Also known as: Gilbertese; I-Kiribati; Tungaru

The Gilbert Islands, or Kiribati, are a string of atolls in eastern Micronesia. The people of these islands lacked an indigenous name for themselves - hence the use of the transliteration "Kiribati" - but had a high degree of linguistic and cultural homogeneity. A notable feature of Kiribati religion is worship of the sun, who was believed to punish incest and to be the father of the culture-hero Bue.

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Traditional Culture(1795-1820)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Absent (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 2-27, 80-82, 238-251
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 36-57, 186-212
Nature god(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 10-14, 112-114
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 59-60
Ancestral spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 21-24
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 20-21, 24-27
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 20-21, 303, 353
Macdonald (1982), pp. 7
Baldick (2013), pp. 138-139

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 17, 21-22, 199

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Actions while living are the principal determinant of the nature of one’s afterlife (Source)
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 87-90
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 65-79
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Actions of others after one has died are one factor in determining the nature of one’s afterlife (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 65
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and evolutionary (Source)
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 39
Primordial pair Present, and genealogically linked to humans now living (Source)
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 39-57
Culture hero(es) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 128-129, 228
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 132-136

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 7

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 59-60
Resource management tapu Present (Source)
Lewis (1990), pp. 118
Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Lewis (1990), pp. 118

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)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 246, 255-257
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 196
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than a household, no larger than the local community (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 6-8
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 17-19, 199-201
Political and religious differentiation Considerable overlap between religious and political leaders (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 7
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 219-220

Rites

Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 45-47
Genital cutting Absent from culture (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 47
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 44-47
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 58-91
Tattooing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Hage et al (1996), pp. 345
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 58-91
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 44-47,
Grimble & Grimble (1972), pp. 58-91
Social Environment +
Population 35000 (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 6
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 6,9
Importance of Patrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Lambert (1991), pp. 122
Importance of Matrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Lambert (1991), pp. 122
Kinship system Hawaiian (Source)
Lambert (1991), pp. 122
Polygamy Limited polygyny (Source)
Grimble (1921), pp. 27
Talu (1979), pp. 17
Lambert (1991), pp. 122
Marital residence Patrilocal or virilocal - with husband's kin (Source)
Lambert (1991), pp. 122

Conflict

Conflict within communities Moderate (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 10
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 152-153
Conflict between communities of the culture Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Lewis (1990), pp. 117
Macdonald (1982), pp. 9
Conflict with other cultures Rare or never (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 1-74
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 151-168, 255-294
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 3, 10-11
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 307.4 (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. xviii
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 5507.4 (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. xviii
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
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. 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)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 16
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 4
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 36
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 3-4
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 36
Land-based gathering Absent (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 3-4
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Absent (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 3-4
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 36
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Absent (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 3-4
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. 36

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 4
Water-based gathering Major (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 4
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 4

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Absent (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 3-4
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture Four or more (Source)
Grimble & Maude (1989), pp. xviii

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude -1.2 (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 6
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 174.8 (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 6
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Atoll (Source)
Thaman (1992), pp. 129
Island Size (km²) 49.0 (Source)
Thaman (1992), pp. 129
Maximum elevation (meters) 4.0 (Source)
Thaman (1992), pp. 130
Post Contact History(1820-2013)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Role of social status in conversion process Primarily a top-down process. (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 31-53
Use of force in conversion Medium (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 37-38, 51
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 31-53
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kiribati) (2014)

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Present, but did not survive to the present-day (Source)
Maude & Maude (1981), pp. 312, 315
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kiribati) (2014)
Immigration Absent (Source)
Kiribati Census Report (2010), pp. 31
Macdonald (1982), pp. 21, 24-25, 31, 118-120, 145-185
Language shift Medium (Source)
Kiribati Census Report (2010), pp. 65
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kiribati) (2014)
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Kiribati Census Report (2010), pp. 61
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kiribati) (2014)

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kiribati) (2014)
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present and substantial (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kiribati) (2014)

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
World Bank Statistics (Kiribati) (2014)
Air travel Present and long-distance (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kiribati) (2014)
Sea port Present (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kiribati) (2014)

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely involuntary (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 68, 114, 141-166
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Macdonald (1982), pp. 70, 75-93, 126-129, 142, 141-148, 151-156,
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kiribati) (2014)
Current Culture(2013)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Kiribati Census Report (2010), pp. 55-56
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

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.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Kiribati). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/319111/Kiribati

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

Grimble, A. & Grimble, R. (Ed.) (1972). Migrations, Myth and Magic from the Gilbert Islands. London: Routledge.

Grimble, A. (1921). From Birth to Death in the Gilbert Islands. The Journal of the Royal Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 51, 25-54. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2843514

Grimble, A. F. & Maude, H. E. (Ed.) (1989). Tungaru Traditions: Writings on the Atoll Culture of the Gilbert Islands. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Hage, P. Harary, F., & Milicic, B. (1996). Tattooing, Gender and Social Stratification in Micro-Polynesia. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2 (2), 335-350. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3034099

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

Kiribati National Statistics Office. (2005). Census of Population and Housing - 2005. Retrieved from: http://www.spc.int/prism/country/ki/stats/Census2005/reports/KIR%20Report%202005%20-%20Volume%20II%20-%20FINAL.pdf

Lambert, B. (1991). Kiribati. In T. E. Hays (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of World Cultures Volume II: Oceania (120-124). New York, NY: G.K. Hall & Co.

Lewis, D. E. (1990). Tungaru Conjugal Jealousy and Sexual Mutilation. Pacific Studies, 13 (3), 115-126.

Macdonald, B. (1982). Cinderellas of the Empire: Towards a History of Kiribati and Tuvalu. Canberra: Australian National University Press.

Maude, H. C. & Maude, H. E. (1981). Tioba and the Tabiteuean Religious Wars. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 90 (3), 307-336. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20705580

Need proper reference

Talu, A. et al. (1979). Kiribati: Aspects of History. Tarawa, Kiribati: Institute of Pacific Studies and Extension Services, University of the South Pacific.

Thaman, R. R. (1992). Vegetation of Nauru and the Gilbert Islands: Case Studies of Poverty, Degradation, Disturbance and Displacement. Pacific Science, 46 (2), 128-158. Retrieved from http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/719

The World Bank (2014). Kiribati: Data. Retrieved from http://data.worldbank.org/country/kiribati