The 'Hidden' Power of Male Ritual: The North Vanuatu Evidence
THE CENTRAL theme of this paper is expressed with enviable clarity and simplicity in the above short poem. Written by Herman Talingapua, a young Papua New Guinea man on his return home after acquiring Western knowledge abroad, it describes, in a manner strikingly in accord with those anthropological interpretations of male initiations which stress the male gender ambiguity theme, his perception of himself as, lacking access to the secret power within manhood, 'condemned to sleep with women, unfit to carry shield and spear'. But what is perhaps even more striking is the depiction of male power, and hence the key to the attainment of a satisfactory manhood, as located in the female-manufactured and pregnant baskets. In other words, Talingapua, the 'modern' young man, has produced yet another and most poignant version of the type of 'matriarchal' myth with which I am concerned in this chapter.
The University of Sydney acknowledges that its campuses and facilities sit on the ancestral lands of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have for thousands of generations exchanged knowledge for the benefit of all.