MANDARESE FISHERMEN – Rituals

The Mandarese fishermen of Indonesia know much about the lives and habits of the fish that they hunt. And they believe that their prey is studying them, as well. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by The American Museum of Natural History.

ambience: Mandarese singing

The purpose of this song is to lure flying fish into the fishermen’s traps.

Charles Zerner is a Fulbright scholar in environmental law, who’s gone fishing with the Mandarese.

“Prior to the launching of their flying fishing boats each year, there’s an elaborate series of precautions, taboos if you will, prohibitions that are followed in order to ensure that the flying fish will come into their traps. One of them is they have to change the rigging on the boats. They believe that the flying fish will only come if all the knots that link the outrigger bamboos to the boat are even. In other words, the number of ties around the structural members of the boat are an even number rather than an odd. If odd, the fish won’t come. So you see them literally unfurling all the nylon line that links outrigger to boat and sails and retying them so that there’s a scrupulously counted even number of knots.”

The fishermen’s precautions extend to their own personal behavior.

“Mandarese fishermen believe that the state of their soul influences whether or not flying fish will enter their traps. They believe for instance that they shouldn’t harbor any lecherous thoughts about other women than their wives when they’re at sea, and reciprocally, they believe that while they’re at sea, their wives have got to be faithful. If not, flying fish will never come near the boat.”

Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

MANDARESE FISHERMEN - Rituals

Fishermen in Indonesia believe that just as they keep an eye on their catch, those fish are watching them as well.
Air Date:11/19/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

The Mandarese fishermen of Indonesia know much about the lives and habits of the fish that they hunt. And they believe that their prey is studying them, as well. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by The American Museum of Natural History.

ambience: Mandarese singing

The purpose of this song is to lure flying fish into the fishermen's traps.

Charles Zerner is a Fulbright scholar in environmental law, who's gone fishing with the Mandarese.

"Prior to the launching of their flying fishing boats each year, there's an elaborate series of precautions, taboos if you will, prohibitions that are followed in order to ensure that the flying fish will come into their traps. One of them is they have to change the rigging on the boats. They believe that the flying fish will only come if all the knots that link the outrigger bamboos to the boat are even. In other words, the number of ties around the structural members of the boat are an even number rather than an odd. If odd, the fish won't come. So you see them literally unfurling all the nylon line that links outrigger to boat and sails and retying them so that there's a scrupulously counted even number of knots."

The fishermen's precautions extend to their own personal behavior.

"Mandarese fishermen believe that the state of their soul influences whether or not flying fish will enter their traps. They believe for instance that they shouldn't harbor any lecherous thoughts about other women than their wives when they're at sea, and reciprocally, they believe that while they're at sea, their wives have got to be faithful. If not, flying fish will never come near the boat."

Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.