The Unusual Habits of the People of the Arfak Mountains in West Papua

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Meta: Don’t Be Surprised If You Visit The Arfak Mountains In West Papua. The People Who Live There Have Unusual Habits That You May Not Be Aware Of.

It’s always interesting to know and discover about West Papuan culture. More than 250 tribes live in the province, known as Indonesia’s largest tropical forest. Can you imagine how diverse the culture is there?

For those unfamiliar, the Arfak tribe is a term used to call people who live in the Arfak Mountains, Pegaf district of West Papua province, and are proud of their tribal identity. They have their own culture and customs, just like other tribes. Here are they:

Luxurious Dowry


Dowry should not be taken lightly or casually by the Arfak tribe. They used firearms from the Japanese and Dutch wars as a dowry. Furthermore, they are not hesitant to spend hundreds of millions of rupiah on dozens of pieces of cloth, beads, pigs, and the latest smartphones.

A double-edged Timor Island woven cloth is one of the most expensive dowries, with prices reaching Rp. 50 million.

Although the dowry of the Arfak tribe of West Papua is expensive, they regard marriage as a sacred ritual that nobody should disrupt. As a result, if a man does not have enough money, he can pay the dowry through debt, which is indicated by the man working in the fields or gardens.

An Unusual Method of Taming a Dog

The Arfak people of Lake Anggi have a unique and unusual method of taming a dog caught eating chicken. Specifically, they will tie one of the dog’s front legs. They do this to prevent the dog from chasing the chicken again. Meanwhile, they stab the pig in the eye to tame it.

A Hardy hiker

Long ago, the Arfak was known for being the toughest when walking. They can walk for hundreds of kilometers. They used to walk for a week through the forest from Anggi district to Manokwari to sell their farm produce.

Carrying Machete Every Day

The Pegaf people still carry machetes and arrows with them wherever they go in their daily lives. So, do not be surprised if you come across people there, particularly men wielding machetes on the street one day. As is usual, all you need to do is greet them with a smile, and they will return the favor.

The habit of carrying weapons is rooted in their culture and is based on previous beliefs. When the missionaries first arrived in Pegaf, the Pegaf did not accept their situation. The Pegaf then assassinated them. They were then cursed and forced to carry a machete every time they left the house.

Market Activity Starts in the Early Morning

While the bone-chilling cold may still make you want to curl up in a warm blanket, market activity in the Anggi district, West Papua, is already bustling. The selling women must wear sarongs, thick cloth, or even blankets to keep warm.

The morning market is open three days a week, from 5 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

No Bargain!

If you don’t want to be scolded by the sellers, don’t try to bargain at the Anggi morning market. There are several reasons for this. The first is that they are unfamiliar with the concept of bargaining. Second, they don’t want to bother giving the buyer change.

A Unique Way of Market Pricing

Each market seller will categorize the merchandise into several groups, ranging from small to large. The price of goods per group ranges from Rp. 5.000 to multiples. In addition, they only sell garden products such as carrots, onions, tomatoes, and fruit. There are also Anggi Giji lake mujair fish.

Living in a Thousand Feet House

The Thousand Feet House, also known as mod aki aksa or igkojei in the local language, serves as a place to live, educate children, and host traditional party activities. It is shaped like a square house on stilts and has a lot of supporting wood as pillars, giving it the appearance of a thousand posts. A mod aki aksa is distinguished by having only two doors, front and back, and no windows.

Unfortunately, since the government implemented the village empowerment program in the area, the people of Arfak have begun to abandon their mod aki aksa in favor of modern houses with cement floors, tin roofs, brick walls, and glass windows.

About Arfak Mountains

The location of Arfak Mountains Regency is in a cold highland. The highest plateau is at an elevation of 2,900 meters above sea level.

The Arfak Mountains are home to 110 mammal species, only 44 of which have been recorded. It has five endemic animals, including Namdur Polos (Amblyornis Inomatus), Cenderawasih Arfak (Astrapia Nigra), and West Parotia (Parotia Sefilata).

The location is malaria-free, making it a worthwhile tourist destination to include on your bucket list. The Arfak Mountains in West Papua are also known as Indonesia’s only Covid-19 green zone (August 2021). If you go there one day, you will no longer be surprised by the unusual habits of the Arfak people above.