Asmat, the name of the tribe in Papua and is the name of one of the districts in Papua Province. This district has an area of 23,746 km2 with a population of 110,105 people in 2020. The Asmat Papua are indigenous people who live on the coast and inland. People on the coast and inland have different ways of life, social structures, and rituals.
The discovery of the Papuan Asmat
In 1770, British explorer James Cook landed in a bay in Asmat. Suddenly hundreds of black men appeared who were smeared with white, red, and black colors and then attacked and killed several of James Cook’s men.
In 1904, this event took place again, but this time there was communication between the two parties. Using sign language, they exchanged goods and from now on people began to flock to the area that became known as Asmat.
Stories About Asmat Papua
The Asmat tribe is one of the largest tribes in Papua. The Asmat Papua people believe that they come from the creator (Fumeripits). According to their belief, Fumeripits washed up on the beach dying and was rescued by a flock of birds.
Feeling lonely, Fumeripits built a house and filled it with wooden statues of his own carved wood. Then Fumeripits beats tifa every day and suddenly the statues move to the rhythm of tifa, and turn into humans. Since then, Fumeripits wandered and built long houses and made humans into the Asmat tribe as they are today.
Papuan Asmat and Death Rituals
According to the Asmat Papua tribe, the death of a person is not natural but there is an evil spirit that interferes with it. It is believed that when their relatives are sick, a fence must be made of palm tree branches so that evil spirits cannot approach. When the sick person died, they would scramble to hug his body and roll his body into the mud.
The body is then placed on woven bamboo until it rots. They put their bones on a wooden tree, while their skulls were used as pillows as a symbol of affection for deceased relatives. They also make measurements of people who died, which they call mbis.
Sago Caterpillar Satay
If you go to Papua to meet the Asmat tribe, you must try a unique culinary, namely sago caterpillar satay. The Asmat tribe wraps sago caterpillars using palm leaves, then they are sprinkled with sago and baked. Sago caterpillar satay is a combination of salty, savory, and sweet with a hard outside texture and soft inside.