Live Phuket The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort
The Phuket News World News
The Phuket News Phuket | Thailand | World | Business | Q&A | Weird World XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

Papuan tribe preserves ancient rite of mummification

INDONESIA: Cradling the centuries-old remains of his mummified ancestor, tribe leader Eli Mabel lays bare an ancient tradition that has all but vanished among the Dani people in the Papuan central highlands.

culture, death,


AFP

Saturday 20 August 2016, 10:00AM


Tribe chief Eli Mabel (centre) holds mummified remains of his ancestor, Agat Mamete Mabel, in the village of Wogi, in Wamena, the long-isolated home of the Dani tribe high in the Papuan central highlands. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP
Tribe chief Eli Mabel (centre) holds mummified remains of his ancestor, Agat Mamete Mabel, in the village of Wogi, in Wamena, the long-isolated home of the Dani tribe high in the Papuan central highlands. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The tiny, blackened, shrunken figure he carries was Agat Mamete Mabel, the chieftain that ruled over this remote village in Indonesian Papua some 250 years ago.

Honoured upon death with a custom reserved only for important elders and local heroes among the Dani people – he was embalmed and preserved with smoke and animal oil.

Nine generations on and his descendent Eli Mabel is the current chieftain in Wogi village – an isolated hamlet outside Wamena that can be reached only by hiking and canoe.

He said the exact age of Agat Mamete Mabel was not known, but said this ancestor was the last of the village to receive such a funeral. Once common among his forebears, the ritual method of smoke embalming was no longer practised, he explained.

Christian missionaries and Muslim preachers encouraged the tribespeople to bury the corpses, and the tradition has faded as the centuries drifted by.

But Mabel is determined to retain the ancient rites and rituals for future generations.

“We must protect our culture, including the ceremonies for the mummy, the way we treat it, and maintain and fire for it,” the Dani tribesman said.

Kenny Rogers Roasters

The mummy, decorated with pig tusks slung around the torso, a feathered headpiece, and traditional penis gourd rests in a hut known as a “honai”.

This wide domed, thatch-roofed hut is tended year round by a select few villagers who keep a fire burning to ensure the corpse remains dry and preserved.

The duty of caring for the mummy often falls to Mabel, he said. He spends many nights sleeping alone in the honai, ensuring no harm befalls his ancestor.

Eventually, the duty of caring for the mummy will be passed to others, he said. Mabel hopes his own children will bear some responsibility for keeping their customs alive, but worries they are far away.

“I have told them they must take care of the mummy at some point in their lives,” Mabel said of his four children, some living in far-off provinces in Indonesia’s more populated centres.

The ancient Dani tribes in Indonesia’s half of the island of New Guinea were cut off from the outside world until well into the 20th century. Their homeland in the Baliem Valley was isolated by steep, rugged valleys and dense highland forest.

Today, the region remains one of the poorest in Indonesia. Many tribes rely on tourism, their unique customs, traditional dress and rituals attracting visitors to their remote villages.

 

 

The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Comment on this story
* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.
Comments Here:
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
CAPTCHA
    Forget your password?

Be the first to comment.

The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments


Man shot in head in heart of Phuket Town

paula44;Ematt is right with his statistic.The statistic is based on 100.00 inhabitants per country.Google it if you dont believe it....(Read More)


Phuket Governor looks to extend nightlife closing times at Karon Beach

Cannot make comments here. First time Error 523 comes up (often ) second told to log in when I am always permanently logged in.Why the slip ups these ...(Read More)


Phuket corruption probe underway

I wright about 20 times about Immigration in Phuket and Corruption, they have free internett in Immigration whay nobody take some movie and put on int...(Read More)


Phuket corruption probe underway

After a full investigation of themselves, which will not be made public, Phuket will be declared free of corruption by the very same corrupt people....(Read More)


Man shot in head in heart of Phuket Town

ematt; The U.S population is roughly five times that of Thailand's yet as stated by you both countries have equal murder rate which makes Thailand...(Read More)


Phuket Governor looks to extend nightlife closing times at Karon Beach

Why not all over the island or are his friends only doing business in Patong kata karon?...(Read More)


Phuket corruption probe underway

Make sure the 4 wise men in room 103 at Phuket immigration are investigated. Just follow the money trail. ...(Read More)



Tensions rise ahead of new temple raid

More of a farce on a daily basis sadly. ...(Read More)


Phuket corruption probe underway

I wonder what the odds are for the investigation to find nothing and for phuket to be declared corruption free? I myself have been asked for cash from...(Read More)

The Phuket News
PHUKET NEWS
Phuket
Thailand
World
Business
Q A
Weird World
ARCHIVE
POLL
CURRENCY
WEATHER
PHUKET TIDE TABLE
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Technology
Phuket Travel
Photo Galleries
COLOURING BOOK
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket
Thailand
World
SURF REPORT
PREDICTIONS
The Phuket News PHUKET CLASSIFIEDS
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
SEARCH CLASSIFIEDS
POST CLASSIFIED
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
POST EVENT
The Phuket News PHUKET DIRECTORY
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
POST LISTING
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Subscribe
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
CONTESTS
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
 
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2017 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.