Papuan Tribe Preserves Ancient Rite Of Mummification

Papuan tribe preserves ancient rite of mummification

WAMENA, Indonesia,(APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 15th Augst,2016) - Cradling the centuries-old remains of his mummified ancestor, tribe leader Eli Mabel lays bare an ancient tradition that has all but vanished among the Dani people in the Papuan central highlands. The tiny, blackened, shrunken figure he carries was Agat Mamete Mabel, the chieftain that ruled over this remote village in Indonesian Papua some 250 years ago. Honoured upon death with a custom reserved only for important elders and local heroes among the Dani people -- he was embalmed and preserved with smoke and animal oil. Nine generations on and his descendent Eli Mabel is the current chieftain in Wogi village -- an isolated hamlet outside Wamena that can be reached only by hiking and canoe.

He said the exact age of Agat Mamete Mabel was not known, but told AFP this ancestor was the last of the village to receive such a funeral.

Once common among his forebears, the ritual method of smoke embalming was no longer practised, he explained. Christian missionaries and Muslim preachers encouraged the tribespeople to bury the corpses, and the tradition has faded as the centuries drifted by. But Mabel is determined to retain the ancient rites and rituals for future generations.