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The Yali of the Jayawijaya Mountains

Listed under Traditional Cultures in Indonesia.

  • Photo of The Yali of the Jayawijaya Mountains
  • Photo of The Yali of the Jayawijaya Mountains
Photo of The Yali of the Jayawijaya Mountains
Photo by flickr user JOAN PLANAS
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The Yali literally are the smallest known Papuan highlanders, with members averaging heights of less than 150 cm, and were labeled as the Papuan Pygmy Cannibals upon their discovery. Discovered living in the central Jayawijaya mountain range (east in the Baliem Valley) in 1976, the Yalis were once the most feared and revered cannibals in Western new Guinea- allegedly even grinding the bone dust of the enemy and tossing it into the valley below, to ensure 100% eradication.

Yalis wear traditional dress, a grass skirt for the women and koteka for the men, and live in village settlements. These settlements, once necessary look-outs during warfare with neighboring tribes, are perched on the mountain ridge-tops, affording endless breathtaking views of the mountains and dense rainforest. The surrounding steep slopes, used in the shifting cultivation practiced here, grow taro and sweet-potato.

The Yali can only be reached by treks, many of which depart from Wamena in the Baliem Valley.

Written by  Amber Due.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

"The Yali can only be reached by treks..."

They're people not animals.

1 Reply

But they still live in a remote location you can only reach by trekking in to...

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