Also known as: Ponape

Pohnpei is a high island in Micronesia. It is famous for its enormous megalithic structures, which were formerly religious sites. The most impressive of these had, however, been abandoned by the time the islanders came into regular contact with Europeans. Pohnpei is believed to mean 'upon a stone altar', a reference to the myth that the founding settlers had built up the island, with the help of the gods, from an enormous altar.

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Traditional Culture(1825-1850)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 70-103, 76-78, 97, 99
Nature god(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 76-77
Ancestral spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 70-103, 73, 77-80, 94
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 77
Riesenberg (1968), pp. 58-60
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 73, 76
Riesenberg (1968), pp. 59

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 92

Afterlife and Creation

The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 79, 79-80
Culture hero(es) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 92
Hanlon (1988), pp. 4-6

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 78

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Riesenberg (1968), pp. 59
Resource management tapu Present (Source)
Riesenberg (1968), pp. 60
Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Riesenberg (1968), pp. 58

Mana

Mana as a personal quality Present (Source)
Keesing (1984), pp. 146
Petersen (1990), pp. 40
Mana linked to genealogy Absent (Source)
Keesing (1984), pp. 146
Blust (2007), pp. 409
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Present (Source)
Mana and social status Moderately associated (Source)
Keesing (1984), pp. 146
Petersen (1990), pp. 40
Blust (2007), pp. 409
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Present (Source)
Keesing (1984), pp. 146
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Riesenberg (1968), pp. 60-62
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 79
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than a local community, no larger than the largest political community in the culture (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 39
Political and religious differentiation Considerable overlap between religious and political leaders (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 87, 88
Hanlon (1988), pp. 39

Rites

Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 74, 123
Genital cutting Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 74
Hanlon (1984), pp. 41
Scarification Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 74
Tattooing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 40-41
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 74, 122-124
Social Environment +
Population 10000 (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Riesenberg (1968), pp. 5-6
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Hanlon (1984), pp. 267
Riesenberg (1968), pp. 5-6
Hanlon (1988), pp. 39
Importance of Patrilateral descent Low (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 39
Importance of Matrilateral descent High (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 39
Kinship system Crow (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 269
Polygamy Limited polygyny (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 268-269
Marital residence Patrilocal or virilocal - with husband's kin (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 269

Conflict

Conflict between communities of the culture Common, at least every five years (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 44
Riesenberg (1968), pp. 60
Conflict with other cultures Rare or never (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 44-45
Riesenberg (1968), pp. 60-62
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 81
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 156.7 (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Micronesia) (2014)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 4313.9 (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Pre-Austronesian population Absent: No evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. 2.21
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. 2.23
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 70-103, 81
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Medium (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 73
Agriculture / Horticulture Major (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 73
Murrill (1948), pp. 155
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Murrill (1948), pp. 155
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Medium (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 125

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Medium (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 73, 126-127
Water-based gathering Major (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 73
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 73, 126-127

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Medium (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 268
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude 6.9 (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 158.2 (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Volcanic high island (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Island Size (km²) 336.7 (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Maximum elevation (meters) 778.0 (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Post Contact History(1850-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Role of social status in conversion process Mixed / Neither (Source)
Hezel (1982), pp. 142-158, 143, 156
Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Hanlon (1984)
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Hanlon (1984), pp. 41
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 269
Machiko (2002), pp. 90
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Petersen (1990), pp. 7
Immigration High (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 206
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Federated States of Micronesia) (2014)

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Federated States of Micronesia) (2014)
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present but minor (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 268
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Federated States of Micronesia) (2014)

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Federated States of Micronesia) (2014)
Air travel Present and long-distance (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Pohnpei) (2014)
Sea port Present (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Federated States of Micronesia) (2014)

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely involuntary (Source)
Petersen (1990), pp. 7
Hanlon (1988), pp. 144-145, 206
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Petersen (1990), pp. 7
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Federated States of Micronesia) (2014)
External Links
References
Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20172322

Christian, F. W. (1899). The Caroline Islands: Travel in the Sea of the Little Lands. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014). http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.

Dobbin, J. (2011). Summoning the powers beyond: Traditional religions of Micronesia. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Federated States of Micronesia). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/380474/Micronesia

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Pohnpei). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/EBchecked/topic/466231/Pohnpei

Ethnologue (Map of Federated States of Micronesia). (2014). Papua New Guinea, Map 12. Ethnologue. Retrieved from https://www.ethnologue.com/map/FM

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from maps.google.com

Hanlon, D. (1984). God versus Gods: The First Years of the Micronesian Mission on Ponape, 1852-1859. The Journal of Pacific History, 19(1), 41-59. DOI: 10.1080/00223348408572479.

Hanlon, D. (1988). Upon a Stone Altar: A History of the Island of Pohnpei to 1890. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Hanlon, D. (1991). Pohnpei. Encyclopaedia of World Cultures (Vol. II, pp 267-270). New York, NY: G.K. Hall & Co.

Hezel, F. X. (1982). From Conversion to Conquest: The Early Spanish Mission in the Marianas. The Journal of Pacific History, 17 (3), 115-137. DOI: 10.1080/00223348208572442

Hezel, F. X. (1983). The First Taint of Civilization: A History of the Caroline and Marshall Islands in Pre-Colonial Days, 1521-1885. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629696.

Machiko, A. (2002). Modekngei: A new religion in Belau, Micronesia. Japan: Shinsensha Press

Micronesia. (2015). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/place/Micronesia-republic-Pacific-Ocean

Murrill, R I. (1948). Ponape: A Micronesian Culture of the Caroline Islands. Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences. 10(4), 154-158. DOI: 10.1111/j.2164-0947.1948.tb00027.x

Petersen, G. (1990). Lost in the Weeds: Theme and Variation in Pohnpei Political Mythology (Occasional Paper 35). Honolulu, HI: Center for Pacific Islands Studies, School of Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Studies.

Raynor, W.C. & Fownes, J.H. (1991A). Indigenous agroforestry of Pohnpei. Agroforestry Systems, 16: 139-157.

Riesenberg, S. (1968). The Native Polity of Ponape. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.