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(1853)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 70-103
Nature god(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 70-103
Ancestral spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 70-103
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 77
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 70-103

Supernatural Punishment

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

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 79-80
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 79-80
Culture hero(es) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 4-6
Dobbin (2011), pp. 70-103

General Features

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

Classes of Tapu

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

Mana

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

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Riesenberg (1968), pp. 60-62
Dobbin (2011), pp. 70-103
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 79
Largest religious community Larger than a local community, smaller than the society (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 80-93
Political and religious differentiation Considerable overlap between religious and political leaders (Source)
Dobbin (2011), pp. 70-103

Rites

Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 74, 122-124
Scarification Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 74
Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 74, 123
Tattooing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 40-41
Genital cutting Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 74
Hanlon (1984), pp. 41
Social Environment +
Population 10000 (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Hanlon (1984), pp. 267
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

(No) external warfare Occasional, at least every generation (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 3-86
(No) internal warfare Common, at least every five years (Source)
Hanlon (1988), pp. 44
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 nearest continent 2603.0 (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
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Medium (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 125
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Murrill (1948), pp. 155
Agriculture / Horticulture Major (Source)
Christian (1899), pp. 73
Murrill (1948), pp. 155

Water-based means of subsistence

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

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

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Volcanic high island (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Island Size (kmĀ²) 336.7 (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Maximum elevation (meters) 778.0 (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267

Location

Latitude 6.9 (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 158.2 (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 267
Google Maps (2014)
Post Contact History(1853-2014)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)
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 269
Machiko (2002), pp. 90
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Hanlon (1984), pp. 41
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)
Foster & Hezel (2020)

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Foster & Hezel (2020)
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present but minor (Source)
Hanlon (1991), pp. 268
Foster & Hezel (2020)

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
Foster & Hezel (2020)
Air travel Present and long-distance (Source)
'Pohnpei' (2016)
Sea port Present (Source)
Foster & Hezel (2020)

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)
Foster & Hezel (2020)
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.

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

Foster, S. & Hezel, F. X. (2020). Micronesia. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/Micronesia-republic-Pacific-Ocean.

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

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.

Pohnpei (2016). Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/Pohnpei.

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

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