Rennell and Bellona are two uplifted coral atolls located to the south of the main chain Solomon Islands. The two islands, who share an almost identical language and culture, are considered 'Polynesian outliers', as they are located outside of the 'Polynesian triangle' but are inhabited by people whose affinities are clearly Polynesian. The islanders, who converted en masse in 1938, were among the last in Polynesia to adopt Christianity.

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Traditional Culture(1910-1935)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Absent (Source)
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 17-19, 63-64
Monberg (1991), pp. 23-97, 107-111
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 22-23, 45-54, 199-202
Nature god(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 99-101
Ancestral spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 115-116
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 17
Monberg (1991), pp. 116-118
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Monberg (1991), pp. 118-131
God(s) Present, and the principal focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 17-19, 62-65
Monberg (1991), pp. 44-84, 112-153

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 305, 320, 338

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 116
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 320
Monberg (1991), pp. 115
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Principal determinant of one's afterlife (Source)
Monberg (1991), pp. 121-123
Myth of humanity’s creation Absent (Source)
Monberg (1991), pp. 23-24
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Monberg (1991), pp. 23-24
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 22
Culture hero(es) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Monberg (1991), pp. 24, 63-71, 98-106

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 17

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Monberg (1991), pp. 48
Resource management tapu Present (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 44
Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 41, 44

Mana

Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007), pp. 412
Keesing (1984), pp. 146
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blust (2007), pp. 412
Keesing (1984), pp. 146
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 189
Monberg (1991), pp. 157-174, 218-367
Costly sacrifices and offerings Absent (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 59-63
Monberg (1991), pp. 157-174, 218-367
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 17-19
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than a local community, no larger than the largest political community in the culture (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 59-63
Monberg (1991), pp. 157-174, 218-367
Political and religious differentiation Considerable overlap between religious and political leaders (Source)
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 17-18

Rites

Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 38
Genital cutting Absent from culture (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 111
Scarification Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 114-115
Tattooing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 107-110
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969)
Elbert & Monberg (1965)
Social Environment +
Population 1450 (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 30
Monberg (1956), pp. 8
Population of largest political community 100-999 (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 30, 116-117
Monberg (1962), pp. 145-146
Monberg (1991), pp. 19
Importance of Patrilateral descent High (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 112
Importance of Matrilateral descent Low (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 112
Polygamy Monogamy preferred, but exceptional cases of polygyny (Source)
Hays (1991I), pp. 277
Marital residence Patrilocal or virilocal - with husband's kin (Source)
Hays (1991I), pp. 277

Conflict

Conflict within communities Moderate (Source)
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 16
Conflict between communities of the culture Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 16
Conflict with other cultures Rare or never (Source)
Kuschel (1988), pp. 191-200
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Occasional but not often (Source)
Monberg (1991), pp. 7-8
Kuschel (1988), pp. 191-200
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 168.8 (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Solomon Islands) (2014)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 5973.0 (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Solomon Islands) (2014)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Absent: No evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109, 123
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)
Kuschel (1988), pp. 195
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Absent (Source)
Simmons & Gajdusek (1966), pp. 159
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 76-77
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 16
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 75
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 80
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 16
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Absent (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 75
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 56
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 16

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Medium (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 64-75
Monberg (1991), pp. 8
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 64-75
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 14, 80-81
Monberg (1991), pp. 8

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Absent (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 16
Metalworking Absent (Source)
Birket-Smith (1969), pp. 89-105
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture Two (Source)
Ethnologue (Rennell-Bellona) (2014)

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude -11.6 (Source)
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 160.3 (Source)
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Atoll (Source)
Wingham (1997), pp. 7
Island Size (km²) 840.0 (Source)
Wingham (1997), pp. 9-10
Maximum elevation (meters) 180.0 (Source)
Wingham (1997), pp. 9
Post Contact History(1935-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Role of social status in conversion process Primarily a top-down process. (Source)
Monberg (1962), pp. 145-150
Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Monberg (1962)
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from Austronesian societies only (Source)
Monberg (1962), pp. 145, 149-150
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 7
Monberg (1962), pp. 145

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 5
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 19
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 7
Immigration Absent (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 10-12
Language shift Low (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 10
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 23

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Low (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 17-19
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present but minor (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 19-20

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present but rarely used (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 14
Air travel Present, local only (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 14
Sea port Absent (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 14

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely voluntary (Source)
Kuschel (1988), pp. 196
Loss of political autonoomy Medium (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 7
Kuschel (1988), pp. 196-199
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Unofficial religious syncretism Low (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001A), pp. 5
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 19
Institutional religious syncretism Low (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001A), pp. 5
Elbert & Monberg (1965), pp. 19
Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Solomon Islands Government (2001B), pp. 6
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.

Birket-Smith, K. (1969). An Ethnological Sketch of Rennell Island, a Polynesian Outlier in Melanesia (2nd Edition). Copenhagen, Denmark: Bianco Lunos Bogtrykkeri.

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

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

Elbert, S.H. & Monberg, T. (1965). From the Two Canoes: Oral Traditions on Rennell and Bellona Islands. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Solomon Islands). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/553556/Solomon-Islands

Ethnologue (Map of Solomon Islands). (2014). Map of Solomon Islands. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com/map/SB.

Ethnologue (Rennell-Bellona). (2014). Rennell-Bellona: A language of Solomon Islands. Ethnologue. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com/language/mnv

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

Hays, T.E. (1991I). "Rennell Island". In T.E. Hays (Ed.) Encyclopaedia of World Cultures (Volume II: Oceania) (pp 277). New York, NY: G.K. Hall & Co.

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

Kuschel, R. (1988). Early Contacts between Bellona and Rennell Islands and the Outside World. The Journal of Pacific History, 23 (2), 191-200. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25168958.

Lambert, S.M. (1931). Health Survey of Rennell and Bellona Islands. Oceania, 2 (2), 136-173. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40327363

Monberg T. (1956) Ta'aroa in the Creation Myths of the Society Islands. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 65(3), 253-281. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20703563.

Monberg, T. (1962). Crisis and Mass Conversion on Rennell Island in 1938. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 71 (2), 145-150. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20703992

Monberg, T. (1991). Bellona Island Beliefs and Rituals. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Rennell and Bellona Development Profile. NEED PROPER REFERENCE

Simmons, R.T. & Gajdusek, D.C. (1966). A Blood Group Genetic Survey of Children of Bellona and Rennell Islands (B.S.I.P.) and Certain Northern New Hebridean Islands. Archaeology and Physical Anthropology, 1 (2), 155-174. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40385989

Solomon Islands Government (2001). Malaita Province Development Profile. Honiara, Solomon Islands: Ministry of Provincial Government and Rural Development.

Wingham, E.J. (1997). Nomination of East Rennell, Solomon Islands by the Government of the Solomon Islands for Inclusion in the World Heritage List of Natural Sites. Christchurch, NZ: Larcombe Print Ltd.