The Tradition of Cutting the Fingers of the Dani Tribe of Papua, Some Use Axes until Being Bitten to Breaks

goodmorningpapua.com – The tradition of cutting fingers is conducted by the Dani tribe, Papua. This tradition is carried out when a family member dies. The Dani tribe is a Papuan tribe that inhabits the interior of the Central Mountains and Baliem Valley. This tribe consists of two ethnic groups, namely Wita and Waya.

They make a living as farmers by maximizing land with steep terrain with narrow and steep river valleys. Most of them adhered Protestant Christianity but not abandoning their belief in the spirits of the dead. Through this belief, they still carry out rituals of respect for the spirits of the deceased ancestors.

Although it is considered terrible, the Dani tribe has carried it out for generations. For them, cutting a finger describes the loss of a family member. The meaning of the finger cutting ritual is believed to keep the spirit inhabiting the Honai house until the cut wound heals. In addition, cutting fingers is considered a symbol of grief when after being left in the world by the closest people, such as father, mother, brother or sister.

Deep sorrow poured out through the act of cutting fingers. In addition, this tradition is also considered as a repellent to disaster so that the same disaster does not happen to family members who have died. This tradition is only carried out by women, usually mothers or older women. They will cut his finger if a family member dies. The number of broken fingers indicates the number of family members who died.

The are some various methods used in finger cutting ritual, some use tools, such as axes or traditional knives. There are even those who use extreme methods by biting the finger until it breaks. In addition, there is also a way of wrapping the finger with thread until the blood flow stops and numbs then the finger is cut.

Fingers are symbol of family grief for the Dani tribe are symbolized by five fingers with the same benefit. The thumb on the hand is considered a representation of the family. Meanwhile, the shape of the other four fingers that are not the same remains as a single unit. If one part goes, the element of togetherness and its strength is also lost.

The Dani have considered finger cutting as a obligatory custom. They do it consciously and without coercion. Now, the tradition of cutting fingers is rarely done because of the entry of religious influences in Papua. However, traces of it can still be found in old people who had carried out this tradition. Although scary, this unique culture deserves our respect as a part of the Indonesian culture.

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