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Traditional lady, Jiwika

Jiwika Mummy

We had a day to spare after the festival, so we decided to visit the Jiwika mummy. Knowing that Jiwika is a package tours whistle-stop, we prepared for the worst. The village was composed of neatened-up traditional houses. Men stood around in penis gourds, no doubt waiting for tourists to take their picture. After a drawn-out negotiation process involving a few packs of kretek (clove) cigarettes, we managed to offer enough to “satisfy” the mummy’s spirit and allow it to come out of the honai. It was a ghastly thing, black and shriveled with dried-up penis gourd, that might once have been human wearing. For the village, though, it was quite a moneymaker! Anne snapped a picture of an old woman with sagging breasts and amputated fingers, who immediately insisted that we hand over 5000 Rp (about 50 cents).

Jiwika mummy Jimika mummy closeup

On the way back to Wamena we stopped at the market outside of town. Papuans sold just about everything, from tangerines and pineapples to pandanus nuts and live pigs. We walked around looking at the items for sale. When we asked how much a particular pig cost, one seller, offering his animal up for inspection, told us that the price was 250,000 Rp, but quickly added that he could go lower. Noken (string-bags) and pig-tooth necklaces were also on sale. Most of the items were not for tourists. When we listened to cassettes for a while at a music vendor’s stand, onlookers crowded around, staring silently while inching ever closer.