It has never been adequate when it comes to unwrapping the mystery face of West Papua. Its unbeaten natural bird’s-eye view, picturesque marsupials’ kingdom, and not to mention the authenticity of Melanesian warmth are things anyone can’t miss out on whilst having a visit to the tropical paradise. Moreover, the Papuan tribal communities with their deviating habit and tradition, scattered in the entire territory will surely make your jaw drop. What are they? Let’s find them out, folks.
Everyone might be familiar with this tribe – the Dani. Inhabiting the magical Baliem Valley for countless decades, the ethnic group of Dani has been renowned for their traditional household appliances. The people are also keen on producing conventional weapons such as a bone knife, stone axe, and wooden spear. The males wear unique apparel made of dried plant known as koteka while the females cover their body with a tassel skirt. If they want to take shelter from the storm, the honai (a customary house capped with a collection of hay) is the place. The extraordinary culture includes the finger cutting, ancestor mummification, rock burning, and war tradition.
Asmat tribe of which meaning is the house tree is one the largest ethnic clusters dominating the western piece of New Guinea Island. It is divided into two sorts – the one that refers to the coastal people and the highland inhabitant. Although their blood has similar genes, the way of living and social structure of both are totally contrasting. Famous for the wood engraving, the clan never fails to lets the culture explorer finds out something more. Just like what Dani tribe often does to respect their progenitor, the Asmat preserves their chief’s corpse and rubs the body with a secret potion so that the process of mummification can be executed properly.
Have you ever heard “rumah pohon” (the 50-meter-tall tree house)? Yes, this idea originates from the tribe of Korowai, the endangered tribal group populating the forest area within spitting distance of Arafura Sea. The unassuming individuals who are mostly hunters and food gatherers are adept at surviving. Before being discovered in 1975, this unique Papuan tribal group had never got in touch with the modernization or current human civilization. Aside from hounding animal for a living, they also grow some plants; produce salt, as well as creating traditional stone weapons. To honor the tradition, a sago party is always held. During the ritual procession, the boar, clam, and dog’s teeth are offered.
If you are curious about Papuan pigmies, you had better figure the Yali tribe out. On the authority of research, the average height of the inhabitants is no taller than 1.5 meters. This exceptional race living in a small camp can be found throughout the middle highlands of Jayawijaya and the Baliem Valley. To reach them out is such an easy task as the people only occupy the pristine jungle. Speaking of the hunting activity, the ethnic cluster can’t be apart from bows and arrows. The introduction to the world of medication has been recognized for many years – the prominent one is the usage of yabi, a type of itchy leave to heal the ill body.
Bauzi tribe comes with multiple names such as Baudi, Bauji, and Bauri. Fascinatingly, the tribal category is included as one of the 14 most alienated Papuan ethnicities. It deserves to be called so since the habitation is spread along the untouched wilderness from swamp to thick wood. As the isolated residents, the males of this tribal group put on the loincloth – this one is a type of dried bark tied to the genitals. Meanwhile, the females with their leafy skirt remain shirtless. This group of nomadic people is good at hunting, meal gathering, and making natural medicine. And the same is true with creating weapons.
Amungme tribe also recognized as Amuy or Uhunduni mostly populates the mountainous region of West Papua. Although it has no official religion, the Amungme believes in Holy Spirit of the ancestor – animism is the exact word described for their faith. This community has gained a lot of attention from the world in regard to the territorial dispute with the Grasberg mining. It’s found that their holy mountain they worship is in the foreign authority. Apart from this matter, this Papuan ethnic clan has a unique tradition from hunting to food gathering. For the survival reason, it grows plant with the system of shifting cultivation.
To make a long story short, West Papua is not only rich in its natural resources and quarries but also the green paradise’s diverse tribal groups populating the land. By learning more about those indigenous communities, you will find Indonesia’s 26th province hiding plenty of charm in its secrecy, breath-taking.