Asmat Traditional Funeral Rituals
Some tribes in Indonesia have their own uniqueness, and some tribes living in Papua and West Papua practice traditional rituals that make them more special. The Asmat people have a unique funeral ritual. The following information covers some for you to follow – West Papua News
Belief in Death in the Asmat
The Asmat Tribe has a unique funeral ritual. They do not bury the dead because they believe that death is not natural. These people assumed that a person might die from his black magic if he died without any signs of murder – West Papua News.
In the Asmat funeral, there are also differences in the handling of death for young and old individuals. The death of newborns was believed to be common because they thought spirits would proceed to the spirit realm. On the other hand, they would be very worried when adults died and thought it was unusual. Strange deaths are most likely caused by evil deeds initiated by magical or physical powers. In their belief, it is a must to take revenge for the victims who died.
During difficult times, immediate family members will sit around elderly family members who are sick. They will be very worried for him and make no effort to heal or feed him because they do not believe he will die soon. Some don’t even want to get too close because other family members come along with them – West Papua News.
Next to the hospital there is a chain of fences made from branches of a native tropical palm tree called a nypa. People kept crying and it got worse when the sick man left. Once he died, he would be hugged by them, then they would come out and roll around in the mud. Meanwhile, at the funeral of the Asmat tribe, other residents around the funeral home closed all holes and entrances except the main road to prevent evil spirits from entering and roaming during this difficult time.
The Asmat people show their deep sorrow by crying every day for several months. They also scrubbed their bodies with mud and shaved their hair. Those who are married usually vow not to make another relationship but some will eventually do so. They will cover their heads and faces with hats to make them appear less attractive to others.
After the Tribulation, the bodies of the dead are usually placed in “para”, a kind of woven bamboo that is placed far from the village and left to rot. In the future, the bones of the dead were collected and stored in trees. The skull is also kept and used as a pillow as a symbol of love for the dead.
Asmat people think that the spirits of the dead, or “bi”, still exist in the village. This belief is getting stronger to hold after it is realized in the form of a 5 to 8 meter high wooden statue called “mbis”. Another way is to place the dead on a long wooden canoe complete with sago and caterpillars. The canoe was then sent by rivers and seas to the spirit realm. The spirit of the ancestors they worship is also represented in the magnificent wood carvings on the canoes or shields.
After being influenced externally, now the Asmat people bury the dead underground with heirlooms. In Asmat funerals, men’s bodies are generally buried naked, while women’s bodies are not. The people in the tribe have no public cemetery and no tombstones. Instead, corpses are buried in the forest, by the river, or among the tall grass. The family of the dead can naturally find him wherever he is buried.
Those are some things about the unique funeral rituals of the Asmat Tribe. No wonder many researchers come to learn about the people there and their lives in Papua and West Papua are so special.
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