Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Living with the dead

It was custom that successful chiefs or village elders who protected or defended the community in their lifetimes should offer protection after their death. As a fetish such elders were mummified by smoking and being kept in the upper level of the main hut.

Most of the century-old mummies were systematically destroyed as they didn’t match with modern belief systems being brought into Baliem valley in the 20st century. Some accounts inform that there are only three mummies left protecting the Dani people.

Akima, Baliem Valley, April 2009.

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