Also known as: Dobu; Edugaura

Dobu is a tiny island in the D'Entrecasteaux Archipelago, near the eastern tip of New Guinea. Dobuans are an ethnolinguistic group that is centred upon this island but occupies a much larger area. The anthropologist Reo Fortune provided a famously dark portrayal of Dobuan society in the classic ethnography 'Sorcerers of Dobu'.

Show Map of Location

Traditional Culture(1890)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Fortune (1932), pp. 94-102
Nature god(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 77-94
Fortune (1932), pp. 94-102
Ancestral spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 77-94
Fortune (1932), pp. 94-102, 178-188
Deified ancestor(s) Absent (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 77-94
Fortune (1932), pp. 94-102
God(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 77-94
Fortune (1932), pp. 94-102

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 86-88
Fortune (1932), pp. 99-100

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 89-90
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 89-90
Fortune (1932), pp. 186
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and creationist (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 87
Fortune (1932), pp. 94
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 77-94
Fortune (1932), pp. 94-102
Culture hero(es) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 77-94
Fortune (1932), pp. 94-102, 216-233

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Fortune (1932), pp. 95-96

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Fortune (1932), pp. 16

Mana

Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blust (2007), pp. 420
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008), pp. 257
Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007), pp. 420
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008), pp. 257
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Present (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 60, 70, 115
Costly sacrifices and offerings Absent (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 77-94
Fortune (1932), pp. 94-102
Largest religious community Larger than a local community, smaller than the society (Source)
Fortune (1932), pp. 1, 30, 68-85
Political and religious differentiation Considerable overlap between religious and political leaders (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 51

Rites

Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Fortune (1932), pp. 273-279
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 96f, 104f, 136f, 144f, 17f, 208f
Fortune (1932), pp. 273-279
Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Fortune (1932), pp. 273-279
Tattooing Absent from culture (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 96f, 104f, 136f, 144f, 17f, 208f
Fortune (1932), pp. 273-279
Genital cutting Absent from culture (Source)
Fortune (1932), pp. 273-279
Social Environment +
Population 15000 (Source)
Elkins (1953), pp. 56
Fortune (1932), pp. 30
Population of largest political community 100-999 (Source)
Fortune (1932), pp. 30
Importance of Patrilateral descent Low (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 50, 51
Importance of Matrilateral descent High (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 50, 51
Polygamy Limited polygyny (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 51
Marital residence Ambilocal - with either wife's or husband's kin (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 51

Conflict

(No) external warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 61, 226
Conflict within community Low (Source)
Fortune (1932), pp. 43
(No) internal warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 30
Fortune (1932), pp. 30
Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 49
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Asher & Moseley (2007), pp. Map 31
Distance to nearest continent 824.0 (Source)
Asher & Moseley (2007), pp. Map 31
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Present: Clear 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. Map 2.21
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.23
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 49
Bromilow (1929), pp. 87
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Medium (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 50
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 50
Fortune (1932), pp. 70
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Fortune (1932), pp. 70
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 50
Fortune (1932), pp. 70
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 50
Fortune (1932), pp. 69-70

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Medium (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 50
Fortune (1932), pp. 69-70
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Medium (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 50
Fortune (1932), pp. 69-70
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 210
Young (1991A), pp. 50
Fortune (1932), pp. 69-70

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Medium (Source)
Fortune (1932), pp. 69-70
Young (1991A), pp. 50
Metalworking Absent (Source)
Bellwood et al (1975)
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture Four or more (Source)
Young (1991A)

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island Size (km²) 1437.0 (Source)
Clark & Bedford (2008), pp. 64
Maximum elevation (meters) 2072.0 (Source)
Clark & Bedford (2008), pp. 64

Location

Latitude -9.6 (Source)
Asher & Moseley (2007), pp. Map 31
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 150.8 (Source)
Asher & Moseley (2007), pp. Map 31
Google Maps (2014)
Post Contact History(1890-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Role of social status in conversion process Mixed / Neither (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 60-170, 206-230, 244-265, 116, 124
Young (1991A), pp. 51
Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Bromilow (1929), pp. 95-170, 206-230, 244-265,
Young (1991A), pp. 59-50, 51
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 51
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 49-50

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 49-50, 51
Bromilow (1929), pp. 95-170, 206-230, 244-265,
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Young (1983a), pp. 9
Young (1991A), pp. 51
Immigration Absent (Source)
Young (1983a), pp. 9
Language shift Medium (Source)
Eberhard (2020)
Foreign education systems Medium (Source)
National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea (2010), pp. 4, 33

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea (2010), pp. 33
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present but minor (Source)
National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea (2010), pp. 33
Young (1983a), pp. 9

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present but rarely used (Source)
National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea (2010), pp. 33
Air travel Absent (Source)
National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea (2010), pp. 33

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely voluntary (Source)
Young (1991A), pp. 49-50
Young (1983a), pp. 4-5
Loss of political autonoomy Medium (Source)
Young (1983a), pp. 4
Young (1991A), pp. 51
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Unofficial religious syncretism Medium (Source)
Kuehling (2005), pp. 140-142
Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Kuehling (2005), pp. 140
External Links
References
Asher, R. E. & Moseley, C. J. (Eds.). (2007). Atlas of the World’s languages (2nd Ed.). Abingdon, U.K.: Routledge.

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.

Bellwood, P., Ayres, W. S., Clune Jr, F. J., Craib, J., Durbin, T. E., Young, F. A., ... & Green, R. C. (1975). The Prehistory of Oceania [and Comments and Reply]. Current Anthropology, 16(1), 9-28. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2740946

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

Bromilow, W. E. (1929). Twenty years among primitive Papuans. London: The Epworth Press.

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

Clark, G.R. & Bedford, S. (2008). Friction Zones in Lapita Colonisation. In G.R. Clark, G.R, S. O'Connor & B.F. Leach, Islands of Inquiry: Colonisation, Seafaring and the Archaeology of Maritime Landscapes (pp 59-73). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

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.

Eberhard, D. M., Simons, G. F., & Fennig, C. D. (eds.). (2020). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (23rd ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com

Elkins, A. P. (1953). Social anthropology in Melanesia: A review of research. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Fortune, R. F. (1932). Sorcerers of Dobu: The social anthropology of the Dobu islanders of the western Pacific. London: George Routledge & Sons, Ltd

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

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

Kuehling, S. (2005). Dobu: Ethics of exchange on a Massim island, Papua New Guinea. Adelaide: Crawford House Publishing

National Research Institude of Papua New Guinea (2010). Papua New Guinea District and Provincial Profiles. Retrieved from http://www.nri.org.pg/research_divisions/cross_divisional_projects/Web%20Version%20Profiles%20Report%20140410.pdf

Young, M. W. (1983). ‘The best workmen in Papua': Goodenough Islanders and the labour trade, 1900–196. The Journal of Pacific History, 18(2), 74-95.

Young, M. W. (1983a). The Massim: An introduction. The Journal of Pacific History, 18(1), 4-10.

Young, M. W. (1991A). Dobu. In T. E. Hays (Ed.), Encyclopedia of world cultures: Volume 2 Oceania (pp. 49-52). New York: G. K. Hall & Company