The Wayback Machine -
Historical Papua (Irian Jaya)


When the Netherlands East Indies won freedom in 1949, the Dutch kept only Papua of their once vast Pacific Empire. Prior to the hand-over of Papua to Indonesia in 1965, the Dutch endeavoured to help the Melanesians of Papua progress to a point where they were able to determine their own future.

A 1961 map of Netherland New Guinea.

Asmat people believe that a mythological hero once travelled their land building men's clubhouses. He filled the halls with wooden figures and then brought them to life by beating a drum, thus peopling the region. The eithteen-inch carving above made to decorate a men's house, belonged to a medical missionary at Pirimapoen.

The late Michael Rockefeller, son of the then New York Governor, tried to buy the figure for the New York City's Museum of Primitive Art.

Living exhibits in a museum of early man, plumed Asmat warriors sweep the Zuid Eilandem River in dug-out canoes. Long isolated by swamps, jungles, gorges, and mountains, many Papuans now face civilization for the first time. Head-hunters and cannibals until recently, these tribesmen stand to paddle craft so unstable that white men may tip them over even when sitting. A bold Asmat wood carving like those sought by Michael Rockefeller on his ill-fated expedition ornament these canoes. Less than three weeks after this photograph was taken at Atsj,
Mr. Rockefeller disappeared while on his way to the same village.

A Casuarina Coast family returns to Pirimapoen after visiting a neighbouring village.
Youngsters attend school in the building on the left.

Asmat bone dagger, Irian Jaya (Papua)

Asmat greenstone adze, Irian Jaya (Papua)

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