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These photos were taken on a trip in 2001 through Vakuta, Iwa, Gawa, Woodlark, Budibudi, and then south west to Egum Atoll. I was using my fathers ancient SLR camera which had a crack in the back so ever one of my photos is overexposed (very disappointing). The two photos on the beach at the bottom of the page are from the beach on Gawa where we bought a number of artifacts before heading up the coral cliffs into the villages. The skulls in the third photo were on the highest point of one of the islands in Egum Atoll, i asked a number of questions on why and who but there was a strong avoidance of replying so i didn't push.

A Kula canoe and owner on Vakuta Island.


Above is the crew of the small workboat i was on.








Milne Bay and the Kula Ring

Kula, also known as the Kula exchange or Kula ring, is a ceremonial exchange system conducted in the Milne Bay Province ofPapua New Guinea.

The Kula ring spans 18 island communities of the Massim archipelago, including the Trobriand Islands and involves thousands of individuals. Participants travel at times hundreds of miles by canoe in order to exchange Kula valuables which consist of red shell-disc necklaces (veigun or soulava) that are traded to the north (circling the ring in clockwise direction) and white shell armbands (mwali) that are traded in the southern direction (circling anti-clockwise). If the opening gift was an armshell, then the closing gift must be a necklace and vice versa. The terms of participation vary from region to region. Whereas on the Trobriand Islands the exchange is monopolised by the chiefs, in Dobu all men can participate.

All Kula valuables are non-use items traded purely for purposes of enhancing one's social status and prestige. Carefully prescribed customs and traditions surround the ceremonies that accompany the exchanges which establish strong, ideally life-long relationships between the exchange parties (karayta'u, "partners"). The act of giving, as Mauss wrote, is a display of the greatness of the giver, accompanied by shows of exaggerated modesty in which the value of what is given is actively played down. Such a partnership involves strong mutual obligations such as hospitality, protection and assistance. According to the Muyuw, a good Kula relationship should be "like a marriage". Similarly, the saying around Papua is: "once in Kula, always in Kula" (Damon, 1980: 282).

From Wikipedia: Kula Ring

Lagim / Splashboard

Tabuya / Wave splitter

“sakusaku” or “munkuris” canoe prow ornament

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