Introduction / History
In Morobe Province, seven villages between the Sari River to the west and the Timbe River to the east, speak Nukna as their mother tongue. Apalap, Siang, Hamelengan, Lumus, Sunde, and Komutu are nestled in the Sarawaget Mountains. Although the trails between these villages are steep, they are relatively close to each other in comparison with Bit, the seventh Nukna village, which lies on the east coast of Papua New Guinea.
The inhabitants of these villages derive their principal sustenance from the cultivation of taro, sweet potatoes, and yams, as well as greens and marita, the fruit of the pandanas plant. Their land also produces cucumbers, squash, and a variety of fruits, such as coconuts, watermelons, bananas, pineapples, and papayas. They raise chickens and pigs and hunt to supplement their diet. Goods are bought and sold in the larger villages and towns, such as Yalumet, Wasu, Derim, and Lae, the provincial capital, as well as in neighboring villages, where they frequently exchange household implements, spears, bows and arrows, and pigs.
Although they speak the same language, the people of Bit have a somewhat different lifestyle from the other villages in the language area, due to their coastal location. In addition to cultivating the crops mentioned above, the men fish, carve canoes, and grow coffee, and the women string necklaces and bracelets of the shells and exotic stones they collect on the beach. These products are sold in Wasu and Madang.
The Nukna celebrate to the sound of guitars, kundus (drums), and harmonizing voices, not only on special occasions, such as Independence Day, New Year's Day or weddings, but also in informal gatherings. In their singsings (traditional style music and dance, now often done with Christian songs), the dancers adorn themselves and wear animal-shaped headdresses made of feathers that sway gracefully as they dance.
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