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The Dani: Boar Hunters of the Baliem Valley

Listed under Traditional Cultures in Indonesia.

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The Dani or Ndani of the Baliem River Valley are one of the most populous groups in the New Guinean Highlands. This area is relatively accessible to tourists and thus one of the best known and understood regions in Irian Jaya. The farming Dani were first discovered in 1938, when a pilot flew over the territory and noticed distinct, bordered fields, but were not contacted until the 1950’s when the first missionary parachuted in.

The Dani are known for their elaborate ritual costumes fabricated from natural materials, including boar tusk nose jewelery, shell necklaces and bird-of-paradise headdresses. The Dani can also offer clues into their past with ancient mummified bodies of acclaimed tribesmen; these can be seen in the villages of Akima and Jiwika. The Baliem Valley is some of the best-known territory in West Papua, and any trek in this region should include a visit with a Dani village.

Written by  Amber Due.

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