POKOP MEETS MASALAI OF SUMBRULENDRIY - excerpt from Stories Of Pokop Of Pohoyomou Compiled & Edited by:  Dr. Bernard Minol [with glossary]

Pokop Meets Masalai Of Sumbrulendriy

another advernture story of this Manus historic cultural folk hero

One day Pokop of Pohyomou wanted to have a taste of fish so he decided to establish markets. He went ahead and established one at the mouth of Yukuyiy River, another one at Kakiniy and so on along the south coast past the mouth of the Yowes River right up to the eas t coast. So he had his barter places all along the coast from south to east. But out of all his barter places the one he liked most was the one at the mouth of Yowes River.

Whenever his needs for fish arose, Pokop of Pohyomouwould go and barter there. Every morning on the market day, before he left for the market, his wives roasted his taro, packed them together with his barter goods and away he went. However, the masalai of Sumbrulendriy had already discovered that Pokop went regularly to barter at Yowes and he planned to catch him one day. It was in the morning of this same day that Pokop of Pohyomou arrived at Sumbrulendriy and was surprised but happy to see that a dried log was burning. But in fact it was the anus of the Masalai of Sumbrulendriy that was burning the log. As soon as Pokop saw the fire he said to himself. "Well, since there is a good fire burning here I might as well leave my taro here". So he hid it in a "salih" and continued on his way to the market. Many Mwanus (Titan) came and barter was very good. When his produce has been exchanged for fish he wrapped his fish up, put them in his basket, and left for home.

At Sumbrulendriy he decided to take a little rest and eat his taro before continuing home. So he put his basket down, took out a fish and roasted it on the fire. When the fish was cooked, Pokop tookdown his taro from the salih and ate his meal. After he had eaten to his great satisfaction, he threw the fish bones and taro skins into the fireand left Sumbrulendriy. The next market day he returned and did the samething. He left his roasted taro at Sumbrulendriy on his way to the market and after the market he stopped at the same place, rested, and ate before going home to Pohyomou. Of course he never forgot to throw the remainsof what he ate into the burning fire. Each market day he did the same and the Masalai of Sumbrulendriy was getting sick of what Pokop was doing. The masalai therefore decided to put an end to all this insult by catching Pokop.

As usual Pokop went to the market and left his roasted taro on the salih at Sumbrulendriy. Returning from the market he put his fish down, took out one of his favourite fish and placed it on the fire to roast. While the fish was roasting he sat there chewing his betelnut. As soon as the fish was cooked, Pokop threw away the betelnut waste from his mouth, picked up the fish from the fire, got his taro and began eating. He ate in silence unaware of what was going to happen to him. As he was about to finish his tasty meal there was a sudden explosion from the fire and it burst into flames licking the dried log. At the same time the fire began leaping over Pokop from side to side.

Stunned, but knowing that his life was in danger, he sprang from his sitting position, jumped over the fire, and ran for his life leaving everything behind. He ran as fast as his two legs could carry him expecting to leave the masalai behind. However, the masalai followed right behind Pokop, he was determined to give chase. Down the valleys and up the hills they chased each other. Sometimes at close range the firewould leap over Pokop and land a few metres in front of him in an attempt to stop him from escaping, but Pokop would leap over the fire and speedoff down the track again. They went past the village of Yundret still with the masalai trying to stop Pokop and Pokop just managing to escape and keep in front. The big race continued neck to neck until they reached the creek called Polsoheiak.

Since Pokop was running ahead at this stage, on reaching the creek, he jumped into a big pothole and stayed submerged in there. The masalai reached the creek just a few minutes after, and unaware that Pokop was in the creek, he leapt from one side of the creek to the other thinking that his quarry was still in front. He soon found that Pokop was not there, so he returned to the spot where he had previously jumped from and searched both upstream and downstream but all in vain. He returned to the middle spot and sensed that Pokop had submerged but the fire went out immediately because of the water. The masalai tried again and again but without success. It could not reach Pokop. So the masalai stood on the bank of the creek and said: "E Saleu! "If it weren't for the water I should have caught this man and eaten him. Saleu! What does he think I am? He thinks he can eat fish all the time and give me the bones? If it wer en't for the water I should have seen him properly". As he said that Pokop of Pohyomou replied from the pothole, "You're talking about me? Well, you're masalai, so am I. You think you're masalai and I am not? We are both masalais. We are both males. Now you really see a masalai challenging another masalai. Go ahead and eat your man. But as for me, I will be chewing my betelnut and celebrating at Pohyomou today. You can burn my basket and everything else I left behind but as for me, I will be back in Pohyomou today. You're a masalai, so am I".

So ends this dangerous adventure of the Pokop of Pohyomou.

Stalk of payai, stalk of tiyiy, cut.

Kakah Kais - 1974

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GLOSSARY of Stories Of Pokop Of Pohoyomou

Aria - That's it. Lele equivalent is "akara"

Cut buai - An expression in Nali and Lele languages which literally means to distribute buai. When you get distributed a buai you accept the responsibility of bringing food etc to the feast or function.

Dranou - A Lele village on the Highway. It isabout half an hour's drive from Lorengau. Also spelt N'Dranou.

Hihisuu - A most important, or vantage, spot on a piece of land where a ritual dedication usually takes place before it is cleared for gardening. Usually the crop for the new garden is taro.

Kakiniy - This is the name of a small river on the South of Manus - in the Nohang area just west of Patusi and Old Pere. In the past it was an important market between the inland villagers and the Titans of Patusi and Pere.

Kaliu - A place in the Yiriu (Yiliu) village.It is near the famous Pokop haven of Pwenet.

Karuka - Rain coat made from pandanus leaf (Tok Pisin)

Kaluu - An old name of the mouth of river Lawes (Yowos, Yowes). In the old times an important market thrived there.

Kawar - Tok Pisin word for ginger

Keyau - This is a wooden bed for lapans or chiefly people. Occupies a prominent position in the men's house. Only lapan men's houses have rights to have Keyaus.

Konga - A fictional land and or place outsideof Manus where the dogs settled when they left Manus.

Kopou - A Nali village. It is towards the south coast, about half an hour by car from M'Bunai village. Sometimes speltKapou.

Koyau - A tapa cloth-like garment made from bark of a tree usually worn by women.

Kuiniy - I (will) eat it


Line - This refers to family, relatives. Family group

Liyiu - A term used in both Nali and Lele languages which refers to a certain type of bad spirits or devils.

Masah - A big feast in which the bride price is paid

Mwalah - Light shower. Rain which comes with the sun.

Nambuyum - Your wife or husband. Same as Nali

Nasi - Nali word meaning "grandmother". Lele equivalent is "tato"

N'Dau - Lele word for wild ton. Tok Pisin is pakpak

N'Drawiying - Head rest. Same in Nali/Lele

N92Drop - Manus woven basket. Lele equivalent is n'dop. It is also the name of the tree whose bark is used for the basket.

Nolou - Cordelyne. Tok Pisin name is tanget.

Par - Tree stump, trunk; stalk of a rope. Nali equivalent is "para".

Nosum - Your in law. Same in Nali but produced differently.

Pasinei - Platform used for ceremonial performance during masah and yon. Usually carved and decorated.

Pram - Lengths of valuable beads used in Manus as a means of exchange

Payai - Lele and Nali name for a creeper which is found throughout Manus. It is the most used creeper in the inland villages and both its leaves and sap have medicinal values.

Parahiy - Lele and Nali word for "ginger".

Pihin - Woman, girl. The term "pihi" means "woman of". Same in Nali and Lele

Perei - An edible substance obtained from shale and dried in the sun. A rare delicacy.

Pohyomou - A hilltop near the villages of Tingou and Yirngou. Traditionally famous because of its association with thePokop stories. Today they also call it Polomou.

Pwenet - Another hilltop associated with the Pokops. It is in the present village area of Sirah.


Rauhuh - A Nali word which means clearing theundergrowth. It is the first stage of preparation for a taro garden. Usually a task done by the women. In the Lele language the word is "tauhuh"

Saleu - An expression of yearning or missed opportunity in both Lele and Nali languages.

Salih - Nali word for staghorn. Lele equivalent is "silih"

Sinai - Nali word for devil. Lele equivalent is "sinei".

Sindrik - Word in Lele and Nali meaning to cut or snap

Sohol - Front and extended part of a haus boior haus marit. The Nali equivalent is "sohal"

Sohoniliu - Nali village which borders the Lele villages of Dranou Pnd Yirngou. Also spelt Sohoniriu.

Sumbrelendriy - A point along the Highway just before Pihpun village (Sapon). From the mouth of the Lawes River it provided an ideal spot to rest after the climb from the Kaluu market.

Tambu - 1. Brother/sister/father/mother in law; 2. Means forbid; 3. Valuable beads string together in different lengths.

Tanget - Same as nolou above

Tarau - Another place associated with the Pokops. This is the old name for the larger of the two N'Dropa islands.

Tatom - Your grand son or daughter; grandmother. Nali equivalent is "tuhum".

Tiyiy - Another creeper used in house building. It is stronger than the payai and can last for a long time. Nali equivalent is "taiyiy"

Toroko - Like this; this way. Nali equivalentis "toro"

Walah - Nali and Lele word for moon or areca leaf chewed with buai

Womolo - Two of you. Nali equivalent is "wamolu"

Wuloh - A Lele and Nali word for "thank you".

Yiringou - Last Lele speaking village on the Highway just after Dranou. Yiringou used to be a Nali speaking village. Sometimes spelt - Yirngou.

Yo - Me. Both Lele and Nali.

Yon - A big feast. Same in Lele and Nali. Similar to "masah" but for quite different reasons.

Yopai- Lele - Nali word for temporary bush shelter or leaves carried to keep dry from the rain.

Yowos - A river which starts at Yiringou and Tingou and empties into the sea near Yowes village. In the Nali speaking villages it is "Yowes". Tok Pisin is "Lawes"

Yukuyiy - A river in the South Coast where there was a famous market. It enters the sea between Sowou and Londruu villages.


Copyright © 1999 - 2002 Dr. Bernard Minol, University of Papua New Guinea

On Copyright:  multi-media content on this web site (articles, stories, photos, graphics, and other materials) remains the property of the original/licensed creators of the materials on this site unless otherwise noted. © 2002 ManusIsland.com

Manus Island, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea location near northern Australia and south east of SE Asia

Pokop Stories
table of contents

Note - the printed and illustrated version of this book is available from the University of Papua New Guinea Press

In this book, Dr. Bernard Minol records not just stories about a historic Pokop but also introduces the readers into the cultural history of a section of Manus people.  People of Nali, Ere, Kele and Lelemasih identify with the stories.

see also