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Pentecost also known as “Sa” Pitek, Emily


The Pentecost (Sa) are those native to the area of what is now the southern part of Pentecost Island, Vanuatu, Melanesia. Note that in this entry, the term "Pentecost" refers to the southern Pentecost. For the Pentecost, contact with Europeans and the arrival of Missionaries began in the late eighteenth century. Despite the long presence of the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Christ, not all Pentecost were converted to Christianity; at the time this entry focuses on, 130 of the 400 Pentecost people were non-Christian. Principal ethnographic authority, Robert B. Lane (1965:250), notes that “the non-Christian population consciously maintains a relatively unaltered aboriginal culture, albeit with reduced flourish owing to diminished population and to contact with Europeans.” Following Lane, this entry focuses on the remaining aboriginal culture, specifically in the village of Bunlap around the time of 1953. At this time, the Pentecost were horticulturalists, with patrilineages serving as the main social and political unit. Highranking men (initiated males possessing greater age, experience, and magico-religious power) held both political decision-making power as well as ritual knowledge. Full-time religious practitioners were not present, but those with more magical (gurian) knowledge and power had the semi-professional status of ritualists and sorcerers. Mythology centers on culture heroes and sib (lineage) ancestors, as well as supernatural beings. Supernatural beings are present, but not described in substantial ethnographic details. They include spirit-beings of three types: armat en sanga (incorporeal beings capable of assuming human form), lipsipsip (malicious dwarf-creatures), and ghosts. Concerning ceremonies and rituals, the rites of lo sal are “one of the most important institutions of South Pentecost culture” (Lane, 1965:269-270). These rites consist of a man giving sacrifices of pigs, gifts, and/or payments to the members of his mother’s and wife’s sib. A man presents these gifts throughout his life, and the cycle continues with the birth of a son. Lane (1965:251) makes the important observation that "the people of South Pentecost recognize no category of culture comparable to that which we label religion, nor do they have any institutions which are primarily religious. The phenomena dealt with here permeate much of the culture." Consequently, this entry considers the religious group to be coterminous with society itself.

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Attribution 4.0 International