Bird pairs and contrasting values in central Flores (Indonesia)

Date and Time: 
Friday, 18 March, 2016 - 10:30
, Gregory - University of Alberta

In several classificatory and symbolic contexts the Nage (‘Na-gay’) people of Flores Island combine named bird folk taxa to create standard pairs. Examples encountered in traditional narrative include: Friarbird and Imperial pigeon, Quail and Paradise flycatcher, and Stubtail and Coucal. Several other pairs occur in general folk nomenclature, where they are associated either with special-purpose utilitarian categories or otherwise unnamed folk-intermediate taxa, and also in the parallelistic speech of ritual language and song. Focusing on values Nage attach to the Russet-capped stubtail Tesia everetti, a bird endemic to Flores and the neighbouring island of Sumbawa, the paper describes cultural contexts in which pairings occur and considers their motivation with reference to bird morphology and behaviour.