The Papuan people have always searched for the ideal weapons as part of their quest to live. Papua traditional weapons’ meticulous design frequently turns out to be essential in protecting life or death from the enemy or the forces of nature.
Every weapon maker has its own goal in mind when it comes to its creation. It is interesting how the weapons change over time to suit the demands of the tribesmen who use them.
However, sometimes those requirements result in undoubtedly exceptional weapons without sacrificing their effectiveness in achieving their objectives.
Originally, the Bugis used the Badik as a traditional weapon. However, as the inhabitants of Papua’s heartland become familiar with the untamed environment, they adopt the short knife’s style.
According to the myth, when carried by the owner when planting, Badik is effective at fertilizing plants. The Papuans think that this weapon has a deeper significance. Because of this, the tribe members always keep Badik close by during combat.
2. Tinim and Ando
In the native tongue, “Tinim” denotes an arrow, while “Ando” means a bow. In general, practically all the tribes on the island use Tinim and Ando. They do, however, have distinct forms, compositions, and purposes. For example, some tribes employ both Tinim and Ando for hunting.
However, some tribes used them to protect their area from invading forces. Typically, arc-shaped palm trunks are used to make Tinim. Then, the bow is kept in place using a unique string.
On the other hand, the tribesmen make their own arrowheads from sharpened wild bamboo. Most interestingly, Tinim and Ando also serve as stage props for musical performances in addition to being weapons for battle and hunting.
Pisuwe is a typical Papuan dagger. The dagger, also called the Ndam Pisuwe, is crafted from the femur bone of a human. There is also Pi Pisuwe, which is a cassowary bone dagger. Only the Asmat people carried Pisuwe before the Dutch colonial era in the 1950s when it was utilized in ceremonial executions.
The 30-centimeter-long dagger typically has cassowary feathers on the hilt. On the dagger’s body, other engravings represent both humans and animals. Meanwhile, male participants in traditional ceremonies wear costumes that wrap a Pisuwe around their waists.
The spear ranks among the earliest combat weapons that humans have created. In Papua, where indigenous people use it for hunting, it is one of the oldest traditional weapons still in use. The majority of residents still rely on hunting for a living.
On the other hand, certain tribes also use spears in battle, particularly when defending or taking over territory. One of the native Papuan tribes still known to go about their everyday lives with spears in the present day is the Dani tribe.
Papuan spears range in length from two to three meters. They are made of bamboo, as opposed to spearheads, which are made of metal or pine tree trunks. Spears are used for traditional dances in various Papuan art events, such as Tinim and Ando.
5. Stone Ax
Indigenous Papuans continued to use stone axes as a defensive weapon to ward off enemy attacks up to the 20th century. However, the stone ax now serves as a dowry, or unique gift, for tribal members in the Sentani region.
The bride’s family must accept hundreds of Tomako, or ax-shaped stones, from the groom’s family as dowry. Tomako is unique because of its brilliance, which comes through even without additional coloring.
It is fascinating to see that the Papuan people are still incorporating pre-modern fighting and hunting weapons. While some of Papua’s traditional weapons have shifted from defense to social function, how they are designed will continue to remind us of their origins in simpler times