Also known as: Biak

The people of the Biak Islands (off the northern coast of western New Guinea) speak one language, known as Biak, Numfor, or Biak-Numfor, and share a common culture. Prior to European colonisation in the early 1900s, they were vassals of the Tidore Sultanate. They are particularly well know for having being at the centre of the Koreri movement, a syncretic religion based on the ancestral culture-hero Manarmakeri.

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Traditional Culture(1875-1900)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 14-16, 15
Nature god(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 14-15, 67, 70, 82-83
Ancestral spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Baldick (2013), pp. 115-116
Kamma (1972), pp. 15
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 15
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 49
God(s) Absent (Source)
Baldick (2013), pp. 115-116
Kamma (1972), pp. 14-16
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 21-66

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 52

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 15, 64-65, 68
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 36, 42, 52-53, 55, 65-66
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 28-29, 52
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and evolutionary (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 15
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 17
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 64-96
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 17
Culture hero(es) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 17-49, 102-136
Van der Kroef (1957), pp. 431
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 19

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Absent (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 14-15

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Baldick (2013), pp. 11
Resource management tapu Absent (Source)
Galis (1970)
Social hierarchy tapu Absent (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 11-16
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 13-66

Mana

Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008)
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blevins (2008), pp. 258-259
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Present (Source)
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 58
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 28-29, 57
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than a household, no larger than the local community (Source)
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 17-18
Political and religious differentiation No overlap (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 13

Rites

Piercing Absent from culture (Source)
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 18
Kamma (1972), pp. 12-13
Genital cutting Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 18
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 18
Kamma (1972), pp. 12-13
Tattooing Present in the culture as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 18
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Van Baaren (2010), pp. 18
Kamma (1972), pp. 12-13
Social Environment +
Population of largest political community 100-999 (Source)
Galis (1970), pp. 2
Importance of Patrilateral descent High (Source)
Van der Kroef (1957), pp. 428-429
Importance of Matrilateral descent Low (Source)
Van der Kroef (1957), pp. 428-429

Conflict

Conflict with other cultures Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Ellen (1986), pp. 59
Kamma (1972), pp. 8-9, 41, 66
Conflict between communities of the culture Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Rutherford (2003), pp. 77-78
Conflict within communities High (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 10, 13
Galis (1970), pp. 3
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 8-9, 41
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 42.5 (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Eastern Papua) (2014)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 3161.3 (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Eastern Papua) (2014)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Present: Clear evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
O'Connell & Allen (2004), pp. 836
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.21
Kamma (1972), pp. 40-41
Islamic influence on supernatural belief Evidence of influence (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 214
Rutherford (2003), pp. 16-17
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 9, 39-40, 42-43
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Medium (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 7, 86
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Absent (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 6-7
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 7
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Absent (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 6-7
Agriculture / Horticulture Major (Source)
Van der Kroef (1957), pp. 429

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 7
Van der Kroef (1957), pp. 429
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 7
Van der Kroef (1957), pp. 429
Water-based gathering Major (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 7

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Major (Source)
Galis (1970), pp. 1
Kamma (1972), pp. 6-9
Metalworking Present (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 8-9
Kamma & Kooijman (1973), pp. 7
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture Four or more (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Eastern Papua) (2014)

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude -1.0 (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Eastern Papua) (2014)
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 136.0 (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Eastern Papua) (2014)
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Volcanic high island (Source)
Charlton (2000), pp. 616, 620
Island Size (km²) 2455.0 (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Biak Island) (2014)
Maximum elevation (meters) 750.0 (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 6
Post Contact History(1900-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 225
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Rutherford (2003), pp. 185-186
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Rutherford (2003), pp. 6

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Present, but did not survive to the present-day (Source)
Rutherford (2003), pp. 125
Rutherford (2006), pp. 120-121
Kamma (1972)
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 225
Immigration Medium (Source)
Rutherford (2003), pp. 5-6
Language shift Medium (Source)
Rutherford (2000), pp. 316, 318-319
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Rutherford (2000), pp. 319

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Rutherford (2000), pp. 316
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present and substantial (Source)
Rutherford (2000), pp. 316
Rutherford (2003), pp. 6-7

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
Rutherford (2003), pp. 6, 204-205
Air travel Present and long-distance (Source)
Rutherford (2003), pp. 6
Sea port Present (Source)
Rutherford (2003), pp. 6

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely involuntary (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 220-221
Rutherford (2003), pp. 7
Van der Kroef (1957), pp. 436
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Kamma (1972), pp. 215-221, 225
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Institutional religious syncretism Low (Source)
Rutherford (2003), pp. 125
Rutherford (2006), pp. 120-121
Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Rutherford (2003), pp. 6
External Links
References
Baldick, J. (2013) Ancient Religions of the Austronesian World: From Australasia to Taiwan. London, UK: I.B. Tauris.

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.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ol/summary/v047/47.2.blevins.html

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

Bone, R. (1958). The negro novel in America. Yale University Press.

Brunton, R. (1989). The Abandoned Narcotic: Kava and Cultural Instability in Melanesia. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Charlton, T. R. (2000). Tertiary Evolution of the Eastern Indonesia Collision Complex. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 18 (5), 603-631. DOI: 10.1016/S1367-9120(99)00049-8

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.

Ellen, R.F. (1986). Conjundrums about Panjandrums: On the Use of Titles in Relations of Political Subordination in the Moluccas and along the Papuan Coast. Indonesia, 41, 46-62. Retrieved from http://jstor.org/stable/3351035

Emerson, R. (1946). Education in the Netherlands East Indies. The Journal of Negro Education, 15(3), 494-507.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Biak Island). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/64298/Biak-Island

Ethnologue (Map of Eastern Papua). (2014). Indonesia, Eastern Papua map. Ethnologue. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com/map/ID_pe_

Galis, K.W. (1970). Land Tenure in West Irian. Canberra: Australian National University Press. Retreived from http://papuaweb.anu.edu.au/dlib/bk/ngb-38/01.pdf

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

Kamma, F. & Kooijman, S. (1973). Romawa Forja, Child of the Fire: Iron Working and the Role of Iron in West New Guinea. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. Retrieved from https://books.google.co.nz/books?hl=en&lr=&id=pj4VAAAAIAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=biak+iron+forge&ots=NZ_9zMRG5u&sig=KlSXfBMiW2LTOqF5ZJaLXom6sV4#v=onepage&q=biak%20iron%20forge&f=false

Kamma, F. (1972). Koreri: Messianic Movements in the Biak-Numfor Culture Area. Chapter V: The Connection with Biak Mythology, 64-96. NY: Springer. Retrieved from http://download.springer.com.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/static/pdf/535/chp%253A10.1007%252F978-94-015-0742-4_6.pdf?auth66=1391032155_538b890bd06ac0815534763de58a2518&ext=.pdf

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

O’Connell, J. F. & Allen, J. (2004). Dating the Colonization of Sahul (Pleistocene Australia-New Guinea): A Review of Recent Research. Journey of Archaeological Science, 31, 835-853. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2003.11.005.

Rutherford, D. (1998). Love, Violence, and Foreign Wealth: Kinship and History in Biak, Irian Jaya. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 4 (2), 255-281. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3034502

Rutherford, D. (2000). The White Edge of the Margin: Textuality and Authority in Biak, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. American Ethnologist, 27 (2), 312-229. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/647175

Rutherford, D. (2003). Raiding the Land of the Foreigners. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Rutherford, D. (2006). Nationalism and Millenarianism in West Papua: Institutional Power, Interpretive Practice, and the Pursuit of Christian Truth. In Engelke, M. & Tomlinson, M. (Eds.), The Limits of Meaning: Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity. NY: Berghahn Books. Retrieved from http://books.google.co.nz/books?hl=en&lr=&id=bAEVmCY1MkMC&oi=fnd&pg=PA105&dq=koreri+biak&ots=uWdbtTFXxC&sig=4_updj1BUX72hWdqgj79x6vUeHQ#v=onepage&q=koreri%20biak&f=f

Rutherford, D. (2012). Laughing at Leviathan: Sovereignty and Audience in West Papua. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Van Baaren, T.P. (2010) Art in its Context: Korwars and Korwar Style: Art and Ancestor Worship in North-West New Guinea. Munich: Walter de Gruyter. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/lib/auckland/docDetail.action?docID=10589998

Van der Kroef, J.M. (1957). Patterns of Cultural Change in Three Primitive Societies. Social Research, 24 (4), 427-456. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40982515