Pigs in rites, rights in pigs: porcine values in the Papua New Guinea Highlands


en Anthropozoologica 56 (8) - Pages 117-136

Published on 04 June 2021

This article is a part of the thematic issue Suidae in ritual contexts in contemporary times

This paper discusses the place of pigs in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, particularly in the Was valley of the Southern Highlands Province. After a brief introduction to the pigs of the region and their herding arrangements, it gives an ethnographic account of their use in various rites, notably those that feature curing, sorcery and cult activities. They prompt consideration of the relevance of concepts used to understand these ritual activities, whether they are offerings or sacrifices or something else particular to pigs in rites. The cults also include large pig kill festivals that have notable socio-political implications. These relate to rights in pigs and their ownership, which are complex issues that impinge on all of the foregoing activities.


Pig husbandry, sacrifice, transaction.

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