Ethnobotany cultural ceremony field trip

The SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany course visited the home of Betwin Nicholas in Pehleng, Kitti, Pohnpei. There sakauen enilap was prepared.

Sakau was first prepared for Nahnmadeu as Soumas en kousapw. A four cup nopwei was served. Pwel went to konot, second to Nahnowa, third to Lupein, and fourth - sahp - back to Konot. Note that all spellings are my own, my apologies for my misspellings.

After nopwei Nahnowa greeted the titles present and welcomed the class.

With these formalities out of the way Nahnowa asked what ceremony the class would like to observe. A decision was taken to present sakauen enilap as would be presented to the Nahnmwarki.

A trunk of weipwul, Morinda citrifolia, was cut, brought, sharpened, and used to break the sakau root stock. When used in this manner the trunk is no longer referred to as weipwul but rather as kirikai.
Each of the four strokes was done under the verbal command of the menindei. I could not catch the four command phrases. I have cryptic notes that suggest the following might have been the first three, although I may be completely in error.

Sakauen rotapwel (the plant is still standing)
Sakauen salapwel (the sakau is down)
Sakauen sinani

I do not list the fourth phrase. After the four strokes of the kirikai, four branches were placed on the front platform of the nahs.


After the presentation, a two stone sukusuk was begun. The sukusuk ended on a two stone synchronized sokama.


Pwel from the two stones went to Konot, Nahnmadeu, and to Luhk. The second cups with to Lupein and another woman whose title I did not hear clearly. Third went to Luwon and Thomas, the later being a driver for the class. Fourth returned to Konot who honored Nahnsou and myself.

This was the first time I had seen such a ceremony in my seventeen years here, and the ceremony was new to the eyes of all of the students, including those from Kitti. My understanding was that the ceremony is reserved to Nahnmwmarki, Nahnken, Rosa, and a few other special high titles in Kitti.

After the second nopwei, the hosts treated the class to dinner, another first for the ethnobotany. To say we were welcomed and made to feel completely at home would be an understatement. The hospitality of the family made each and everyone feel like a member of the family returning home after a long time away.

With food served, each student in the class introduced themselves including their clan line name.

A few remained into the evening talking and sharing stories around the stones. More images!

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