Dani Tribes Have Sacred Sites Among Dani Tribes In Baliem Valley, West Papua Called Wakunmo, Wusanma, Wima-Bunasili, And Wikimono, Wileboma, Sinoma.
Every ethnic group has its uniqueness, characteristics, and beliefs. In Indonesia, there are thousands of tribes. As for the eastern part of Indonesia, Papua and West Papua, more than a thousand tribes live here. One of them is the Dani tribes.
Dani tribes are quite popular in Indonesia and other countries, thanks to their hospitality, fascinating traditional arts, and suavity. Among many things that can be studied about them are sacred places they still believe. What are sacred sites among Dani tribes in Baliem Valley, West Papua? Read on!
Dani, the Residents of Baliem Valley
Dani tribe lives in highland inland and the valley. They are the oldest tribes living in the Baliem Valley. Dani tribe is known for their genuine ability of war. Dani tribe calls themselves nit baliemega, which means we are the people of Baliem. They live in a traditional house called Honai, one of the most known traditional houses of Papua and West Papua.
Most people of this tribe make a living by farming ipere—almost similar to sweet potato— as the main crop. They also plant vegetables, such as cabbage, mustard greens, and orange. They consume what they plant, and some sell it to town after harvesting.
The traditional cloth of Dani tribe is koteka or holim. Koteka is only worn by men and it covers men’s vital. Koteka is made from Chinese pumpkin or calabash with a pointed shape.
How they wear it between married men and virgins is different. If the koteka is worn vertically means that man is still a virgin. Koteka worn tilted to the right, shows that the wearer has high social status or is noble. Meanwhile, a man wearing koteka tilted to the left means he is the descendant of warlords.
Sacred Sites Among Dani Tribes in Baliem Valley
People of the Dani tribe have four forest areas that are protected and considered sacred. The sacred sites are:
Sacred Place – Wakunmo
Wakunmo is a certain place on their territory and a hidden place in the foothills. This sacred place is meant to keep spears that are already wrapped up with weeds and part of passing elders’ legacies. The storing is conducted after cremation. Wukonmo also signs their territorial control.
Secret and Sacred Place – Wusanma
Wusanma is among the sacred sites among Dani tribes in Baliem Valley, West Papua. Wusanma is used to hide traditional objects and war weapons, such as spears and arrows. This place also becomes a symbol of the mighty tribal members who succeeded in conquering or killing their enemies.
The storing of traditional pieces is conducted during peacetime in traditional pilamo. Pilamo is one kind of Dani’s traditional house Honai. However, if the storing is conducted during wartime, the items will be placed in Wusanmo. This site is very much sacred because that’s where their ancestors were buried.
The Place of War and Where the Tribal Chief Killed – Wima-Bunasili
Wima-Bunasili is quite narrow for a forest area. This sacred site among Dani tribes in Baliem valley consists of only tens of square meters. Even though this place is considered sacred, common people are allowed to enter this site with the condition that they won’t do any damage to the site.
Preserved Place – Wikimono, Wileboma, Sinoma
These areas are more rules-free. Wikimono, Wileboma, Sinoma are commonly planted with certain plants or vegetation. Wikimono is laid in the valley and becomes an area with many firewoods and other vegetation that can be used for the fence. Wilebona is filled with many overgrown wind protection trees mostly utilized as housing materials. As for Sinoma, it is a place with many sin trees that are considered a high value.
Dani Tribes’ Beliefs
Dani tribes believe in spirits. Man spirit is called Suangi Ayoka and woman spirit is called Suangi Hosile. They also believe in atou. Atous is magical strength given from their ancestors to boys of their family. The strengths passed by are the strength to take care of the farm, the strength to heal people and chase away bad things, and the strength to make a land prosper.
Another jaw-dropping tradition of Dani tribes is the cutting finger tradition. This peculiar heritage symbolizes the loss and misery following a death of a family member. Besides showing the pain of the loss, it is also done to prevent the recurrence of the calamity that has taken the life of someone in the grieving family.
Why finger? Because for them, a finger is a symbol of unity, harmony, and the strength of the family and the human self.
When you visit Papua and West Papua, make sure to put Baliem Valley on your list. This place is very beautiful and captivating. You can also take a peek at sacred sites among Dani tribes in Baliem Valley.