Title: Alan Lomax and the Gorguechons discuss their film of the Big Namba (part 1)
Date recorded: October , 1970
Date recorded: October , 1970
Tape number: T3841
Track Number: 1
Archive ID: T3841a
Belongs to: Gorguechon/Lomax, 1970
Note: The film shows a procession of men, as if coming on stage, in single file, the way they walk through the jungle, armed for defense, those in back more so. It is like a ballet. They have rehearsed the music most of all for hours. Songs very monotonous. Two or three drums. They sing in unison but not quite together. Lines of men moving in different patterns, like a military drill. Big Namba are highly structured, they huddle, knees bent, take places, drumming begins. Alan Lomax: Any other time they closely huddle together Jacques Gorguechon: In the men's house. They don't work, are just hunters. Mme Gorguechon: They are used to close contact. Women are not allowed. They can only look on from a distance. There is no real audience except sometimes a Christianized relative from the coast. They dance in lines, face to face. Wear beautiful feathers, ankle wraps. Kneeling and nodding their heads as in conversation. Alan Lomax: They look like plants. Jacques Gorguechon: They are not able to translate or explain songs. Some things are secret. They are not ashamed but won't talk about cannibalism, think outsiders wouldn't understand. Big Namba have developed ways of killing pigs (with bow and arrow) so the meat will be fresh for duration of ceremony. Role of a hermaphrodite. This one happened to have a high personal rank and lot of power. Homosexuality is institutionalized: boys are initiated by grandfathers, would stay with grandfather until old enough to take a wife. Grandfather's wife was too old to work in garden, so boy would do it. Practice of pederasty explains a lot of the jealousy and hostility. Alan Lomax: In other parts of New Guinea, men and women sleep together in bush, not in homes. Jacques Gorguechon: Chief Virabut had more than one wife, each with own hut, but he was the only one. You had to kill a lot of pigs to buy a wife. Women form a kind of sorority, live together. Lesbianism, if any, not obvious. Women more modest, wear underskirts even when bathing. Penis sheaths are called "nambas." Film shows body painting (out of sequence) with soot and cocoanut oil, black on black. Motifs of colors. Only chiefs wore red. Huge slit drum, nine feet tall, is simple compared to those of other places, which were sometimes even bigger and more decorated. Drum was called a "man." At the turn of the century it is said that victims were killed by attaching them to the drum, tied spread eagled, and beaten on their heads and bodies to tenderize the flesh.
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About the session: Alan Lomax and the Gorguechons discuss their film of the Big Namba
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