Kakamora Caves - mystery of the dwarf people
|Coordinates:||-10.4164 S 161.5746 E (very approximate, wild guess)|
|No:||194 (list of all attractions)|
|Values:||Archaeology, Unexplained, Geology|
|Address:||Australia and Oceania, Solomon Islands, Makira - Ulawa Province, central part of Makira Island|
|Alternate names:||Kakangora Caves, Pawpawronga Caves, Caves of Oranggo|
Makira Island (earlier - San Cristobal) is sparsely populated, jungle covered island - possibly the wildest large Solomon Island. Most people here live in coastal villages. The rugged rainforest in the interior part of the island is virtually free of human influence - there are stories about some tribes still living there and even about the cannibalism traditions still alive there - but these as well could be just legends.
Weird creatures of the jungle
There are though other exciting tales, which often seem to represent something more than just legends: the tales about kakamoras in the central part of Makira.
According to these stories kakamoras are small creatures similar to people - but by far not ordinary people. They are very small - some are 1.4 m tall (such kakamoras are more characteristic for the other Solomon Islands), but on Makira they are especially small - just a bit over 15 centimetres large.
Kakamoras go naked and have dark skin (but some are white), small teeth, long hair up to shoulders and even up to knees. Some say that whole body of kakamora is hairy. Their nails are very long and very sharp.
These small creatures are told to be extremely strong - as strong as 3 - 4 men - and men in Solomon Islands are not weaklings at all. Nevertheless they can be easily wounded - their weak spots are buttocks. Kakamoras reportedly have disgusting odor.
Kakamoras speak unintelligable language, they are timid and shy and in general considered harmless. But they may become very dangerous to stray children or other lonely travellers.
Legends tell that they might start beating one of their own tribesman and he would weep like a child. Traveller would think that there is a lost child in the jungle and would look for it. Finally traveller gets lost and hears kakamoras sitting high in the trees and mocking him. There might be much worse ending - kakamoras may attack and stab with their sharp nails and eat their victim. There are also stories about unsuccessful attempts of kakamoras to steal children from villages.
But if a lonely traveller feels that kakamoras are bothering him, it is enough to wave a white cloth and all these creatures are terryfied and run away.
Dancing in the moonlight
Kakamoras supposedly live in remote limestone caves in the interior of Makira. More stories are from the western part of the island - Arosi land. They eat nuts, fruits and are especially fond of possums.
These forest creatures can not make fire themselves - but are not too afraid of fire either. They have been noticed stealing firebrands from the fires made by humans and playing with them.
They seem to have also a queen or king. Kakamoras are bending low, when running. But at the same time they are seen dancing - groups of kakamoras have been seen dancing in moonlight or also in heavy rain. Some tell that they are even singing.
There is a popular traditional dance - play in Solomon Islands, imitating a legendary dance of kakamoras. Supposed kakamoras are dancing in accompaniment of dull notes of conch shell. Suddenly canoe people arrive across the waters and small people of trees are running in panic.
Local people not always are eager to tell stories about kakamoras and even less - to show the supposed places where they live. Often this issue is considered to be tambu - taboo, and, of course, many people just consider this to be a nonsense not worth talking about.
There are though heard legendary stories about some kakamoras captured by especially skilled hunters. Those who manage to capture them, might get magical powers from kakamoras.
Aborigines of Makira?
According to legends, kakamora were living on Makira when people (e.g. current Melanesians) came here. Kakamora then retreated to mountains without any serious resistance.
Similar stories are heard in many other islands of Melanesia - other Solomon islands, New Britain. Several groups of small people still live in New Guinea, Flores and other locations of this region.
Thus it is possible that legends about kakamora refer to a tribe of such small people, living here before the coming of current Melanesians. As the time passed, they turned into mythical beings in the tales of Bauro, Arosi and other local people.
Are kakamoras still living?
Most researchers and also many local people consider that kakamora is just another invention in the rich collection of Solomon Islands fairy tale characters.
There are though stories which let to believe that there is something more than imagination:
Makira islanders have noticed that sightings of kakamoras almost ended in the early 20th century, when many local people obtained firearms. Firearms were forbidden around 1920 and in a few months time there came first reports about sightings of kakamoras - they again were stealing fruits in gardens and seen near villages.
At this time many villagers believed that this is just a matter of time when kakamora would be caught and shown to white people. Many expected that they will receive large financial reward for this and were combing the forests in the search of mythical beings.
There are no known sightings of kakamora by Europeans, but at least one - Charles Elliot Fox (he described this in his book "The Threshold of the Pacific", 1924) - saw traces of these small people. He was travelling through the western part of Makira with a group of Arosi people. One of locals, who was going ahead of the group, saw kakamora in a river they were going to ford. As the group reached this river, Fox found raw, half-eaten fish and few small, wet footprints on a dry stone in the river.
Most frequent reports about the sightings of kakamoras came from western Makira, Arosi land. Even in the mid-1970s Arosi people reported about a kakamora caught by their hunters. It escaped after several days.
Legends of Makira people show: it is very possible that the limestone caves in the central part of island really may hide interesting evidence of the past of Solomon Islands.
See Kakamora Caves on the map of Solomon Islands!
- Stanley G.C. Knibbs. The Sawage Solomons as They Were and Are, 1929.
- C. E. Fox. The Threshold of the Pacific: an account of the Social Organisation, Magic, and Religion of the People of San Cristoval in the Solomon Islands. London, 1924.