Smoked Corpses Of Aseki

03 Jan




Smoked Corpses Of Aseki

 For those who have followed my space here over a period of time you will recall I have written in the past of my time in Papua New Guinea prior to independence , the year being 1969 when I was working for the army in a humanitarian capacity for the Australian Government . My role was to travel to a number of mountain villages to inoculate the locals against a deadly pandemic flu that was raging throughout the mountain villages and causing untold deaths , as an aside my immediate boss was a Major Mike Jefferies who later became the Governor General of Australia , anyway back to my story ,my sojourn in Papua New Guinea commenced with being flown into a remote highland village called Menyamya , now this village was located in the province of Morobe and was occupied by a tribe of peoples called the Kuka Kuka tribe , now this tribe was considered the fiercest and last of the tribes coming out of the cannibal stage this was due mainly to Western influence being the instigation of patrol officers to enforce the laws these officers were mainly Dutch as this part of Papua still came under the Dutch jurisdiction until Papua,s eventual independence. I arrived in Menyamya in 1969 and found myself amongst the Kuka Kuka tribe , With me was an interpreter and six members of the Pacific Island Regiment who were ostensibly my escorts and to all intents my bodyguards , it was here in Menyamya before proceeding out on patrol duties that I first heard of the cave of the smoked bodies , unfortunately I was unable due to military duties able to visit this cave and witness first hand a cultural practice dating over 150 years , the story was related to me through my interpreter and I was disappointed not being able to visit the cave as it was situated not far from where I was at Menyamya ,the story intrigued me ever since leaving Papua and the story of the cave of the smoked bodies has become well know in the Western world now , at my time there very few Westerners had seen the cave nor heard of this tribal cultural tradition ,I have researched the story of the cave of smoked bodies and found pictures taken long after my time in Papua , now I share with you the story of the cave of smoked bodies with pics ,Throughout the many hundreds of different tribes in Papua New Guinea there is just one tribe of natives that had a most unusual ritual over 150 years ago of disposing of their dead. They smoked the corpses over a fire then suspended the smoked bodies in a bamboo frame and carried the frame and body up a steep mountain track to a natural ridge in the side of a mountain and placed the whole frame (and body) on wooden poles against the wall of this natural ridge so that their dead could look over their village a thousand feet below. This mountain is very sacred to them indeed.
These are the people of Aseki, a very remote village, high up in the mountains about 200 km inland from the port city of Lae in the Morobe Province of PNG., my time in Menyamya was a deep experience for this young 20 year old at the time and its only now in my latter years that I am writing these recollections of a world beyond the realms of western civilization as we know it , enjoy my story and always remember that there are many things on this earth that are sometimes beyond the scope of human understanding or appreciation I give credit to the ownership of the pics as alas in my time there I had no camera or means of taking photographic evidence of a very unusual tradition carried out by the Kuka Kuka tribe , a cannibalistic tribe emerging from their past .



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Posted by on January 3, 2011 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “Smoked Corpses Of Aseki

  1. jennyozzy

    January 4, 2011 at 07:00

    when you think about it human beings have such strange ways we burn bury mummify entomb so really it doesnt matter how we are disposed of its the spirit thats supposed to live on so why all the rituals for a human shell very interesting ian xxjen


  2. Monica

    January 4, 2011 at 07:00

    Hello Ian, What a history you speak of! I agree with Pen – a comforting and protective presence to be honored… Not such a bad idea.


  3. rosemarymonteith

    January 4, 2011 at 07:00

    Interesting Blog Ian.


  4. penpusherpen

    January 3, 2011 at 07:00

    Thank you for sharing your marvellous experience Ian, and this is a case in point, about how much we need to communicate through places such a WordPress. So much knowledge out there scattered about the globe…
    What a World we live in, where we can actually see what this primitive tribe did in the past. Looking at the photo’s, which raise at first a feeling of almost revulsion, as we’re used to burying our dead and hiding them away, but then almost understanding why they have them ‘preserved’ and honoured by letting them live forever looking over their land … Truly amazing…and thank you again for sharing a part of your own history… xPenx



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