Enga Culture

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Enga Culture
Angela Partin
ANT101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (GSF1134A)
June Maul
9-18-11

Physical Geography
Enga refers to both an ethnic group located in the highlands of Papua New Guinea and the province in which they are the majority ethnic group. Enga is the highest and is the second most rugged province (after Simbu Province) in Papua New Guinea. It covers an area of 12,800 km. Much of the province is at altitudes of over 2000 meters. Lower altitude areas are typically valleys which form the watershed for the two major river systems that drain the province, the Lagaip (which is a tributary of the Fly) and the Lai (which is a tributary of the Sepik). Much of Enga province is mountainous and the climate is cold. Human Geography

The Papua New Guinea census of 2000 lists the population of Enga at 295,031 people, although the accuracy of the cesus is questionable. The provincial capital of Enga is Wabag. The two other main centers of population are Wapenamanda and Laiagam. Porgera, at the western edge of the province, is home to a gold mine operated by Barrick Gold.

Enga is unique among the provinces in Papua New Guinea in that it has only one major linguistic and ethnic group, Enga speakers. Although dialects of the Enga language vary greatly from Laiagam in the west to Wapenamanda in the east, Engans’ shared ethnic identity overshadows the existence of other ethnic groups in the province, such as lpili speakers (around Porgera) and Nete speakers.

Enga comprises of five districts. The districts are Kandep, Kompiam Ambum, Laigap/Pogera, Wabag and Wapenamanda. The province has a total of 14 local governments. Wabag town is the province capital and the seat of Enga Provincial Governement. Culture

Like many other highland Papua New Guineans living west of the Daulo Pass (between Simbu Province and Eastern Highlands Province), the traditional Engan settlement style is that of scattered homesteads dispersed throughout the landscape. Historically sweet potato was the staple food, sometimes supplemented by pork. The modern diet places are increasing emphasis on store bought rice and tinned fish and meat. Pigs remain a culturally valued item with elaborate systems of pig exchange also known as “tee” that mark social life in the province.

Traditional Engan culture practice strict segregation of sexes. During initiation young men between the ages of sixteen and nineteen were purified in seclusion at a ceremony called the “sangai”, in which their eyes were ritually washed with water, to remove any taint resulting form contact with females, and where they prepared traditional finery, the most notable item being a wig made out of their own hair. This distinctive round wig topped with sicklebird feathers is, more than any other item, an icon or symbol of Engan culture today.

Today the most popular religions in Enga are Catholicism, the Lutheran Church (Missouri synod) (the Papua New Guinea Missouri Synod Lutherans being confined to Enga and styling themselves and Gutnius Lutheran Church, formerly the Wabag Lutheran Church), the Baptist Church and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Charismeatic and Pentecostal movements are growing popularity. The lifestyle and customs of the Enga people was extensively studied and reported upon by the American anthropologist Marvyn Meggitt.

Kompiam is another district located on the northern edge of enga province as maramuni a district of its own situated a head of kompiam sharing border with east sepik province. Both Kompiam and Maramuni do share the physical geography, human geography and culture with the entire enga province.

Enga is one of the rich highlands province with mineral wealth and home of one of the largest gold mines in the world, Pogera. Traditional Architecture
For centuries Engans have constructed dwellings made from locally available bush materials. Roof construction is often of a crude thatch type, waterproofing being...
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