Also known as: Woleiai; Woleiaian

Ifaluk is part of the cultural and linguistic region of Micronesia known as Woleiai. Ifaluk has been of interest to ethnographers because its relative isolation meant that its indigenous religion was retained under after World War II, when the islanders began to convert to Christianity. Prior to the arrival of the colonial powers Spain, Germany and Japan in the area, Ifaluk and the other Woleiai islands were vassals of the chiefs of Yap.

Show Map of Location

Traditional Culture(1885-1910)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 207-243, 214-215
Nature god(s) Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 207-243, 344-348
Ancestral spirits Present, and the principal focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 213-227
Spiro (1952)
Deified ancestor(s) Absent (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 137, 207-243, 344-348
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 210, 227, 345

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 181-182

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 213
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 213-218, 308-314
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 208-209
Culture hero(es) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 213

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 236-237

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 237
Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 181

Mana

Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blevins (2008)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Present (Source)
Blust (2007), pp. 419
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 10-18, 207-243
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 234-235
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than the largest political community in the culture (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 9-10
Spiro (1949), pp. 10
Political and religious differentiation No overlap (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 160, 183
Oliver (1989), pp. 968

Rites

Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 100, 244-314
Tattooing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
Burrows (1963), pp. 15, 19
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 244-314
Social Environment +
Population 300 (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 4-5
Population of largest political community 100-999 (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 4-5, 121
Importance of Patrilateral descent Low (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 125, 137
Importance of Matrilateral descent High (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 125, 137
Polygamy Limited polygyny (Source)
Alkire (1991), pp. 383
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 302
Marital residence Matrilocal or uxorilocal - with wife's kin (Source)
Alkire (1991), pp. 383
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 302

Conflict

Conflict within communities Moderate (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 193
Younger (2009), pp. 139
Betzig & Wichimai (1991), pp. 245
Conflict between communities of the culture Rare or never (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 121, 193
Conflict with other cultures Rare or never (Source)
Spiro (1949), pp. 10
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 9-17
Spiro (1949), pp. 11-13
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 3316.9 (Source)
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
Burrows (1952), pp. 21
Mitchell (1975), pp. 93
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.23
Burrows (1952), pp. 21
Mitchell (1975), pp. 93
Christian influence on supernatural belief Evidence of influence (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 2, 211
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 31-32
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 42-53
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 34, 41-103, 53, 102
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Absent (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 31-35
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Absent (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 31-35

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 35, 104-110
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 35
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 35, 104-110

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Minor (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 170-171
Oliver (1974), pp. 969
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 26

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude 7.2 (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 26
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 144.5 (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957)
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Atoll (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 26
Island Size (kmĀ²) 1.5 (Source)
Younger (2009), pp. 139
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 26
Maximum elevation (meters) 6.0 (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 26
Post Contact History(1910-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Role of social status in conversion process Primarily a bottom-up process. (Source)
Betzig & Wichimai (1991), pp. 251
Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Betzig & Wichimai (1991), pp. 251
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Absent (Source)
Betzig et al. (1989), pp. 163
Sosis (2005), pp. 14-15
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Betzig & Wichimai (1991), pp. 251

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Sosis (2005), pp. 14
Betzig & Wichimai (1991), pp. 251
Le (2000), pp. 202
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Spiro (1980), pp. 343
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 199
Immigration Absent (Source)
Sosis (2005)
Language shift Low (Source)
Sosis (2005), pp. 5
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Sosis (2005), pp. 13

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Sosis (2005), pp. 19
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present and substantial (Source)
Burrows & Spiro (1957), pp. 173
Sosis (2005), pp. 13

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Absent (Source)
Sosis (2005), pp. 13
Air travel Absent (Source)
Sosis (2005), pp. 13-14
Sea port Absent (Source)
Sosis (2005), pp. 13-14

Loss of Autonomy

Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Burrows (1952), pp. 21
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Institutional religious syncretism Medium (Source)
Sosis (2005), pp. 14
Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Sosis (2005), pp. 14
External Links
References
Alkire, W. H., & Beierle, J. (2009). Culture Summary: Woleai Region. New Haven, Conn.: HRAF. Retrieved from http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=or21-000

Alkire, W.H. (1991). Woleai. Encyclopedia of World Cultures (Vol. II, pp. 382-384). New York, NY: G.K. Hall and Co.

Allen, J. (1991). The Role of Agriculture in the Evolution of the Pre-Contact Hawaiian State. Asian Perspectives, 30 (1), 117-132. Retrieved from http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/19259

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.

Betzig, L. L. (1988). Redistribution: Equity or Exploitation? In L. Betzig, M. B. Bulder, & P. Turke (Eds.), Human Reproductive Behaviour: a Darwinian Perspective. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Betzig, L., & Wichimai, S. (1991). A not so perfect peace: A history of conflict on Ifaluk. Oceania, 61 (3), 240-256. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40331217

Betzig, L., Harrigan, A. & Turke, P. (1989). Childcare on Ifaluk. Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie, 114, 161-177. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25842108

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

Born. (1904). Some observations of an ethnographic nature concerning the Woleai Islands. Mitteilungen aus den deutschen schutzgebieten mit benutzung amtlicher quellen Vol. 17 (175-191). Berlin.

Burrows, E. G. (1952). From Value to Ethos on Ifaluk Atoll. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 8 (1), 13-35. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3628551

Burrows, E. G. (1963). Flower in my Ear: Arts and Ethos of Ifaluk Atoll. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. Retrieved from http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseAuthorsFullContext&col=collection%28%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Oceania/OR21%27%29&docId=or21-043&tocOffset=tocPubInfoP

Burrows, E.G., & Spiro, M.E. (1957). An Atoll Culture: Ethnography of Ifaluk in the Central Carolines. Westport, CT: Greenwood 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.

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.

Le, H. N. (2000). Never leave your little one alone. In DeLoache, J. S. & Gottlieb, A. (Eds.), A world of babies: Imagined childcare guides for seven societies (199-220). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mitchell, R. E. (1975). Micronesian ghosts and the limits of functional analysis. Asian Folklore Studies, 34(2), 87-101.

Oliver, D. L. (1974). Ancient Tahitian society. Canberra, Australia: ANU Press

Oliver, D. L. (1989). Oceania: The native cultures of Australia and the Pacific Islands. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press

Sosis, R. (2005). Ifaluk atoll: An ethnographic account. New Haven, CT: Human Resources Area Files.

Spiro, M. E. (1949). Ifaluk: A South Sea Culture. Washington: Pacific Science Board, National Research Council. Retrieved from http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseCulturesFullContext&col=collection%28%27/eHRAF/ethnography/Oceania/OR21%27%29&docId=or21-028&tocOffsetId=tocPubInfoP

Spiro, M. E. (1952). Ghosts, Ifaluk, and teleological functionalism. American Anthropologist, 54(4), 497-503.

Spiro, M. E. (1980). Cultural and human nature. In G. Spindler (Ed.), The making of psychological anthropology (331-360). Berkeley, CA: University of California Berkeley Press

Younger, S. M. (2009). Violence and Warfare in the Pre-Contact Caroline Islands. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 118 (2), 135-164. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20707479