The Seven Largest Tribes in Papua and west Papua

The Seven Largest Tribes in Papua and west Papua

The Endangered Papuan Tattoo Tradition

West Papua –  Papua has various tribes scattered in its territory. Quoting, there are 466 tribes in West Papua and approximately 800 tribes in Papua. Each tribe has its own cultural arts, traditions, and customs with their own distinctiveness.

Of the 466 tribes in West Papua Province, there are several well-known tribes, including: Amungme, Arfak, Asmat, Bauzi, Dani, Ekari, Fayu, Kombay, Koroway, Koteka, Lani, Matbat, Marind, Mek, Moni, Sawi, Wolani, Yali, and Wamesa.

Meanwhile, of the 800 tribes in Papua Province, the most famous include: Abelam, Angu, Baining, Baruya, Bilibil, Chambri, Enga, Etoro, Fore, Gadsup, Gogodala, Haroli, Hewa, Huli, Iatmul, Kaluli, Kwoma, Koteka, Maisin, Mian, Min, Motuan, Mundugumor, Ogea, Orokaiva, Sambia, Swagap, Tairora, Takia, Telefol, Tolai, Tsembaga, Urapmin, Wiru, Wopkaimin, Yimas, and Zia.

Of the total population, some live in the highlands and others in urban areas. The following is a review of the seven largest tribes in Papua and West Papua.

1. Asmat Tribe

Among the many ethnic groups, the largest and most famous tribe in Papua is the Asmat Tribe. Why is the Asmat Tribe famous? One of the reasons is that their wood carvings are very distinctive and unique. We often find that carving motifs dominate the cultural arts of this tribe.

The theme that is often used and embodied in a wood carving is the theme of their ancestors, commonly called mbis. For this Papuan tribe, the art of carving is their manifestation of performing rituals to honor the spirits of their ancestors. Not only that motif, there is also a motif resembling a boat.

The Asmat believe that the boat symbol will be able to carry the spirits of their ancestors in the realm of death.

2. Amungme Tribe

There are approximately 13,000 Amungme people living in the highlands of Papua. The uniqueness of this second largest tribe in Papua is the way they farm. In this modern era, it turns out that there are still ethnic groups whose way of life is still like prehistoric times during hunting and gathering activities. T

he Amungme tribe performs sedentary agriculture, carrying out activities by hunting and gathering in search of food. This tribe is still very respectful and attached to their ancestral land where the mountain and its surroundings is a sacred place.

The mountain, which PT. Freeport currently mines for gold, is a sacred mountain that is highly glorified. The Amungme Tribe calls the mountain Nemang Kawi. ‘Nemang’ means arrow and ‘kawi’ means holy. Therefore, ‘Nawang Kawi’ is a ‘holy arrow’ or it can be interpreted as war or peace in an uninhibited meaning. The territory of the Amungme Tribe is called Amungsa.

3. Dani Tribe

The third largest tribe in Papua is the Dani Tribe. They live by inhabiting mountainous areas and are scattered throughout Jayawijaya Regency. However, most people know that the Dani tribe inhabits an area in the Baliem Valley. The Baliem Valley is famous for its skilled farmers and the use of tools such as stone axes, animal bone knives, bamboo and quarried wood.

These materials were chosen because they are strong and resistant to weather. Ever heard of koteka? Well, the Dani still wear it a lot to this day. Meanwhile, the women of this tribe wear fancy clothes made of grass or fiber. The house of the Dani tribe is commonly called honai. T

he Dani still often perform traditional, religious and war ceremonies. This tribe was first discovered in the Baliem Valley hundreds of years ago.

4. Korowai Tribe

The fourth largest tribe in Papua is the Korowai Tribe.  This tribe inhabits a large area in the lowlands, located south of the Jayawijaya mountains. This area consists of swamps, mangrove forests, and wetlands. Unlike the Dani tribe, although they both live in the Papua region, the Korowai tribe does not wear a koteka as a cover for one of their body parts. This tribe is famous as animal hunters and gatherers who live in tree houses.

5. Muyu Tribe

The fifth largest tribe in Papua is the Muyu Tribe. This tribe is one of the indigenous Papuan tribes who occupy the Boven Digoel Regency. Previously, their ancestors lived in the area around the Muyu River which is located northeast of Merauke. Anthropologists call the Muyu Tribe Primitive Capitalists.

The Muyu tribe is a tribe in Papua that is considered smart. They have an important position in the bureaucratic structure of Boven Digoel. About 45% of the Muyu Tribe are civil servants in this region. The characteristics of this tribe are frugality, hardworking and appreciative of education. They call it Kati, which means authentic human.

6. Bauzi Tribe

The sixth largest tribe in Papua is the Bauzi Tribe. This tribe is a tribe that lives in isolated areas. The United States of America’s mission and language agency included the Bauzi tribe in the list of the world’s most isolated tribes at number 14. Some of the men of this tribe wear a loincloth as daily clothing made of dried tree bark and tied with a rope at the end. Bauzi women also wear a leaf or bark that is dried and tied around the waist to cover their nudity. At a traditional party, adult men wear Cassowary feathers as decorations on their heads and smear their bodies with sago. Most of the Bauzi people still live by hunting and gathering and are semi-nomadic.

7. Suku Huli

The last largest Papuan tribe according to the Country’s History is the Huli Tribe. The hallmark of this tribe is that they paint their faces in yellow, red and white. Their tradition is to make wigs from their own hair. An ax with claws is an accessory to their clothing.


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