‘As we approached the village we heard a very loud sound of distressed people moaning and chanting. A man had died. I walked into the house and the man was laid out on twelve women’s legs with one man at the head because the widow who usually does this was sick. Some other people were sitting around. A small lantern burned and everyone was chanting and crying. I was in shock and couldn’t keep tears from flowing. I’d never seen a man die or knew anyone close who had. At breaks in the crying, laughter and joking cam over. One by one the children came in and lay down on their father and wept. Talking to him, thanking him… After a little while a woman led me out and said, “sleep.”
~ excerpt from the diary of Linda Weiner Matisse, daughter of anthropologist Annette Weiner (Trobriand Islands 1972), as cited in Weiner’s ‘The Trobrianders of Papua New Guinea’, part of Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology Series, founded in 1960 under the joint editorship of George and Louise Spindler, both anthropologists at Stanford University.
Linda was only fifteen years old when she penned these gentle observations. How brave, stoic and observant.