Also known as: Kuanua; Gunantuna

'Tolai' is a name of relatively recent origin given to the indigenous inhabitants of the Gazelle Peninsula at the eastern end of the island of New Britain. Prior to European contact, the Tolai engaged in extensive trade with neighbouring ethnic groups. Much of Tolai social and ritual life involved a form of currency known as shell money or tambu, which was regarded as sacred and supernaturally potent.

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Traditional Culture(1882)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Epstein (1992), pp. 165-167
Parkinson (2010), pp. 54-55
Nature god(s) Absent (Source)
Epstein (1992), pp. 165-167
Parkinson (2010), pp. 27-68
Ancestral spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Epstein (1992), pp. 165-167
Parkinson (2010), pp. 27-68, 34-38
Deified ancestor(s) Absent (Source)
Epstein (1992), pp. 165-167
Parkinson (2010), pp. 27-68, 34-38
God(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Epstein (1992), pp. 165-167

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Corbin (1976), pp. 18

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 36-37
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 36-37
Myth of humanity’s creation Absent (Source)
Janssen et al. (1973), pp. xiv
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Janssen et al. (1973), pp. xiv
Culture hero(es) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Janssen et al. (1973), pp. xiv
Parkinson (2010), pp. 27-68
Epstein (1992), pp. 165-167

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 45

Classes of Tapu

Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 27
Resource management tapu Absent (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 27-68

Mana

Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008), pp. 256-257
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008), pp. 256-257
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 27-68
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 37-38
Political and religious differentiation Some overlap (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 27-68
Epstein (1968), pp. 27

Rites

Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 30-38, 48-51, 61-66
Scarification Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 30-38, 63
Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 30-38, 65-66
Tattooing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 30-38, 63
Genital cutting Absent from culture (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 30-38, 48-51, 61-66
Social Environment +
Population 15,000 (Source)
Epstein (1992), pp. 333
Epstein (1963)
Population of largest political community 100-999 (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 334, 335
Importance of Patrilateral descent Low (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 334-335
Importance of Matrilateral descent High (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 334-335
Kinship system Iroquois (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 335
Polygamy Full polygyny (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 335
Marital residence Patrilocal or virilocal - with husband's kin (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 335

Conflict

(No) external warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 7, 54-55, 38-40
Conflict within community Moderate (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 335
Parkinson (2010), pp. 28
(No) internal warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Parkinson (2010), pp. 55
Epstein (1968), pp. 7
Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 7, 54-55
Parkinson (2010), pp. 38-40
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 7
Distance to nearest continent 1265.0 (Source)
Epstein (1969), pp. 10
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 and not in region of known contact (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 8
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Epstein (1969), pp. 11
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Epstein (1969), pp. 11
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 334
Epstein (1969), pp. 12
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
Epstein (1969), pp. 11
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 334
Epstein (1968), pp. 4

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Epstein (1969), pp. 11
Parkinson (2010), pp. 43-46
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Medium (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 11
Parkinson (2010), pp. 43-46
Water-based gathering Minor (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 334
Parkinson (2010), pp. 43-46, 46

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Major (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 334
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 333

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Volcanic high island (Source)
Woodhead et al (1998), pp. 1643
Island Size (km²) 36500.0 (Source)
'New Britain' (2020)
Maximum elevation (meters) 2440.0 (Source)
Coates & Peckover (2001), pp. 8

Location

Latitude -4.4 (Source)
Epstein (1969), pp. 8,10
Longitude 152.2 (Source)
Epstein (1969), pp. 8,10
Post Contact History(1882-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Use of force in conversion Medium (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 14-15
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Epstein (1999), pp. 290
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 14-15

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 14-15
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 9-10
Tateyama (2006), pp. 21
Immigration Absent (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 333
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Champness et al. (1963), pp. 67

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Tateyama (2006), pp. 25
Epstein (1968), pp. 10-11
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present and substantial (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 10-11

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 335
Air travel Present, local only (Source)
Tateyama (2006), pp. 49-50
Sea port Present (Source)
Epstein (1968), pp. 5

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Largely involuntary (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 333-334
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Epstein (1991), pp. 333-334
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Tateyama (2006), pp. 23-24
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.

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

Champness, L. T., Bradley, M. A., & Walsh, R. J. (1963). A study of the Tolai in New Britain. Oceania, 34 (1), 66-75. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/stable/40329699

Churchill, W. (1916). Sissano: Movements of Migration Within and Through Melanesia. Washington, D.C.: The Carnegie Institute of Washington.

Coates, B. J. & Peckover, W. S. (2001). Birds of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago: a Photographic Guide. Alderley, Queensland: Dove Publications.

Corbin, G. A. (1976). A brief note on a Tolai mask called Alor. Pacific Arts Newsletter, 3, 17-20

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.

Epstein, A. L. (1969). Matupit: Land, politics, and change among the Tolai of New Britain. Michigan: The University of Michigan.

Epstein, A. L. (1992). In the midst of life: Affect and ideation in the world of the Tolai. California: University of California Press

Epstein, A. L. (1999). Tolai sorcery and change. Ethnology, 38(4), 273-295.

Epstein, A.L. (1991). Tolai. Encyclopedia of World Cultures (Vol. II, pp. 333-336). New York: G.K. Hall and Company.

Epstein, A.L. (2000). "The Paranoid Ethos in Melanesia: The Case of the Tolai". Journal de la Societe des Oceanistes, 110, pp 3-18. DOI: 10.3406/jso.2000.2112

Epstein, T. S. (1963). European contact and Tolai economic development: A schema of economic growth. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 11(3, Part 1), 289-307.

Epstein, T. S. (1968). Capitalism, Primitive and Modern: Some Aspects of Tolai Economic Growth. Canberra: Australian National University Press.

H., Mennis, M., & Skinner, B. (Eds.) (1973). Tolai myths of origin. Australia: Jacaranda Press Pty Ltd

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

New Britain (2020). Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/New-Britain-island-Papua-New-Guinea.

Parkinson, R. (1986). Ethnography of Ontong Java and Tasman Islands with remarks re: the Marqueen and Abgarris Islands. Pacific Studies, 9 (3), 1-31.

Parkinson, R. (2010). Thirty Years in the South Seas (J. Dennison, trans.). Sydney, Australia: Sydney University Press. Retrieved from https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/6248

Simet, J. L. (1991). Tabu: Analysis of a Tolai ritual object (Doctoral Dissertation, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1885/110381

Tateyama, H. (2006). Tubuan: History, tradition, and identity among the Tolai of Papua New Guinea. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of British Columbia.

Woodhead, J. D., Eggins, S. M., Johnson, R. W. (1998). Magma Genesis in the New Britain Island Arc: Further Insights into Melting and Mass Transfer Processes. Journal of Petrology, 39 (9), 1641-1668. DOI: 10.1093/petroj/39.9.1641