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Baliem Valley and Dani tribe
 
Surrounded by dense forests, Baliem valley is located in the very center of the great Irian Jaya mountains that stretches through the heart of the island, where a series of high mountains with the altitude of over 3,000 meters line up, however, the valley is in the height of only 1,600 meters. The tops of the mountains are mostly covered with snow, where the tropical weather bring much of the precipitation of rainfalls with a spray of tropical rain once a day.

It is generally said that the settlement of Dani Tribe in this area trace back to approximately 20,000 years ago. Rather than forming a big group society by many different tribes, they have lived as a group of several families of the same clan.  Their houses remind us of the round tents of the nomadic people. A roof that looks like a barn annexed to the glass-roof house of Korea is covered with leaves of wild reeds and the walls are made with a panel of timber plates. In the center of the house there is a pothole in the ground to set a bonfire all the time around, which plays the role of a furnace to burn sweet potatoes, which is their main food, while becoming a stove to keep temperature at night. The highland is exposed to the temperature of over thirty degrees in centigrade during the daytime with strong sunlight, but as it falls drastically down to just two degrees at night, the existence of the pothole fire is so important. 


In the polygamy system a man has generally more than one wife, in some cases more than ten women at once. As a group of clan, the rooms are separated between men and women. The room for men is also used as a shrine. When a married woman becomes pregnant, she does not have sexual relations in a belief that, if so, a man would become weak. This taboo lasts three to five years until the baby thus born becomes old enough to take care of himself or herself, and therefore, the age interval between the children is so long that the tribes have not thriving in terms of their population. 
The males decorate their pennies with a case called Koteka without any clothes, with pig oil applied to whole of their bodies and bones they obtained from wild pigs, approximately 5-cm-wide rings made of timber trunks on their necks and furs of birds or chicken on the heads to show their dignity or to distinct the tribes from others.

The females also are almost naked, with a small piece of apron made of leaves grasses or of bracken plants called "Dorongi" to hide the "important part of the body" that is hung over the lower part of waist, which make it dazzling to see them as if it would be taken off. 
In the polygamy society, the women take care of most of the household works while being involved in cultivating the sweet potato, corn and sugar cane and cattle feeding. On the contrary, however, men are only engaged in protecting their women working on the fields with arms of arrows and spears. The women of this society follow the long tradition of cherishing the memories of the deceased by cutting off their fingers if their husbands or someone close to them die, especially when a husband dies the wives keep one month with clay applied on their bodies. 
Even in a small scale, they open a "war festival" that call the member of the clan take part in, which is an important event for them. This is actually a virtual war game with the other tribe. It starts with the abduction of a woman by intruders from the farming land, when a Dani man send a signal unique to them to call up a group of men armed with arrows and spears who are painted with clay and dyes so as to show threatening feeling to the enemy who eventually take back the abducted woman from the intruders.

The warriors who rescued the woman sing songs of victory and all the villagers dance all together, while the head of the clan shoot the wild pig at its heart, and if the pig falls down with blood shedding the other warrior cut off the both ears of the pig and put them on the leaves of banana or coconut leaves. In this process, the festival progresses from the war festival toward a pig hunting festival. Dani tribe man cut the tail of the pig and wrap it with leaves to bring it to the shrine, actually their room. In the meantime, the head of the clan sets a fire by rubbing woods and burn the pig to get rid of the hairs.

And then the fire is set onto the firewood with a grabble in the size of just a little bigger than a fist on the firewood are heated enough before being brought to a puddle in a diameter of about one meter where leaves of reeds are laid down on which sweet potatoes and vegetables including sweet potato trunks are put on in an orderly manner. Meantime, the burned pig's intestines and bones are cut down for each part to be arranged separately. The meats are kept together with the heated grabbles in the leaves of reeds to be ready for them to eat, the timing of which is determined by the head of the clan based on the steams coming out of the puddle. When it is made ready the first thing for them to do is to bring part of the meat as well as sweet potato and vegetable to their shrine and then distribution starts first from the male. The intestines are for females, the distribution of which are made by the eldest female of them. If the distribution is not made properly it becomes a seed for disputes, and therefore the treatment by the head of the clan is carefully made.

 
 
 
 
 

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