The Ayamaru: One of the Maybrat Tribes in West Papua & Its Unique Language

6 Traditional Cuisine of Maybart Tribe in West Papua
Source: Sering Jalan

The Ayamaru is one of the Maybrat tribes inhabiting the west and south area of Lake Ayamaru, Maybrat Regency, West Papua Province. Its total population is about 25,000 people across 40 villages. They speak mainly the Maybrat language even though they also have their own language. As a matter of fact, the word “mei” means language and “brat” means people.

Ayamaru people earn their living with farming, catching fishes and wild animals around the Lake Ayamaru. Birds are hunted products usually used as merchandise in exchange for clothes brought by the traders from other tribes. Below is some information regarding Ayamaru language, a Papuan unique tribal language in the region. 

West Papua
Sumber : Papua Inside

Maybrat Tribes & Their Unique Language in West Papua

Maybrat tribes are actually a group of three subtribes, namely Ayamaru, Aifat and Aitinyo. There are some gaps among them—be it socially, economically and even culturally. Fortunately, Maybrat’s basic concept is built on the foundation of the relationship between the nature and the indigenous Papuan culture in general. Thus, the togetherness that has been realized in the form of eastern clothing plays a role as a binder of the entire members of the community.  

Other cultural elements that have united the tribes for centuries is their languages. Maybrat Regency of West Papua consists of three districts that have the same names of the tribes themselves, i.e. Ayamaru, Aitinyo and Aifat. Although different, each district has a resemblance in their languages with their respective uniqueness.  

Despite the fact that they live close enough—from one tribe to another, there are several language differences discovered. These diversities somehow have also become a major influence on their social lives. For examples, “Ara reto jo/ji tubat” in Ayamaru language and “Ara reto tit/ti tubiat” in Aifat language. When viewed based on the word structures and the word placements, the two languages still have some similarities.  

The Result of The Research

This article is written based on a journal of a language study “The Comparison of Verbs in Ayamaru & Aifat Districts in Maybrat Regency (a Comparative Linguistics Study)” by Margareta Yumame and Abdulrahman Hatsamah from Indonesian Language Education Study Program, Muhammadiyah University of Education, Sorong, West Papua.

The research was conducted in two villages in Maybrat Regency, Yukase Village in Ayamaru District  and Susmuk Village, Aifat District, West Papua Province. The subjects of the research were six locals who lived in both villages. The languages are distinguished mainly based on the verbs or phrasal verbs. 

Self verbs are the verbs containing reflexive pronouns. In Ayamaru language, the first-person verbs used is either jo or ji which means “I” or “me.” Jo mostly means “I am a boy/man” while ji is for “I am a girl/woman”. The second-person verb is a verb affixed to “you”. Either in Ayamaru or Aifat, there is no difference in the use of the self verbs, but there are also several sentence structures that distinguish between the two. 

In Ayamaru language, nyi or nyo are used to tell reflexive pronoun “you” attached to certain verbs (nyi which means “you man” as a doer and nyo for “you woman” as a doer). Whereas, in the Aifat language, the word is replaced with nin for both “you man” and “you woman.” 

There are also differences on the third-person verbs used in both Ayamaru and Aifat languages. In Ayamaru language, the word ait denotes “he” or “him” and it can also mean “he is a boy/man” in certain contexts; while au for “she” or “her” as well as “she is a girl/woman.” On the other hand, in Aifat language, they use ao for “she” or “her,” but also use ait for “he” or “him” as a doer.


To sum up everything, the research on the Ayamaru tribe and its language in West Papua was conducted based on the Comparative Linguistics principles especially in genetic classification of related languages. The research resulted in the conclusion that there are some similarities in their self verbs and phrasal verbs—or reflexive pronouns containing verbs. It is an interesting research as it shows unity in diversity, as reflected by the well known Indonesian slogan, indeed.