It can be said that the Dani tribe, in the Baliem valley, Indonesia, is one of the tribes that still keep the wildest way of life on the planet.
Men of this tribe only know how to hunt for a living, women gather and give birth. In the past, they were bloodthirsty people, specializing in headhunting other tribes. The new government’s strict prohibition made this brutal custom disappear.
In recent years, tourism has developed, people from all over the world have flocked to Baliem valley, but their lives have not been disturbed much, they still keep their outdated customs and ancient culture intact. Old, unique.
Men of this tribe only use gourds or tubular objects to cover the penis and women use grass to cover the lower body.
The women of this tribe are very disadvantaged. They have to take care of the whole family life. Men only enjoy hunting, singing, dancing.
There is a painful custom that still exists today, that every time a loved one dies, a woman has to go to the forest and use a stone ax to cut off one of her fingers. That action is considered as sharing the pain with the deceased. The elderly women of the Dani tribe often have no intact fingers.
The most interesting thing about this tribe with scientists, who love to explore, is the mummified remains of the chiefs.
These strange mummies are considered by the Dani people as treasures, which are very important in their spiritual life. Those mummies also attract the curiosity of tourists.
The chief’s body was placed in a house, which they called the sacred house, under the care of a chief. No one is allowed to enter that house without the permission of the chief. Anyone who disobeys will have their heads cut off by this tribe.
The chief of the Dani tribe is like a child king, with great power. In the past, the chiefs were the bravest warriors, leading the tribe in wars and territorial disputes.
The chief is also an expert headhunter and leads bloody headhunting.
Knowing that he is about to die, the illustrious chief will choose a replacement for himself. When the chief dies, the replacement will embalm the chief’s body.
The purpose of embalming, one is to commemorate the great merits of the chief, the other is for the tribe to be lucky, to be protected by the chief’s spirit.
The Dani have a variety of burial methods, most of which are cremated, then bury the ashes in the ground. The place where the ashes are buried is raised slightly above the ground for marking.
Only the great chiefs, who have made great contributions to the tribe and when they are about to die, are recommended by the tribe, zzz. to allow the tribe to embalm. Therefore, over thousands of years, only about 10 mummified chieftains have been found in the Baliem valley of this Dani tribe.
It is said to be mummification, but in fact this is a butchery by kitchen smoke. The fumigation took place in the chief’s own house. In the days of mortification, no one but the successor could enter this house.
This is a noble task. The successor will cut his hips to extract all the organs of the chief. Put the chief in a kneeling position, tie the rope to secure the position and bring the chief to the kitchen attic.
The kitchen attic is about 1 to 1.5m higher than the kitchen. Fire is grouped below. The fire burned day and night, releasing heat and smoke on the chief’s body. zzz.The water will evaporate, the fat will flow from the whole body through the hole in the hip. Where the fat is deposited, the mortuary uses a sharp needle to poke the fat out.
The cremation process takes place over a period of 1 to 3 months. At this time, the chief’s body was shriveled up like a piece of wood, up to a glossy black color.
It is not clear how the preservation took place, but there are mummies that have been around for 500 years. The mummy is less than 200 years old. The house containing the chief’s corpse has been rebuilt dozens of times, but the mummy still retains its original shape.
The Dani people believe that their chief is immortal, will last forever, along with the existence of the tribe, to protect the tribe.
On major occasions, the chieftain, zzz. after making traditional offerings, including pigs and chickens, can bring the chief’s body out for the whole tribe to admire. People will wear jewelry rings around the chief’s neck to pray for good luck.
Only the most prestigious people in the tribe are allowed to look after and preserve the mummy. Those people are the chiefs. Having a mummy with him, the chief has even more power. If a Dani community has a mummy, that community has pride and strength.