1. Material Culture
Housing and Community Settings
Types of Community Settings
What is the population of the Loko tribe?
Estimated to be approximately 2000 to 2200 (1986).
What are the borders and general topography of the tribe/dialect?
1. The Loko dialect is bordered between the Anu river on the west, the Alimbit river on the east, the coast on the south and the
mountains running through the island centrally on the north.
2. The Kaulung are east of the Alimbit river and the Lamogai are west of the Anu river.
3. The topography of the land is general flat nearer the coast while becoming more hilly and mountainous further inland. There are two
major rivers: the Anu and Alimbit. There are also many smaller tributaries and streams.
Where are the population centers located?
1. The major population centers are along the main road coming from Kandrian as well as along the coast.
2. There are 18 main villages located along main travel routes along with 11 secondary villages inside the bush.
Where are we located as regards distances in relation to surrounding villages?
1. Mang village is located on the northern edge of the Loko population.
2. Mang in relation to other villages (measured by travelling time in hiking):
a. 9-10 hours from beach
b. 6-8 hours from Marowo
c. 4 hours from Molo on main road
d. 3 hours to main road
e. 3 hours to Giring
f. 2 1/2 hours to Awanglo
g. 1 hour to Widat #1
h. 1/2 hour to Widat #2
i. 10 minutes to Daulos Mede
j. 5 minutes to Palakulo
What are some characteristics of villages?
1. Villages tend to be located close to good drinking water as well as bathing water.
2. Villages tend to have at least one "haus boy" along with several married couple houses.
3. Villages seem to be situated on the property of the clan leader. This land was handed down to him from previous generations who
acquired the ownership from God. The others live there because they consider it their land as well.
4. There is an out house and garbage spot for each house.
5. They usually get their drinking water from spring fed pools usually not more than a 10 minute walk from the village.
6. Gardens are generally planted about a 10-30 minute walk from the village.
7. Most villages have limited access to medical facilities (but usually not more than a 2 hour walk away).
8. They presently have access to stores at Kandrian, Esli, Molo and Mang.
9. Villages tend to be set up with a core of houses and hamlets surrounding it.
10. Old villages tend to evolve into cemeteries. Akrakame is an old village but is generally referred to as a grave yard now.
What leads the people to live in a certain area?
1. A clan leader tends to live on the land he has inherited from his ancestors.
2. All those within that clan leaders line tend to live along with him on his land as they interpret it as being their property as well.
Example: The people of Mang generally belong to Angus' line.
The people of Widat #2 are from Moses' line.
The people of Widat #1 are from Mayang's line.
Flora and Fauna?
Lots of Coconuts, bananas, papaya, pineapples, kapiok, buai, etc. etc. with lots of bush. Good timber is still plentiful outside main
Types of Buildings and Construction
What kind of houses do the Loko people build?
1. There are 3 basic types of housing construction presently used.
a. Shed roof: a more temporary shelter with or without walls. Used for a shelter in a garden, as an out house, menstrual
house,temporary "haus cook", or shelter from the weather. The materials for this house are generally more temporary in nature (i.e. rot
faster). It is usually built with what is presently at hand. There is also a larger ver- sion used as a more permanent structure with walls
and better materials.
b. Peaked roof house on the ground: generally has walls and is more permanent in nature. It is used for homes, school, church.
Materials are more carefully chosen. Poles and posts are from longer lasting wood and the thatch is better quality. More rope is used
c. House on stilts: built with a permanent frame and thatch roof, (few by comparison). Materials used: walls are gener ally plank or
sometimes bamboo. Limbum floor. Use mostly nails. The government encourages this type of construction for health reasons.
d. Round house: a construction used in the past but rarely now. It is built without corners, having a round roof peak- ed from the
center. There are none in the immediate area presently.
2. The most commonly used form of house construction is the stick house built on the ground. It is the easiest to make of a more
permanent nature. The people are beginning to build more of the "house on stilts" variety in Mang as of late.
What are some common "taboos" related to houses?
1. Menstrual house: Women are basically responsible for making it. It's not good for men to go in or see it, for fear of getting sick.
2. House on stilts: If a persons inlaws are under the house, then that person can't go on top or he will be higher then his inlaw. Also, it
is wrong for a woman to be above the man because of her possibly being in menstruation. For then the man would get sick.
3. House boy: Girls are generally not allowed in the house.
Food and Food Customs
Range of Diets
What are their most important foods?
1. Taro is the most important food to them. Then would come the various other foods grown in their garden such as: greens, sweet
potato, yams, sugar, corn, beans, etc.
2. Pig meat is the most important meat to them but just about anything that walks, flies or swims is a source of meat. Cannibalism is
reportedly not practiced among the Loko. At least we haven't experienced it yet.
3. Store bought food is eaten especially when their gardens haven't produced yet.
4. Ginger root is a multi-purpose food. It is also used as a medicine. Different tree saps are used for sores as well.
What foods do they "tamboo"?
When someone chooses (out of grief for the loss of a loved one) to refuse to eat a certain food for a period of time, they generally
choose pig meat. Though other foods are refused as well.
Production and Gathering
How do the people get their food?
1. Fundamentally the Loko people are subsistence farmers. Each family will usually work at least 1 garden at a time. Often a family will
have 2 gardens. One for planting and another for harvesting.
2. They are also hunters and gatherers especially during times when their gardens are between harvests.
What are their methods of gardening?
1. They use the "slash and burn" method of farming. After clearing the ground, a fence will be built around the area to keep out pigs.
Then they will plant it.
2. Generally, a garden plot will be used once before moving on to another area. If the fence is rotted, then the area is left for several
years before planting again. If the fence is strong yet, then they'll do another planting.
3. Each larger garden is broken up into smaller "rooms" where different farmers will plant and harvest.
How do the seasons effect gardening?
The work of farming goes on throughout the year but it appears that during the rainy season work slows down considerably.
Is there any symbolic significance to food, etc.?
Fire and taro are very important to the people. Fire is fundamental to the Loko family. The fire in a family's house represents the man's
fathers and has sacred significance. Treating in "disrespectfully" demands a fine. Taro is also basic and is sometimes sent with a
message to give weight to the talk. The receiver of the message should not refuse.
(See Social Org., Marriage, Divorce on use of fire)
Are there any rituals involved in gardening?
Gardening is very central to the Loko culture. There are several rituals followed by the people (esp. the older generation) while
planting the taro. The help of Arumog (God) is elicited to cause a good harvest. Different plants, especially ginger, play an important
role in ritual.
More will be said in World View concerning these rituals.
What methods of gathering are used?
1. They use sling shots, spears (for fishing and hunting), blow guns for birds, hooks for fish, small hand held nets for crayfish, large
pig nets, bare hands, dog and spear for pig.
2. Types of traps:
a. Sticky sap on a stick (for birds)
b. Triggered cage
c. Sprung sapling with noose (for pig)
d. Trigger device with a pole falling (for pig or ?)
e. Sharpened sticks on inside of garden fence (for pig)
f. Fish net
g. Pig net
Do they raise their own animals?
1. They raise chickens: to eat, for eggs, to sell.
2. They raise pigs: to eat, sell, trade, for ceremonies.
3. They raise dogs: for hunting.
What methods are used in food preparation?
1. Meat and vegetables are:
a. roasted on an open fire
b. steam cooked (mumued)
d. wrapped in leaves or bark and heated on open fire
What methods are used in food preservation?
The only method we've discovered is that they heat and reheat later as in the case of pig meat. They don't really smoke it so it stays
good for up to 3 days.
What do they do with their food?
1. They feed themselves, family, extended family, friends and strangers with it.
2. They sell it.
3. They feed their animals with it.
Is food used in performing their rituals or in other ways?
1. By being a provider of food to others, a mans status is raised within the community.
2. They use it in dating and pre-marriage customs.
3. It is central to almost every important ceremony within the Loko culture.
More will be said in World View concerning these rituals.
Clothing and Personal Adornment
What is considered "everyday garb" for men, women and kids?
1. Men and boys generally wear shorts and shirt. Laplap are sometimes worn, too.
2. Women and girls will wear laplap, grass skirts, sometimes blouses.
What do they wear to ceremonies?
1. Idealy along with normal garb, a man would wear his dog tooth necklace, pig teeth around his neck, ebne shells, and bead belt.
2. The dead are usually dressed in their or someone else's best for the burial.
What are some other types of adornment?
1. Mokmok's (round flat quartz stone with hole), bird feathers, large and small shells on strings, spear and shield, tattoos, hair styles,
necklace, arm bands, head bands, earrings, black teeth, coconut oil.
2. Special hats and decorations are created for singsing purposes.
What is their attitude toward nudity?
Young children usually run around with or without clothes. Men are modestly covered. Unmarried women and married women without
children are modestly covered while married women with children are permitted to be topless. This is acceptable within the community.
Travel and Transportation
What is the experience of the Loko people as regards traveling?
1. Of the men questioned, the majority have seen the major towns of New Britain. Percentage wise it would look like this:
a. 80% have seen Kimbe
b. 80% have seen Kombe
c. 100% have seen Kandrian
d. 70% have seen Rabaul
e. 10% have seen Lae
2. Of the women questioned, the majority have not seen the major towns of New Britain. Percentages:
a. None have seen Kimbe
b. 25% have seen Kombe
c. 100% have seen Kandrian
d. None have seen Rabaul
e. None have seen Lae
This only represents those questioned in our immediate area.
How do they travel? What means do they use?
The modes of travel available to them are: plane, ship, car, motor bike, bicycle, raft, outrigger canoe, sail canoe, walking.
The people generally like to travel. Those that have seen a lot of places seem to be more respected for it.
1. Of the seven men questioned:
a. All have travelled by ship
b. All have travelled by car
c. Three have travelled by plane
d. Most have travelled by the other means as well
2. Of the four women questioned:
a. Two have travelled by ship
b. Three have travelled by car
c. None have travelled by plane
What are some of their reasons for traveling?
1. To market to buy and sell.
2. To work, make money and buy goods.
3. For hunting/gathering purposes to find food.
4. To trade for shells to work customs with them.
Are there any special customs in walking alone or with others?
1. They usually walk single file with the men often leading.
2. When arriving at someone's home or when walking through the bush, both men and women will make noises to make their presence
known. They will cough, spit, whistle, sing, clear their throat, etc.
Are there any methods for transporting items?
1. Goods such as garden foods are carried in baskets on the woman's head. Men usually carry heavy items on their shoulders.
2. Sick people can be carried outright or on makeshift stretchers.
Who tends to travel the most?
Men, both young and middle aged seem to do the most traveling.
Tools, Weapons, Machines, Utensils
What tools are indigenous to the Loko people?
Bush ropes, bone knives for digging, digging sticks, stone axes, special stick to gather bread fruit, large stick with hook for climbing
trees or pulling brush, brooms.
What else do they work with now?
Steel axes and knives, rakes, hammers, saws, etc.
What weapons are used?
The spear and shield are still the primary weapons used. Women will use large sticks to club with in a fight. Slings and sharpened
clubs have been used in the past. Bone knives are used in close combat. Axes and machetes are also used.
What utensils do they use?
Bamboo knife, bamboo water container, woven baskets, tobacco dryer, clam shell for scraping food, pots for cooking, bone spoon,
wooden mixing bowl, tongs, coconut water container. They still make most of their own containers and utensils yet though new items
are being purchased from our community service facility as well as stores in other areas.
What machines if any do they use?
1. Our studies have not discovered anything very complex in the area of machines. Though very simple "machines" have been
invented to make work easier. We have categorized them under "tools" though.
2. Some of the people have become familiar with our various types of machines in the process of working for us.
Crafts and Trades
What do they make their textiles from?
They make beaten bark laplaps, woven bed mats from coconut palms, wall mats or floor material from different types of split bamboo.
What do they use stones, bone or glass for?
Stones are used in "mumuing" food. Sharpened stone has been used in the past as ax heads. Bone is used as utensils and are
sometimes carved with designs.
How are different vegetations from the bush used?
1. split their own planks from certain timber types.
2. make spears and axe handles
3. different types of musically instruments:
a. Jews harp
b. bamboo flutes
c. different types of drums
4. bowls for food
5. bark laplaps, grass skirts
6. different sorts of baskets
9. items for children's play
10. many decorations, masks, clothing for special customs
How is land generally used?
The land is primarily used in gardening, cash crops, hunting and fishing, and burial grounds.