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An annotated bibliography of Melanesian Folklore


Below is an annotated bibliography of Melanesian folklore. Bibliographic entries are included for Papua New Guinea, ex-Irian Jaya (Papua Province of Indonesia), Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia.Please send comments and corrections to me.

I use Wurm and Hattori (1983) to standardize references to groups of people, where each group listed under language name (or “People”) corresponds to a distinct language group in Wurm and Hattori (1983).

Wurm, S. A. & Hattori, Shirô, eds. (1983). Language Atlas of the Pacific Area. Part I. New Guinea Area, Oceania, Australia. Pacific Linguistics, Series C, No. 67. Canberra: Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Oral History (Port Moresby) is an important source for Papua New Guinean mythology, but it is at few libraries and is no longer published. It was published by the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies. Below, I have indexed many myths from this journal . Oral History was published as the following issues: 1(1-10) [1973], 2(1-10) [1974], 3(1-10) [1975], 4(-10) [1976], 5 (1-10) [1977], 6 (1-10) [1978], 7(1-10) [1979], 8(1-10) [1980], 9(1-4) [1981], 10(1-4) [1982], 11(1-4) [1983], 12(1-4) [1984], 13 (1-2) [1985]. A collective table of contents appeared in Oral History 5(2): 91-100. Issue 7(1) [misnumbered as 6(1)] (1978) was an index of previous issues. A selection of 13 myths from the Institute of Papua New Guinea’s folklore archive of at the time 3500 items was given in Oral History 5(3): 94-125. These are included below. I have not indexed those articles in this journal which do not pertain to mythology.

I wish to thank Robin Hide of Australian National University for extensive additions to this bibliography.

See also the Amazon Papua New Guinea Store.


Geographical Organization

Topical Organization

Earlier Bibliographies of Melanesian Folklore


Organization by Name of Language (or People)


Topical Organization


Migrations and Oral History

Stories that are strictly historical are not included.

The Time of Darkness Legends

See Blong (1981) for a description of the Time of Darkness.

Cargo Cult Myths

Sexuality/Gender and Mythology

Tales that Are Expressly for Children


Major Sources of Texts

Below are sources that report substantial amounts of Papua New Guinean mythology text in an apparently unbiased (i.e., not "retold") form with good source attribution. A source is considered major if

  1. it contains texts from many areas (e.g., McElhanon (1974)),
  2. it contains many texts from one area (e.g., LeRoy 1985a, 1985b),
  3. or it contains several texts and it is likely to be the only source for a language group (e.g., Sanders et al. (1986)).

Organization by People (or Language)


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