The Korowai tribe and tree houses

Deep in the remote jungle of the Southeast Indonesian province of Papua, about 150 kilometres inland from the Arafura sea, lives the Korowai tribe – a clan, completely isolated from the rest of the world. They are hunters-gatherers living in small society of traditional family ties, which should share all that they have to survive. Until their discovery by a Dutch missionary in 1974, the Korowai have not had any contact with the outside world.

People tribe the Korowai people live in tree houses ranging in height from 6 to 12 meters, but some of them rise by as much as 35 meters above the ground. Usually, home based on a single tree but frequently the base of the house consists of several trunks, which provides additional support. These tree houses protect families not only from swarms of mosquitoes on the lower level, but also reflect attacks of annoying neighbors and evil spirits.

To build a tree house, selected a sturdy Banyan tree, to function as the Central stronghold. The top of the tree is removed and constructed first floor structure of the sago. The walls and roof are created of the same leaves.

The flooring needs to be quite strong and durable because tree houses often are home to a dozen people. Dry vines and tree trunks with notches extended from the base of the tree house to climb up. This ladder is shaking every step, and warn the inhabitants that a visitor on the way.

Korowai — an excellent hunter-gatherers. Since the early 1990s some of them began to cooperate with travel companies selling tours to this area, what makes them moderate additional income. This is surprising, since less than two decades ago, they didn't even know that a world existed outside their jungle.

In the 90-ies of the strangers began to exploit the area in search of valuable agar wood or agar wood. In 1997, per 1 kg agar, collected by a local Papuan, gave $ 4. In the end the dealer sold it on in the middle East and European market for a thousand dollars. This activity also caused the spread of prostitution in the jungle, helped spread AIDS throughout Papua. Ultimately, this trade ended in 1999.

About the Korowai tribe filmed several documentaries. In 1993, a film crew recorded the construction of the tree house, as well as the practice of cannibalism as a form of criminal proceedings.


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