The Dani tribe lives in Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Irian Jaya, now called Papua, is the eastern-most province in Indonesia. The island is shared with Papua New Guinea. One of the things Papua is known for are the hundreds of small tribes who call the Papuan jungle home. One of those tribes are the Dani people, who live in the mountains, or highlands, of Papua.
Their homes, or honai, are 2-story round huts. They have a diameter of 4-6 meters, which are 2.5 meters high, and have straw roofs. Men, women, and pigs have separate honai. Dani men use “Koteka” which is a sheath made of pumpkin worn over the private area. Women wear skirts worn of palm leaves or bark. In 1935, European missionaries brought the Gospel to the Dani people, and many have become Christians. But some of them still believe in mystical things, including ancestral spirits whom are believed to have the power to cure disease and give abundant harvests. They have several religious ceremonies, including:
- Kaneka Hagasir: a ceremony for the welfare of the society, which also signals the beginning and ending of wars
- Rekwasi: a traditional ceremony performed by soldiers to honor their ancestors. During the ceremony, they wear traditional clothes called “Tanfa” which are decorated with lard, shellfish, and tree sap. They also use traditional weapons such as spears and axes.
- The Cut Fingers is the most extreme tradition carried by Dani people. This tradition is done when a family member dies. The women show their grief by cutting off segments of their fingers.
In addition to these ceremonies, the Dani also have unique habit while working. They sing traditional songs with heroism and sorrowful theme and use the traditional musical instrument called “Pikon.”
If you are planning a trip to Papua, do not miss a visit to the Dani tribe. Many different companies offer tours to visit different tribes, including the Dani. Once you arrive, you will be greeted with a ritual called “Bakar Batu” (Stone Grill). Bakar Batu is a ritual burning of food on a rock. This ritual is performed by many tribes living in the mountains of Papua for weddings, funerals, and welcoming guests.
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