Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dani tribe : Learn a local wisdom from the oldest tribe in Indonesia

Dani tribe is one of the tribe that live in one region at Baliem valley and this tribe is known as the skilled farmer for a hundreds years ago and they had used tools where when the archaeologist found it at the first time, noted that they (the tribe) had found out about technology of the utilization of stone ax, the knife made from animal's bones, bamboos, and also the spear that is made by using typical wood which very strong and very heavy. Almost all Dani people still use "koteka" (known as penis cover) made from yellow pumpkin leaves and where the woman use typical clothes made from long grasses and they live under the "honai-honai" (a hut with thatch). Large ceremonies and religious ceremony also the tribal wars is still exist until now (not as often as before)
Baliem valley

Some community of Dani are christians where it caused by the influence of european missionary that came to the place and develop their missionary mission when in 1935, the government of dutch colonial built Wamena city. The geographical condition of Dani's place consist of high mountain and some peak are snowy also vast valleys. The ground contour consist of calcareous soil and granite soil and around the valley is the combination of mud soils with clays. The region itself has wet tropical climate because it's affected by the height location from sea surface, the varying air temperature between 80 degrees to 200 degrees in celsius scale, the average temperature is 17,50 degrees with rainfall intensity up to 154,42 centimetres, year on year, the level of humidity is above 80%, and the average of wind speed between 14 knots (the highest) and 2,5 knots (the lowest)

process during Rekwasi ceremony
Forest where people of Dani live is rich of endemic flora and fauna like bird of paradise (cendrawasih), popinjay, various types of insect and colorful butterfly with various colours and patterns. For the culture, althought people of Dani are christians, many of their rituals still use old culture which is inherited by their ancestors. They believe about Rekwasi. All of religious ceremonies is accompanied by songs, dances, and offerings to their ancestors. War and hostility usually happen because of the problem of border, women, and theft.

In the "rekwasi", the soldiers usually will make "tanfa" with lard, clams, feathers, cuscus, sago, mango tree sap, and flowers in their body parts. Their hands hold typical traditional weapons from Dani tribe like spear, axe, chooper, bow and its arrow.

One of another unique habit from Dani itself are the habit of listening to heroic songs or sad stories to inspire and encourage the people and also as a barrier of time when they work. For the musical instruments that accompany the songs usually use "pikon" , a musical instrument that is placed between their nose hole and their ears hole. Beside as the song accompanist, "pikon" also has double  function as a cue to their friends or enemies when they hunt in the forest.
A Dani that use Pikon. Pikon is one of typical musical instrument from the people of Dani

Name of "Dani" itself actually means "foreigner", it comes from "Ndani" word, but there's a phoneme change so phoneme "N" was deleted and becomes "Dani" only. Dani tribe actually prefer called as Parim tribe. Dani are very respect to their ancestors and they usually do the ceremony of pig party  as a form of the homage.

For the language, overall Dani has 3 sub-mother language and they all include in ancient languages and over the time, these sub-language was divided into various variants that already been known today in Papua. The following are 3 sub-mother language :

1.      Sub Wano

2.      Sub center of Dani, consist of dialect of west Dani and dialect of great valley of Dugawa

3.      Sub Nggalik – Dugawa

The Dani's ancestor arrived in New Guinea as a result of a process of human transmigration which is so very ancient from Asia mainland to the western Pacific islands (New Guinea land)

In all probability, in that time, the people was still in pre-agrarian step where they were just beginning to plant the productive plants in limited number. Inovation that runs continuously  and culture contact between the tribes causing simple planting patterns develop into a plantation system of sweet potato, like today.

The main livelihood of Dani are farming and raising pigs. Sweet potato is kind of main plant to be cultivated, and it's mean that their livelihood in general is farming.

The faith system of Dani

The basic faith of Dani is respecting their ancestor's spirits by perform various ritual which is concentrated in pig party. The most important of the faith concept is Atou, a magic power of their ancestors that is inherited by boys. The magic power itself consist of :

  • Ability of healing the disease
  • Ability of fertilize the soil
  • Ability of keeping the farm field

As a form of homage to their ancestors, Dani make a symbol for their ancestors called Kaneka. In addition to the symbolism to their ancestors, also known "Kaneka Hagasir", a religious ceremony which aims to the family prosperity, also it is held to start and end the war.

Kinship system of Dani

Dani has 3 systems of kinship which consist of kinship group, Paroh communities, and territorial group.

a. Kinship group

The smallest kinship group of Dani is spacious family. The spacious family itself consist of 2 or 3 main families that live together in a big house with bulkhead like fences, called Slimo. In a village in Dani tribe there are 4 until 5 slimos with 8 until 10 families that inhabit the house. The marriage system of Dani are poligamy and polygyny. According to mythology, Dani come from the descent of a married couple that inhabit a lake around Maina village in south Baliem valley. 

b. Half communities

Community structure of Dani like Paroh communities is combination from several small clans called "ukul" and large clans called "oak". The half communities has typical characteristic such as a group community of this kinship is a half of whole society in particular area. The function of this kinship system is similar to kinship system of Fratri. However, the half communities still has important function like political function to keep the balance between the ruling power and the society itself. It's mean that people who have the power in the society can't act arbitrary. 

c. Territorial group

The unity of the smallest territory in the ethnic communities of Dani is housing complex (uma) that is inhabited for the group of spacious family of patrilineal (inherited into the boys)

Tradition, Art, and Handicraft

The art of Dani can be seen from the way they build house as mentioned above, in a slimo there're several buildings such as : Honai, Ebai, and Wamai.

In addition to build house, people of Dani also has typical handicraft like woven net bag that is used for headgear and binder ax. People of Dani also has several tools which is made from bricks. The tools are : Moliage, Valuk, Sege, Wim, and Kurok.

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