Smoked Corpses Of Aseki

03 Jan

Smoked Corpses Of Aseki

 For those who have followed my space here over a period of time you will recall I have written in the past of my time in Papua New Guinea prior to independence , the year being 1969 when I was working for the army in a humanitarian capacity for the Australian Government . My role was to travel to a number of mountain villages to inoculate the locals against a deadly pandemic flu that was raging throughout the mountain villages and causing untold deaths , as an aside my immediate boss was a Major Mike Jefferies who later became the Governor General of Australia , anyway back to my story ,my sojourn in Papua New Guinea commenced with being flown into a remote highland village called Menyamya , now this village was located in the province of Morobe and was occupied by a tribe of peoples called the Kuka Kuka tribe , now this tribe was considered the fiercest and last of the tribes coming out of the cannibal stage this was due mainly to Western influence being the instigation of patrol officers to enforce the laws these officers were mainly Dutch as this part of Papua still came under the Dutch jurisdiction until Papua,s eventual independence. I arrived in Menyamya in 1969 and found myself amongst the Kuka Kuka tribe , With me was an interpreter and six members of the Pacific Island Regiment who were ostensibly my escorts and to all intents my bodyguards , it was here in Menyamya before proceeding out on patrol duties that I first heard of the cave of the smoked bodies , unfortunately I was unable due to military duties able to visit this cave and witness first hand a cultural practice dating over 150 years , the story was related to me through my interpreter and I was disappointed not being able to visit the cave as it was situated not far from where I was at Menyamya ,the story intrigued me ever since leaving Papua and the story of the cave of the smoked bodies has become well know in the Western world now , at my time there very few Westerners had seen the cave nor heard of this tribal cultural tradition ,I have researched the story of the cave of smoked bodies and found pictures taken long after my time in Papua , now I share with you the story of the cave of smoked bodies with pics ,Throughout the many hundreds of different tribes in Papua New Guinea there is just one tribe of natives that had a most unusual ritual over 150 years ago of disposing of their dead. They smoked the corpses over a fire then suspended the smoked bodies in a bamboo frame and carried the frame and body up a steep mountain track to a natural ridge in the side of a mountain and placed the whole frame (and body) on wooden poles against the wall of this natural ridge so that their dead could look over their village a thousand feet below. This mountain is very sacred to them indeed.
These are the people of Aseki, a very remote village, high up in the mountains about 200 km inland from the port city of Lae in the Morobe Province of PNG., my time in Menyamya was a deep experience for this young 20 year old at the time and its only now in my latter years that I am writing these recollections of a world beyond the realms of western civilization as we know it , enjoy my story and always remember that there are many things on this earth that are sometimes beyond the scope of human understanding or appreciation I give credit to the ownership of the pics as alas in my time there I had no camera or means of taking photographic evidence of a very unusual tradition carried out by the Kuka Kuka tribe , a cannibalistic tribe emerging from their past .




Posted by on January 3, 2011 in Uncategorized


15 responses to “Smoked Corpses Of Aseki

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    November 3, 2013 at 4:44 am

    My gosh, Ian, this is so macabre. These images… really were human beings? So macabre.

    As for drinking the fluids – YUK YUK YUK. I can’t believe people, I just can’t…

    • The Emu

      November 3, 2013 at 11:28 am

      Hi Noeleen, thanks for visiting my old story from the past, I was 19 when I was in Papua New Guinea and I had to learn many things fast, one was to be wary of the people as they still practiced cannibalism in the highlands, and the other was to accept their practices as normal, it is changing slowly these days but I think in the deeper parts of PNG they still carry on with their old traditions.
      Wishing you well girl

  2. wonkywizard

    October 31, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Some ate the human brains and suffered from Kuru, similar to Mad Cow’s Disease. I think that practice has stopped. I have never seen those pictures. The “like” is for eye opening only .Some times we tick like for things we don’t really like.

    • The Emu

      October 31, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Greetings my friend, you are correct in your diagnosis of the Mad cows disease, my research shows it did actually originate from Papua New Guinea, when I was there, there was a prevalence of falling down disease, which appeared to be the lead up to death from the practice of cannibalism,one of their practices at the time was to smoke the corpse and the family would sit beneath the body as it decomposed, the actual eating of the droppings were a great sign of reverence to the deeparted, sorry for the gruesome picture but that was a reality back in the late 60s, I do believe that to this day, in the isolated villages that these actions are still carried out.
      Sometime I wish there was an unlike button also as it gets confusing sometimes, we might like the subject but not want to tick it.
      Kindest regards
      Aussie Emu

      • Therese Mills

        October 31, 2013 at 11:58 pm

        I meant to say that when we visited the smoked bodies, our guides told us that the locals used to smoke the bodies and during the smoking process they captured the fluids and then drunk the fluids so that their spirits would live on …..

        • The Emu

          November 1, 2013 at 10:23 am

          You are correct Theresa, the fluids actually drained down on top of them over the smoking period, and to drink the fluids was a great respect to the departed and was supposed to give you the warrior strength.
          You are very fortunate to have seen this remarkable site.

  3. Therese Mills

    October 7, 2012 at 7:21 am

    I actually visited this site in 1988 while living in Port Moresby. It was quite a hike up the hill to where the bodies are located but well worth it when we were confronted with the smoked bodies. There was an infant’s body as well and looked to have had a fractured skull. Many of the bodies still had hair on their head.
    Amazing …..

    • The Emu

      October 7, 2012 at 10:20 am

      Thank you Therese for taking the time to read and comment on my blog, I am pleased you actually got to see the site as I always regret not being able to get there in my time in the highlands, I operated out of Menyamya which no doubt you know that area, I believe that many smoked bodies show signs of fracture or trauma due to inter tribal fighting and the retaining of hair I think has a lot to do with the smoking ceremony where relatives sat beneath the corpse on a platform during the decomposing stage.
      Thank you again for visiting and I wish you much love and happiness
      Aussie Emu

  4. helena43cps

    February 18, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Hello my dear friend Aussie Emu,
    I’m very happy by reading their blogs, are behind us and interesting stuff …
    Success always, love and kisses,

  5. Pat .

    January 5, 2011 at 4:27 am

    What a pity you didn’t get to see it first hand. But, very interesting and amazing photos.

  6. Lady Jude

    January 4, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Loved this one, but very spooky. Yes Emu you are all signed up to my blog.
    Hugs Lady Jude

  7. Sue Dreamwalker

    January 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    This is a new one on me too.. except its very near to the Native American Indian cultures who put their dead on stilts in their burial grounds.. But Smoked!, no not heard of that one. A very enlightening Blog Ian, and maybe the Kuka Kuka tribe knew something even way back then, that our Ancestors watch over us in death as in life.
    Fascinating Photos Ian and I loved this Blog

  8. ckpeacemaker

    January 3, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    What a story, Ian.
    Ever since I was a wee little girl, I was interested in my fellow human beings…and I wanted to find out what makes them tick…

    Also, Ian…every time you mention ‘nam…know that I’m giving you a humongous hug…

    Best wishes to you and your love…


  9. Beth Marie

    January 3, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Very interesting post. The photos were amazing.

  10. prenin

    January 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Hi Ian! 🙂

    That is one weird rite!!!

    I have never heard of this one before although I’ve read some of your comments about your experiences – you have led a VERY interesting life!!! 🙂

    God Bless my friend!



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