Sorrow of the Lonely [the Kaluli of upper Hegigo-Kikori & Isawa-Waso rivers, north of mt. Bosavi in Papua]

[/ae/ and /o/ repraesent vowels for which IPA symbols are used]







man, men



actual, real



domestic pigs


















"shadow or reflection"



gone; spirit

pp. 96-97 spirit-animals

p. 96

" "... In their [the birdsí] world, ... To each other, they appear as men."

Similarly, houses in our world appears as exceptionally big trees or as river pools to them, and we as animals there."

p. 97

"When asked what the people of the unseen world look like, Kaluli will point to a reflection in a pool or mirror and say, "... They are like that."

In the same way, our human appearance stands as a reflection to them."


"In the unseen world, every man has a reflection in the form of a wild pig (women appears as cassowaries) {so, in the spirit-world, are females of wild pigs and males of cassowaries the only true instances of their own species?} that roams invisibly on the slopes of Mt. Bosavi. ... if something should happen to the wild pig, the man is also affected. If it is caught in a trap, he is disabled; if it is killed hunters of the unseen {are these true deities?}, he dies." {this is the "tonal" of the Aztec metaphysics; also known in the Wayana (Orinoco-to-Amapa` region) of South America}

pp. 97-98 spirits of the dead

p. 97

"the ane kalu (gone men) ... are the spirits of the dead ... . According to mediums who have seen them, the ane kalu appear just as men but wear no shell ornaments. They build their aas (trees and pools) on the same ridges and plateaus as the Kaluli aas. Their trees and pools are well known to the Kaluli, who will point them out and name some of the ane who live there."

p. 98

ane persons who appear to humans as birds :



is ane __


"with masklike facial markings"

Gisaro dancers


palm cockatoo

wearer of large headdess



"man with a big nose"


"solitary parrot with blood-red plumage"

murdered man

pp. 98-99 seíances with spirits of the dead and with others

p. 98

"Knowledge of and access to the invisible world occasionally come to individuals in special dream (never in myths or tales), but for most purposes the Kaluli rely on mediums. The medium is always a man who is married (in a dream) to a woman of the invisible world. When he has a child by her, he is able to go to sleep, leave his body, and walk about in the mama world. At the same time, the people from the invisible world may enter his body as they would a house and converse through his mouth with people assembled for a seance.

All the men, women, and children of the longhouse are present. Gathered about the prostrate form of the medium in the darkened aa, they can talk with their dead relatives. ... They often ask where their dead relatives are staying, what form they have taken, and if they have enough to eat. People also ask about those among the living who are sick (ane can see what is wrong and help cure it), the whereabouts of stray pigs ... . ...

Other ane kalu, those who have always lived on the invisible side and have never been alive (hen bis^o, or "those of the ground"), also come to

p. 99

seances and speak. They are usually spirit in-laws or acquaintances of the medium, since it is a hen bis^o woman (not a spirit of the dead) whom he marries."

pp. 99-101 other spirits

p. 99

"Besides ..., there are the kalu hungo, which may be roughly translated as "dangerous, forbidden men." ... Those who have seen them say that they are generally light-skinned and or larger that average size. Kalu hungo are characteristically more bad-tempered than ane kalu and generally keep to themselves unless they are provoked by someone trespassing to fish or plant gardens in their area. The Solo Stream near Sululib on the lands of the Bono clan is owned by a kalu hungo named Howae; he lives invisibly in a huge tree near a waterfall with two of his brothers. The people of Bono are forbidden to plant the banks of the Solo for the entire length of the stream or to drink or fish its waters. ... An angry hungo rumbles like distant thunder, his voice coming from somewhere in the further canopy. ...


Finally, in the unseen world there are the somewhat mysterious mamul people, who live in big invisible aas on Mt. Bosavi. ... While they are not ill-disposed ..., they remain aloof and do not speak through mediums. The Kaluli ... think of mamul reflections as being found in our world. The mamul appear in the Kaluli world mainly in the form of ... the cassowary and the wild pig. {thus, distinct from the spirit-cassowaries and spirit-wild-pigs on p. 97} The noise of their

p. 100

ceremonies ... can be heard as a tremendous crashing of tropical thunder that shatters the air and shakes the aa." [cf. p. 143 "everyone knows that thunder is the stamping and shouting of the mamul people from Mt. Bosavi".] The Kaluli visit the area frequented by the mamul on the Mt. Bosavi ..., but they always observe certain ritual precautions. No woman may accompany them, and they must use a special secret language among themselves and observe a special kinship terminology. If they do not, the mamul may ... cause huge rocks or trees to roll down the mountainside."

"The mamul and the Kaluli stand in a particular complementary relationship, for ... as the Kaluli kill wind pigs, so do the mamul die; as the mamul kill wild pigs, so do the Kaluli die. ... From time to time, the mamul held a bau aa to hunt animals on one or another big hill in Kaluli territory. This would generally be discovered by mediums who went out into the invisible side ... . When the mamul had a bau aa, it resulted in a kind of epidemic among the Kaluli, whose wild pig reflections the mamul hunted. Many people died. When the mamul bau aa had run its course, the Kaluli would themselves hold a bau aa. This was ... to take retribution, for as the Kaluli youths hunted, so the mamul died."

pp. 101-104 shadow-creatures

p. 101

"A sei is a living man (occasionally a woman) who, often unknown to himself, has ... a kind of shadow creature (sei inso, witch-child) dwelling in his heart. When he is asleep, this creature takes his form and creeps invisibly out of his body and abroad in the night, looking for victims. ... A sei can be seen in its human form only by people who are deathly ill or have the special ability to see into the invisible. They describe a sei on the prowl as a crouching, creeping figure with glowing eyes, clutching hands, and a face distorted in a hideous grimace."

p. 102

"The Kaluli say that most of the time a personís body is "dark" to the sei so that he [the sei] cannot see it well. But if a man is excessively angry and upset, if he is ill in a minor way, or if his wild pig reflection has been trapped or wounded, his body becomes "bright" to the sei, so that he [the sei] can see it easily to attack. The sei attacks ..., but ... damage is visible only in the mama world, although the effects are manifested in this one. ... When the victim has been seriously weakened by illness, the sei returns to pull out his heart and cause his death. Afterward he [the sei] sits invisibly on the edge of the exposure coffin and dines on the decomposing corpse."


"Sometimes the dying man will speak the name of the sei in his last moments as he sees him creeping up to take his heart, or he may reveal it posthumously through a medium."

pp. 103-104 paranormal perceptions


" "I know when I am going to go out [to the ane side]," one medium said, "because when I look up at the rafters of the aa, it seems like I am looking up at the surface of a pool. Then suddenly like falling off an entrance ladder, I am on the ground as though fallen under the house, and there is my ane friend, Seyakalewo."


[perception by a medium :] "When [a woman] was sick, I went out and saw that a sei had put a stone in her throat.

p. 104

... she was split down the middle and the stone just put in the place of her throat. ... I took the stone out and pressed the body back together. In the next morning, ... she was all right."

p. 104 [a laymanís explanation :] "when it rains, I was told, the water comes from the Sili, the great river that flows invisibly through the mamul country. ... every time it overflows its banks, the water comes as rain to us."

pp. 106-107 world-panorama viewed by a spirit-medium

p. 106

["A mediumís perception of the invisible side" :] "Instead of vast forest lands, the invisible world is ... covered with high grass. The sky, rather than having the appearance of a blue vault, looks like the crown foliage of a thick forest as viewed from a distance. ... The rivers of the Bosavi area appear in the invisible as broad roads (completely unlike the almost imperceptible forest tracks used by the Kaluli) {compare the Maya system of roads through the jungle of Yucatan}, all leading downstream to the west, one from each aa. ... According to one medium, these roads are the routes of the reflections of the dead who must pass down them as soon as they have died. All converge in a single road of the dead (the Isawa River) that leads far to the west and terminates in a vast, all-consuming fire called Imol. There the dead are consumed before they are renewed and returned as ane kalu, whose visible reflections are birds in a tree or fish in a pool."


"Typically, a man who is so sick that he cannot walk is discovered by the medium to have had his legs cut off by a sei. Most people know that the medium sticks the invisible legs back onto the sick man to cure him ... . According to my informant, who had done it many times, the sei usually ... hides them for a while. When the medium discovers them, they are

p. 107

stinking and decomposing, but he takes them to the river Sili and washes them in its water {cf. "water-of-life of Tane"} until they come up clean and whole. Then he takes the legs down the road of the dead to Imol and warms them into life. They may then be pressed onto the body of the sick man to make him well."

pp. 127-128 sei

p. 127, fn. 4

"Kaluli describe the sei inso, the sei creature that resides in a manís heart and makes him a sei, as something like a leech. ... one can become a sei by accidentally drinking water that has a leech in it. (This is how women are though to become seis.)"

p. 127

"Nearly all seis are men. When his sei aspect creeps out of his body at night, it emerges ... from the penis. ...

p. 128

"A prowling sei appears as a kind of ugly loner on the spirit side ... . By contrast, a medium enters the invisible by virtue of his connections with its inhabitants, through marriage to his spirit wife. ... The medium leaves his body through his anus "like the door of his aa."" {among the Philistines, who regarded city-gates at sacrosanct, golden haimerrhoids were manufactured as objects of worship}

pp. 212-217 ane mana

p. 212

"Ane mama are believed to sometimes come and watch ceremonies invisibly from the rafters of the aa. (They are said to be called by the miyowo before they leave their longhouse for the ceremony ... .) ... Occasionally an ane person will contribute a song or a bit of magic to a dancer through a medium".

p. 214

"the man at the waterfall ... was a kalu hungo or an ane person ... . {cf. Marere-o-Tonga} ... It was from this man by the waterfall that the hunter obtained the first olo saesaelo ... . The olo saesaelo is ... a piece of rock crystal ... as a gift from a soul of the dead to one of his relatives that is living. ... The olo saesaelo is the magical object that ... enables the dancers (who suck on their olo saesaelo when they are practicing) to ... remember all their songs."

p. 215

["According to a medium who has seen it :"] "When a man dies, his soul doesnít go out the door of the aa and down the entrance ladder. Rather he rinds himself suddenly under the house as if he had fallen there. As he ... takes his small bag of possessions, dogs of the house gather round him barking (because he didnít give them much food in life) and chase him off to the Isawa River. The Isawa appears not as river but as a wide, white road. The dogs chase the soul far down-stream. As he gets toward the end, ... ane mama gathered there blow on the dormant embers of a huge fire called Imol, which is built in the water, and it bursts into enormous flame. The dogs chase the soul into the fire, where it is burned to a crisp. Meanwhile, among the ane people who have been watching is a young woman, who, seeing the man running, has taken a fancy to him and wants him for a husband. Ane people may enter the fire without harm {cf. goddess Itz-papalotl who entered fire without harm in order to attempt to retrieve a man for herself}, and so she takes the burnt remains of the soul, wraps them in soft yellow leaves, and puts them in a little net bag. The she carries him back up the Isawa, stopping at each (spirit) aa on the way to attend a Gisaro. At each performance ane men dance while those ane women who have dead souls ... in their net bags sit ... and chorus the dancer ... .

p. 216

These Gisaro ceremonies are intended to make the burnt remains of the souls grow up into a man again. ... The soul is then washed with water drawn from the Sili, so that he cannot be seen by living men, and his tongue is cut so that he cannot speak with a human voice but only as a ... bird. {Tereus cut the tongue of his wife Prokne so that she could not speak (GM 46.b); she became a swallow-bird (GM 46.d).} He is then married to the woman who brought him in the net bag".

p. 216, fn. 2

["about women" (who had died) :] "it was a man who rescued the female soul from the fire, and so forth."

p. 217

[informantís own experience of being cured :] "Once when he was very ill, he heard a noise and, looking up ..., ... found ... his ane wife beside him with a net full of his dismembered body parts, which she had brought to put together." {with this dream, apparently of "false-awakening", cf. dismembered hero re-assembled by his own wife in the Kalevala}

p. 216 "a medium cures illness by restoring the missing pieces of a manís invisible body, which have been dismembered by a sei. He does this by first locating the missing parts, cleansing them of decay in the invisible river Sili, and then warming them back to life in the Imol fire before sticking them back on the body."

Edward L. Schieffelin : The Sorrow of the Lonely and the Burning of the Dancers. St. Martinís Pr, NY, 1976.