KIWAI (Papua New Guinea)


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As detailed by Knauft (1990)[1], the use of semen transactions, or age stratified same-sex sexual behaviour, was suggested by apparently unambiguous statements by Beardmore[2] and by Chalmers[3], as interpreted by Herdt [referring to the Bugilai] and initially corroborated by Langmore, who, citing unpublished letters of Chalmers, later scrutinised this; it was also explicitly denied by Landtman[4].  There is also an ambiguous statement by Riley[5] (Headhunters, p216), and a statement on the personal ignorance of it by Williams[6].









Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Knauft, B. (1990) The Question of Ritualized Homosexuality among the Kiwai of South New Guinea, J Pacific Hist 25: 188-210

[2] “Sodomy is regularly indulged in […] the boys suffer very much for a long time, and never recover”. Beardmore, E. (1890) The Natives of Mowat, Daudai, New Guinea, J Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 19:459-66, at p464; Knauft, The question, p205

[3] “The lads are prostituted by the men for quite a long time and soon become so diseased that they never recover”; Knauft, The question, p205-6. See Chalmers, J. (1903) Notes on the Bugilai, British New Guinea, J Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 33:108-10, at p109. Also referred to by Webster, H. (1911) Totem Clans and Secret Associations in Australia and Melanesia, J Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 41:482-508, at p495

[4] “A boy is not subjected to any actual practice in sexual matters during the moguru”. Kiwai Papuans, p354; Knauft, The question, p205

[5] In mouguru ritual, “[…] [p]art of the ritual has not been related; it is simply unprintable”. Headhunters, p216; Herdt, Ritualized homosexual behavior, p19; Knauft, The question, p206

[6] Williams, Orokolo, p429n2; Knauft, The question, p207