Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1961 Jalé warrior
Subject: warrior
Culture: Jale / Yali
Setting: tribal warfare, inland Irian Jaya mid-20thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Chenevière 1987 p193
"Unlike the giant populations living in the mountains of New Guinea, the Jale, who inhabit the high valleys in the central chain of the Irian Jaya, in the Indonesian part of New Guinea, are only a little over four feet tall.  But they are aggressive, combative, and involved in almost continual wars interrupted by rare truces.  Ethnologists have observed the same phenomenon of permanent and extreme belligerence in other societies which, like the Jale, live in small, self-sufficient communities where young boys remain for an unusually long time close to their mothers in an exclusively feminine environment.  Such conditions, they have found, produce particularly violent men.
​    "In the case of the Jale, warfare is the usual means of settling all disputes.  Revenge, for some offense such as the theft of a wife or even of a pig, is the principal cause of their conflicts."

* Whitten/Hunter eds. 1990 p181 (Klaus-Friedrich Koch, "Cannibalistic revenge in Jalé warfare" p181-188)
"[T]he Jalé, completely isolated from foreign influences until 1961, still practice cannibalism as an institutionalized form of revenge in warfare, which is itself an integral aspect of life.  [...]
​    "From an anthropological perspective any kind of war is generally a symptom of the absence, inadequacy, or breakdown of other procedures for resolving conflicts.  This view is especially applicable to Jalé military operations, which aim neither at territorial gains and the conquest of resources nor at the suppression of one political or religious ideology and its forceful replacement by another.  All armed conflicts in Jalémo occur as a result of bodily injury or killing suffered in retaliation for the infliction of a wrong.  Violent redress may be exacted for adultery or theft or for a breach of obligation -- usually a failure to make a compensatory payment of pigs."


* Campbell 1991 p46
"As the children mature into adulthood, their dress becomes more ornate -- at least for the men. Rattan, gathered from the lower forests, is cleaned, dried, and later worn as hoops around the waist. At night this uncomfortable-looking garment is taken off and hung up in the hut, where it resembles a spiral cage. The tribal chiefs are distinguishable by a longer hoop skirt which falls from the armpits to the knees."

* Chenevière 1987 p200
"Most of the men wear a long skirt of split rattan wound around their body.  It is very tight over the stomach and around the waist and flares lower in the back, resting in front on a long penis sheath.  When they move about, they lift the edge of their skirt."

* Gaulme/Gaulme 2012 p24
"Comparatively large gourd used as a penis sheath in New Guinea is known as a koteka, a term that has also come to designate the various peoples who wear it.  The length of such sheaths can sometimes be extreme -- twenty inches or more -- meaning that it has to be attached to a belt above as well as to the scrotum below. Yet neither length nor width is a sign of social status.  It may be a sign of personal vanity, but usually the shape of a koteka is a sign of cultural identity, as is tribal scarring elsewhere.  A koteka is worn by all the men of the same ethnic group; for example, Yali men in Papua New Guinea [SIC -- Yali live in Irian Jaya] use long, thin gourds that lift the hoops typical of their traditional dress, whereas in other regions wider gourds may be used simultaneously as money pouches."


* Whitten/Hunter eds. 1990 p183 caption (Klaus-Friedrich Koch, "Cannibalistic revenge in Jalé warfare" p181-188)
"By the time these young boys become warriors, they will be expert archers.  Training begins early; boys who can hardly walk carry bows made by their fathers.  Practice games perfect the proper stance."

* Whitten/Hunter eds. 1990 p184 (Klaus-Friedrich Koch, "Cannibalistic revenge in Jalé warfare" p181-188)
"If an enemy is killed during a foray into hostile territory, the raiders will make every effort to bring the body home.  [...]  After the head has been severed, it is wrapped in leaves.  To insure more revenge killings in the future, some men shoot reed arrows into the head while it is dragged on the ground by a piece of vine.  Then the head is unwrapped and swung through the fire to burn off the hair.  This is accompanied by loud incantations meant to lure the victim's kinsmen into sharing his fate."

* Whitten/Hunter eds. 1990 p188 (Klaus-Friedrich Koch, "Cannibalistic revenge in Jalé warfare" p181-188)
"When the festival of revenge is over, the members of the men's house group of the owners of the body arrange for the ritual removal of the victim's ghost from their village.  Rhythmically voicing efficacious formulas and whistling sounds, a ceremonial procession of men carries a special arrow into the forest, as far into enemy territory as is possible without risk.  A small lump of pig's fat is affixed to the arrow by an expert in esoteric lore.  (Pig's fat used for ritual purposes becomes a sacred substance that is applied in many different contexts.)  The arrow is finally shot toward the enemy village.  This, the Jale believe, will make the ghost stay away from their own village, but as further precaution they block the path with branches and plants over which spells are said."

* Whitten/Hunter eds. 1990 p181 (Klaus-Friedrich Koch, "Cannibalistic revenge in Jalé warfare" p181-188)
"In October, 1968, two white missionaries on a long trek between two stations were killed in a remote valley in the Snow Mountains of western New Guinea, and their bodies were eaten.  A few days later, warriors armed with bows and arrows gave a hostile reception to a group of armed police flown to the site by helicopter."

Hand Weapons

Chenevière 1987 p200
"The warriors' preferred weapons are stone hatchets and bows.  The former, crudely cut from flint, are formidably effective in combat, and are also used as a tilling instrument."