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Native Danes: kitten, smoked mummy and severed fingers

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In the middle of a mountain valley on one of the islands of Papua New Guinea lives an unusual Indonesian tribe whose members live almost like in prehistoric times.

Although the Dani are one of the largest tribes in Indonesia, their existence has long remained a mystery to mankind. These tives were first “discovered” only in 1938, when a pilot, flying over their territory, accidentally noticed their cultivated fields. Since then, they have been regularly visited by travelers and anthropologists, who testify to their modest but interesting life and traditions.

The tribe has about 250 thousand members who live in villages scattered among the steep mountain slopes. The center of Danyu is the village of Wame, located in the eighty-kilometer Baliem Valley. Here the tives build round or oval huts (called hoi) of straw and wood, with thick thatched roofs that provide excellent protection from the rain. In the huts, they cook on an open hearth, which retains heat and repels mosquitoes. Although the Danish dwellings are hidden in the forests, but since most of the tribe is engaged in agriculture, we find their carefully demarcated fields in open spaces.

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When it comes to sleeping, Danish families go separately – men in one hut, women and children in another. However, unlike indigenous villages elsewhere in the world, you won’t see many children running around here. After giving birth, sex becomes taboo for women for up to five years. At this time, they should focus on the development of their offspring and not look for distractions in love pleasures. Thus, although fewer children are born here, due to the full attention given to them by mothers, more attention is paid to their health and development.

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In partnerships, polygamy predomites. Danish men can have as many wives as they can afford. And the bride price is not exactly low. The groom must give the parents of the future wife at least four piglets. In men, their social status depends on the number of wives and pigs.

Members of the tribe go almost ked. When little girls reach the age of five, they begin to wear a thali skirt, which they wear until marriage, and then exchange it for a jogal skirt made of orchid fibers. On the contrary, Danish women do not cover their breasts all their lives. In men, we can notice the so-called cat, which is a kind of “case” that covers the penis. It is made from the gourd-like Lageria plant, which is hung with stones during cultivation to achieve the desired shape. “Clothes” include piercings, feather headbands, or pig-tooth necklaces that show a person’s position in society.

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It is characterized by an unprecedented connectedness, even from the point of view of the afterlife. Dani understand death as part of life and worship their ancestors who have gone to eterl rest. However, some of them remain alive, in the form of mummies, decorated with feathers or pig tusks. To mummify Dani’s bodies, they dried them in the sun and then placed them in a cave. After that, the remains were probably smoked, liquefied fat was drained from them through punctures, and the bodies were smeared with lard. The whole process can easily take several months.

By preserving the bodies of their ancestors in this way, the tributes were said to receive their blessing. Gradually, this tradition was abandoned with the arrival of Christians, who advised the tives to bury the dead, and not mummify them.

Another ritual that the oldest generations of this indigenous tribe remembered is iki palim, that is, amputation of the finger joints in the event of the death of a relative. But it was only women. Before cutting off, a piece of rope was tied tightly around the upper half of the finger for half an hour, which numbed the finger and was said to make its removal almost painless. The ritual was usually performed by a close relative, brother, sister or parent. It is not entirely clear why only women were supposed to make this sacrifice, but this mourning tradition was very important to Danish culture. She warded off evil spirits that might otherwise make family life unpleasant.

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Source: Blesk

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