THE Korowai Tribe recently located in Papua New Guinea is described as a fascinating tribe. Until the 70s, there was no previous record of any contact between them and the western world making researchers to believe that it is likely the people never realized that anyone else existed other than themselves.
Remarkably, the Korowai people are reputed to be the master of one amazing engineering feat among all known primitive tribes. Though they live in isolation inside deep jungle, they live in 140 foot high tree house abodes, constructed upon stilts, designed to protect the members from rival villages. The tree houses can only be accessed by wooden ladders mounted against the stilts.
They construct the stilt from a Banyan tree, just as they use the bark of Sago palm for the floor and walls. On the other hand, the roof is made from the sago leaves with fire pits created to protect the hut even as fire outbreak remained the biggest danger under the circumstance.
The first recorded interaction between the Korowai and westerners took place in 1974 when a group of Western scientists took an expedition to the area. Despite the meeting and subsequent ones, many Korowais still hold the notion that outsiders are agents of demons and evil spirits having not realized even as at the 70s that no one existed apart from their own tribe.
Korowai people are reported to practice cannibalism. That is hardly a strange phenomenon because Papua New Guinea is reputed to be one country in the entire world where it is no secret at all that cannibalism practice took place not just in the past but also until quite recently. In particular, the tribe is the last known in the world to have cannibals given that its belief in evil spirits necessitated the killing and eating of a person who they believed had been taken over by demonic spirit which they call Khakua.
Although there are no proofs, there are talks however that the practice is still on-going despite the fact that Christianity reached the area from around when they had first contact with outsiders in the 70s and had a lot of them converted.
Another aspect of the life of the Korowai people is their belief in sorcery and witchcraft. Even the advent of Christianity and subsequent conversion of many to the faith, many are still reluctant about giving up the traditional view point. For them, demons are real just as fatal illness is more likely to be the result of attacks by evil spirit rather than infectious diseases. As far as their belief system allows, the Korowai hold the view that the spirits of their ancestors is real just as they hold firmly to reincarnation, a reason why they indulge in sundry rituals, magical phrases and traditions.
Among the Korowai, men have no business with marriage until they are in their 20s. However, the case is not the same with women who are usually married off in their early teenage years and as quickly as they begin to menstruate. The tree house typically hold up to 15 people, which will consist of a man, his wife or wives and any unmarried children but once a woman is married, she is seen as an adult and must leave the family home to live with her husband.
Fiercely territorial, the Korowai people use bow and arrow not only for hunting animals, the weapons also came in handy in hunting down other people, mainly intruders from rival clans or unwelcome foreigners.