Classifieds 50% off, use promo code FBkpkPromo 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.

MY STORAGE - Secure, Clean and Cost Effective Self Storage at Jungceylon, Phuket, Thailand

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


Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

You must be joking Discover Thainess...Since when have tourists interests ever been considered in this country, there is obviously a huge oversupply &...(Read More)


Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

Why are we in a constant state of deja vu, with the same result, failure, failure, failure, for someone to one day actually do it, and have it continu...(Read More)


Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

Lets be clear here, taxi's and taxi drivers are the single biggest problem Phuket faces or has ever faced (yes, I'm absolutely including the T...(Read More)


Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

demanded a “fairer share” of the parking spaces in Patong. Ahh, they don't like it when they can't have 100% of the roads to themselves an...(Read More)


Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

After all those years of "fair sharing" and all the unsuccessful attempts to take parking space away from them,it would come as a surprise i...(Read More)


Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

Time to get rid of the taxi mafia and only allow registered taxi drivers who own a taxi license....(Read More)


Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

It would be lovely to have prior warning or invites to these meetings as tourists and residents to give US the chance to rally and protest that the pu...(Read More)


Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

Aha! I already wrote today about the tuk tuk and taxi mafia who are not allowing me to park at for me and other citizens/tourists ment parking space o...(Read More)


Phuket driver’s arm severed in accident while delivering tourists to airport

The reason for most accidents are speeding. I have been to Phuket a few time and always encounter drivers speeding to a point where I always tell them...(Read More)


Phuket taxi, tuk-tuk drivers rally against Patong parking crackdown

Awesome news. At least half the number is needed and then they will each make more money too. now you can not even get to the beach as the Tuk Tuks ar...(Read More)

The Phuket News
Bangkok Hospital Phuket
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.