Finger Cutting Tradition in Papua


There are many ways to express mourning, for instance in Papua, they have to sever their fingers to manifest mourning. The tradition  is quite strange. Because, beside they have to lost family members, they also lost their knuckles. Just like Yakuza tradition, a mafia organization in Japan,Yakuza gang would cut off one of the fingers of its members if they fail to carry out the mission.

Finger cuts made by Dani tribe, symbolizes sorrow and pain when losing a loved family member. In their beliefs, finger play a  vital role in doing many things. Each finger need to cooperate each other to build strength so the hands can function perfectly. If just loss  one finger, the work that we do, can not be maximum. For Dani, a finger can be interpreted as a symbol of harmony, unity, and strength in man as well as a family. So if one part disappears, then there goes the components together and diminished strength.

In addition to these philosophical reasons, Dani has basic guidelines adopted together, namely “Wene opakima dapulik welaikarek mekehasik” ​​or basic guidelines to live together in a family, a clan, a honai (home), one tribe, one ancestor, one language, one history / origin, and so on. Dani is clasped tightly together. So for them, the pain of bereaved loved ones will disappear, followed by healing finger.

The tradition of cutting a finger on Dani itself is done with a variety of a lot of ways, ranging from using sharp objects such as knives, axes or machetes. But other than that, some do by biting her knuckles to break up, tied with a rope so that the blood flow stops and knuckles be dead, then just be cutting a finger.

In addition to cutting the finger, there are also a mud bath tradition in mourning ceremonies. The mud bath is a symbol and the sense that everyone who died has been returned to nature. This is because every human being comes from the ground and will eventually return to the ground.

By : Stella Purnama Sari 016201200017

Sources :


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