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Nourriture et parenté aux îles Trobriand
Kopoi et kuli, les dons du père à ses enfants

Enric Porqueres
Jeudi 23 février 2017

Les observations ethnographiques recueillies dans les années 1960 ont renouvelé la question de la paternité dans ses rapports avec la filiation matrilinéaire aux îles Trobriand. Dans notre perspective, deux aspects de la question sont particulièrement importants:

1°) La réincarnation des waiwaia dans le sang d'une femme fécondée. La mue des baloma (les esprits des morts) sur l'île de Tuma qui redeviennent jeunes et se transforment en waiwaia (esprits enfants). Un waiwaia n'a aucun souvenir sauf le sang de son dala (matrilignage). Stimulé par les rapports sexuels qui ouvrent la voie, le sang de la femme lui monte à la tête et y reçoit le waiwaia qui la féconde. Une part du sang de la femme est inaliénable car c'est le sang de son lignage, l'autre part est le sang menstruel, aliénable, qui nourrit le fœtus. Nous remettons à plus tard l'étude de cet aspect de la question.

2°) La nourriture constitue le second aspect de la question qui nous importe ici. La nourriture intervient de deux façons dans la construction des liens de parenté aux îles Trobriand: d'une part, les dons du père nourrissent et embellissent ses enfants, et d'autre part, les jardins, les greniers et les dons d'ignames d'un homme à son épouse, à sa fille mariée ou à sa sœur mariée et son beau-frère, etc., entretiennent la vie du lignage et perpétuent les alliances de mariage. Nous traiterons des dons d'ignames dans le prochain séminaire. Nous nous limitons aujourd'hui à esquisser l'étude de la contribution du père (tama) à la filiation matrilinéaire et à la croissance du fœtus puis de l'enfant. Annette Weiner a renouvelé la question sur la base d'une magnifique ethnographie recueillie dans les années 1970.

Bibliothèque Tessitures:
Anthropologues 1930s–1980s > Weiner (Annette)

Annette B. Weiner, The Trobrianders of Papua New Guinea, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1988.

(56) When a child is born, its father asks his sister to find an ancestral name from their matrilineage. In practice, a child is usually called by this name that it receives from its father. The bestowal of the name, however, is only a loan, and at no time can the child pass the name to her or his own child. Only women give ancestral names to their children, which their daughters in time may pass on to their children. The names women give to their brothers' children are regarded as their matrilineal property, which must be returned. The circulation of ancestral names illustrates the other side of matrilineality. A child has inalienable rights to an ancestral name and, as we will see later, other property from his or her matrilineage; but through his or her father, the child holds use rights in property from the father's matrilineage. So important is the circulation of a man's matrilineal property that a man's gifts to his children establish intimate bonds with them.

/57/ The significance of this paternal tie is directly incorporated into procreative beliefs. Trobriand kinship, for example, is based on two concepts that are exemplified by two stages in pregnancy. The first concept defines matrilineal descent as an identity that is unalterable through time; it is illustrated by the belief that in the first stage of pregnancy a woman conceives exclusively by an ancestral spirit from her own matrilineage. The second concept involves the necessity to use property from another matrilineage, thereby making connections with members of that matrilineage, which can have important potential for the future. ln this way, a child's father's matrilineal kin add to what the child already gains from its own matrilineal identity, strengthening what the child is and will become. The second stage of pregnancy, that after conception, reveals the importance of patrilateral kin. Trobrianders believe that following conception, frequent sexual intercourse helps to develop the fetus. Whereas a woman is therefore responsible for the co-mingling of her blood (buyai) with a waiwaia spirit child, thus making the infant a "true" member of her matrilineage, her husband builds up and nurtures (kopoi) the fetus through intercourse without compromising its "true" (mokita) matrilineal identity. A man, then, supplies the fetus with something more than its own inherited matrilineal substance, but his contribution does not in any way alter the basic physiological connection between a woman's blood and a spirit child. A man is not a member of his child's matrilineage, and his help in the growth of the fetus irnplicates his matrilineage in his child's future rights and obligations. Therefore, a man's part in his child's procreation is publicly acknowledged when be gives his offspring a name from his own matrilineage, but this is done only if he and the pregnant wornan are married.

Mark Mosko n'a pas recueilli d'ethnographie de première main mais en 1995, soit vingt ans après les enquêtes de terrain d'Annette Weiner, il rassemble et recoupe entre elles, avec une grande précision dans les détails, toutes les données pertinentes recueillies jusqu'aux années 1970, c'est-à-dire avant l'introduction aux Trobriand des idées chrétiennes sur la paternité qui ont évidemment bouleversé le système traditionnel. Il faudrait étudier de près cet essai dense et exhaustif, dont je ne citerai que deux brefs passages, l'un définissant kopoi et kuli, l'autre marquant la part que prend le père dans la façon dont la mère nourrit son bébé. Les conceptions indigènes ou théories natives rapportées ci-dessous relèvent de l'embryologie dans le premier, et de la physiologie dans le second des deux passages cités.

Bibliothèque Tessitures:
Parenté > Paternité aux Trobriand

Mark S. Mosko, Rethinking Trobriand Chieftainship, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol.1, No.4 (Dec., 1995), pp.763–785.

Embryologie native

(767) Of course, who Trobriand fathers (tama) are (or were) and what their agency amounts to have not always been completely transparent either. However, with the many new data gathered by investigators since the 1960s, the earlier debates over whether Trobrianders were 'ignorant' of physiological paternity appear to be resolved. Thanks particularly to Weiner's report of an indigenous distinction between the initial 'conception' and subsequent 'feeding', 'nurturing', 'growing', or 'development' stages during 'pregnancy' (Weiner 1988: 57; see also Austen 1934: 109; Robinson 1962: 145), fathers' distinctive contributions to children, complementary to mothers', can be identified.

When baloma 'spirits of the dead' living in Tuma grow old, they are thought either to reproduce waiwaia 'spirit children' or to slough off [se débarrasser de] their aged skins to become infant spirits themselves. These spirit children travel to the Trobriands, enter the bodies and wombs of women of the same matrilineage dala, and combine with their menstrual 'blood' (buyai) to conceive foetuses (Weiner 1976: 121-3; 1988: 53-7; Montague 1978: 3-4; 1983: 39; 1989: 24). Human mothers thus contribute two components to their children in conception: substantial menstrual blood, and insubstantial spirit. A father's contributions involve neither blood nor spirit. During the mother's 'pregnancy', the prospective father's frequent sexual intercourse, the repeated hammering or pounding of his penis upon the mother's uterus and/or menstrual blood (and possibly also his semen) 'feeds' (kopoi) the foetus. However, this sexual feeding also 'forms' (kuli), 'grows', 'moulds', 'solidifies', 'strengthens', 'stops up', 'checks', or 'coagulates' the mother's amorphous menstrual blood to give the foetus 'shape' or 'external form' (Malinowski 1929: 208; Austen 1934: 112; Weiner 1976: 123, 129, 133; 1978a: 182; 1978b; 1988: 57; Leach 1961; Montague 1978: 4, 29; 1989: 24). Despite his perplexity, Malinowski recorded,

The expression kuli, to coagulate, to mould, was used over and over again in the answers which I received. This is a statement of the social doctrine concerning the influence of the father over the physique of the child, and not merely the personal opinion of my informants (Malinowski 1929: 207 [1987: 176]).

[Mosko cite l'édition originale de 1929: Bronislaw Malinowski, The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia. An ethnographic account of courtship, marriage and family life among the natives of the Trobriand Islands, British New Guinea, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1929. J'ajoute entre crochets les références à l'édition de 1987: Bronislaw Malinowski, The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia. An ethnographic account of courtship, marriage and family life among the natives of the Trobriand Islands, British New Guinea, Introduction by Annette B. Weiner, Boston, Beacon Press, 1987.]

Hence the child is expected to have the father's appearance, even though it has the blood and spirit of the mother (Malinowski 1929: 207; 1932: 176; cf Austen 1934; Weiner 1976: 123; 1988: 57; Leach 1961: 8-11, 20; Strathern 1988: 235-48). Like those of mothers, fathers' procreative contributions are two-fold: substantive feeding, and nonsubstantive form.

Par la suite, le père ne cesse d'enrichir par son travail et sa magie la nourriture de la mère et des enfants.

Physiologie native

(768) In subsequent years, the solid food (kaulo, kanua) eaten by a woman and her children is grown by father's bodily labours and magical performance (Montague 1985: 87). This apparently includes the food a woman mashes for her infant as well as her breast milk. According to Montague, it is the father who provides the necessary solid food to build the infant's body. Mothers assist fathers by 'process[ing] that food into the new infant body, first by cooking it and second by eating and digesting it' (1989: 24; see also Montague 1985: 87-93; 1989: 34-5; Malinowski 1929: 232-5 [1987: 198]; Strathern 1988: 238). Even mother's milk (nunu) is considered to be liquified male solid food (kaulo, kanua), hence a paternal contribution; and like other paternal feedings, mother's milk is thought to grow and solidify the infant's body (Montague 1985: 89).

Le rôle du père dans la construction des liens de parenté passait donc entièrement par la nourriture entendue au sens large de nourrissement et de rites d'embellissement. L'ethnographie des Trobriand accumulée depuis les années 1910 jusqu'aux années 1970 est considérable, la précision du détail et la concordance des sources sont exceptionnelles; le dossier Trobriand est ainsi suffisamment bien documenté pour constituer un chapitre important de notre enquête sur Nourriture et parenté.