Trobriand Island Essay

The subjects of this documentary ?Trobriand Cricket- An Ingenious
Response to Colonialism’, are these interesting people, natives of the
Trobriand islands, which is located off the coast of Papua a-New Guinea.

trobrianders are a tribe who are driven by a culture where magic holds a
significant role. Before the arrival of the European missionaries magic was
widely used in inter-tribal warfare. The British missionaries who arrived in the
Trobriands around the late 19th century found the ritualized warfare of the
Trobrianders “barbarous” and immediately forbade it. Coincidentally, they
introduced the game of cricket to the Islanders as a substitute for the conflict
between two local groups, and to encourage morality. This game, which was
introduced in its original form in the early 20th century, has changed quite a
lot to fit into the culture of the Trobriand people. This film was made to
highlight the Trobriand Cricket as a great example of Acculturation – how one
part of a culture is transmitted through contact between groups with different
cultures, in this case the contact of the British missionaries with the people
of the Trobriand Islands. It depicts how the game of cricket has undergone a
remarkable cultural transformation, among the people of Trobriand islands.

We will write a custom essay sample on
Trobriand Island Essay
or any similar topic only for you
Order now

Mixture of Good and Evil: The values important to this culture show that the
Trobrianders believe in both the goodness and evilness of human nature. As an
example for their belief in goodness, we can use the fact that the elder people
are revered in this society. They may not play the game, but they are in charge
of jobs like keeping in pace with the score-keeper of the game, counting off the
number of batsmen left, and so on. Another example is the gifts of prestige food
that these people exchange in the ceremony after the game. One more amazing
aspect that their game has developed is the fact that the victory of the hosting
team is understood in advance, it is predecided. So according to our
definitions, the game of cricket that these people play is not a sport. This is
done in order to pay respect to the organizers of the game, especially the
center man. This points out their belief in the goodness of human nature.

Similarly, their belief that Man also has evil in him, is evident when the game
is abandoned and the narrator tells us that there is a certain air of suspicion
among the players, that the opponents from the sponsoring political movement may
have brought on rain with counter-magic to purposely stop the game. Man in
harmony with Nature: The Trobrianders live in harmony with the nature that
surrounds them, and this is evident in their sense of dressing, decoration,
their tools. They use palm fronds to count the score of a game, or to count the
number of baskets of yam, when they are farming. The bats, balls and stumps they
use are carved out of light and hard wood. The clothes they wear, especially the
traditional pubic covering that is expected of cricket players, which is made
from the skin of a beetlenut tree. They use natural products as part of their
everyday lives. The fact that man should in every way live in complete harmony
with nature, is synthesized in their set of values. Present Oriented: Although
we can witness all the 3 different kinds of time-orientations, the present is
valued a lot more than the past or the future. The Trobriand people do yam
farming, but at the same time, during the harvest period they invest their time
for the game of cricket. They prefer living in the present. They do not worry
too much about future, nor do they base their values upon what has happened in
the past. As the narrator says, the game of cricket is still evolving in
Trobriand, it shows that the people are open to changes in the game, and not
prejudiced. Doing: The Trobriands have characteristic dances and chants, which
were specially created for the game of cricket. All the out dances are danced
with chants that are to taunt the batsman from the opposing team who has just
got out. They criticize and ridicule the ability of a player, using these
chants. This shows that for these people Doing is very important. If you do not
play well, you will be taunted at. If a batsman gets run out, he is taunted by
chanting: “Stupidity! Stupidity! Wicket left open.” Here, the batsman who
has got run out is being taunted for what he did (leaving the wickets
uncovered-open) It doesn’t matter how good the player was, an out dance is
performed for every batsman that gets out. This shows the emphasis on action in
this culture. Even the center man, magicians and the organizers for the game are
respected for the work they do, not the positions they hold. This underlies the
fact that it is Doing that is important to the Trobrianders. Their set of ideas
for what is right or wrong, lay emphasis on action. Group oriented: The first
thing to be changed in the cricket game was the limited number of players.

Twelve men on a side could not accommodate all the players in a tribe. The
number was expanded to 50 or so, depending on how many showed up in the host
village for the game. The other side then was allowed to have the same number.

This shows their need to work as a group, to function as a group. This need is
also evident at the point where the field is being prepared for the game, people
work in groups to get the field ready. All dances, rituals and chants are
performed as a group. They work as one team, instead of separate individual
parts. No one commands anyone, even the center man works only as an organizer,
not a leader. B. What are the effects of outside influences on this culture? Is
the culture changing? What will be gained/lost? The British missionaries who
arrived in the Trobriands found that the ritualized form of inter-tribal warfare
which also involved magic was barbarous and immediately forbade it.

Coincidentally, they introduced the game of cricket to the Islanders. When
introduced to the Trobrianders, however, something wonderful happened to the
game of cricket. It underwent a remarkable cultural transformation. It was an
evolutionary process, over the last 80 years, and it continues even today. The
British influence from colonists, and more especially from missionaries, became
felt less and less. The islanders slowly began to recapture their native
customs. Ritualized warfare was still outlawed, but the magic lived in the
people, and the fight was in the men. The first thing to go in the cricket game
was the limited number of players. Twelve men on a side could not accommodate
all the fighters in a tribe. The number was expanded to 50 or so, depending on
how many showed up in the host village for the game. The other side then was
allowed to have the same number of warriors (players). Then the magic came back.

In the old days there were many incantations and secret spells cast by the
magician to empower the spear-throwers. These same spells, with some
modification, began to be placed on the bats used in play. There were no balls
generally used in the old tribal wars, so no magic was available for the balls.

But wait! There was magic for the throwing arm (formerly with spear in hand) and
that same magic could grant strength and true-aim to a pitcher. And so on, the
magic was used. Best of all was the transformation of the dancing and chanting
into an element of the cricket game. What we see in the Trobriand Islands is a
transformation of war into dance. On the morning of a game, by this decade, the
warriors wake up, put on their paint and battle dress, and dance in line to the
village hosting the game. They enter the field, dancing and chanting, taunting
the other side to dare compete. The home team then does the same. The chants and
spectacle incorporate ancient tribal totems and current advertising slogans. The
dancing is precise, vigorous, aggressive, and fierce. The game is usually played
for two days, involving as many innings as there are players, and no one is
killed. The game ends with a feast provided by the host chief (for political
reasons) and the Trobriand Cricket game is over. Hence we see that this game of
cricket has undergone quite a lot of change, change to suit the Trobriand way of
life. The game was transformed in many ways. Perhaps the biggest change was that
the home team was always the winner – this according to our definition does not
constitute a sport. In addition, the visiting teams batted first. Each out was
followed by a celebration. The bowling action was not traditional. Runners as
well as batsmen. Bat and ball were not regular. They bowled alternately from
each end. There was no limit to the number of players. Scoring varied
considerably with 6 runs being scored by a lost ball, or hitting the ball over
the highest coconut tree. Umpire was from the batting side, and when sides
changed so did the umpire. There were ritual entrance dances. There was the
mascot dressed as a tourist. Instead of trophies, there was a ceremony of
exchanging food with the home team putting on the feast. But more than changing
the rules and format of the game, it also meant totally different things for the
Trobriands. It was introduced as a substitute for intertribal warfare and much
of the game gook on war-like aspects: the throwing of the ball that replaced
bowling was very similar to the action of spear throwing; the bodies were
decorated in war colors and designs; and the field entry and exit dances were
those of war formations. The Trobriands reinterpreted the English game of
cricket to suit their own culture. The Trobriand Island Cricket is transmitted
by learned rules viewed visually and oral transmission of rules, rituals and
traditions. Thus the outside influence of European missionaries during the late
19th century did change the culture of the Trobriand people. European
colonialism brought with it industrial goods like chewing gum, modern form of
dressing (shirts, trousers), carry bags, etc. The people were exposed to such
products and adapted them to their own living. The brand name of a chewing gum,
was used in chants to represent something that is sticky, in this case, it was
the hands of the person who catches a ball hit by a batsman and gets him out. It
is very interesting to notice that the people have incorporated words like PK in
their chants!! One can also notice some of the players not in the traditional
pubic dressing, but instead in shorts made out of cotton cloth. I also noticed
that the umpire had a small carry-bag wrapped around his shoulder. It is indeed
fascinating to see all these products in the form that they have been
incorporated into this culture. The Trobriand culture did lose a lot due to the
interference of the European missionaries. Their method of establishing
superiority over an opposing tribe through warfare was stopped by the
missionaries. This led to a drastic cultural change. The missionaries and the
government officials now had to find something to replace the traditional
warfare, and they did. They introduced the game of cricket to the people! It
seems that this change brought about by the missionaries has brought about a
more peaceful life in these islands. Had the missionaries not interfered in the
first place, these islands would have been a different scene today!


Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Check it out