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Dani Tribes of Indonesia, who will cut their fingers for the beloved

dani tribes finger cutting

This is not a travelogue or a post on picturesque destination, but a story about the Dani tribes of Indonesia. Knowing the history and different cultures of mankind is also important as photography in travel.

You can see so many tribes around the world, some are very aggressive and threat to our life like the tribes in Sentinel Island, and some are friendly with people. We can see very interesting and surprising rituals followed by these tribes which is not even known to most of the outside people.

Recently I did get chance to read about the Dani tribes of Indonesia and that made me to write an article about their community and culture.

The Dani Tribes of Papua

The Dani tribe of Papua New Guinea can be mostly seen in the area of the Baliem Valley, which is located in the central highlands (Papua New Guinea).


They are the most exposed tribes to the outside world than other tribes in the area mostly because of tourism focused in Balien Valley.

Contact with the Dani tribe was made in the beginning of the 20th century. There were multiple expeditions; one important one was called the Central New Guinea expedition, where in October 1920, Dutch explorers stayed with the Dani in the area now known as Toli Valley.

Another important discovery happened in 1938 by air – Richard Archbold discovered the Dani of the Grand Valley by airplane during his third expedition in April/May that year.

The interesting customs of Dani Tribes

The Dani tribe have quite a few interesting customs in their community. One of which involves funeral ceremonies.
When a family member dies, all related females voluntarily cut off part of a finger as a way of showing their grief. Dani tribe finger cutting is well-known to the outside world also.

dani tribe no fingers

This was done using a special cutting tool, after which the severed portion of the finger was burned to ashes, which were then stored in a special place.

Mostly the relatives of this ladies are cutting their fingers and there is a way of doing it. First they will tightly tie on the finger with a thread to restrict the blood circulation then they will do this.

The main justification for this is to forget the pain of relative’s death because of the enormous pain on finger. Nowadays they are not following this custom, but you can see the remains of this custom in the hands of women there.

The Dani tribe practice warfare rituals which involve both mock battles and real ones. They also practiced cannibalism.

The sweet potatoes and Pigs

Sweet potatoes are important in their local culture, being the most important tool used in bartering, especially in dowries. Likewise pigs feasts are extremely important to celebrate events communally; the success of a feast, and that of a village big man (man of influence) or organizer, is often gauged by the number of pigs slaughtered.

Changes in the Dani way of life over the past century are tied to the encroachment of modernity and globalization, despite tourist brochures describing trekking in the highlands with people from the ‘stone age’.

Along with your majestic destinations it will be great if you can cover this kind of places as well.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Indonesia: Dani Tribe – Unique Cultural Traditions

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