AgricultureThe cultivation of plants for food or other uses.
Ancestral spiritA deceased ancestor who is thought to have had abilities comparable to those currently alive while living, but who acquired supernatural powers after death. Unlike deified ancestors, ancestral spirits have a sphere of influence and concern that is usually confined to their families, and are usually the spirits of those who lived in the recent past.
AtollAn oceanic island formed from the coral reef surrounding a sunken volcanic island, that has not been subject to tectonic uplift.
AustronesianPertaining to the Austronesian languages, or to peoples that have historically spoken these languages.
Bottom-up processA process that begins with those of lower social status and spreads upwards to those of higher social status.
Continental islandAn island situated on a continental shelf.
CultureThe word “culture” is used in two closely related ways in this database. The first meaning (“culture”, with no article) denotes traditions (beliefs, practices and knowledge) that are transmitted by social learning (Currie, Greenhill & Mace, 2010, p 3904; Mace & Jordan, 2005, p 116). The second and more specific meaning (“a culture”) denotes the set of traditions that are characteristic of a particular group of people, or, conversely, a group of people characterised by a particular set of traditions.
Culture heroA demigod whose actions are used to explain the presence of a particular feature of the physical or social world.
Creationist creation mythA myth concerning the origin of humanity in which humans were created by a supernatural agent.
Deified ancestorA human ancestor who became a god after death. Unlike ancestral spirits, deified ancestors have spheres of influence and concern that usually extend beyond their families, and are usually believed to have lived in the distant past.
DemigodA being that is stated or implied to be human or partly human, but who is believed to have had godlike powers while alive.
Evolutionary creation mythA myth concerning the origin of humanity, in which humans arose spontaneously from some other form.
External warfareWarfare with people of a different culture.
FishingThe catching or harvesting both of true fish and large, motile invertebrates that live in a marine or aquatic environments.
Foreign education systemAn education system that is not indigenous to the culture being coded.
Foreign government systemsSystems of government other than those indigenous to the culture. Need not imply political dominance by foreigners – a culture can be politically independent but have a foreign government system.
GatheringThe collection of wild plants or invertebrate animals for food or other uses.
Genital cuttingA bodily modification involving cutting of the genitals.
Great godA god who is not believed to have lived as a human, and whose presence is not tied to any one physical form or feature of the natural world.
HeadhuntingThe practice of killing people for the purpose of obtaining their heads.
High godA high god is a being who created the universe and / or is the ultimate power in the universe (after Murdock, 1967, p 160).
Human sacrificeThe ritualised killing of a human being, in a non-military context, as a sacrifice.
HuntingThe killing of wild vertebrates, on land or in water but excluding fish, for food or other uses.
Immoral behaviourBehaviour that harms other members of society and / or is believed to harm society itself.
ImpietyBehaviour that directly offends a supernatural agent.
Internal warfareWarfare that takes place between communities that share the same culture.
Jurisdictional hierarchyA vertically ordered set of levels of jurisdiction, in which each level has authority over the level of authority beneath it.
Kinship tapuA tapu concerning relations between (biological or non-biological) relatives.
Language shiftThe adoption of a foreign language by members of an indigenous culture. Coded as low if the indigenous language continued to be the principal means of communication, high if the foreign language became the principal means of communication, and medium if the indigenous and foreign languages were used to a roughly equal extent throughout the postcontact period.
Level of jurisdictionA leader or group of leaders that has direct authority over a group of people, or over a subordinate leader or group of leaders.
Local communityA group of one or more nuclear families that share a common identity and are personally acquainted (at a minimum know each other faces). Except for in the case of nomadic peoples, local communities tend to be located within a contiguous geographic region.
ManaAny cognate of the proto-Oceanic word “*mana”.
Nature godA god who is identified with or whose presence is closely tied to a particular feature of the natural world.
Nature spiritA spirit who is identified with or whose presence is closely tied to a particular feature of the natural world.
Official syncretismSyncretism that is practiced, or explicitly endorsed by, a religious institution.
Plant / Animal tapuA tapu concerning behaviour towards plants or animals.
Political communityThe largest cultural group under a common jurisdiction, or if no defined leadership is present a group that makes important decisions by consensus.
Political / Religious differentiationThe extent to which political and religious leaders are distinguished from each other.
Pre-Austronesian populationA population that occupied a particular area prior to the settlement of Austronesian-speaking peoples there.
Religious influenceChanges to a religious system that occur as a result of contact with another religious system.
Replacement-level immigrationLarge-scale migration of people from non-indigenous cultures into the ancestral territory of the culture being coded resulting in a decline in the proportion of the population that is indigenous.
Resource management tapuA tapu aimed at protecting a communally owned resource.
RiteA ritual marking an important change of personal status.
RitualA ritual is a set sequence of actions performed in a manner prescribed by tradition. The causal explanation or justification for the behaviour is opaque or involves supernatural forces.
Ritual social unitA group of people that conducts rituals together.
SacrificeThe presentation and forfeiting of a valuable possession or resource to a supernatural agent.
ScarificationA bodily modification involving the deliberate infliction of permanent scars.
Sea portA wharf that can dock large foreign ships.
Social hierarchy tapuA tapu concerning relations or distinctions between people of differing social status.
Social stratificationMarked differences in status or wealth between members of the same political community which are transmitted from one generation to another.
Supernatural practiceA practice motivated in whole or in part by supernatural belief.
Syncretic religious movementsOrganised religious groups that integrate features of an indigenous religion with those of one or more world religions, but are not officially part of the world religion (s) in question.
SyncretismThe fusion of features from different religions.
TapuAny restriction placed around a behaviour, object or relationship, violation of which carries the implied or explicit threat of supernatural punishment.
TattooingA bodily modification involving the creation of permanent patterns on the skin that uses paint or some other permanent colouring agent.
Tectonic islandA non-volcanic oceanic island formed primarily by tectonic uplift.
Time focusThe point in time or period of time to which observations about a culture are applicable.
Tooth pullingExtraction of healthy teeth.
Top-down processA process that begins with those of higher social status and spreads downward to those of lower social status.
Traditional stateFor the purposes of this database a culture can be described as being in its traditional state if its supernatural belief system has not been influenced by world religions, or if despite having been influenced by world religions the supernatural belief system remains unique.
Unofficial syncretismSyncretism that occurs outside of an institutional context and is not explicitly endorsed by a religious institution.
Use of forceThe use of physical violence, or the threat of physical violence, to attain a desired outcome.
Volcanic high islandAn oceanic island, formed primarily by volcanism, that has not yet become an atoll.
VoluntaryRefers to a decision that is made without external force or the threat of it.
Wage labourWork that is undertaken for payment in goods or currency.