasting ko>ome vine and the bark from the banima tree") in order to impart disease-creating potency.

{cf. Nila-kan.t.ha, who was throttled by his own wife Kali [Thagini]}

p. 57

This mythic event occurred "atop Mount Sumi ... .

Two women from the Moro>o River region named Yawame and Faririme began female Usi there, while

two men, Somaya and Hobo, began male Usi."

{the name /YaWA-me/ may relate to Hellenic /I[W]Oi/}

{the name /FARIRI-me/ may be from Abyssinian /HARIRI/}

p. 58 Usi used "the white exudation of insects found on tree branches and called denane kosega, "ghosts’ saliva"".

p. 63 words for ‘goldlip pearl shell’

"The word for goldlip pearl shell is ...

seket in Wola, and

sekere in Kewa and Pole ... .

The Foi of Lake Kutubu ... refer to pearl shells by this term ... segeri,

{cf. name of Kemian god /SKR/}

but tne Mubi dwellers call it ma>ame, which also means variously "... something; anything."" {/M>uMah/ ‘somewhat, something, anything’ (Strong’s 3972)} {because its iridescent is "something" so shifty as to become "anything"?}

{Tzeltal ‘opossum’ (uc^) = K>ic^e> /MAM/ (MCO, p. 41, table 37)} {in Codex Dresdensis each Uayeb day is an "anthropomorphic opossum", K>ic^e> year-bearers are designated Mam, and "each Mam year bearer is identified with a particular mountain" ("GANI", p. 196); "also in the Madrid Codex, is an opossum Mam" ("HSLPM")} {is the opossum, in easily fainting, thereby emblematic of shifty consciousness?}

Strong’s = Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary of Bible Words.

MCO = Prudence M. Rice : Maya Calendar Origins. U of TX Pr, 2007.

"GANI" = Cecelia F. Klein : "Gender Ambiguity in Nahua Ideology". In :- Cecelia F. Klein (ed.) : Gender in Pre-Hispanic America. pp. 183-254

"HSLPM" = Gabrielle Vail : "Human Sacrifice in Late Postclassic Maya". In :- Cucina & Tiesler (editrices) : New Perspectives on Human Sacrifice. Springer Verlag, 2007.

pp. 69-70 dreaming at a sacred site

p. 69

"man ... go into the bush at regular intervals to dream. A man would choose a site near a tu>u tree, which has a bright red interior and is believed to be the residing place of ghosts. Similarly linked with ghosts are those sharp bends in a river causing a whirlpool {cf. entry into Tlalocan in dreams via a dream-whirlpool} ... . At such sites a man constructed a small lean-to hut and slept there for several days. ... At night the ghosts revealed pearl shell dreams to him. [likewise, "Wola men were aided by the spirits of dead ancestors who gave them dreams revealing the future acquisition of pearl shells" (pp. 299-300, n. 4:5)] {cf. dreams about the iridescent abalone-goddess, by shamans in tribes of northern California}

p. 70

to dream of __

would praesage the dreamer __


"ya ga>are (Pesquet’s Parrot) or ya koa (Raggianna bird-of-paradise)" [both species red-feathered]

"would obtain many pearl shells."


"ya namuyu or ya gedirmabo (Sulphur-crested Cockatoo)"

"would acquire many pigs."


"clutching a woman’s skirt-string"

"would find much game."


"the Palm Cockatoo or any other black cockatoo"

"impending death of another man."


"A tree or house falling down"

"a man would die."


"sexual intercourse"

"the dreamer himself would die".


"a crayfish"

"would have no luck in finding pearl shells."

pp. 115-116 consecrating a widow’s vagina for her re-marriage

p. 115

"the woman and her new husband ... each take two leaves of stinging nettles and with them they rub each other’s entire skin. ... the skin of the kegebo vine ... he steam-cooks ... . The widow’s new husband then instructs her to remove her string skirt and squat over the steam so that it may penetrate her vagina.

... an alternative method for cleansing the widow. The husband ... carefully binds his hand with the skin of the kegebo vine and cleans the woman’s vagina manually. While doing so, he recites the following :

I am not using this kegebo vine, ...

I am using the band of an anema pearl shell

I am using the band of a ka>amea pearl shell".

p. 116

"two version of the widow’s spell ... the specialist recites on each of the ten days of the stinging-nettle procedure. One version states that the widow’s dead husband is sitting in the branches of a ma>abe tree, but the ... other version describes the widow’s ... dead husband’s ghost is making her sick. The ghost takes the form of two dogs, Hinima and Tegare, that come from a small mountain named Sangua ... . These dogs are about to come and devour the widow and her new husband. By rubbing the stinging nettles on their skin (metaphorically referred to in the spell as the abeabo-sangura variety of aquatic leaves), the widow and her new husband "make their skins shine again" and the two dogs retreat." {their skins thus symbolically becoming glisteningly iridescent like unto pearl shells}

pp. 155-158, 160-161 primaeval bursting of hymen of woman, so as to render her vagina accessible; origin of the cassowary

p. 155

"A girl ... came to a haginamo tree and decided to gather berries. The girl climbed into the tree ... . ...

p. 156

The tree sprang to an enormous height, so that the girl could not possibly get down." Atop the tree, and supplied with food there, she gave birth to "a boy and a girl." In time, "They had grown up. The boy had long hair and the girl’s breasts were showing." After the brother and sister were miraculously transferred onto the ground, the sister "used to embrace a palm tree, rubbing up and down against it with her legs astride. {Her brother] wedged a sharp piece of flint in the tree trunk ... . When the girl came to embrace the tree again she cut herself, and was thus furnished with a vagina. ... The boy did his best ... of applying bari shells and pearlshells ... . {cf. the Toba & Pilaga` myth of the primaeval women’s vaginae having been originally obstructed with seashells}

p. 157

The mother (i.e. the girl who climbed the tree) was Saube (she became a marua bird on leaving the children).

The person who supplied the food, i.e. the father who revealed himself, was Ya Baia, a hawk ... .

The boy was Kanawebe and the girl Karako. These were said to belong to "Paremahugu" amindoba."

p. 158

[variation of the myth, with hornbill husband instead of hawk husband :] "a young woman ... was working in her garden one day when a ka buru ["black woman" (p. 186)] her and said, "Sister, my hagenamo leaves are ready to pick ... . ... Remove all your clothing and leave it at the base of the tree here; take my clothing instead before you climb up." The young woman did so and climbed up the tree.

p. 160

... the trunk of the hagenamo tree elongated greatly ... and the young woman was marooned." Atop the tree, and supplied with food there, she gave birth to a boy after being impraegnated by "her treetop husband : ... he was really a hornbill and his name was Ayayawego or Yiakamuna.

p. 161

... the ka buru turned into a cassowary".


[another variation of the myth :] A brother saw his sister "arrive at a tamo tree [arecoid palm]. He watched her climb up the tree and slide down, ... doing this repeatedly. ... the man took a sharp flake of obsidian and stuck it in the middle of the tree. The next time the woman went to slide up and down the tree, the stone knife cut a gash where her vagina belonged ... . Meanwhile, the brother tried the point of a pearl shell and ... rubbed this on the wound ... . ... He tied the pearl shell to the wound".

Du-S`aray (Dousares) was born "under a palm-tree." "The Nabataeans claimed that Allat was the goddess-consort of Dusares" (AWhIH, p. 128); so Allat may have been an aequivalent to the Foi goddess who climbed the palm-tree. Du-S`aray’s "mother’s name was Kaaba, from whom the stone temple in Mecca got its name. (FOOTNOTE 67: Barton in Hebraica, Vol. 10, as quoted in 203 / 123 / 609)" (AWhIH, p. 121)

"Dusares was worshipped at Petra under the form of a black rectangular stone, a sort of Petraean Ka<aba; and Epiphanius describes a feast held at Petra on Dec. 25th in honour of Khaabou ... i.e. a virgin, and her offspring Dousares i.e. the only son of the lord’ (Haer. 51)." (T-BNSI, p. 218)

AWhIH = Stephen van Nattan : Allah, Who Is He? 1995.

T-BNSI = George Albert Cooke : A Text-Book of North-Semitic Inscriptions. Oxford : Clarendon Pr, 1903.

Foi myth, <arabi words






"black" stone


"the girl’s breasts were showing."

/Ka<ab/ signifieth "maiden with breasts developed" (HT, vol. 2, cap. 11)


the used clothing acquired from the ka buru

Du-S`aray was (according to >al-Kalbi) god of the tribe Harit (/hirt/ ‘trita vestis, dilapidated clothing’ – LA-L 4:383a)

HT = Sita Ram Goel : Hindu Temples.

LA-L = Georgii Wilhelmi Freytagii : Lexicon Arabico-Latinum. Librairie du Liban : Beirut, 1975.

pp. 174-175 origin of tree grubs

p. 174

"She told her co-wife : "... the meat he gives us he kills with his penis." [They transmogrified their husband so that he grew teats, producing milk.] ... the husband returned home. ... While sleeping that night, a firefly came and flew around the man’s head.

p. 175

... he himself climbed up and picked a large breadfruit. ... He then threw down the breadfruit and it struck them on the head. The two women then exploded and their flesh scattered in bits all over the bush. ... a great many trees had fallen down. ... He cut the fallen logs and found tree grubs in great numbers. The women, in dying, had turned into tree grubs."

[another mythic instance of a male having teats which produce milk :]

"The Son is the cup, and

He who was milked is the Father: ^and.the Holy Spirit milked

Him: because His breasts were full, and it was necessary for

Him that His milk should be sufficiently released ; ^and the^

Holy Spirit opened His’ bosom and mingled the milk from the

two breasts of the Father ; and gave the mixture to the world

without their knowing: ^and they who receive in its fulness are the

/ones on the right hand." Odes of Solomon, ode 19 (J. Rendel Harris :The Odes And Psalms Of Solomon. Cambridge U Pr. p. 116

pp. 178-179 origin of leeches

p. 178

"there once lived a solitary light-skinned man who inhabited the hollow interior of the black palm (kawari). The top of the palm was broken off, and the palm itself moved from place to place." Two brethren set up a deceit to entrap this tree-hollow-inhabiting man, by having the wife of one of those two brethren feign "as if she too wished to commit adultery. ... They grabbed the palm. ... Having been touched by mens’ hands, it could not move. ... Then some men ... returned with crowbars made from the hard biane tree ... split the palm with these ..., and there they finally saw the light-skinned man. ...

p. 179

Having killed him, they cut up his body. They left only the penis and testicles. ... The maiden went quickly to the palm but ... she looked down and saw something hanging from her vagina. A large leech, engorged with blood, had eaten her menstrual blood and when finished had dropped off. ... The penis had turned into a leech".

pp. 182-186 origin of ginger

p. 182

"A man ... came upon a large ka buru who was fishing in the stream. ... He fainted and when he revived, he saw that the woman had ... left her nose-plug [saboro] between the man’s toes." Seeking her so that she could become his wife, he traveled eastward until

p. 183

he arrived at the house of the ka buru "whose saboro he was carrying."

p. 184

That ka buru, "taking the stone in her hands, crushed it into pieces with a loud report. ... Then he married the woman."

p. 185

At her instruction, going alone he "paddled the canoe westward" to where a samoga night-dance and an usanega day-dance were being held. After he arrived thereat, he led the samoga. "As dawn was approaching, he heard the drum say, "Fonomo, go!"" However, in disregard of this admonition, he stayed through the usanega. When he returned to where her house had been, "it was no longer there." At the house’s former site "was a very deep hole and he could not see the bottom. ... Then he ... gathered the bark of the kabosa tree from which ... he made an enclosed barrel .. . He put food inside, and then he himself went in and sealed both ends. He rolled the barrel to the edge of the hole and then flung himself over the edge. It ... fell down ..., and Fonomo crawled out." Thereabouts, he found "his wife, the ka buru, pounding sago." She had "died and come here". {cf. tale, in the 1001 Nights, Sindbad’s being lowered alive into a cavern to be with his dead wife.}

p. 186

Having met thereat the ka buru’s first husband, "each man turned into hinanu [Zinjerberaceae plants]. One turned into the magenane variety and the other turned into the kuisabo variety." {so, both varieties of the ginger used by the living originated in the netherworld abode of the dead}

pp. 201-202 origin of marsupials and of aquatic rodent

p. 201

A woman squeezed her own breast-milk into a bamboo cup; husband drank of it unwittingly, intending to drink instead "urabi moss water" and "hekana aquatic grass water".

p. 202

"There under the water was her husband and child sleeping, with his fare drum used as a head pillow. ... Then she took a piece of sago bark and ... struck all of her sisters, ... and there behind a section of kewabo vine she saw that all the men and women has turned into marsupials ... . ... she turned into an abeyeru aquatic rodent".

pp. 211-214 origin of co-active derris poisons for fishing

p. 211

"The woman had ... gathered frogs, and ... put them in bamboo tubes and prepared to cook them."

p. 212

Aunt and brother had taken refuge in a treehouse in a tabia tree. The uga>ana son of one woman "began to chop the tree down but, as he did so, he was stung viciously by snakes, stinging nettles, and biting insects ... .

p. 213

Having tethered a canoe to a very long coil of tether, "he allowed the canoe to float downstream, paying out the rope as it did. Finally, ... he began to pull it back." Thus he obtained, from downstream, two wives.

p. 214

"they saw that the woman had turned into a shoot of the wane Derris and that the uga>ana had turned into the shoot of the ma>asome. ... That is why today if you use only one of the roots, it will not work. You must use both together for the poison to work."

pp. 224-227 origin of the Usane festival

p. 224

"The ground shook and thunder sounded. ... Presently, a huge python approached, as big as a tree trunk. ...

p. 225

She climbed onto the python’s back ... . They traveled a while until they came up to a cave. ... The python then struck its tail against the stone and sparks flew, and ... the fire ignited. ...

p. 226

The ground shook and it thnndered. ... The python ... swallowed the man whole. ... The python’s stomach was transparent, and he saw the water surrounding him outside. ... Having released himself, he swam to the surface of the lake. ...

p. 227

His sister said to him, "Give me a portion of heart and a portion of kidney." She took them to an old kara>o tree that had long been tapped, so that the hole inside was dry. ... when she returned again to look she saw two tiny infant boys. ... after the two brothers had grown up ... her brother ... gave ... to the boys ... the two duibo drums. The two boys ... danced the farega and then received their aname".

pp. 232-234 the pandanus goddess & abolition of the karuato

p. 232

"the unknown plant was the shoot of the ko>oso pandanus. ... it bore a red fruit. ... the pandanus had turned into a young maiden. ... the woman was making arera baskets ... . ... One day it began to rain and the ground shook. ...

p. 233

... a large uga>ana arrived. He was dressed in garments of gerewa cane only ... . ...


... he saw his own piebald pig tied up. {cf. Mam = Maximon -- /ma/ ‘mr.’ + /xim/ ‘knotted’ ("GANI", p. 211, fn. 50)} ...

p. 234

The uga>ana ate his son and the other men ate their wives and children ... . ... The uga>ana said, "This ceremony in which we killed our wives and children, it is over now. Its name was Karuato.""

p. 186 "the uga>ana, ... comical caricature of the Foi man : he speaks in a whiny, nasally voice" {in the Nahua carnival, meco-s are males who "speak in falsetto voices" ("GANI", p. 198)}

pp. 244-246 shape-shifting women from sky-village

p. 244

"two young women ... picked the gofe fruit from the trap ... . ... the man ... grabbed each one of them by the wrist. The girls ... tried to turn into different things – centipede, caterpillar, python. Then the two girls turned into water. {"Thetis turned successively into ... water ... and a serpent" (GM 81.k)} ... There was a banamo tree with red leaves the color of the bush fowl ... . ... "Hold onto me," she said, and she walked straight up the side of the tree as if it were the ground. ... they reached he top of the tree. There just beyond them was a place. The woman took a piece of gare leaf and with it ... they could alight. ... There was much namidama grass ... .

p. 245

... the woman’s father ... dug up some of the grass, making a hole. ... the man looked in the hole and was staring down at the ground below the sky land." Having returned onto the ground below, the man mourned there

p. 246

and died. His ghost returned to the sky land".

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

pp. 254-255 origin of food by cannibalism

p. 254

A boy "was wandering around shooting grasshoppers with a small bow."

p. 255

The boy was climbing up a "tamo palm ..., but he slipped and fell and died. The uga>ana and his wife cooked the boy. [The uga>ana’s wife] then cut up the heart into small pieces and planted it. ... later she went to look and saw that pitpit ... had sprouted."


[variant to this myth :] While climbing up a "tamo palm ... the boy ... slipped and fell and died. The little girl said to the uga>ana, "If you intend to eat the body, the give me only the lung and heart." He did so. The little girl ... cut the heart and lung into pieces and planted it. She ... returned to look ... . Food items had sprouted : sugarcane, aibika".

pp. 261-262 origin of gecko species

p. 261

"A ragianna bird-of-paradise alit and he shot it. The arrow hit and the bird fell below. He searched, but he could find neither the bird nor the arrow. Searching, he suddenly saw a young woman. ... The uga>ana ... instead shot a karia, a black bird. The bird fell down and the uga>ana descended to find it. Searching, an ugly black woman appeared.

... the uga>ana ... used a stick to wedge the log open. ... the uga>ana removed his axe and stick and the log closed up, trapping the man’s hand tight. ... The black woman decided to search for the other man and found him near death with his hand trapped in the log. [She released him.] The man then proceeded to carve a large cave from the stone."

p. 262

He discovered "a little old man. ... He turned into a mabera, a silent gecko. ... The other man ... turned an o>otoni, the singing gecko, and the sound he made was like the wind tinkling through the limestone stalagmites of caves."

pp. 195-197 myth of origin of the 2 types of poison for catching fish

p. 195

At "a large ko>oya tree in fruit" younger brother "saw a large flock of ga>are birds [Pesquet’s Parrot] ... and shot one of them.

{This myth of a red-feathered parrot’s entering a river to become anthropomorphic (so as to provide pearl-shells from the dream-world, according to p. 70), might suggest that [Kic^e` god] Vucub Cakix’s wife is [the Maya aequivalent to] the California abalone-goddess.}


But one of the prong’s broke off and the bird flew away."

"His Augustness Fire-Subside, undertaking the sea-luck, angled for fish, but never got a single fish; and moreover he lost the fish-hook in the sea." (K39, p. 146)


In order to seek the lost prong, the younger brother dived underwater in a river, and discovered therein an underwater town inhabited by deities.

"There will be a savoury august road; 5 and if thou goest in the boat along that road, there will appear a palace built like fishes' scales,—which is the palace of the Deity, Ocean-Possessor." (K40, p. 147)

p. 196

In the longhouse there, "he saw a man ... removing a mafu vine thorn from his leg. He then placed it over the doorway where the Usane emblem are usually kept. ... it was the sa>are prong that he had lost."

"On the throat of the tahi being thereupon examined, there was the fish-hook [in it]." (K40, p. 149)

p. 197

The younger brother’s fish-woman {mermaid} wife produced a deluge, which covered over even the tallest mountain, drowning him.

When his elder brother "was about to attack [His Augustness Fire-Subside, the latter] put forth the tide-flowing jewel to drown him" (K41, p. 153).

K39 = Kojiki 39

K40 = Kojiki 40

K41 = Kojiki 41

{[etymologies from the Puran.a :] with /USANe/ cf. /US`ANas/; with /USI/ cf. /US`Inara/}

pp. 276-277 "Origin of Pearl Shells" / "Place of Pearl Shells" [this is an elaborated rendition, "told in ... great secrecy" (p. 70), of the myth of the origin of fish-poisons]

p. 276

A poor man shot a female bush fowl. "One of the prongs of his arrow broke off in the bush fowl’s body and it flew off ... . He followed ... [to] a small house ... . Around the outside of the house, fragments of pearl shells and cowrie shells littered the ground ... . ... handsome ... a head-man ... was removing a thorn from his foot. ... Then the handsome man said, "I see to have stepped on a mafu thorn ... ." But the man looked above the door of the house and saw the prong of his arrow that had broken off in the bush fowl hanging up there. ... Inside the house was covered with pearl shells and cowrie ... .

p. 277

... the man said. "... At the Usane you will see a man who looks exactly like me. {For a person to have a divine double (= [Aztec] nahual) in the supernatural world, the twain having in both worlds the same name, is a commonplace theme of Papuan mythology.} My name is Kubirabiwi, or Kubiradare. ..." {with this "secret" name /KUBIRA/, cf. [Skt.] /KUBeRA/ and the Samothraikian mystery-gods the /KaBeIRoi/} ... That night a big rainstorm came ... . It carried Kubirabiwi’s house and all his shells with it."

{Note the gendre shift accompanying the shift between animal-form and anthropoid deity form : female bird became male human. (So, a male bird would become a female humanoid deity?)}

pp. 279-280 myth of how a man acquired the "heart of the pearl shell"

p. 279

A man sought "the heart of the pearl shell" by voyaging downstream.

p. 280

"He arrived at the spot where the river ran underground. {cf. Siberian shamans who travel downstream to where a river is descending into the netherworld} ... He looked up abruptly and saw high above a beautiful piece of red ground." "They went on foot toward the east and came up to a very steep valley. ... There were pearl shell flying all around them like birds, making a breeze ... . The young man took the long thin bamboo ... and speared one of the pearl shells." It was a "heart of the pearl shell".

STUDIES IN MELANESIAN ANTHROPOLOGY, 5 = James F. Weiner : The Heart of the Pearl Shell : the Mythological Dimension of Foi Sociality. U of CA Pr, Berkeley, 1988.