Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Papuan Tribe Preserves Ancient Rite of Mummification

By Adek Berry
Tribe chief Eli Mabel (C) holds mummified remains of his ancestor, Agat Mamete Mabel, in the village of Wogi, in Wamena, the long-isolated home of the Dani tribe high in the Papuan central highlands (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)
INDONESIA---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. 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. [link]