Traditional Matches from the Tribes in Papua

goodmorningpapua.com – Before finding modern matches, the tribes in Papua had known how to get fire traditionally. Even long before, in prehistoric times in Papua, prehistoric humans had made use of flint or chert to make fires. This was based on the findings of chert fragments at prehistoric cave sites in Berau Bay, Fakfak and the Ayamaru Lake area, West Papua. Finding fire is a knowledge that was brought by prehistoric humans when they first arrived in Papua. Some tribes in Papua today still use traditional matches, especially by the older generation.

The Mey Brat tribe in the Ayamaru Lake Area, West Papua makes fire by hitting flint or chert against other chert stones, the sparks that come out of the blow will burn dry materials such as the fine coir of palm trees. Until now, the Mbaham tribe in Woos Village, Mbahamdandara District, Fakfak Regency is still familiar with traditional lighters made of chert. The environment around Woos Village is karst hills where many chert stones are found as match material.

The Bauzi people who live on the banks of the Mamberamo River make fire by hitting river stones on dry bamboo segments. The friction between the stone and the dry bamboo produces sparks that immediately burn the dried fur of Nibung or a kind of forest palm that has been prepared previously.

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Meanwhile, the Mairasi tribe living in Kaimana makes a fire using flakes of plate that were hit on dry bamboo segments. This blow generates sparks that immediately burn the nibung feathers. By the Mairasi tribe, flint with nibung feathers are stored in small bamboo containers. These bamboo containers are always taken wherever they go on their activities.

The Dani tribe in the Baliem Valley makes fire using the Sekau Balin, or fire rope method. Therefore wherever they go, they always carry a roll of rattan rope, wood with a slit in the middle, and dry feathers of the Nibung tree, so that they can make a fire whenever they feel cold or want to burn fields, cook and so on.

To make a fire, wood with Nibung feathers tucked in its slit, placed on the ground that has been coated with dry leaves, then circled with rattan rope. While standing with both feet on the wood, and each hand holding the end of the rattan rope, the rope is rubbed at high speed. The heat generated on the wood then burns the Nibung feathers, and with only a few blows it can be lit.

The rattan rope applied will certainly burn and then break. The Yali people make a fire by using a rattan rope as a match. To make a fire, a Yali tribe would take a piece of rattan from their clothes, about 60 centimeters long. The rattan was then wrapped around a piece of wood that was placed on the ground, surrounded by grass and dry branches.

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Then, the Yali man will stand, with each foot stepping on the end of the wood. With their hands, they will pull the rattan rope that was wrapped quickly up and down rubbed against the wood, until smoke comes out, the fire begins to burn, and the end of the rope cut off and burnt.

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