The amazing Papuan people of Raja Ampat
Meet the amazing Papuan people of Raja Ampat
When you mention Raja Ampat, the first thought that comes to your mind is the incredible marine life and diving, white sand beaches and coconut palms. What most forget to remember is that the region is also home to the tribes and indigenous peoples of West Papua. An area that would have been populated more than 30,000 years ago by the Melanesians, an ethnic group found in both the populations of West Papua and Papua New Guinea.
While the modern tribes of Papua New Guinea are much more closely related to their Melanesian ancestors, the tribes of the Raja Ampat region have, over the years, been exposed and even integrated with many other tribes across the country. Indonesia and surrounding areas, including Biak and Maluku.
Over the years, this has greatly influenced the development of this unique culture and people. Commonly known as the Papuan people. A popular story among the Papuan people is that a skillful warrior of Raja Ampat helped the Sultan of Tidore to conquer the region of Raja Ampat, after which he was awarded the hand of the Sultan’s daughter in marriage. They then had four children, who were named the four kings of the region, which gave birth to the name of Raja Ampat, the four kings.
Most Papuans come from migrant fishing families, with small tribes forming on the region’s 1,500 islands. Although all come from the same general ancestry, each tribe has developed its own dialects, customs and habits over time. Up to six distinct dialects have been identified among these tribes, while the Indonesian language Bahasa is used as a common language between them.
As in the rest of Indonesia, the two main religions in the region are Christianity and Islam. The northern regions with a larger Christian population and the south favoring Islam. These two religious groups live in perfect harmony in the region, with deep respect for each other. While modern religions are present due to outside influences over the years, most Papuans still stick to old beliefs and superstitions. Although they are no longer openly practiced, many of them have their origin in witchcraft and the spirit world.
The Papuan people of Raja Ampat are known for their friendly and welcoming nature and will often greet visitors to the region with big smiles and generous nature. Children from the region will swarm around the new arrivals to talk, play and make an appearance in the photos. These families are from the ocean and their whole life revolves around it. Children are seen swimming in the waters surrounding their villages or swinging on homemade swings high in the treetops, as adults come and go. The men mainly take out their home-made boats for the day to fish, while the woman stays at home and takes care of their housework.
Their culture is family and caring, with deep links. It is common for families to live their entire lives in a village and house from one generation to the next, with the young looking at the old. While in modern times children are more likely to attend modern schools, they are still learning traditional ways. From fishing to forestry, the Papuan people are truly at home in their surroundings.
They are also proud people with a rich history and culture. They are lovers of the arts, and so were previous generations. Many caves in the area are filled with drawings of yesteryear, while folk tales are still passed down from generation to generation. Where you are most likely to see the love of the arts is through their passion for telling stories through their songs and dances, with traditional dances and songs, taught from an early age. . Children dress in traditional clothing and war paint to perform these dances, the most famous of which tells the story of Lau Lau (kangaroo) hunting.
One of the best experiences of all is being surrounded by the unique cultural aspects of the Papuan people. With their distinct cuisine, heritage and way of life, the people of Raja Ampat are genuine and friendly to everyone who visits their home and will do everything possible to make everyone feel at home in this paradise.
About the organization:
Located in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, Meridian Adventure Dive is a PADI 5 Star Resort and winner of the PADI Green Star Award. Divers appreciate our professional services which have become synonymous with the names PADI and Meridian Adventure.