Theme pages

The themepages offer insight into different aspects of life of the indegenous peoples of West Papua.

Similarities and differences among Mountain Papuans

hurkende Dani-manA comparison between  lifestyle of Papuans living in mountain areas has shown that there are many similarities. One such similarity is that they lived in groups consisting of patrilineal clans. Their leaders were men who needed to prove themselves time and again. Fights and wars between groups of Mountain Papuans were frequent. These usually took place between people who belonged to the same ethnic group. Differences on the other hand, occurred in performing rituals and establishing trade contacts. 

Experiment with Nieuw-Guinea regional councils

Papua's kijken wat er te kiezen valtOn 5 April 1961 the New Guinea Council (Nieuw-Guinea Raad) was set up. It was an important moment during a period (1959-1962) in which a more democratic mode of administration started to develop within the Dutch colony. Besides the New Guinea Council, regional councils were also elected, which acted as "subdivisions". These regional councils formed a link between the village councils and the New Guinea Council.

Hollandia Centenary (Jayapura) in 2010

On 7 March 2010 it is a 100 years since the Dutch flag is hoisted up by Captainbivak op strand Humboldtbaai 1910 F.J.P. Sachse on the north coast of New Guinea.  Sache is the commander of the Northern Detachment, one of three military exploration detachments that set out to explore New Guinea in the early part of the 20th century.  The Northern Detachment consists of Captain Sache and three other officers, 80 Indonesian soldiers, 60 porters as well as labourers, servants, women and children (270 people in total). Five months earlier, they  all boarded the carrier ‘Van Den Bosch’. Shortly after landing, they build a base camp along the beach of Humboldt Bay.

Doctors on the south coast in the Fifties

Around 1920 Healthcare in New Guinea started to develop. The growing number of doctors had more and more contact with Papuans and conducted an increasing number of examinations among the population. These were especially aimed at preventing common diseases such as malaria, yaws and tuberculosis.

Pigs and Pig Ceremonies in New Guinea

Pigs play a very important role  among the people of Papua (former Dutch New Guinea), and especially so among those living in the Central Highlands. Apart from  pigs and deer, originally brought in by the Europeans, there are not many mammals on this island. The wild pigs in Papua are similar to those in Dutch national park, but they are skinnier.

Eyewitness Report Headhunting

In 1939 the Dutch priest Jan Verscheuren witnessed a headhunting incident in kekaju village by the war-like tribe of the JEI people. He made notes which were then incorporated by Dr. Jan H.M.C. Boelaars in his book 'Nieuw Guinea uw mensen zijn wonderbaar' (New Guinea your people are amazing). Verscheuren described the killing and the rituals in great detail.

Chewing Pinang a popular past time in Papua

Chewing  Betel nut is a popular past time in Papua for both young and old. In Jayapura one can seeTanden worden rood door pinang kauwen plenty of people with bright red teeth as well as the resulting  red coloured streaks of spit along the ground. In Bahasa Indonesia it is known as “Makan Pinang”. The chewing of the Areca Palm nut is a 2500-year-old tradition in Malaysia and in the rest of South East Asia.

Working iron in New Guinea

smit met blaasbalg aan het werkBefore World War II, former Dutch New Guinea, now the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, was regarded in the media as still being part of the  so-called Stone Age. Irrespective of it being a useful concept, there were at least two reasons to take a more tempered view. Firstly, because iron implements were introduced shortly after   contact with the first European ship in the area.

Deforestation threatens Papua Culture

Papua, the Indonesian part of the island of New Guinea, belongs to the lungs of this world as it contains 31,5 million acres of tropical rain forest. If the trees were to be cut, it would mean a threat to the livelihood and culture of many Papuan tribes. Deforestation means the destruction of their medicinal and food resources, expelling their ancestors and committing a heinous crime against nature. Deforestation will lead to suffering, disaster and chaos for the Papuans The forests form a part of their heritage.