"Marind-anim" are a people living in South New Guinea, south of the lower parts of river Digul, east of Yos Sudarso Island, mainly west of Maro River (a small area goes beyond Maro at its lower part, including Merauke).Nevermann 1957: 225] Today the area inhabited by Marind-anim is contained by Papua province of Indonesia.

In the past, they were famed because of headhunting. [Nevermann 1957: 9] This was rooted in their belief system and linked to the name-giving of the newborn. [Nevermann 1957: 111] The skull was believed to contain a mana-like force. [Nevermann 1957: blurb] [Nevermann 1957: 112] Headhunting was not motivated primarily by cannibalism, but the already killed person's flesh was consumed.Nevermann 1957: 13]

The people lived spread in several extended families. Such an extended family derives its origin up to a mythological ancestor. Ancestor veneration has a characteristic form here: these mythological ancestors are demon-like figures, they feature in myths, and act as culture heroes, arranging the ancient world to its recent state, introducing plants, animals, cultural goods. [Nevermann 1957: 12] They have often the form of plants or animals, there is a kind of totemism, but it is not accompanied by a regular food taboo of the respective animal or plant.Nevermann 1957: 13] Totems can appear both in artefactsUnknown photographer 1920s (see postcard image [ online] )] and myths. [Nevermann 1957: 86, 202/note 108 (= Die Taube und die Enten)]

The word for such an ancestral demon is "dema" in Marind language. The material similarity of this word to “demon” is incidental. Each extended family keeps and transfers the tradition, it is especially the chore of the big men of the respective family. The influence of these big men does not go beyond their extended family. [Nevermann 1957: 12]

The Marind-anim are also notable for their sexual culture, centred around a cult of male homosexuality. In the century or so before European contact, young Marind-anim men were led through initiatory rituals involving their pariticipation as passive partners in an orgiastic sodomy cult. Ritual intercourse with women effectively constituted a form of collective sexual assault, with marriage commencing with the gang rape of the bride by the husband's male kin. The sexual practices of the Marind-anim exacerbated the threat of demographic collapse imposed by a high rate of infertility, and the Marind-anim consequently maintained their population by capturing children in head-hunting raids. Keesing, Roger M. & Strathern, Andrew J. (1998), "Cultural Anthropology: A Contemporary Perspective, 3rd. edition", p. 120]

Their culture was reserched by several ethnologists, for example the German Paul Wirz and Hans Nevermann,Nevermann 1957: 7] and also the Dutch Jan van Baal.

Marind language belongs to so-called "Marind family" of the hypothetical Trans-New Guinea language phylum. [Baal 2007: Marind-anim, Orientation (see [ online] )]

See also

* Zimakani language
* Dugout (boat)
* Sago
* Papua peoples
* Papuan mythology
* Swamp
* Digging stick



* cite web |last=Baal |first=Jan van |title=Marind-anim |work=World Culture Encyclopedia |publisher=Advameg Inc |year=2007 |url=
* The title means "Sons of the killing father. Stories about demons and headhunting, recorded in New Guinea".
* cite web |author=Unknown photographer |title=Marind-Anim men dressed for ceremony, south coast Dutch New Guinea |year=cca 1920s |url= |work=Old photographs (postcard) |publisher=Oceania Ethnographica A fabulous image of warriors with their drums; the man on the left holds an extremely rare type of carved wooden fish totem.

External links

* [] , an online ethnography comprising audio, film, photographs and texts about Boazi and Zimakani speakers living in the Western Province, Papua New Guinea.;Image
* A fabulous image of warriors with their drums; the man on the left holds an extremely rare type of carved wooden fish totem.

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