By Bunmi Adigun @bunmi_adigun
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Known as the Dani people, the tribe was unwittingly discovered by American philanthropist, Richard Archbold, after an expedition in 1938.
Since the mid twentieth century the Dani tribe have become well known for their unique customs and strong sense of identity as they cling to their traditional ways.
One of their customs is the wearing of an unusual piece of underwear worn by males. Known as a Koteka, it is commonly referred to as a penis sheath.
Photographer and IT support engineer Teh Han Lin from neighbouring Singapore snapped the tribe over a four day period.
He said: “The Dani tribe is a very unique tribe, especially their way of life and their traditional wearing of a "Koteka" that I’ve heard about since I was young. I never know when this tribe will be extinct, this is the reason I decided to visit them this year.”
As well as their quite liberal view towards clothing, the tribe are also well known for their unique practice of self mutilation.
After the passing of a loved one, relatives are expected to cut off the top part of their fingers as a sign of respect and grieving.
The practice is meant to symbolise the pain one feels after losing a loved one with many people in the tribe often amputating multiple fingers during their lifetime.
Teh Han said: “Only women have to cut off their fingers. I feel it's a cruel and inhumane practice, but to them this is the only way to show the grievousness to the loved ones and they are willing to do it.”
Fortunately the act has been outlawed by the Indonesian government, however signs of this archaic tradition can be found on older women in the tribe.
Despite their controversial customs, the Dani tribe have been drawing tourists to the region for decades as more and more people are eager to see their relatively simple way of life.
During his latest visit, the tribes people were celebrating an annual festival in which they take part in mock battles with other tribes in the area.
The IT support engineer said: “The fake battles are not for tourists, but it's a festival they call ‘Baliem Valley Festival’ that is held yearly, usually in the month of August where all tribes - Dani, Yali and Lani - bring their best warriors to perform a mock battle and show their rich culture.”
Although the Dani tribe have a fearsome reputation amongst the other tribes in the area, and were noted for being some of the most formidable headhunters, they are very warm and accommodating to visitors.
Teh Han explained: “They are very welcoming and I feel comfortable around them. Even though most of them don't really speak Bahasa Indonesia or English they make an effort to understand what I want to say, through body language and hand signs.
"They may look fierce but they are actually very friendly and polite as long as you behave in the same manner.”