The Orokaiva are a people indigenous to Papua New Guinea. In 1930, they were reported as being speakers of Binandere and divided into three groups: the Umo-ke (“River People”); the Eva-Embo (“the Salt-Water People”); and the Pereho (“the Inland People”).
The Orokaiva occupied what is now Oro Province and the periphery of the area they inhabited was marked by the Owen Stanley Range in the south, German New Guinea in the west, and the Hydrographers Range in the south.
Rites of passage
The rite of passage through which a child becomes an adult in Orokaiva society is largely exceptional among the peoples of Papua New Guinea, involving both girls and boys. It begins with masked figures, dressed in bird feathers and pigs' tusks and representing ancestral spirits, entering the village as if on a hunt, and herding up the children who are to go through initiation. The figures shout out "Bite, bite, bite," and physically assault pigs, trees and children, before taking the children away by force to a platform that is very much like that used for killing pigs, in a symbolic killing of the children. They then take the children into the forest, where the children are left, blindfolded, in an isolated hut, in silence - and they are then told that they have now become the spirits of the dead. In the hut they are told the symbolism of the different feathers and the nature of sacred dances. Following this, they return to their village, this time acting as hunters, just as their captors had originally done.
- Bloch, Maurice. (1992). Prey into hunter: the politics of religious experience. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. Pages 8 to 23.
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