Asmat tribe is one of Indonesian indigenous tribe that live in New Guinea, part of Papua province. The population of Asmat people is divided into two areas, those who are live in coastal area and rural area. Those two groups are very different one and another, in case of the dialect, the way of living, social structure and ritual.
The population of the coastal group are then divided into two sub ethnic groups, which is Bisman people who live in Sinesty River and Nin Rirver, also the group of Simai.
Asmat people are famous by their greatest art of wood carving, it been exported and it become the proudly icon of this magnificent tribe. One thing that makes Asmat people become once again popular is about their trademark of being headhunter and cannibalism. These Asmat practices have been linked to the unsolved 1961 disappearance of the twenty-three-year-old son of former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, who was touring the region to collect native artwork.
The practice of cannibalism was early acknowledge when the Asmat people got their enemies to be killed. When the enemies was killed, the body was taken to the village, then being cut and distributed to all residents to eat together. Moreover, the brain was wrapped in sago leaves and being roasted and eaten altogether. They not only to ate the brain and cut the skul, but also worshiped it as their believe. This practice also connected with the the way they hunt for a name. Every person in Asmat tribe was named after someone deceased, or after a killed of their enemy. Therefore, a child was sometimes given a name only ten years after they was born, and after the village set out to kill a man from an enemy from the village nearby. They had to learn the name of the man they killed, and then bring his skull to their village. Only in this way person get a name.
The first contact that succeeded to enter the area of Asmat was the Dutch in 1623.
Regarding the fearsome reputation of Asmat people, there was groups or societies that enable reach the zone and being communicate to the group.
The Dutch began to settle the Asmat area in the 1920s, bringing in the first Catholic missionaries. Contact with the West has expanded steadily since the 1950s, and traditional Asmat warfare and cannibalistic practices have declined.
Greatfull for the missionaries that have done a lot of work in changing this fearsome of Asmat cannibalism and the changing for being communicate with this group. Afterall, the Asmat people finally convert their animism and cannibalism into Catholic or Christianity in general.
The Asmat language is a Papuan language family known as Asmat-Kamoro, but most Asmat men are able to communicate in Bahasa.
Nowadays, Asmat people are doing hunting and gathering and, of course, wood carving as their main income. They hunt crocodile and other animals, and they gather and process the Sagoo palm to be their daily food or to be sell. Some of them also have chicken and little yard to pant some vegetables. There are some differential job between men and women; the women are responsible for net fishing, gathering and domestic task. While for men, they are responsible for line and weir fishing, hunting, gardening and felling trees.
Asmat people are believe that they arose from wood, that is why it sacred for them. Even in ancient times they carved wonderful things from wood. Asmat are considered to be the best woodcarvers of the stone-age, their products are include their traditional drum, statues, engraved boats, shields, and many more and all of those are marvelous. Those arts, are now mostly exported to America or Europe to be posted in museum, galleries or to be household.
Finally, Asmat people are prove themselves remaining the time traveler journey from the ancient habituation to the simple straight life that still hold the originality.