September 8, 2010
Chapter 1 of Lords of the Earth begins with great details on the Yali people of the Irian Jayan jungle. The Yali culture was a very male-dominated culture steeped in cannibalism and spiritism.
A man lived in a his own hut called a yogwa while his wife and children lived in their own hut called a homia. From what I gather, a woman or child would be severely harmed if not killed for entering into a yogwa. There are other places sacred to the Yali people. These places include the dokwi vam (a house dedicated to the spirits of ancestors who died in tribal war) and a kembu vam (a house dedicated to the kembu, that is non-human spirits in control of the Yali cosmos). If a woman or a child were to watch any religious rituals preformed in these sacred areas, it would require pig’s blood being rubbed in their eye to make things right. If, however, the woman or child were to set foot beyond the wall surrounding the osuwa (sacred place) they would have to be thrown into the nearby Heluk River in order to appease the kembu.
Aside from eating their enemies, the staple of the Yali diet consisted of yams and pork. Men of knowledge were a highly distinguished group of men who were said to know all of the answers of life and were the only ones permitted to eat of the sacred garden in the osuwa.
The Yali lived in great fear of the spirits and therefore were fiercely dedicated to their religious practices. At the end of chapter one, the reader has been immersed in all aspects of the Yali culture.