sanguma

Source language unclear: any clues?

There are two theories of its origin: (i) that it is from zanguma in the Monumbo language of Bogia, Madang Province (Mühlhäusler 1979:196; Laycock 1996), a rare example of a non-Austronesian lexical borrowing, (ii) that it is from sangoma brought home by native police recruited in German New Guinea who were posted to Africa.

Poch (1908: 141) appears to be the first recorded reference to the Monumbo zanguma;. This comes from Poch’s research there with Fr Vormann in 1904. Laycock (1996) also finds the term in a letter from Vormann in 1906-7. The Monumbo (SVD) Mission Station had opened in 1899. Sanguma means different things in different areas, as shown below. It can be glossed in English as ‘witchcraft’ or ‘assault sorcery’.

See original Mihalic entry. See List discussion. ® poisen, puripuri.

Noun forms

  1. Supernatural world: Highlands from Asaro west to Mt Hagen and north to Simbai: witchcraft known as kum or koimb (or kum koimb) where the witch’s familiar is believed to travel about at night (and appears as a point of light flying through the air) eating the organs of the living from the inside or devouring newly deceased corpses (which must therefore be carefully carefullly guarded from the moment of death until many weeks after the burial). Kum is supposed to have originated in the east of this area and spread westwards during the last 100 years.

  1. Supernatural world: Milne Bay: flying witch seen travelling about at night (more details??).

  1. Supernatural world: Ningerum (North Fly), Gebusi (Nomad): assault sorcery or secret murder where the victim is waylaid, typically in the bush, and rendered insensible, then eviscerated and released to return home disoriented but unaware that the attack has occurred. Death is inevitable within days.

  1. Supernatural world: Arapesh: variant of sorcery combining elements of traditional beliefs with newer, more powerful agents; for example a contemporary fear is of being injected with battery acid by syringe, but the sorcerer might have previously stunned the victim with a kambang-like powder made from human bones.


© Revising the Mihalic Project, 26 Jan 2005 [Home]