The Origin of Spear Fighting: A Nasinga (story told for entertainment) by Jacob Mua, August 10, 1981


Note that the story includes the explanation for the presence of tobacco and the knowledge of curing it. Tobacco was not indigenous to the area.


This is the story of the route Ruvi took and the things that he did when he came here. First he brought out the people who lived in the bamboo and in the stones. He brought them out into the open in this way. He went ashore between Paparpi and Anuriai, and he said to his boats crew, "We'll come in here between these two places and teach the people who live here. First I'll go ashore and find something I've been searching for." I think the men knew that Ruvi was going to do exploring, for when they went ashore he took his kulalua 'canoe plane' with him. He put it over his shoulder, climbed over the stones and went up to where there was some bamboo standing. Then he took his ariu 'flat' planing adz and cut the base of the bamboo at the joint. As he cut it he cut into the flesh of the man inside.


"Yeow!" Who's cutting me?"


"What? Hey! Are there people inside the bamboo? Come out here! Come on."


They came out and he asked, "Are there many of you?"


"Oh, there are many of us. We originated in the bamboo and we live inside it!"


He broke open the bamboo and all the men and women came out. They stood at the base of the bamboo and he could see that they weren't right, for their anuses were about six feet long and when they walked they drug their rectums behind them. All of them -- men, women and children -- were afflicted in this way. So he lay down a log and said, "All right. You come over here and climb over this log." As each one did Ruvi cut the persons trailing rectum.


"Eeee!" they cried. The one part lay there while the other part that was left drew back inside the body. He did this to each person until all of them were done. Then he said, "All right, I've made you into real people and brought you out into the open. Now you clear this area, build houses, and live here the way other people do. You are no longer imprisoned inside the bamboo."


Then he went on to Viliku there he rested. He and his crew wrapped taro and baked it, and the scraps that they threw away turned into stones. There are many of them still there on the other side of the mangrove swamp. Then a bigman of Viliku went to see this man. They talked for a while until finally he said, "All right, after we eat we'll leave." When they left they gave these people the Lakoa canoe prow design, with two combs on the prow.


Then they went into the mouth of the Ulvo River, close to where our school is. They put ashore a man, whose name I forget, and instructed him, "You go and teach the people how to dry tobacco in the sun, and cover it and store it in their houses. Show them how to remove pig tusks and instruct them in the way to hold an ololo [mortuary ceremony]."


He went ashore carrying a banana named Kilotari meaning 'it came from over the sea'. Ruvi gave them the sprouts of this banana and said, "Take this banana and plant it and do the other things that I have told you." So he took it and the mangas, the one whose leaves are red. He went ashore and planted the mangas, then he cleared a spot and planted his banana. The sea shells and trocus shells and this mangas of his are still there. Anytime you come here you can see them there near the mouth of the river. After he had planted these two things he waited for the banana to bear fruit. When it did and was ripe, he ate some. Then he said, "I'm alone. Who can I teach these things to? I'll go up on that mountain. If there are any people there I'll give them my knowledge."


So he took just one banana cutting with him, leaving the rest there, and he found a place that he thought was unoccupied where he could clear the ground and plant his banana. He was clearing the bush and the man who lived in a nearby settlement heard him. "Hey! Fellows, Who's that. What's that noise down there? One of you run and see."


The man went down and saw this stranger clearing bush and cutting trees. He was decorated with armbands on both arms and he had a basket, and a comb decorated with pigeon feathers, and he was wearing pig's tusks. When he saw this the man said "Oh! Nobody from around here looks like that. Where'd he come from?" He was afraid so he went back to the settlement.


"Hey," he said to the leader. "I saw the man and he looks different from us. He has a comb and aromatic leaves in his armlets. He's something else."


So the old leader, whose name was Agum, went down to see for himself. "Hey, what are you doing?"


"Oh It's just me."


"Where are you from?"


"I'm from Saur, from a part of New Guinea.


"Ah! What are you doing?"


"Well, I thought that nobody lived here and I just wanted to clear this little bit of bush so I could plant my banana cutting."


"Ah, never mind. It's all right. You go ahead add clear it. I live over there. I'll build a house there and we can put our toilet between us."


He replied, "No! That's not any good. You stay here. I can't stay with you. I'll go find another place."


So he left and found another place to clear up on the mountain. He was working away when another man, whose name was Uko, found him. He asked him, "Oh, Brother. Where did you come from?


"Oh! Has this place got people too? Do you live here? Where do you live?"


"My place is in the open. There's the base of the mountain and there's a men's house right there. There's where I go to piss. It's all right for you to stay here. I'll put ny toilet between us."


"No, I can't stay. I'll leave again,"


He walked until he found the ridge and then he followed it. He went to Kukurio, then Asaplavatia, and then on to a place called Teklangai, until finally he came to Lumos, where Lumos ridge meets that larger one. He said to himself. "I think I'll stay here." He began work not realizing that there were people living on Lumos. As he worked one of the men heard him and came to find out what the noise was.


"Oh! Brother, what are you doing?


Surprised, he exclaimed, "Oh, this bush has people living here too, eh? I thought the place was unoccupied and I just thought to work, to make a little garden where I could plant my banana cutting. But I guess not. You live here."


"Brother, I live here"


"All right, you stay here. I'll find another place like this."


He continued past Vini, Molumboi, Kapkava, and Viliku until at last he came to Malangakai. When he got there the leader of Malangakai said, "Ahh, where did you come from?"


"I came from Saur. It's a very long way."


"Ahh: Are you alone?"


"I came with Ruvi, our leader. I stayed here but he went on, around the point, past that island there and on to the east. He left me here alone."


The man replied. "Oh! That's good. I've been looking for a companion. You stay here and we'll be friends."


So he remained there in Malangakani. The people gave him a woman for his wife and he lived there with them. Finally he decided to share Ruvi's knowledge with them, "All right! Bigman, tie down some pigs and remove their canine teeth." They did this, and when they had released the pigs he said, "Bring your tobacco here." He showed them how to break the spine of the leaves by pounding them with a stick until they were flexible. Then they tied the leaves together and hung them in the sun until they were dried. Finally, when the tobacco was sufficiently cured he told them, "Now they're ready to smoke. Try them." They smoked the tobacco and agreed that it was excellent. Then they wrapped the leaves and stored them in their houses. So he taught them how to cure tobacco.


"All right" he told them, "Collect your pigs. They got their pigs together and he taught them how to hold an ololo, a proper mortuary ceremony. My master sent me to teach you this ceremony. This is our custom, passed down from our ancestors, that we teach to our children."


Now this man's wife bore a son named Napopolo. Napopolo had children and grandchildren until today he has many descendants. Some of them live here with us: Bruno and his brother are two. Aisapel and Mumunga are two more from this family.  


This man from Saur and the first people he met, the ones he didn't stay with, communicated using sign language. When he settled in Malangkai the people taught him Lusi. In those days Lusi was spoken from here to Malangkai, while Anem was spoken in the interior in Gereng and other villages. The man from Saur spoke a foreign language, a New Guinea language like nothing we have here.


Ruvi continued his journey and many people know of him. He went from Uagalu to Siasi and then to Kilenge where he left the canoe design that they will use. The opening near the prow is very narrow. Then he came to Viliku where he gave them Lakoa. He gave the Kove still another design and then went on to Volupai and Lakalai where he taught them how to make long canoes. When we see a long canoe coming from that direction we recognize it. "Here comes a canoe from Lakalai or Volupai." We don't know where he came from originally. I think that Saur was just a midpoint on his long journey. Perhaps God sent him.


It was after Ruvi had come and gone that we had the tidal waves. The sea washed over the north coast killing many people. Some escaped and went to Kaulong or over to the south coast to Arawe. Others went to a place that we call Akisuru, Ruvualu, and Akisuru. They stayed there until the heavy seas had subsided and the tides were low again. They waited there until the ground was dry, grass had come up again, and the trees that had been bent over had straightened up again. They waited until they were sure it was safe to return to the coast.


There was a third thing that happened, the coming of the spear. This style of warfare with spears was developed by the Lusi. The spear flew like a bird. If a man threw it it was strong enough to pierce three trees, three trees of the type we call tol that know there the Lepni is and the Lakani, and that our school is between them? All right, if you look up into the mountains, you will see a stone up on one of the peaks. The spear landed up there. There was a man who carried the heart section of a little tree, the part that remained after he had removed the bark. It's the same thing that the women carry when they dance the murmur. He was carrying this and when he found the spear he danced to it. "Ah, what's this here? What is it?" He fastened his decoration to the spear and began to dance with it, and suddenly it exploded. The spear exploded and fell to the ground, and the ground was covered with spears. The man went into the bush and the spear went with him. It went past Gereng where the people tried to catch it and keep it for their own, but they couldn't. It went past Solong, and they couldn't keep it either. It was too strong for them. It went on until it reached Kaulong, and there it fill down. Then it turned on them and there was war. The fighting was so pervasive that it went all the way to Rabaul. It ate up the people of this entire island. It was this that drove Avio from Akisu down, over the rivers, and away. He fled from this warfare which was making life so difficult. He came all the way to Gavu ridge. There he bore Aplem, and Aplem had Kilovu. Why did Aplem call his son Kilovu? In the Lusi language we say "i kilo kilo ngani veru sai, i rai, eavu i rai." [he crossed many ridges]. He wanted his name to commemorate his grandfather's journey, so he named him Kilovu. Then Kilovu bore Aplem whom he named after his father, the boy's grandfather. Aplem was the father of our father. So it was that people fled from this spear and settled in new places.


So the first thing that happened was the coming of Ruvi.


The second thing was the tidal wave.


The third thing was this spear.


The fourth thing was sorcery.


When the wars were over, sorcery came to eat us up. It's still with us. This spear was  called Taruandewa. Taru is a heavy rain, so the name means "The heavy rain from Andewa." When this type of rain falls it isn't trifling, and likewise this type of warfare isn't trifling. Many spears fall. If warfare threatens the Aria people say, "Do you want to fight in the Lusi fashion? Do you want Taruandewa? Look out! If you are a real man you'll come back from it, but if not you'll fall."


Therefore I believe that this spear must have originated with the Lusi. The Aria say that the Lusi invented it. It is a metaphor. It isn't a real spear that can magically kill many men. Originally, when men fought they would attack a few at a time, giving the enemy an opportunity to dodge the spear. But the Lusi changed this. They threw all their spears together so that the enemy had no chance to get out of the way. That's Taruandewa. [Mua associates the tidal waves with the explosion of Ritter that the Kilenge people speak of.]