The Karawari Cave Arts Project has just returned from a long patrol throughout the Upper Arafundi and Karawari River areas. One team of experience community awareness and conservation workers---Howard Sindana, Siggy Fuaya, Yorba Yuki, Frank Don and Peter Gabu--- moved through all the villages in the area to provide the information so many people desperately seek regarding mining and logging --- explanations regarding all the acronyms and jargon strangers bandy
about, and more importantly, slide shows and discussions of the social and environmental risks people take when they allow commercial developers to enter their land.
The Pristine #18 mining exploration lease that has been our key concern for the Upper Arafundi Penale tribe land, and which all Penale villages vehemently oppose, is nevertheless still under consideration and, with the help of a very few opportunistic local Yimas (non-Penale) people remains on the table. That’s why these teams of awareness workers are so important. Indeed, in some of the communities where they performed skits, showed slides and sat to answer everyone’s questions, they were greeted with tearful welcomes. People told them, as they have so often told our cave teams and our medical patrols, that no person of authority has come to visit their place in the 38 years of national Independence. It is important that the team of Papua New Guinean community awareness workers---so articulate, experienced, and personable---were the first.
At the same time, our cave explorers set out to Namata, high above the Meakambut caves and close to Mt MacGregor, where they visited two very important caves owned by the Penale Namata people. The stories of these caves, and their images, help round out our understanding of
settlement and occupation of the Upper Arafundi caves.
But we thought it best to let the cave owners themselves tell the stories of these two caves. They are amongst the very few we have seen thus far that contain both positive clay line drawings/paintings, and palm prints from the hands of young male initiates---made from a mixture of clay and the blood from cutting their penis.
A shout out to our wonderful team of Livai Roland, Jeffrey Otto, Edward Bruno, Solomon Yakari, John Kaik, and Manuel Matthew who always push the limits to get the job done. Just to prove how hard that can be, I'm embedding a clip I found amongst their notes from this last patrol:
KALAPUL STONE CAVE STORY told by John Kaik & Solomon Yakari Ptiyape
In the past, when the earth was new, there were no people. They emerged from KOPAU,
the origin stone, and came into the open but kept themselves hidden from spirits. The first man was TANGURANG and he came to KALAPUL (cave) where he made these hand marks and other stencils. He brought a clay pot which helped him make clay paintings and other drawings on the stone. The pot was named ANGAS, filled with red clay mixed with blood. When they started painting the cave a spirit man emerged named TANGEM and he taught the first men the customs of the haus boi (men’s house), including banishing women from the caves when they painted with blood, which was a sacred substance.
But now we just use clay to make the marks.
Then APAI (god) told all the living men to bring the young boys into the haus boi (enclosure) to teach them the customs. They did this and then went to Mogumbu (near Awim today). Apai made a lot of rules around the clay pot, and the spirit man (Tangurang) put wild fowl eggs inside the pot, along with other things. It’s taboo for women and children who have not been to the haus boi to
eat wild fowl, or they will get sick and lose a lot of blood from all over their bodies. Only the initiated boys can eat these eggs.
In the haus boi the boys go inside to cut the skin of their penis and lose the residual postpartum blood of their mothers. They then get new blood, are rejuvenated, and strengthened to work and
fight. Women cannot go inside the haus boi, that’s taboo, because they are not like men. Women have their own menstruation ways, and they grow strong by it to become good mothers and look after children.
This is the story of KALAPUL.
LUMUNUK STONE CAVE STORY told by John Kaik & Solomon Yakari Ptiyape
Long, long time ago in the time of creation, we believe that our ancestors were in a spirit form and have emerged from KOPAU (the Penale origin stone). A man named TANGEM came out from there and settled at kalapul. He lived there for some times and turned into a human being and came too lived at Lumunuk stone cave. One day he went up to a mountain and cut a branch of a tree called WESEM and put it inside the stone haus. The spirits used this branch to hang their bilums
and wild animals that they hunt. They also left their hand prints and designs on the walls of the stone house. As you can see those handprints and designs were made by our tumbuna spirits, that’s why some paintings are very high were man cannot reach.
On the other side of the cave there was a waterfall called INDUKUI and that waterfall helps us in two ways. It help in times of trouble fights and sickness, during the past when the tumbunas (ancestors) wanted to fight their enemies they normally would go to the waterfall, and call for their spirits to give them strength to fight their enemies. (The way of calling their spirits, is by name: TARAN YAMBIN SAN, WAMBES AUNABE ). After the call they would go ahead to fight and win. In sickness, when a man gets very sick they would normally bring the sick person to the waterfall to have bath and also drink, and while doing that they would be healed.
When other people from other area’s wanted to visit, they must get the permission from the land owners first before they can go. The owner will then do some customary ritual by rubbing red ground on their face and singsing, after which they are free to visit. If the owner fails to do that and someone enters the area anyway, they will get sick--blood will come out of their skin and will continue until death; this sickness has no cure.