POKOP HIS TEN WIVES AND NAYSDAMUI - excerpt from Stories Of Pokop Of Pohoyomou Compiled & Edited by:  Dr. Bernard Minol [with glossary]

Pokop His Ten Wives And Naysdamui

another advernture story of this Manus historic cultural folk hero

Pokop of Pohyomou was married to ten wives. However, every day he used to look at his reflection in the water with some degree of vanity. His aunt observing this behaviour jokingly said to him one day, "You will marry Nayahamui Naruwan who lives in Kaliu". (Some call her Naruwan and others call her Nayahamui). Of the family of thirty one Nayahamui was the only human being. Her thirty brothers were dogs. When they go to the bush to hunt pigs they always return home with thirty pigs.

One day while her brothers were still in the bush hunting, Pokop of Pohyomou visited her who was alone in the house. When she heard Pokop at the door she asked from inside,

Who are you? It's only me in the house. My thirty brothers are dogs and I am the only human among them.

To put her at ease Pokop replied saying,

Ah I am not a "sinai" or a "liyiu", I am Pokop of Pohyomou. One day I looked at myself in the water, and my aunt said, You will marry her who is at Kaliu and now I am here. Wuloh! Wuloh! Get up! Letus go!

She dressed herself up in her dogs teeth, her new basket and other"nouyan" and they left. During their journey back to Pohyomou rain began to fall. While he was out cutting leaves for yopai (shelter) Nayahamui's grandmother, a sinai woman, took Nayahamui and put her in her pouch. When Pokop returned to the road and saw the old woman, his eyes were sick. He exclaimed in a chant like manner,

Weh! Nasi, why don't you stay here and go back.

The old woman replied,

Yoho talon uye yoku,
Poiyo kolowen uye yoku,
Asa wuri yo pwesah,
Kurikai kunim kol atam ka moro!. (Toothless I am
Grey haired I have
Why did you come and get me
Walk let us walk to see your place with my eyes)

Much to Pokop's displeasure they continued walking. Not long afterwards Pokop turned around to her and once again pleaded that she went back. The old woman in turn replied in the same way as she had done before chanting,

Eh, poiyo kolowen uye yoku,
Yoho talon uye yoku,
Asa wuri yo pwesah,
Arikai ta karikai kunim kolom ka moro. (2)

This ritual was repeated many times until they arrived at Pohyomou. When his ten wives saw him arrive with the old woman they ridiculed and shamed him saying.

Pokop left us to marry a young woman.
Has he returned with this old woman?

His wives wanted to beat the old woman up but the first wife dusted the "keyau" and put the old woman on it and gave her food to eat. Soon after the arrival of the old woman Pokop decided to prepare and host a big "yon" at Pohyomou. For this purpose Pokop selected a big piece of land for the garden. After selecting the piece of land Pokop allocated strips to different wives. At this point the old woman said to him,

I am an old woman and I want to stay in the place of the
hihisuu, (the place of the fire).

She was given the hihisuu, the place of the fire as she requested. Having granted what she asked for she wasted no time in getting started. With the aid of a walking stick she left for the area earm arked for her. She then pulled her grand-daughter out of the pouch and they began clearing the undergrowth. At the end of each day the other wives were surprised to see that the old woman's section was closer to being finished than theirs. When the other wives saw this they exclaimed, "Yoi, she is an old woman but her work is like that of a young woman". Before long she said to Pokop,

Ye Pokop, my rauhuh is finished.

The men could not come to fell the big trees until the other wives had completed their sections. As soon as the other wives finished their sections, they poured water over the garden and started felling trees.

While the men were working in the garden the women prepared taro sticks for planting. As before the old woman wasted no time, she immediately went to the old garden to cut taros. Soon she was back i n the house cooking taro for the men who were felling trees. Actually when the old woman got to the garden she pulled out Nayahamui who quickly uprooted the taros, cleaned them, separated the edible part from the stickand then brought the taro to the road close to the house. From this point on the road, the old woman carried the taros to the house. This operation was carried out so fast and efficiently that while others were still in their gardens the old woman was already cooking.

The other wives could not believe their eyes. They exclaimed: "Weh, this old woman does her work very well". Similarly in thedifferent phases of making the garden, the old woman was the first to complete her part of the work. Now Pokop himself was suspicious of the old woman and consequently he said to his wives one day, "All of you, one ten taros; one ten taros; one ten taros for me to go to the market".

This was a trick. In the morning Pokop got up, carried the taros and left for the market. But he only went a short distance down the road, hid his taros in the bush and went to the old woman's garden and waited under a log. He had not waited long when he saw the old woman arrive supported by a walking stick and coughing periodically. She cameto a stop near where the Pokop was hiding, put down her basket and sat down. Slowly the old woman began to pull her grand-daughter out of her pouch. As soon as she came out of the pouch the grand-daughter began to up root the taros, clean them, and pile them in a heap. When all this was completed she rested on a log and began eating her banana and taros. Half way through her meal Pokop came out from his hiding place under the log and stood in front of her. Turning to the grandmother Pokop said,

Hey, my grandmother, this is my wife.
You hid her and I had great difficulty in seeing her.

In response to Pokop the old woman said,

Yes she is your wife but when she came to your house, your wives mistreated her. Only the first wife looked after her. The other wives starved her and gave her bad taros to eat. Since you have seen her, take your wife and go ahead. I will follow after you.

The grand-daughter filled up her big basket with taro, put it on her head and they returned home. This time Nayahamui led the way followed by Pokop and the old woman followed some distance from behind him. Meanwhile the ten wives were in the women's house. When Pokop arrived with his young wife the other wives challenged her to a wrestle. And once again only the first wife objected to the idea. She said,

She is alone.
It is not fair.
If you want to wrestle with her, do it one at a time.

This was accepted and a challenge was issued to Nayahamui. According to tradition Nayahamui had to accept the challenge and defend herself. Being a young and strong woman Nayahamui found no difficul ty in defending herself. The same fate fell on all those who challenged her. When she (Nayahamui) had shown her supremacy, the first wife cleaned the Keyau and put Nayahumui on it.

She also got her plates and gave them to Nayahamui. In return Nayahamui took off her ornaments, her baskets, her dogs teeth and her koyau and gave them to Pokop's first and senior wife. In receivingthese gifts the old woman (first wife) said,

Oh if I had done bad things to her, all these thingswould not be given to me. But I did well for her so she has given me eve rything of hers.

In hearing this remark Pokop replied,

No one can say anything about that. If every one of them had been good to her, everything would have been divided equally amo ng you all. But since they did bad to her and only you were good to her now all these things belong to you.

Nayahamui became the eleventh wife and lived at Pohyomou with Pokop and his other wives. In time Nahayamui gave birth to a son and he was given the name Puyahamui after his uncles who were dogs. Every time his uncles came to visit him and his mother, they would first go to the forest and each kill a pig and then come with the pigs to Pohyomou. When they reach Pohyomou they usually leave the pigs and then return to their own village. This is how things went for a long time.

One day Puyahamui the child cried. In order to quieten him down Nayahamui got a long pole, and hooked down some nuts from the coconut tree close to the house. When Pokop learnt of this, a big argument broke out between himself and Nayahamui.

Pokop: Eh, why did you get the coconuts for the child? You should leave the coconuts until there is more on the tree.

Nayahamui: Who did you plant the coconut for? Is not this child the one to inherit the coconuts you have planted?

Pokop: And you.....do you think you're a man? When your thirty brothers come I cannot talk and discuss things with them. They do not bring any taros and sago with the pigs, and what do I eat the pigs with?

Then Nayahamui wept because she felt sorry for her brothers. She therefore carried her son and they prepared to leave. Pokop noticed what was happening and stopped them from leaving. He thought, if Nayahamui goes she will go forever. From that day on he kept a close watch over them. Some time later Nayahamui suggested that Pokop make a new garden.

Nayahamui: Pokop you must go and make a new garden for us.

Pokop: Yeh, while I am there you might run away.

Nayahamui: Where will I go? You clear and prepare the garden and I will plant the taro sticks. When the garden is ready for planting you will mind the child and I will plant the taro sticks.

Pokop believed her and went out to prepare for the garden. While he was still in the bush Nayahamui cooked a pot of taro, mashed it and then put coconut oil on it. Then she and her child ate the mashed taro. They put aside one plate of mashed taro for Pokop. When they had finished their share they both stuck their fingers into the mashed taro leaving prints. They put this away for Pokop. Nayahamui then took her child and left Pohyomou.

When Pokop returned from the bush he noticed immediately that the house was empty. They had gone. Discovering he had been fooled and the fact that his favourite wife and child had gone, Pokop wept. While he was still sitting down feeling sorry for himself, Nayahamui's brothers arrived.

The Brothers: Where is Nayahamui?

Pokop: They have gone. They have gone to you.

Though Pokop was still in the bush and did not know where they had gone, his guess was correct. Nayahamui and her child were heading for her brothers' place. Between Pwenet and Kaliu they came across Nakahaneu Pihipat collecting firewood. When she saw Nayahamui and her child she became very friendly.

Nakahaneu: Weh, give my grand-child to me and you carry my firewood.

Nayahamui: (scared) You carry your wood and go.

Nakahaneu: Heh, you give me my grand-child and carry the firewood for me.

Nayahamui: (still scared of the devil and talking to herself) I have damned my child and myself.

Eventually Nayahamui gave the child to the old woman and she carried the firewood as requested by Nakahaneu. When they reached the mouth of the cave Nayahamui proceeded to put the firewood down but the old woman was quick to say, "My daughter take it into the house." She called the cave her house. The old woman opened the door and Nayahamui carried the firewood inside. Behind her the old woman and the child followed shutting the door and enclosing them inside the rock. Realizing that they were imprisoned Nayahamui said,

When my brothers come they are going to wait for us outside. Never mind my whole body, just leave one of my breasts out so th at they can see.

Meanwhile her brothers went to Pohyomou. On arrival Pokop told them, "They have gone to your place". The brothers quickly hurried after Nayahamui and her child. They found that Nakahaneu had taken them to the mouth of the cave.

When they reached the cave tlley saw their sister's breast hanging from the cliff face. The brothers then began to scrape anddig and howl; and scrape and dig and howl; and scrape and dig and howl f uriously. Just when they were about to break through the rock face Nakahaneu said,

Whose stone is it?
My stone.
Go back to your place.

At this command the rock face returned to its original place. Each time her brothers tried to get to the cave the old woman would command the rock face to mend again. Frustrated and saddened by the loss of their sister, the brothers howled incessantly outside the cave and then returned to their home. They came and wept to the sun, the moon and the stars. After this they said "We must not stay here. We must leave this place".

They picked up their belongings and moved from that place and settled at N'Dropwa Island. However, when they looked back and the mist covered their eyes, they left once again. This time they settled at Nauna island. The mist covered their eyes again and they left that place. This time they stopped at Konga. And there you will find plenty of dog's teeth.

Nayahamui and her child were swallowed up by the old devil woman Nakahaneu. Therefore Pokop had no child and no descendants.

This is why you can find a lot of dogs in Konga.

Par payai e par tiyiy, sindrik.




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

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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.

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