Methods of Recording and Communication
How do the Loko people send messages?
They tie knots in a vine for the messenger to remember by and he delivers the message. The messenger gets paid.
They send a messenger with shell money (a mother of peril or string money) to announce a death.
They send taro or a grass skirt, or burning wood along with the messenger (as these are very important to their daily lives). This is to
emphasize the importance of hearing the message.
Today they will often send a letter.
What are some other forms of communication?
The men make instruments out of bush materials to simulate the sound of spirits to cause the women to obey them.
They use shell horns to gather people from long distances and as a signal in pig hunting.
They come carrying a shell to announce a death.
While chopping down trees they sing to call others to come help.
Branches are placed in the grass roof of a men's house to taboo females from entering.
They block roads using sticks to form a fense.
They will place a long stick in the ground close to their houses so that no one will ask them for shells.
They taboo the eating of coconuts by tying a grass skirt or a burnt stick to the trunk. They may also find someone that can write and
make a sign.
They point with their hand, head, lips, or eyebrows.
Obscene gestures are made with their hands or eyes.
While approaching they make their presence known by coughing, spitting, chopping, whistling, blowing a flute, stomping their feet, or
They force themselves to cry to show grief.
Reckoning and Measurement
How do the Loko people keep track of time?
When calenders weren't (or aren't) available they keep track of the months by the pattern of certain vegetation or natural circumstances
peculiar to that month.
They kept track of time by counting the new moons. The Loko have a regular lunar year (ie. twelve moons in a yearly cycle). A new
lunar year starts in the month when the pitpit plant is ready to eat. This happens in our month of February. One year would be
translated "one pitpit plant". More recently, they mark a year by when Christmas comes.
The name for each month is discriptive of some aspect of the peoples environments or behavior that is peculiar to that month. For
example, the name for January means the pitpit plant fruit is just reached maturity so the people harvest just a few. February means the
people travel (because it's dry season). March means the people try eating the ingip tree nut. April is rainy season so the month name
means they build rafts to cross swollen rivers. May means the taro is not fully developed yet so it doesn't cook well. June means it's
heavy rainy season so the people don't travel because of bad roads. July means the taro is mature because the taro leaves have
changed color. August means the aigup tree leaves sprout again. September means the ocean is at high tide producing big waves.
October means the pitpit leaves stop growing because the fruit begins growing. November means the pitpit fruit is slightly produced.
December means the pitpit fruit is developing well.
They have no way of marking days of the week or weeks of the month. In the past they didn't record the dates of births or deaths.
They mark times of the day mostly by describing the suns position in the sky. They also use other things of their environment such as,
bird calls, sunshine on tree branches, sky color, people activity occurring at the time, darkness.
Do they have a counting system?
They do have a fairly efficient counting system which takes them to 100 easily. It could conceivably go higher but in the past there was
rarely a need to go even 100 high.
The system counts to 10 and then repeats the 1 through 9 series and then says 2 tens, etc. The number 15 would be said, 1 ten and 5, 16
would be 1 ten and 1 on top of 5. 17 would be 1 ten and 2 on top of 5 and so forth. There are variations in the way numbers are said.
They also use the "pidgin" english version of counting. It is also fairly well know.
How do they mark prices on items of trade?
Prices are set for produce and manufactured items by each individual. However there is a common price for most things. (see X-ref.
Epne shells are priced according to the size, color, condition, the newer being the more valuable.
String money is priced by the length and color and is consistently priced.
Do they have any standard of measurement?
The measure distance by the time it takes to travel from one point to another or by comparison to a known distance.
For measuring objects they use comparisons (compare for most things)
They have some standard quantities for selling produce (ie. bunch of bananas, food items sold in 4's or 2's, etc.).
Medicine and Surgery
What do they believe causes illnesses?
Evil spirits are most often the cause blamed for a sickness. Spirit inhabited objects or places are therefore tabooed and those sick are
often considered to have broken one of these taboos.
Evil Spirits are often blamed whether a taboo has been broken or not.
Another very common cause of sickness or death is black magic.
The eating of certain foods can also cause certain sicknesses.
Now, the more educated are realizing more scientific causes for sickness and death (ie. poor eating habits, various diseases, etc.).
How do they diagnose an illness?
Ginger root is very central to medicine and diagnosing sicknesses.
Most of the illnesses have been seen and treated in the past. The cause is usually (thought to be) known (ie. a particular evil spirit,
certain food, poisoning, black magic) and so a particular treatment is followed as was prescribed by the forefathers in the past.
Incantations over ginger root are used to determine if a sickness is the result of black magic or some other source.
Sleeping with prepared ginger root (prepared by saying incantations over it) can also reveal the spiritual cause of a sickness in a dream.
How do they treat illnesses?
A very common treatment for any sickness is the use of various ritual incantations most commonly spoken over ginger root. During the
incantations they often illicit the help of Arumong, Arising, or the dead ancestors to make the treatment efficacious.
The ginger root juice will either be spit or rubbed on the body or body part or the sick will drink the juice or eat the root. Lime powder is
also used in like manner by magically preparing it and applying to the effected part.
The power of the treatment primarily resides in the incantation coupled with the supernatural assistance. The ginger or lime powder
being only the "vehicle" through which healing may come. Some say, it has to be a good quality ginger root, too.
If black magic is suspect, then the witch doctor will try to "send back" the black magic to the sorcerer responsibility. He will do this by
saying any sorcerers names he can think of and then chase his bad magic away using special incantations.
Tamaras (evil spirits) living in certain places or plants or objects can also cause desease. These are sent away by the witch doctor using
similar methods as that used against black magic.
Sacrifices of shell money are sometimes given to appease the offended spirits causing the sickness.
Certain foods are abstained from out of fear that they could either create or aggravate a disease or condition.
Certain individuals have more knowledge of the rituals and jungle treatments used and are therefore called upon often.
How do they treat basic medical problems (headache, sores, cough, etc.)?
Certain "jungle" medicines are used to treat common problems. Incantations may or may not be involved with these medicines.
Juices from certain vines are commonly used to treat coughs, stomach aches, headaches.
Sap from certain vegetation is used on sores to heal them faster.
Heating of leaves and applying them to swollen areas helps relieve symptoms they say.
Do they have any form of insect prevention?
The most commonly used form of insect prevention is smoke.
Chewing and spitting ginger root juice or leaf daka juice at hornets (and other similar flying insects) chases them away.
The presence of certain vegetation tied up in a house will (supposedly) kill roaches.
What is their knowledge of poisons?
They use the juice from a certain vine for poison (most commonly used for paralizing fish and for suicide)
They also use acid from flashlight batteries or insecticide to poison an enemy. Other unknown substances are said to be used to poison
Are the Loko people concerned with sanitation?
Most houses have a garbage area as well as a toilet hole.
The women sweep the garbage from the house and living area.
The government encourages houses off the ground, toilets, and separate houses for cooking because of sanitation.
What is their knowledge of contagion prevention?
In as much as the people have their own views as to what causes sicknesses, they have set up their own system of taboos and
restrictions to combat disease. For example, the menstrual and birthing house and the customs surrounding it.
The government school teaches good health practices (hand over month when coughing etc.)
What is their knowledge of levers, etc.?
They use levers for moving heavy objects.
They carry heavy objects using poles.
They understand what types of wood are best for building (posts, roofs, etc.)
They know how to determine which way a tree will fall or to cause it to fall a certain direction.
History, Stories, Sayings, Songs
Do they have any record of history?
They do have many mythical stories (verbal record) that have been passed down from generation to generation. These myths seek to
explain the various aspects of the creation (both visable and invisable) around them such as:
Religion: stories and sayings that tell about their "god/s" and ancestors. How and why they are supplicated and how they help the
Cosmology: stories concerning the sun, moon, ocean, land that seek to explain reasons for their particular characteristics.
Anthropology: stories that seek to explain the clan origins and peculiar aspects to Loko culture.
Material Culture: stories of animals, plants that seek to explain the reasons for their particular characteristics and habits.
Supernatural: stories that tell of the evil supernatural forces at work in the Loko universe and how they interact with the material world.
Cultural: stories endeavoring to explain the basis for many of their customs and celebrations.
What are the Loko peoples basic philosophy of life?
1. The majority of Loko people are subsistence farmers.
2. They view their environment and explain their experiences by the supernatural: they are animistic in many ways, thus they are
surrounded by the supernatural. They are very ritualistic and try to alter their daily experiences through these rituals and incantations.
There is little creativity but they simply follow the customs of their ancestors. They say these were given to them by God.
3. Any capital gain is shared with others to raise ones status. Possessions are shared with the idea of some sort of pay back at some
later time. Thus much time is spent gathering shells and redistributing them. Much of the meaning of their rituals is lost but they are still
strictly adhered to by all.
What is the general character of the Loko religious system?
The Loko religious system is set up to follow really a mixture of supernatural forces. They are polytheistic, animisic, and they also
worship their ancestors.
They basically have two gods, one called Arumong and the other Arising. Arumong is their creator and provider. His attributes are very
similar to God. He is primarily involved in helping their food grow, although he helps with making medicine effective, hunting, and is
responsible for many origins. He is the greater of the two gods.
Most agree (though many are unclear) concerning his attributes that he is:
Arisig is the other of the two gods and is referred to as the "spirit of the wallaby". He is also said to help in many ways like Arumog (ie.
food, medicine, hunting) but is not equal to Arumog.
All are basically unclear concerning these gods (esp. Arising) though all agree that Arumong is far greater.
These two "gods" (particularly Arumong) are supplicated through their incantations said over various material objects. These objects
are then efficacious for the task at hand (ie. ritual medicine, ensuring a good taro harvest, finding a criminal).
These are the spirits of their departed ancestors. They are believed to be watching over the people and can help when need arises.
These can be supplicated (ie. for wild game) while walking through the jungle.
As a result of their belief that certain locations are inhabited by spirits and that certain plants actually have souls, their view of
everyday circumstances are interpreted in light of this knowledge. There is therefore a whole system of beliefs connected with this. For
example, if someone is badly sick, it is a good possibility that one of these spirits has caused it. Incantations will then be used to chase
the spirit away and heal the sick. These spirits primarily cause sickness, death or lunacy. There are therefore many taboos concerning
these places and plants. Offerings are also sometimes given to the plant causing the sickness in order to bring healing.
These spirits are considered bad and aren't supplicated for help in the same way as the ancestors, Arumong or Arising.
There are many customs and celebrations that are followed "religiously" though in most cases the real meaning behind the custom has
been lost or are unclear to them. Much the same as our "Halloween" would be.
These customs and celebrations tend to bring solidarity to the group and are a means of passing on to the next generation the
traditions of the ancestors.
The rituals and taboos of other missions in the area have been superimposed (to some extent) upon the people. These religious systems
are not distinct in the minds of the people from their own system but are rather syncretized together into a mass of requirements and
Through their religious beliefs and practices the peopel are endevoring to explain and gain control of the circumstances that invade
their everyday lives. On a whole, it is a system of works geared to make this life as problem free as possible. The next life is not of great
concern because all will die and go to Namolo just the same. Some are aware of Heaven and Hell through Mission influence but aren't
sure what to think.
(See World View, Rituals for more info.)
Do the Loko people believe that man has a soul?
It is commonly believed among the Loko people that all men have another dimension of life besides the physical body. This "soul" may
sometimes leave the body. They believe this happens when they dream. The soul also leaves the body when a person dies. It then goes
to the place of the departed dead (this is also where one goes when one dreams, they believe this because they see the departed dead
there) The soul has a consciousness after death, and is able to see and think. The soul is thought to be a persons thoughts or perhaps
his breath which according to their way of thinking has knowledge. Their ancestors believed that their souls would go eat the body of
someone who dies.
After a person has died he is now just a soul or spirit. The people also call them yuwuns. The dead persons spirit is now a yuwun living
in the jungle.
(See World View, Spirits/Gods for more info)
Do they believe in an afterlife?
They are very unsure as to the nature of the afterlife but believe that there is an abode of the departed where their ancestors are. It is
the same place they go when they dream. Some believe that this place is somewhere in the jungle. Parts of it are good and parts of it are
bad. Some believe it may be close to America. Some believe they will have white skin when they go there.
They view the behavior of individuals in the afterlife as just a continuation of this life. Those who were good in life will be good in
Namolo and visa versa.
Most contend that the condition of those in Namolo is good. There is food to eat, houses with copper roofs, some say they work,
others say they just lay around. There is much conjecture and no one really knows.
Missions have taught them that those that are good go to heaven, those that are bad go to hell.
What do they believe about spirits and gods?
According to the Loko world view there are five types of spiritual beings. These beings are not clearly defined in their own minds.
1. Tamara: Is the evil spirit of a large snake that usually lives close to or in the water. (sometimes used synonymously with "ekle") This
spirit has the ability to think and to reside in or out of it's body. It may also enter other material objects, as well as animals or humans.
The tamara spirit often attacks children and may cause death, sickness or lunacy. Only affects those that go near it. Eating an animal
indwelt by a tamara can cause sickness or death.
Incantations using ginger root is used to cast out this evil spirit and restore health.
The term tamara may also be used in a broader sense for any spirit.
2. Ekle: Many plants and animals are inhabited by these evil spirits. It's home is usually in swampy areas. The spirit also has the ability
to think and reside in or out of its body. It may reside in material objects as well as animals and humans. It may also appear in the
likeness of a human. The ekle causes sickness, death, lunacy or rain. A curse is brought about by offending the plant or animal in which
it resides (by cutting it's limb, etc.). It is also sometimes given shells as fine payment.
Some view these spirits (tamara and ekle) as one and the same. It is rather that the tamara spirit dwells in something or somewhere and
so the area is referred to as an "ekle" area for a tamara lives there and will harm you.
(See ritual above)
3. Yuwun: A yuwun is believed to be a disembodied human spirit. When someone dies, the spirit leaves the body and is referred to as a
yuwun. There are many yuwun spirits. Some are good, bad, young, old, male, female. Yuwuns may inhabit many objects as well as
animals and humans. Yuwuns may often appear as humans but then disappear or change into an animal. When inhabited this object will
often hurt people. It may also appear as smoke or mist and have flaming eyes. The term is sometimes used for spirits in general.
Yuwuns are commonly believed to eat humans. This was more common in the past. Presently, they usually just scare people or are
spoken about by parents to scare their children into obedience.
A yuwun may often appear in the likeness of an individual. This is most common at the time of a death. Yuwuns are said to eat raw
They are most active at night and use bird calls to communicate. They have names and may serve as totems. Yuwuns may sometimes
fight with men. The people don't use ginger root to chase away yuwuns.
4. They also believe in two special gods.
Arumong: God, only one spirit. He is the creator. Their ancestors believed Arumong to be an ancestor but this is not commonly
believed today. Arumong gave land and "mokmoks" to certain big men long ago.
Arising: Arising is the spirit of the wallaby which according to myth taught them about taro (their staple food) and about the use of
bettlenut, also very important to their culture.
(See World View, Supernatural, Religion for more info.)
5. Kunu: This according to the Loko people is the human or animal spirit. This spirit leaves the body when one dreams or when the
body dies. To be abruptly waken while sleeping can cause death since the persons kunu is not in the body. All kunus go to the Namolo
(dream land) when they die. When a death occurs the spirits of the animals are somehow informed and thus certain birds will inform
their hearers of the death that has taken place. All animals will refuse to be caught if they are being hunted at this time.
The departed ancestors, yuwuns and the kunu are all synonymous. They all refer to the disembodied spirits of humans. Although the
kunu also refers to the animal or plant spirit and a living human beings spirit.
Do the Loko people believe that some things happen by "luck or chance"?
The Loko people believe that few things if anything happen by chance. However, they do have certain superstitions concerning things
that happen in their daily lives that serve as good or bad omens. Some people take these quite seriously. For example:
A bettlenut husk pointing to someone indicates bad luck.
Certain birds calling out when a person is about to leave indicates trouble ahead.
Certain kinds of frogs croaking while you are on the trail mean to hurry because something good is about to happen ahead.
What are considered sacred objects and places?
1. The Warku: The warku mask along with the instrument used to make sound during the ceremony are considered sacred. They
represent a spirit. To allow a woman to see it is punishable by a fine payment or death with black magic for both the woman and
whoever allowed the breach of taboo.
2. The Yakau: The yakau is also a musical instrument used to scare women. It represents Warku's wife. To allow a woman to see it is
punishable by a fine payment or death with black magic for both the woman and whoever allowed the breach of taboo. (Certain women
are initiated into this custom though).
3. The Kamuitmuit: Is a mask used in ceremonies which also represents a spirit.
4. Amorin: Amorin are human bones used in ancestor worship. Only the "big men" have them.
5. Burial house: To tamper with a burial house in any way may cause another death do to the spirit being offended.
6. Spirit inhabited areas: Certain areas in the jungle are considered spirit inhabited and are greatly feared.
7. Many other objects are highly important to rituals.
Mokmok stones: Used in rituals and to buy black magic. Originated supernaturally.
Ginger root: Can be used in almost all incantations.
Other ritual objects: stones, special leaves, coconut milk, lime, branches of certain trees, pig tooth necklace, dog tooth necklace, special
The Anglican mission has taught them that a church building is very sacred and have imposed on them certain taboos concerning
conduct in and around it.
Do the Loko people have any structured theological system?
The Loko people have no structured system of theology as such. The "big men" serve as religious leaders being responsible for most
of the cultural religious ceremonies. Their doctrine is unwritten but passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth in the
form of stories and instruction (both culturally formal and informal). Though meaning and significance of most of these religious
practices have been lost they are still very strictly adhered to.
To what extent have they adopted the theological systems of other missions?
Other missions have established groups of followers and appointed certain individuals among the tribal people to act as leadership
along with the assigned catechists. They seem to follow the theological system and ceremonies of their new religion in much the same
way they follow their own cultural religious system but with even less understanding. It seems rather that they have added these new
mission related rituals to their own system of theology.
Do the Loko people pray?
The Loko people's most important form of prayer are ritual incantations handed down from their ancestors. They have a ritual for just
about every area of their day to day lives. These rituals they believe were given to their ancestors by Arumong (God). Ginger root or
another ritual object is used along with the memorized prayer and specified ritual actions for that particular ritual. Many times the words
used are meaningless or have lost their meaning. The prayers themselves are often very descriptive and are sometimes directed to
The success of the prayer/incantation depends on:
1) the potency of the ritual object used
2) the accuracy of the recitation of the prayer, hence the knowledge of the one doing the it
3) Arumong, Arising, or the ancestors
Only certain individuals know certain prayers. Therefore he is called upon to perform these prayers for others in times of need. He is
usually paid with food or shells. An individual only knows the rituals handed down through his clan though other rituals are sometimes
bought from others. Relatively few women know and practice these rituals.
Another form of prayer that is also used is brief requests for help directed to Arumong or the ancestors. They are requested for help in
finding food or wild game in the jungle.
Who do they pray to?
They direct their prayers to Arumong as well as to their ancestors and sometimes Arising (the spirit of the wallaby). They are unsure as
to who is being petitioned when black magic is being performed but most commonly agree that it is not Arumong.
What has other missions taught them about prayer?
The catechists have taught the people to attend church and pray. They are taught to confess their sins to the catechist or priest. The
catechist prays for them in the national language and also reads prayers to them in english which is not understood. They view these
prayers in much the same way they do their own rituals.
Do the Loko people do any form of offerings or ritual cleansing?
They sometimes pay an offended spirit using shell money in order to lift the curse involved.
Part of their burial ceremonies is to roast pig or (if not available) dried coconuts. The good smelling smoke is said to carry the departed
person's spirit to the place of the dead. This is said to lift the curse surrounding the death. If this is not done a spirit will injure or cause
the death of someone else. This reason for cooking pig meat and other things is also referred to at other times other than at a burial.
However, it is always mentioned in reference to the departed.
(See also Rituals)
What sort of taboos do the Loko people observe?
Taboos are a main theme of Loko culture. Some of the areas covered by these taboos are listed here.
1. In-laws: This is respect relationship. Tribal names of ones in-laws may not be spoken. It is also taboo to raise ones hand or position
oneself above an in-law. Apart from the shame involved and fine payment that would have to be paid to the offended in-law for a
breach of this taboo, the taboo itself seems to recompense itself by causing sickness or poverty.
2. Certain areas are considered spirit inhabited. To cut certain plants or to eat certain animals in this area causes sickness, death, lunacy
or at least rain.
3. Many taboos surround the death of a Loko person. Examples: not eating the food off of the dead persons trees, not arguing or
fighting, not working, not hunting etc. Many Loko people taboo themselves from certain foods as a way of mourning the death of a
loved one. These taboos are observed for a set period time after the death.
4. There are many taboos surrounding women's menstruation. Men are tabooed from menstrual houses and from seeing the women's
blood. Women are not allowed to sleep in the same house as the rest of her family during menstruation or to handle someone else's
food. Women are tabooed from walking above anyone or any of their food or water. To breach any of these taboos means that those
involved will get a bad cold or pay a fine or having black magic performed upon them.
5. Women are tabooed from going into a men's house that has a "warku" (ceremonial mask and musical instrument) or from going
anywhere near a men's toilet. The "yakau" has a similar taboo involved. (See sacred objects)
6. They are tabooed from having sex with there mates during pregnancy and while the child is still nursing. Extra-marital sex is taboo.
Premarital sex is taboo. Marriage within the family and extended family (if they have the same grandparents) is taboo apart from
cross-cousins. Any public
display of affection is taboo between the opposite sexes???
7. If they have a cold they are taboo from any thing greasy or sweet. To eat these things results in the sickness getting worse.
8. Missions as well as the government have tabooed them from their customs of digging up a dead person's bones for ceremonial use,
killing the wife of a dead man to bury her with her husband, and black magic.
9. Missions have also made taboos concerning certain things surrounding the church building, eating pig meat, work on Sunday, etc.
To breach these taboos will result in serious accident or injury.
10. They can also put taboos on things such as trails, coconuts, or fighting by using the grass skirt, taro, or firewood, etc. Using these
things will cause the offender a very high fine.
Do they practice any kind of asceticism?
As a part of their mourning for the death of a loved one they often will taboo themselves from certain food. Some believe there will be
supernatural repercussions if this custom isn't fulfilled. This is also done especially when the person that died was a provider of that
food. They will do this usually for several months but sometimes for years. They also do this in mourning for a good hunting dog for a
shorter period of time. To break this taboo a special ceremony must be performed.
Pregnant women are also forbidden to eat certain foods for fear that when she delivers, someone else will die. They also think that
normal delivery will be hindered.
During certain sicknesses the people will refrain from eating particular foods for fear that they will aggravate their complaint.
Some foods are rejected for fear that it will produce disease.
Do the Loko people practice any form of divination?
They believe that all dreams are a supernatural experience where their spirits visit another realm of life and thus are able to visit with the
dead by dreaming. They believe that many dreams are revelations of the future.
They sometimes do a ritual with ginger root and then sleep with it claiming they can then envision the cause of a sickness or the guilty
party involved in a crime.
TYPES OF RITUAL
Do the Loko people perform any rituals?
The Loko people are very ritualistic. They have rituals they perform for just about every area of their lives. Listed below are some of
1. Medicine: Almost all bush medicine involves a incantation type of ritual. These cover various types of sicknesses and are also used
to prevent pregnancy, cause one to conceive, abortion, exorcising spirits and black magic.
2. Food: They use many incantations in agriculture, hunting and fishing. They also have these to cause rain or sunshine. They also
have larger ritualistic ceremonies to plant their gardens.
3. Social Control: They use incantations to help them in battle and for detection and punishment of crimes. They also use a ritualistic
ceremonies to settle arguments.
4. Economic: They have incantations to help them to find shells. They gather and pay bride prices.
5. Political: They have a very big ceremony where they ceremonially wash those that are to be their future leaders.
Rites of passage
a. Childhood: naming, weaning, circumcision.
b. Puberty: paying for a namesakes name, courting ceremony, seeing the ocean for the first time, blackening of teeth, celebrating a girls
They also have rituals to teach sacred names and customs to the children who's parents have the shells to pay the fee to have them
taught. Having been taught these things they have special status and privileges that others do not have.
c. Marriage: exchanging of food as engagement, newlyweds are taught marriage responsibilities.
d. Death: various rituals to demonstrate grief, to release the person's spirit, to end the mourning. The ceremonies of taking the persons
bones from the grave, and killing a dead person's spouse are now prohibited by the government.
Rites of intensification:
a. Many of these rites involve spirit or ancestor worship and are a means of raising social status by distributing food and shell money.
b. They often have celebrations for new buildings: houses, stores, churches, etc. These involve distribution of food and traditional
dances and singing.
c. Missions have super imposed the rituals of communion and baptism on to Loko culture. They know little of the meaning involved in
these rituals. They are told that they are essen- tial to salvation and that they give the participants power.
Do the Loko people still practice "black magic"?
According to the Loko people sickness and death very seldom happen of natural causes. A very common cause is said to be black
magic. They are therefore very suspicious and fearful of those that are not in their clan. No one really knows who the sorcerors really
are (although supposed sorcerors are gossiped about). This then tends to create an atmosphere of insecurity and fear. Sorcery is also a
real factor in helping to control anti-social behavior.
The most common form of sorcery said to be used is referred to as "contagious magic" This sorcery uses some material substance
associated with the person such as portion of hair, partially eaten food, cigarette butt, human waste, etc. He will then, (using
incantations, ginger root, ritual actions and objects), proceed to cast a spell on the person. The person is then said to become very sick
and to die shortly thereafter.
Most people are careful to take care of their personal items (especially when travelling or when visitors come) for fear of the sorceror.
Offenses breaking taboos involving sex, sacred objects and customs are said to be punishable by black magic.
Are there other forms of black magic or witchcraft practiced among the Loko people?
Various poisons are said to be used as well. They are put into the food of the victim.
There are also said to be other forms of poisons or magical potions used.
Psychologically speaking, what could be said concerning the Loko man and his culture?
The Loko culture is really the sum total of these people's attempts to explain, manipulate and change the circumstances of their
environment and the way it impacts into their daily lives. It is also the outgrowth of their social interaction as well.
Basic human needs and emotions universal to all cultures are expressed or repressed by the Loko people within the frame work of their
How does the Loko form of culture answer the basic human needs of the people?
Need/drive--------------- Act---------------- Satisfaction
(bio/psycological) (cultural) (bio/psycological)
Some of the basic human needs and how the Loko culture seeks to satisfy them:
1. Metabolism, (food, drink, etc.):
Primarily subsistence farmers, hunters and gathers. Taro is their most important vegetable, pig their primary source of meat.
(See Material Culture, Economic Or.)
2. Reproduction, (Marriage, sex, relations):
Their system of marriage with its variations (both acceptable and unacceptable) along with resulting relationships.
(See Social Or., Sex, Marriage)
3. Bodily Comforts (housing, dress, etc.):
(See Material Culture)
Their attempts to provide both personal and corporate safety are primarily seen in the Loko political system (kinship system being
foundational), techniques of warfare, and the methods of social control employed.
(See Political Or., Social Control, World View)
Their work, play, and their system of customs with the accompanied dancing and celebration provide for this basic need.
(Also see Art and Play)
The birth, nurturing, enculturation, and maturation of an individual in Loko society is amply provided for primarily through the kinship
(See Social Or.)
A multitude of taboos and certain forms of asceticism practiced by the Loko are meant to circumvent the possibility of disease and its
spread. Much magic and witchcraft practiced, along with an assortment of jungle remedies are meant to restore good health. The white
man's medicine is become very crucial to them.
(See World View, Medicine)
8. Religion: (viewed both objectively and subjectively)
Their system of beliefs supposedly provides for them a sense of psychological relief in that their gods and ancestors provide support
and consolation in time of material need. It's comforting to believe your departed loved ones are looking out for you.
It also supplies them with a sense of the transcendental in that all the world around them is in a state of change but Arumong and the
ancestors provide a place of security. They are untouched by the problems that face mortal man.
Their religious system provides them with instruction on proper and improper behavior. Many of the customs provide this instruction.
So anti-social behavior is a breach of religion. Those who don't follow the religious customs are rebuked.
It provides the people with a starting point. Clan myths and stories gives a sense of identity with the distant past. Their view of the
afterlife gives them identity with the future.
The Loko religious system of customs provides a way to mark an individuals maturation or passage through life for him and Loko
society. These rites of passage provide sacred marking points for the child on his way to maturity. They (the customs) also provide a
sense of oneness or belonging within the group. These rites of intensification help to ensure that the people will stay locked into the
Loko religious system.
(See World View, Supernatural)
What are some negative aspects to their belief system?
(Discussed both objectively and subjectively)
Some the their customs are attended with threats and produce fear in the hearts of many.
Their pre-occupation with evil spirits and the supernatural world around them tend to make them very superstitious and fearful.
The many taboos tend to produce a constant reminder of the evil supernatural forces at work around them. This produces fear which
intern puts them in bondage to the many taboos thus creating a vicious circle.
The newly dead are generally feared and placated through the ceremonies pertinent to them. These customs are continually observed
out of fear.
Indeed, fear is really the primary motivation in their religion. They are, through fear, kept in bondage to all sorts of customs and beliefs.
They are afraid of certain bird calls during the day, bird calls at night. They fear the departed ancestors, desiring to keep them happy so
they won't harm them. They fear certain plants, places, insects, animals and food because of their connection with the supernatural
world and are thus kept in bondage because of it. Even nominal "Christian" mission influence has only succeeded in producing more
things to fear. They are told if they don't go to church, there will be supernatural repercussions.
All of their stories and information concerning their religion is in verbal form. This produces variation in the information (depending on
the one passing it on) which intern tends to produce insecurity in the peoples minds. There is no "rock of revelation" in written form on
which to stand. So maybe the message has been adulterated. No one really knows.
Most of the religious observances have lost much of their meaning. They are therefore followed "blindly" which tends to produce
dissatisfaction in the system.
Their myths and stories provide some information but leave many questions unanswered. Questions concerning origins, questions of
the immediate and distant future, concerning reasons for existence. Many questions have arisen in their minds after they began to
compare the white mans way of life with there own. They feel that they have been left in the dark and the white man has many answers
What are some of the influences that have more recently helped to form the Loko culture of today?
Of course, their culture is not static but is in a constant state of flux as a result of the impact of other cultures around them and the new
ideas that are making inroads among them.
Ever since western government (Australia) had begun the work of opening up the islands and imposing it's rule upon the population,
profound change followed behind. With the fear of inter-tribal warfare greatly diminished, the Loko began to travel much more
extensively, thus opening the door for an exchange of ideas and customs with other peoples.
Seeing the "white man's" ways of business and his much better living conditions has made many of the people dissatisfied with their
standard of living. Some have left the traditional gardening lifestyle to work for others in the coastal towns.
Government and Mission sponsored education has tended to undercut the Loko ancestors and their world view with its influence over
the minds of these educated, and to replace it with a more western style of thinking. In our area the literacy rate is extremely low with but
few exceptions. None that we know of have made it through the 6th grade.
Mission influence has also effected the Loko world view. A particular missions customs or ritualistic ways are also assimilated into the
culture of the people where the mission is