Unique Wedding Tradition of Arfak Tribes in West Papua

West Papua

West Papua has so many tribes scattered in several places. Some of the famous tribes in this province are Asmat, Dani, Arfak, Korowai, Muyu, Bauzi, Huli, Asaro, Kalam, Goroka, Yali, Bauzi, and Amungme. Each of these tribes has its own traditional culture that is both unique and peculiar for some people outside West Papua.

This time, we will share the wedding tradition of Arfak Tribes. People of Arfak tribes live in Arfak Mountains region. They inhabit in a stream of rivers and mountains. Arfak tribe consists of four groups, and they are the tribes of Sohug, Meihag, Moilei, and Hatam. 

During the past colonial era, Arfak tribes become intermediaries for Dutch and Portuguese expansion. They help to communicate with other tribes in the land of Papua. Afrak tribes are also known as great hunters. They can also recognize magical herbal plants which are quite difficult to find in the Arfak mountain area.

First, you might be curious about this tribes wedding tradition. Let’s take a closer look. 

Wedding Tradition of Arfak Tribes

West Papua

Dancing to the Bride’s House

For Arfak tribes, marriage is not about the unity of men and women but also a celebration to create a stronger and larger bond in their group. They hold the principles of a marriage firmly in terms of matchmaking, marriage, and dowry.

During the big day, the festivity is opened by the dances of a group of men and women from the groom’s side. They dance along the way to the bride’s house. In the bride’s house, the bride’s side also welcomes their guests by dancing as well, wearing their traditional clothing and attributes. They dance to greet and salute the groom and his relatives.

Woman Carrying Sharp Object

When the dancing group from the groom made their way to the bride, they will be intercepted by a middle-aged woman carrying a weapon. And why is that? It turns out that the woman carrying the sharp object is the bride’s mother. She does that to block the road heading to the bride’s house until the groom gives her the dowry. One of the most expensive dowries is a woven fabric.

The Dowry

Once the dowry is given, the groom and relative are allowed to continue their run to the bride. The dowry is usually in the form of traditional clothes, valuable Papuan woven fabric, which has been passed down from generation to generation. The bride is then taken by the groom to his residence. Later on, the celebration continues with two families having a feast together. 

For the dowry, Arfak tribes pay great attention to it. Besides traditional woven fabric, they can also give firearms from the Dutch and Japanese wars, Hundreds of millions to half a billion Rupiah, to the latest smartphones.

Other Unique Traditions of Arfak Tribes

West Papua

Besides the wedding tradition above, Arfak Tribes hold another unique culture that you probably won’t see in other places. Here are some of them.

Carrying Weapon

It is a common thing for Arfak tribes to carry artillery from a machete to arrows in their daily life. On why they always carry a weapon, it is because they try to defend themselves in case there’s a danger they suddenly have to face. So, no need to be afraid if you see Arfak tribes on the streets carrying a weapon. Once you smile, they will smile back.

 Tumbuk Dances

Arfak tribes love to do this dance. They can dance for up to six hours, and they do it spontaneously. If the weather is cold at night, they will go outside and perform this dance by making repeated small jumps accompanied by their traditional singing. The songs mostly tell about their farming and religion.

Taming Animals Extremely

For Arfak tribes, especially those who live in Anggi Gida Lake, they have quite scary ways to tame animals. For example, if a dog is known eating chicken, then the dog will be tied on one front leg. Or if a pig needed to be tamed, they will pierce the pig’s eye.

Rumah Seribu Kaki (House with Thousand Legs)

Arfak tribes have a unique house called Mod Aki Aksa or Igkojein. Besides being a place of shelter, the house with a thousand legs can be functioned to hold a traditional party and to give Arfak children education. Mod Aki Aksa has a foundation pole scattered throughout the house’s bottom. The size of this thousand leg house is four to five meters high and approximately 8×6 meters.

Preserving cultural tradition, just like Arfak tribes’ wedding tradition, is very important. Besides keeping save the legacies of late ancestors, this unique heritage is a great selling view to tourists abroad as most of them find this culture amusing and interesting.