Today we move to Papua New Guinea, specifically in the westernmost part of the country, to discover a particular tradition that is now prohibited by law.
But let's go in order.
We are in the long and narrow valley that rises on the banks of the Bailem river. Here lives the Dani tribe, already famous for some customs such as the mummification of ancestors by smoking and their consequent exposure on high poles, to protect the village.
The traditional practice that we face today, however, concerns only the women of the tribe who, on the occasion of the death of a close relative, are required to follow a very ancient rite: the amputation of the phalanges. This ritual undoubtedly recalls a powerful emotional image: the death of a loved one takes away part of those who loved him, literally. And the more the mourning accumulates, the more the amputations of the fingers make the women of the tribe unable to perform any type of work. A very strong image that concretizes the idea of the incurable wound that the death of a loved one brings with it.
Dani women proudly exhibit their hands, a sign of resilience, strength and courage to face life despite its painful obstacles. A cruel ritual in some ways, which concerns women only and does not affect the aesthetics of the men of the village, but which at the same time is a decisive metaphor for the cycle of life.