Fayu (people)

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The Fayu , also called Sehudate , are an indigenous people in the Mamberamo Basin of western New Guinea , the Indonesian part of New Guinea . The Fayu live as a traditional society in the administrative district ( Kabupaten ) Waropen of the province of Papua between the rivers Klihi Ano , Didi and Tariku (formerly Rouffaer River).

They are divided into four tribes : the Iyarike, the Sefoidi, the Tearü and the Tigre. The entire people used to consist of several thousand people, but by 1990 it had shrunk to around 400 members due to continued internal armed conflicts. It is slowly recovering because of the current peace. In 2012 there were around 1,400 Fayu speakers.

The hunter-gatherer culture of the Fayu knows stone axes, spears and bows and arrows, but no agriculture or horticulture . Fayu usually marry within their own tribal group ( endogam ) and know the levirate marriage (brother-in-law), in which the brother of a childless deceased marries his widow .

As with other indigenous people in West Papua, the habitat of the Fayu is threatened by the clearing of the rainforests for economic purposes.


The Fayu language is a tonal language with three fixed pitches that give the same syllable a different semantic meaning and the semantic differentiation of falling and rising tone combinations when pronouncing a syllable. So z. B. the syllable Di in high pitch "water", in medium "knife" and in lower "wild boar". Fu spoken in a high pitch means “canoe”, while when pronouncing the voice falls from the highest to the lowest register, Fu means “bar”.

Creation myth

The myth of the origins of the people tells of people who lived in peace and all spoke one language until a great fire came from heaven and destroyed unity. Suddenly there were so many different languages ​​that only a man and a woman could understand each other.

Among them were the wife Bisa and the husband Beisa. In their search for a new home they came to the jungle and it started to rain. For weeks the rain didn't stop and the water kept rising. Bisa and Beisa built a canoe on which many animals fled. The jungle sank into the water, only the two and the animals that had been able to save themselves on the boat remained alive. When the rain finally stopped, they got out of the boat, found the hill again, and crawled into a cave for protection. The animals swarmed back into the jungle, while Bisa and Beisa built their new home in the cave and had children, from which the Fayu tribe gradually developed.

The story closes with the assurance that the two are still living among the Fayu: they have turned to stone, sitting back to back, and can be found in the cave. The Fayu can still turn to their mythical ancestors with their worries.


See also

  • Asmat , Dani - other indigenous tribes of West Papua


Individual evidence

  1. a b Fayu - A language of Indonesia. In: Ethnologue: Languages ​​of the World . 2014, accessed on July 26, 2014 (English): “Alternate Names: Sehudate. Population: 1,400 (2012 SIL). Location: Papua Province. Kliki river area, west of its juncture with Tariku river; northwest towards Cenderawasik bay. "
  2. a b Fayu. (PDF; 5 kb) In: papuaweb.org. UNIPA - ANU - UNCEN PapuaWeb Project, accessed July 26, 2014 .
  3. West Papua - A Forgotten Conflict . Society for Threatened Peoples , April 26, 2005, accessed September 20, 2015.
  4. a b Sabine Kuegler: Jungle Child . Droemer, Munich 2005, pp. 281–283.

Coordinates: 2 ° 58 ′ 24 ″  S , 136 ° 37 ′ 53 ″  E