Baruya people

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The Baruya are a tribe in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. They have been studied since 1967 by anthropologist Maurice Godelier.

The Baruya are characterized by a strong inequality between males and females; all their organizations, institutions, and myths present male domination. The ritual is a lengthy process and can be divided into four stages for the initiates:

At the age of nine, young boys are taken from their mothers to become Yivupbwanya and as a result their women skirts are cut short at the front and removed from behind while their noses are pierced.

At the age of twelve, the skirts are completely removed and replaced with a male multi-layered skirt and a narrow strip of bark is worn behind, and their noses are pierced with a large nose peg. They are also adorned with many other insignia representing an approach to manhood. The initiates are now known as Kawetnya.

At the age of sixteen, the boys reach the Chawanya stage where they are given a black feather and other insignia and at their initiation ceremony wear a hornbill and pig-tusk head dress. They are now referred to as the new warriors of the tribe.

The final stage is achieved at the age of twenty, when the warriors now become Kalave or full warriors. They are given a white feather as the symbol of this stage.


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