The Use of the Papuan Spear as a Traditional Weapon

Papuan spear

Papuans, especially West Papuans, love to hunt. Hunting has become one of the livelihoods that meet their daily needs. Papuans use traditional weapons for hunting, one of which is the Papuan spear.

There are two types of spears: single-edged and double-edged spears with a blade spacing of about 50 meters. Therefore, it is unsurprising that many Papuans are very professional and good at javelin throwing.

History of the Typical Spear of Papua

History of the Typical Spear of Papua

Spears have been around for millions of years. The use of spears was not confined to humans. Chimpanzees and orangutans have also been reported to hunt with spears. That said, early humans were likely able to make spears about 5 million years ago.

In Indonesia, traditional Indonesian soldiers use spears as their primary weapon of war. Because iron and other metals were scarce at that time, it was very difficult to make swords.

The “Tul” people use spears in hunting and warfare and as props in their dances, which is a hallmark of their dances. War was seen as a means of demonstrating achievements and gaining societal respect.

Use of The Papuan Spears

There are three uses for spears commonly used by West Papuans:

1. Hunt

They think hunting with a spear is more efficient because it does not knock like a firearm. Deer, the largest animal in Papua’s forests, is the most hunted animal.

2. War

The life of the ancient Papuans, for example, the Dani tribes living in the mountains, is one of his very warlike tribes. They fight to defend or conquer territory just as the spear is often used to fight their enemies.

3. Dance Props

Besides hunting and fighting, spears are also used in Papuan dances in festivals and performing arts. One of his dances that uses spear props is the Wutukala Dance. Wutukala Dance is a dance of the Moi people of West Papua. This describes a community activity in fish hunting in pairs or groups.

A characteristic of this traditional Papuan weapon is that Papuans are not allowed to use the spear for any purpose other than the three mentioned above. For example, you cannot cut young tree shoots or use a spear for gardening. If the use of the spear is violated, it will result in bad luck.

The spear symbolizes human courage in traditional Papuan practice, so this weapon must be well-protected and preserved. Usually, they hang this weapon on the ceiling or wall of their house.

How to Make a Spear

A spear is a sharp-pointed human-made weapon to throw or stab enemies or prey. This weapon is made from simple materials that are very easy to find in nature, such as wood and sharp stones.

Wood can be harvested from bamboo and nibun trunks for use as spear handles. At the same time, stone materials are usually obtained from sharp river stones to be used as spearheads. However, over time, many spear points were made of metal.

Creating a spear frame takes a long time. Start with a tree trunk, dry it and cut it into 3 meter lengths. After drying, the patterned wood is polished with conch powder. This process takes about a week.

Mountain tribes usually use iron shaped spears. About 3 to 5 meters in length. The spear point is as sharp as possible so that a person struck by the spear point can pierce the body and die. On the other hand, the Mappi and Asmat tribes usually make wooden spears with serrated tips and bases decorated with bird feathers.

Each Papuan tribe has a different type of spear. However, not all Papuan spear have iron tips. They usually use stone or wood as the material for spear points.