Cultural Overview

The ethnographic present of 1959-63 is used in this description. At that time the Rungus still carried on their traditional cultural ecology under the political control of the British colonial administration. The Rungus village is the major political unit. It has residual rights over its land in which only resident members may cultivate swiddens. The village area encompasses the drainage pattern of one of the small streams that drain from the spine of the peninsula of their territory. A village may consist of one or more longhouse hamlets. It is not a kinship unit. Membership can be granted to families with no kin resident in the village. The major social unit in terms of economy and religion is the domestic family inhabiting a longhouse apartment which it constructs and owns. The domestic family ideally, and most frequently, consists of a husband, his wife, and their children. Parents of the married couple may join when they are no longer able to carry on their swidden activities. Marriage requires a brideprice of brassware, gongs, and jars. After marriage a husband lives in the apartment of his wife's family until the following agricultural year when he builds their own apartment onto the longhouse. The domestic family cuts a swidden each year in secondary forest, planting rice, maize, cassava, and a variety of vegetables and other economically useful plants. On removing the last of the produce from the swidden the area reverts to the village reserve for any other family to use. Animal protein and fat is provided through the sacrifices of pigs and chickens to various spirits that cause illness and by hunting and fishing. The family also plants and owns a number of fruit trees. Agricultural surplus is invested in gongs, jars, and various types of brassware. These are inherited individually by children of the family.

There are three social classes based solely on economics: wealthy, middle class, and poor. Prior to British colonization, there was a slave class that was primarily based on debt slavery.

Along the coast of the peninsula are a number of coastal Muslim villages, with whom the Rungus trade agricultural surpluses for fish, brassware, gongs, head-cloths, and other items of native weaving. Intervillage disputes that cannot be resolved are taken to the leaders of these villages for mediation.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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