chapter  6
38 Pages

The Way of the Pigs

I n Chapter 5, I examined the relationship between men and women as portrayed in myth and ritual surrounding life crises. One central feature of this relationship was the identification of persons and things, in particular the symbolic equation of people with crops — with taro, yams and coconuts. The most powerful equation of this type, however, is the identity of man and pig. In this chapter I want to look first at the general significance of pigs, then to examine the sacrifice and exchange of pigs in grade-taking ritual, and finally to make some comparative suggestions about the ‘graded society’ in northern Vanuatu, in the light of recent theoretical arguments developed by Marilyn Strathern ( 1988 ) and Maurice Godelier ( 1986; cf. Godelier and Strathern, 1991 ).