The Yali tribe or Yali People live in the Eastern part of the Baliem Valley in the highlands of Papua, Indonesia and is referred as one of the minor groups in Papua.
Due to inaccessibility in their land owing to the fact that they live in mountainous areas, they lived hidden for years untill 1961 when they were discovered.
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One can only access the Yali people’s village after trekking through rough terrains for several hours.
Story of cannibalism
According to most of us, cannibalism goes against our deepest and most ancient taboos but to the Yali’s that’s not a big deal.
The Yali’s who call themselves ‘Lords of Earth’ are historically renowned for witchcraft and cannibalism. The Yali tribesmen were feared by their enemies because their striking method was totally different.
Yali people totally destroyed their enemies during wars.
They not only killed and ate their enemies but also grinded their bones to dust and threw it away in the valley.
This was done to make sure the enemy did not return again. Yali people killed their neighbours not because they have differences but just for meat.
But, apart from eating people, the Yali’s mostly consume vegetables. The Yali’s raise pigs, which have a central function in religious and communal life. They also eat the pigs.
Culture of Yali People
The Yali People, Men and Women live separately. Women are allowed to live alone while men live in groups called the ‘Honai’.
Their homes are circular in shape and built from cut planks and roofs made of pandan leaves. The Yali people are categorized as dwarfs, the mature man is not taller than 150cm.
The men wear traditional big “rattan” skirts and kotekas (Penis tube). The skirts are made of strips of rattans which are coiled around their bodies. It covers the body from the breasts to knees while the Koteka, made of wooden fruit of bottle plant covers the penis.
Women wear small and short skirts made from dry grass. They do not cover their breasts. With a normal of not covering their genitals,The Yali women encircles on their waists a string that has a narrow clothing covering the front part while the rear part of the skirt is usually worn beneath their buttocks.
The string also have a woven bag that covers their back and butts. They carry it whether full or empty. Their ‘dresses’ also have four layers.
The layers separate young girls from married women. When a Yali girlchild reaches approximately fours years old, she qualifies for one layer.
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The layers are then added after every four years. When a woman receives all the four layers, she is allowed to get married.
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