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Duk-Duk

DUK-DUK, a secret society of New Britain or New Pomerania, Bismarck Archipelago, in the South Pacific. The society has religious and political as well as social objects. It represents a rough sort of law and order through its presiding spirit Duk-Duk, a mysterious figure dressed in leaves to its waist, with a helmet like a gigantic candle-extinguisher made of network. Upon this figure women and children are forbidden to look. Women, who are entitled in New Britain to their own earnings and work harder than men, are the special victims of Duk-Duk, who levies blackmail upon them if they are about during its visits. These are generally timed to coincide with the hours at which the women are out in the fields and therefore cannot help seeing the figure. Justice is executed, fines extorted, taboos, feasts, taxes and all tribal matters are arranged by the Duk-Duk members, who wear hideous masks or chalk their faces. In carrying out punishments they are allowed to burn houses and even kill people. Only males can belong to Duk-Duk, the entrance fees of which vary from 50 to 100 fathoms of dewarra (small cowrie shells strung on strips of cane). The society has its secret signs and ritual, and festivals at which the presence of a stranger would mean his death. Duk-Duk only appears with the full Moon. The society is now much discredited and is fast dying out.

See "Duk-Duk and other Customs or Forms of Expression of the Melanesian's Intellectual Life," by Graf von Pfeil (Journ. of Anthrop. Instit. vol. 27, p. 181).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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