An interesting piece from The New Yorker about the rules of honor in New Guinea's "payback culture." The term is an unfortunate choice, because it gives a modern flavor to what is really an ancient feud. It is ruled by ideas of honor, though. (By a quirk of fate, the tribesman's name is Daniel, much like our own companion whose ethical ideals are not without harmony here.)
On one occasion, I asked Daniel whether there are any rules that limit how one may kill enemies. He said, “In a night raid in which we sneak into an enemy village and surround the hut of a targeted enemy individual, we can tear down the hut to force the enemy to come out so that we can kill him. But it’s not acceptable to set fire to the hut and burn him to death.” I then asked, “Is it acceptable for six of you surrounding a hut to attack and kill a single outnumbered enemy?” Daniel answered, “Yes, that’s considered fair, because it’s already extremely dangerous for us to penetrate enemy territory, where we are greatly outnumbered.”These are sometimes honored in the breach.
[T]he quest of a Tudawhe friend of mine, Kariniga, to avenge the killing of his father and many other relatives by the Daribi tribe culminated when Kariniga and his surviving relatives marched through the jungle at night to surround the Daribi village just before dawn, set fire to the huts, and speared the sleepy occupants as they stumbled out.This was true elsewhere: "We shall have to boast of something else than that Njal has been burnt in his house," says Flosi, "for there is no glory in that."
Another thing that is true is the rule that our Daniel was referencing below:
“If you die in a fight, you will be considered a hero, and people will remember you for a long time,” he said. “But if you die of a disease you will be remembered for only a day or a few weeks, and then you will be forgotten.” Daniel was proud both of the aggressiveness displayed by all the warring clans of his Nipa tribe and of their faultless recall of debts and grievances. He likened Nipa people to “light elephants”: “They remember what happened thirty years ago, and their words continue to float in the air. The way that we come to understand things in life is by telling stories, like the stories I am telling you now, and like all the stories that grandfathers tell their grandchildren about their relatives who must be avenged.But read all the way through, for a remarkable tale of an unavenged murder in the anthropologist's own family. "I came to appreciate the terrible personal price that law-abiding citizens pay for leaving vengeance to the state," he writes, contrasting the Western system of government with the old way.