IndexPacificsMelanesiaNew HebridesMalekula Mewun

Featured: Big Nambas, Tanna, Mewun



Larcom (1980)[1]:


“While the wishes of men from a given ples contracted the pool of marriageable women for would-be suitors from another ples, the suitors tried to circumvent female infanticide and to expand the pool of possible wives through pre-natal betrothal. Because of the shortage of women, Mewun adult men frequently tried to betroth a wife before the wife was born. The story goes that they would go up to a pregnant woman, put their hand on her belly and claim the unborn child if it proved to be a girl. The bargain was sealed with a gift of a pig to the parents, refundable if they had a boy instead. Usually, affianced girls were left with their mothers until they were weaned. At that time the future husband would claim his bride by delivering the rest of the bridewealth and taking his adopted wife home to his own ples. There she would remain in the custody of one of his female relatives until she was into puberty at which time her husband would build her her own house and begin having intercourse with her” (p146-7).












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

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Larcom, J. C. (1980) Place and the Politics of Marriage: The Mewun of Malekula, New Hebrides/ Vanuaaku. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International