Accepted Paper:

Asia-Pacific Legacies in Eastern Kula Ring Outrigger Canoes  
Frederick H. Damon (University of Virginia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the outrigger canoe form that dominated the eastern half of PNG's Kula Ring. Although the Kula institution is recent, this paper argues the boat exhibits forces that were intrinsic to social life from China and the Austronesian expansion from 6000 years ago.

Paper long abstract:

Derived from research extending from 1991 to 2017, this paper explores ideas carried in the structure of the anageg outrigger form that dominated the eastern half of the Kula Ring in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. Although the Kula Ring we have known over the last century probably dates to about 1400ce, it is part of a tradition that extends back to the origin of the Austronesian expansion out of Southeastern China 6000 years ago. This paper argues the structure and meaning of the anageg form must be viewed in the context of the sociality presented across the arc of this spatio-temporal axis: what forces became intrinsic to organized social life in this region? Two sets of facts lead to this conclusion. One draws from the boat's structure and operation in relation to ideas about stars. The other follows from the way the boat was fashioned out of and by landscape transformations etched into the Kula Ring islands in general and its eastern portion in particular. For the boat form is a condensed ensemble in a larger context. As is the case with local astronomical knowledge, this was not a singular landscape. Rather it was a product of ideas that run from at least China, by means of the Austronesian expansion, through and into very different socio-ecological circumstances. The necessary fashioning of a form to local circumstances is part of its essential meaning, a way of life precipitated in it and revealed through its very being.

Panel P052
Artefacts and visual systems in Oceania and America