The Gorgor Explained:
The gorgor is an important traditional Lihirian taboo marker made from the twisted leaves of a ginger plant. In Lihirian it can also be called a galgal, or golgol depending upon the dialect. The gorgor can be understood as a traditional dispute handling mechanism.
The use of gorgor is common throughout most costal areas within PNG. When it is used in Lihir it means that an area or an object or a resource is restricted or under dispute, and that an issue needs to be discussed or negotiated. It is an important way to stop disputes becoming violent.
The gorgor in use
A gorgor may be placed on a new gardening ground to signal a dispute over the boundary or the use or ownership of the area. Before gardening work can continue this dispute will need to be resolved.
A gorgor may be placed upon a coconut or betelnut plantation, or other fruit trees, to signal a restriction on harvesting the trees. This is often done by the owners of the trees to preserve stocks for a future feast.
During the sacred rarhum feast, the blood from the pigs which are slaughtered is usually poured into the sea adjacent to the men’s house. Because these pigs are rarhum, or taboo, this area is declared a mok. The gorgor plant is tied to a tree branch on the beach or on a stick planted on the reef section to mark the boundary of the sacred area. During the mok period, the gorgor signals a restriction upon the use or harvesting of marine resources within this section of reef. The mok period can range between several months to over ten years. A feast will be staged to mark the end of the mok period.