Wife Fattening

Over at the Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society, a clip was posted from the 1960s "shock-umentary" Mondo Cane (meaning "World of Dogs"). The film was a collection of all kinds of examples of bizarre human behavior from around the world. In this scene the Melanesian custom of wife fattening is shown. The narration (in spanish in the clip) says:
We are at Tabar, the largest island of the Bismarck Archipelago, where, by tradition, the most beautiful women of the tribe are locked up in strong cages similar to those we've seen in Strasbourg to fatten geese and they get filled with tapioca until they reach at least 120 kilos. Then, they will be offered as wives to the village's dictator, Utame Alunda, famous all over the islands for his physical power and his odd personality. The fattening process goes from 3 to 6 months, meanwhile, Utame Alunda didn't remain idle. These are some of his most recent children, that he loves to show to the foreigners in this dance, as a proof of his virility. This is his last spouse: eight children and one hundred thirty kilos. This is his favorite wife. Ten children and 150 kilos. And this is the great chief Alunda: 27 children and 34 kilos.
There's been some discussion over at the Athanasius Kircher Society about whether this is real. As far as I can tell, it is. The maker of Mondo Cane was accused of staging footage, and taking customs wildly out of context, but most of the material was true. After all, there's no shortage of bizarre human behaviors in the world. And, as far as I know, Melanesian culture did, in the past, include the custom of wife fattening. The BBC has an article about wife-fattening in current day Mauritania. Different part of the world, but same idea. Warning: the clip shows some bare-breasted island women, in case that's a problem for anyone at work or elsewhere. Nothing you wouldn't see on the National Geographic channel, however.

Body Manipulation Food

Posted on Thu Dec 07, 2006


Maybe he should send 'em to Mcdonald instead... it would take a lot less than 3 to 6 months to reach their full plump beauty...

Posted by oppiejoe  on  Thu Dec 07, 2006  at  12:41 PM
I saw a special on something like this, but it was deffinately African. I don't think I know where Melansiawhatsit is...but I did see something recently (in the last 3 years or so). The women were not in cages though, they went to a special village that helped them get fat...they had bowls & bowls of food around them...and they just sort of grabbed a spoonful of each...one bite at a time.
Posted by Maegan  on  Thu Dec 07, 2006  at  01:59 PM
As far as I know, being fat is regarded as a sign of wealth and welfare associated with high status in much of Melanesia and Polynesia.
Posted by LaMa  on  Thu Dec 07, 2006  at  03:03 PM
And in much of the rest of the world, too.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Thu Dec 07, 2006  at  03:27 PM
When I was a kid growing up in NYC, WOR-TV (now WWOR) ran Mondo Cane. I was fascinated with the segment on cargo cults, leading to the idea I've had for at least a decade now for the ultimate piece of Reality Hacking.

Anyone want to fund a Big Project?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Dec 08, 2006  at  02:09 AM
Alright! I'm getting myself to Mauritania where I'll be voted the best wife of them all! 😊
Posted by Nettie  on  Fri Dec 08, 2006  at  04:22 AM
Wife fattening in Mauritania? It's a very poor country, and a good chunk of it is in the Sahara desert. I'm surprised they can find enought spare food. What do they fatten them on? Sand?

By the way, as "Mondo Cane" is an Italian movie (the first of the dreadful "Mondo" wave), are you sure that the comment is in Spanish, not in Italian?
Posted by Christophe Thill  on  Fri Dec 08, 2006  at  07:55 AM
"... are you sure that the comment is in Spanish, not in Italian?"

Definitely Spanish. Or at least the subtitles are (the sound didn't work on my computer, if there is any sound).

... If the piece had been Italian, they would have been eating Linguini Alfredo, eh?
Posted by Big Gary  on  Fri Dec 08, 2006  at  04:25 PM
Maegan, the special you saw was on the Dinka. At my church we have several of The Lost Boys and when I saw that show advertised, I decided to watch in order to understand a bit of their culture. However, with the Dinka, it was young men who deliberately fattened themselves up on nothing but goats milk if I remember right. And they were off by themselves and not in a seperate village. I think you confused the segment on the couple trying to get married, who were from seperate villages.

And as far as the wives of Alunda, I question the 27 children of the one. I've heard of large families, but the largest I've ever heard of was 15. Anybody ever check out Guiness to see if they list the most children to a woman?
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Sat Dec 09, 2006  at  07:06 PM
I'm pretty sure the most number if children born to one woman is 69 and occurred sometime in the 1700's. Apparently she had many, many sets of twins, triplets and even a set of quads.
Posted by Nettie  on  Sun Dec 10, 2006  at  05:21 AM
Somewhere on this site we've had the discussion before about the record number of children born to one mother. But I can't find it.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Dec 12, 2006  at  12:00 AM
Can definetly confirm that wife fattening is a rela custom in Africa; Heard an article on BBC World Service about the differences in the macho cultures of Kenya and Mexico, and in Kenya it is part of learning to be a wife to make oneself overweight as possible in order to keep one's husband.

I assume that perhaps body fat is a survival advantage in droughts and famines, or pmaybe the sex hormone level is lower and chubby wives are more faithful or something.
Posted by DFStuckey  on  Tue Dec 12, 2006  at  09:19 PM
the language of the movie is not spanish, is italian
Posted by kroni  on  Wed Aug 15, 2007  at  04:45 PM
what I mean is: the sound is italian, the text is spanish (subtitles)
Posted by kroni  on  Wed Aug 15, 2007  at  04:46 PM
Hey, I fattened my wife (With her consent of course)

She was a big girl when I met her.. and I fed and fed her till she got a BIG old overhanging belly and huge boobs

Nothing is better than a big fat wife with some HUGE monster boobs and a big sagging belly
Posted by donker  on  Wed Sep 30, 2009  at  03:09 PM
I'll bet my wife is fatter than yours.
Posted by Tom  on  Thu Dec 17, 2009  at  02:25 PM
Like some men, i like my wife after all the years of eating shows up in her waistline. She is amazing in bed, and keeps on packing on the blubber so who am I to complain.

One benefit, you get the bigger boobs as playthings 😊
Posted by Danny  on  Sun Apr 18, 2010  at  02:29 PM
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