World Reviewer rating

Worth a visit
Rating 1.1 (228 votes)

Korowai People of West Papua

Listed under Traditional Cultures in Indonesia.

Pin It

The Korowai are known as the tree dwellers due to the stilted huts, rising high among the forest canopy, in which they live.

In tune with their natural surroundings, the Korowai are hunter-gatherers, also practising shifting cultivation. Traditions here are centered around a belief in ancestral spirits and reincarnation; magical charms, animal sacrifices and totems are used to maintain positive realtions with the spirit world. Korowai beliefs are relayed through a complex oral tradition of protective, magical sayings and stories.

Korowais are among the last known cannibals, with official evidence of such practice recorded as recently as the early 1990's. However, cannibalism is recognised only as part of their criminal justice system: if a tribe member is said to have been practising black magic, he will be accused of being a 'khakhua'(a malevolent sorcerer/witch). Khakhuas had to be killed, cooked and eaten by tribal law, as consumption is apparently the best method to ensure total eradication.

Traditional dress, tools, beliefs and methods still feature strongly in the Korowai lifestyle, but politics and logging continue to grow as a threat to this unique way of life.

The best way to experience the culture is to trek the region with a native Irian Jayan guide.

Written by  Amber Due.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

There are no posts. Why not be the first to have your say?

Post a comment, review or question

I want to
My comment - optional
Rating - how would you rate this place or experience?

Who's been here

No travelers have told us they have been here. Have you?

Similar Experiences

  • The San of the Kalahari

    Described as the 'Louvre of the Desert', the magical Tsolido Hills in Botswana’s Kalahari are home to one of the largest concen…

  • The Tribal People of Papua New Guinea

    The tribes of Papua New Guinea are reputed to be ferocious cannibals but, during a three month long caving expedition I was tre…

  • Tuareg People of the Sahara

    These nomadic people are the Sahara’s main inhabitants and have been travelling the desert in their camel caravans for over two…

Nearby Experiences

  • Birding in Papua New Guinea

    With something like 400 endemic birds on the islands as a whole, and the epicentre for the amazing Birds of Paradise, though ki…

  • The Yali of the Jayawijaya Mountains

    The Yali literally are the smallest known Papuan highlanders, with members averaging heights of less than 150 cm, and were labe…

  • Tari Region

    Visiting the PNG highlands is a trip that should be on your list of top 10 places to see before you die. Words and pictures alo…

Related links

Contribute to this page