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Of Winds, Worms and Mana: The Traditional Calendar of the Torres Islands, Vanuatu

Carlos Mondragón
Oceania
Vol. 74, No. 4 (Jun., 2004), pp. 289-308
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40332069
Page Count: 20
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Of Winds, Worms and Mana: The Traditional Calendar of the Torres Islands, Vanuatu
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Abstract

This paper explores how the expression of 'capacity' (mena, more commonly known as mana in other Oceanic settings) and the evocation of abundance are played out in relation to seasonal change and human-environmental relations, as observed in the Torres Islands, Vanuatu. It considers the importance for communities of North and Central Vanuatu of the appearance of a ubiquitous sea worm known as the Palolo, in combination with the regular motions of the sun and the moon, the prevaling winds and various other ecological patterns. While human-environmental relations are often mediated by the idea of mena, this also constitutes a basic social value that informs local senses of place and belonging. The study of temporality and environmental knowledge can help to de-centre territorial notions of 'place' by situating this concept within the broader context in which people experience it. Finally, because these data bear on macro comparisons that span the Western Pacific, this article is aimed in part at putting the interpretation of time and calendrics within the Indo-Pacific frame of reference that they should begin to take.

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