Beran (1988: 38 and fig. 36) describes the sculpture on the spatula shown in fig. 2 in this essay as perhaps depicting “an animal or mythical being.” In 2011, Aldridge showed photographs of the spatulas in figs. 1–9 to Senapili, an elder of Siasiada Village in the Buhutu Valley, and asked what animal the figures on them represented. Senapili was adamant that they did not represent an animal. When asked specifically what the figures on the spatulas did represent, he replied that they depicted someone capable of sorcery. Senapili also said that the spatulas were house guardians. He explained that the owner of such a limestick would speak spells to it and leave it in a lime pot on the veranda. He added that when the limestick was seen by another sorcerer, he would believe the house was occupied by sorcery and would leave it alone. Senapili’s statement that such spatulas can serve as house guardians is supported by the remarks of the vendors 122 of the spatulas in figs. 3–5, who said that they had been used to protect houses. It is tempting to speculate that the spatula in Jerricho’s story mentioned above that had killed the children had also been used as a house guardian but had turned on those it was meant to protect. A Peg Figure In many parts of the Massim region, nets are used to catch wild pigs. Typically the sides of the net are attached to trees or bushes on both sides of a track down which a pig may be chased. Abel Abel, who collected the object in fig. 10 in Wagahuhu Village on the north coast of mainland Milne Bay Province, was told that it served to fasten such a net to the ground using the peg that the figure surmounts. When Aldridge interviewed the object’s vendor in 2011, he was informed that the figure was one of a pair that had been used for this purpose and that the companion piece had been lost. He was also told that such peg figures were used after the owner had fasted and said a magic spell over them, which would pull a pig into the net. The peg figure in fig. 10 is the first of its kind recorded so far. We know that in Wagahuhu, the bottom of the net is fixed to the ground on both sides by pegs, but we do not know how the top of the net is secured. In Gawa in the Marshall Bennett Islands and Kitava in the Trobriand group, the top of the net is held in place on both sides by hooks, such as those illustrated in Meyer (1995, fig. 148) and Hamson and Aldridge (2009, figs. 92 and 93), but we have no information about how the bottom of the net is secured. In all cases, clearly all corners of the net have to be secured in some way to stop pigs from running through it. Hooks and pegs are not the only ways of securing pig nets. In neighboring Oro Province, wild pigs are also trapped with large nets, but there the nets are held up by a number of stakes composed of plain pieces of wood (Williams 1930: 45–6 and Chignell 1911, opp. p. 342). FEATURE Map of the southwestern part of the Massim region, showing the collection places of the sculptures discussed in this essay and other places of interest. Map by Polaris Cartography (www.polariscartography.com), following an original by Richard Aldridge.
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