Takwan: Secret knowledge, storage and transmission in Wantoat, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea Sam T. Kaima* Abstract



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Takwan: Secret knowledge, storage and transmission in Wantoat, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea

Sam T. Kaima*

Abstract

Traditional human societies the world over had always collected their traditions and kept account of their past activities. Wantoat is one such society in PNG where information has been created, stored orally and later disseminated to the next generation. This paper discusses the Wantoat concept of takwan literally translated to mean taboo, never to be seen, heard of by the uninitiated.”

Sacred and secret knowledge of the society was never to be released to any person without the consent of human information keepers. The human information keepers were experts in the trades that society may have ascribed to them during their life long processes. While restricting knowledge, it also acknowledges the traditional role of village skilled people or headman to store and transmit sacred, secret knowledge. It ensured that village ceremonies were held as prescribed and/or supervised by these village headmen who had acquired the knowledge and oratory skills. In return, the village headmen were given recognition and status in society.

Traditional knowledge of Wantoat had been difficult to reconstruct but is believed to be handed down from generation to generation; the only possible eyewitness of it being the ancestors of the people. Despite the lack of written records and documentation, huge bodies of knowledge had been transmitted through the word of mouth from one generation to the next to ensure that societal norms, religious values and belief systems continued to the next generation.



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