2. Economic Organization
Systems of Production
How are work responsibilities generally divided among the people?
a. Men: The mens' responsibilities primarily consist of going into a new area with machete and axe to cut away all brush and smaller
trees. After it has dried the men will help the women in piling and burning the bush. Longer fal- len trees will be cut up with axe and
carried away. The men are also primarily involved in planting the taro, build- ing the fence around the garden, and harvesting. Rituals
performed to insure a good harvest are the mens job as well.
b. Women: The women help in the job of clearing the ground and burning the brush. They will take their machetes and clean the garden
ground down to the dirt preparing it for planting. During fence building, the women will get the rope for tying the fence together. They
will also prepare food for fence workers. They help in the planting and will come back to weed later. They generally harvest the food and
carry it back home.
c. When a garden is divided up into sub-plots, those who own that area are responsible to work it, including the teenagers within a
family. d. The people tend to help each other with preparing a garden because of the size of the job.
2. House building
a. Men: The men will get the main poles for the house frame cut and prepared for building. They will work the walls, etc.
b. Women: They will get the leaves together for the roof and help in preparing them for use. They also clear the ground for building.
3. Miscellaneous types of work:
a. Men make more of the ritual objects, tools, weapons and most musical instruments.
b. Women make most of the cooking utensils
c. Men and women make their own clothes
d. Men do most of the hunting and fishing
e. Women generally do the food preparation and cooking
f. Men are basically responsible for the supernatural medi- cine.
Are there certain people who specialize in different types of work?
There are individuals who seem to specialize in making different items such as: drums, shields, spears.
Do they go to other places to find work? What kind of work?
They travel to Kimbe, Kandrian, Rabaul, Kombe and other places. Most of the work done in these areas involves the coconut or palm oil
industry. The Kombe people will hire them for various tasks including gardening or helping in the process of making string shell money.
What are their work habits like?
1. A typical days work would be spent in the garden. On the average a two hour day, six day week is considered a normal work pattern.
2. They often help each other and ask for help with major gardening projects.
3. Laziness (by their standard) is not socially acceptable. They will gossip about the lazy man until he is ashamed enough to work and
provide for his family.
What kind of money or capital is used among the Loko people?
1. Probably the most important type of "capital" used by the people in everyday buying and trading is the large "epne" shell. It's value
is graded by size, color and appearance. The newer and larger ones being the more expensive. They are used to buy anything from
tobacco, to fines, to wives. This shell is very important within the culture and is often prefered over other types of capital.
2. The "mokmok" stone could be the most valuable possession of a Loko man or woman. It is passed down the family line from
generation to generation. It is a round flat (quartz) stone with a bevelled edge and a hole in the middle. The people do not know where
they have come from originally and some say that "God" put them down here for them to find. They come in all sizes and of course the
larger the stone the more valuable. Its great value ($100-$1000 depending on whom you ask) seems to be attributable to its hardness and
mysterious origin. These stones are generally held by the clan leader and are rarely seen but have great significance in relation to land
ownership. They are also used in various customs. Certain stones have their own name and represent the authority of the clan leader
over the land he bosses.
On special occasions they are used as decorations for a "big man" and are worn around the waist and neck. They have been used in a
"contest of wealth". Two parties trying to settle a wrong will use their wealth to "out do" the other. This can culminate with showing
very large shells or the "mokmok" stone. If the other party can't match the others wealth, he is greatly ashamed and loses. This stone
has been used in the past to pay for a murderers "wrong" so that he shouldn't die for it. It is also used to pay sorcerers to murder
someone using black magic.
3. The string of small shell is becoming almost as important in everyday purchasing as the "epne" shell. This has been more recently
introduced into the Loko culture by travelers coming from the north coast. Its value is graded by the quality, color and length of the
string. It's used in purchasing just about anything the "epne" shell would purchase although the larger shell still seems to be preferred
above the other.
4. PNG currency is also very important now to the people in that purchasing of food, etc. from most stores can only be done with this
money. Some of our people are also beginning to bank their money in hopes of creating capital reserves for future use as well.
5. There are other types of wealth used in purchasing and trading such as pigs, etc.
Systems of Exchange
What are the people's major sources of income?
The selling of produce or wild meat, dogs or livestock would still be their main sources of income although they still work for others as
Travelling to other locations is often done to work for plantations, the government, factories, etc.
Harvesting bush material (i.e. certain tree bark to make pig nets) and selling to those interested.
Do they trade items for other then money?
They trade for just about anything. Someone might be short of sweet potato and so would ask another to trade for say betel nut.
Trading is done with food, drums, shells, etc.
Who do they generally trade or buy/sell with?
Buying and selling or trading is usually done in their immediate area but they will travel to where there is a better market or variety as
well. For example when traveling to Kombe, someone might take much tobacco with him to trade for string shell money which is made in
In the past trading was very limited due to inter-tribal warfare but government prohibits warfare now. This allows for traveling and
trading throughout the island.
Are there any cases of silent barter within the culture?
None that we could discover.
Are there any cases of exchanges taking place before validation? If so how is it then validated?
Yes, as in the case of a marriage. It is not valid until the bride price has been received by her family.
What is their view of material and incorporeal possessions?
(i.e. private and communal property)?
Private ownership is a part of the Loko culture. Most of the possessions of a Loko man are owned by him and his family alone. Though
they have very little by western standards but most of what they do own is owned personally. Stealing is punished when discovered.
Some items are also group owned and thus available to all.
What kind of things are privately and publicly owned?
Privately owned: hunting and fishing equipment, cooking utensils, clothes, food, gardens, trees, land, musical instruments, money,
shells, ceremonial garments and decorations, dogs, pigs, etc.
Incorporeal Possessions: Songs, incantations,
Publicly owned: mokmok stones are usually clan owned, ceremonial masks (warku), community building, i.e. church, houseboy,
What types of ritual objects do they possess?
Pig teeth, various masks for different customs,
sacred objects: Warku mask, Warku voice, bones of dead ancestors, mokmok stone, Yakau voice,
Are there any rights to economic utilization of land?
In the past land and water use among the people apparently wasn't a problem. The land was free to use in gardening, hunting and
fishing. But since the government has been encouraging the people to live together in villages, land ownership rights and utilization are
an increasing problem as different ones are seeking to establish land ownership..
How do the people view borrowing and lending?
Borrowing/lending is pretty much the same among the Loko as it is throughout PNG. The "wantok" system is generally the code of
ethics. Someone would come to ask another for something and the other would generally feel obligated to give it. The borrower would
then either return the item later or give something else to the lender at a later date. The lender would feel obligated to lend or give
because of shame. If he didn't give it then the other man would tell others how stingy he is. If he gives it then the man would tell others
how wonderful he is.
There are exceptions to this scenario of course. As in the case of the begger who never pays back or is asked of things but never has
anything to lend or give. Or the man of another culture who shuns the "wantok" system.
If someone doesn't want to give something to the borrower he will usually lie about not having the item. Lying is usually the way a Loko
would refuse a borrower.
Family ties will also influence the people in this area. A man would feel more obligated to help his father-in-law then his little brother.
Social status of the borrow often influences the lender as well.
What are their inheritance rules like?
The first born of the children will generally distribute the inheritance when his father dies.
In the case of a single dying, his possessions will be distributed among other family members.
Possessions usually stay within the immediate family first.
Payback for services rendered to the deceased will often influence who gets what.
Land inheritance will follow the first born line. From first born Fr/Mo to first born So/Da.
How do the Loko people use their wealth?
Practical uses: Most obviously for everyday needs, food, clothing, tools, etc. It is also used to pay fines, settle arguments, to impress
others to gain status, to buy wives. (See Economic Org., Systems of Prod., Capital)
Ritual uses: Most of the customs done among the people which involves instruction to kids or which mark a period of growth in his life
will involve some sort of wealth. Trading shells upon the death of someone, showing ones wealth in order to settle a disagreement, to
pay for a wrong done against the spirits.
(See World View, Types of Customs for more info.)
Are there any instances of "cargo cultism" among the Loko people?
Some of the people have heard stories about it but there doesn't seem to be any history of the people adhering to this thinking in this
area in the past.
How could their philosophy of economics generally be summed up?
There is a desire to be economically successful within Loko society. The motivation for this success (aside from buying power) is a
desire for social recognition. A wealthy man's name is often mentioned as they say.
An economically successful Loko man would have plenty of "epne" shells. These shells basically come to him by his raising pigs and
selling the meat. He would also travel to other locations with trade items to collect more shells. A man who is diligent in these activities
will have many shells and so have a good standing in society.
On the other hand, a man who is lazy in this business and is thus always short on shells, etc., would have a low social standing and
would be referred to as a "poor, nothing" man.
So the men are exhorted by their fathers to work hard at this way of life. To provide well for his wife and children so the children can be
strong and healthy and so be able to help support the family when they get older. To be able to take the fathers place and carry on after