Friday, July 22, 2016

Chinese Plates as Dowry in Papuan Wedding

The cultural and trade relation between the Chinese people and the indigenous Papuan people has existed since several hundred years ago long before the European explorers and Indonesian traders reached New Guinea island.
The Chinese came to Papua to buy spices, medicinal plants, sea shells and perhaps the dried skin of paradise birds. They exchanged them with ceramic plates, and metal tools which were needed by the indigenous tribes.

Certain tribes in Papua still use Chinese plates as dowry for their wedding ceremonies. This afternoon, I had the opportunity of seeing how a family prepares for a marriage proposal. A Papuan man who wants to get married will collect Chinese plates as many as 100 to 150 pieces. His parents will ask for help from their close relatives. They will be given as dowry to the parents of his girlfriend as marriage proposal. The dowry may consist of 150 Chinese plates plus certain amount of money and other goods which the parents of the girl request. After receiving those plates, the parents of the girl will distribute the plates to their relatives. Wedding will be conducted based on Papuan tradition with the blessing of a priest from a Christian church. This tradition is still practiced by tribes in Doreri of Manokwari, Biak and Serui tribes in Cendrawasih bay and Raja Ampat islands.
If you plan to visit West Papua and need me as your private guide, please, contact me by email to: