Hello fellow Climbers!
If you ever visit Papua, you may see a lot of modern houses or tall buildings in the few regions of Papua. However, if you visit the mountain area of Papua, you will come across various traditional houses that looks something like a hut. The traditional name for this little hut is Honai. What is honai and what is its uniqueness?
Honai is a traditional home of the tribe of Dani and the many tribes inhabiting the areas around the Mountain region of central Papua. Honai is derived from the word “hun” meaning a grown man and “ai” meaning home. So literally, Honai means a home of a grown man. Honai is made out of wood with the cone-shaped roof made out of hay or weeds. In general, Honai is shaped like a cone/mushroom with no windows, has a height of approximately 2,5 meters, and has a narrow room measuring around 4 to 6 meters.
Types of Honai
There are 3 types of Honai in general, which are:
- Honai (for men)
- Ebei (for women)
- Wamai (a shed for pigs)
Honai can accommodate 5 to 10 people and it is built purposely to protect cold weather. Other than that, honai has other functions which are:
Honai has the advantage for Papuan people to store any crops from their gardens for instance sweet yams, tubers etc. If there is any cooking with stone ceremony (a tradition where food is stuffed inside with hot steaming rocks at once) locals will easily take the food supplies out of their storage Honai. Other than that, Honai is also used to store hunting equipment and also war combat equipment. This sacred home of Papua is also made into storage for valuable pieces culturally and morally to each tribe.
2. Body fumigation
In a few places remotely located in the tribes of Papua (Aikima and Kerulu Village), Honai is used as a location where the process of mummy fumigation is taken (preserved body). The sacred and fumigated body is no ordinary person. It can only be the Head of the Tribe and the vital people of the tribe.
Honai can be a place where tribe figures or men (who is mentally and physically ready for war) to discuss war strategies.
A son of the tribe plays an important role in the Dani tribe. That is why this traditional home is used as a place where the father trains the son mentally and physically so that they can grow up to be a man that can protect and lead a tribe. The teachings of war and hunting is also applied, so its heritage can survive for years to come.
- Unifying groups
Honai with its circle shaped wall is a cast that makes the tribe of Dani unifies with every other tribe.
2. A symbol of unity
Other than the feeling of unity, Honai is also a foundation for Dani tribe to continue to see eye to eye with each other in daily life.
3. Pride status
Reputation is also a vital matter to the Dani Tribe, and the traditional home Honai is what shows the value of pride the clan has.
Well, these are one of the uniqueness of Papua. If you ever come visit Papua, come and try spending a night in a Honai with the locals. Amakanie!