Visit the indigenous Huli People of Papua New Guinea
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The Huli (or
Haroli) are an indigenous people who live in the Tari region of Papua New Guinea. Though Papua New Guinea is home to approximately 312 diverse indigenous tribes, with a population numbering around 90,000, the Huli people are one of the largest cultural groups by far.
The Huli people are also often referred to as the ‘Huli Wigmen’, due to one of their rather interesting, wig-based traditions. Read on to discover more of these fascinating traditions and beliefs, as well as amazing snippets about the history and language of the Huli...
A thousand years of history
Though the Huli people were not known to Europeans until the 1930s, they have actually inhabited their region for over 1,000 years. They were extensive travellers (mainly for trade) in both the highlands and the lowlands of their homeland, and they can recount lengthy oral histories that relate to both individuals and the history of their clans and ancestors. All clan members consider themselves as one person descended from a male, common ancestor named Huli.
Hello in Huli (Ha’a, agua pe?)
The Huli language is a Trans-New Guinea language (spoken by the Huli people). Ha’a is a general greeting, and agua pe? is an approximate translation for an informal how are you?
One of the most interesting things about the Huli language is that it features a pentadecimal numeral system, meaning that their numbers are based on multiples of 15 (ngui means 15, ngui nk means 15x2=30, ngui ngui means 15x15=225, etc.)
The Huli people also speak Tok Pisin, a creole language spoken throughout Papua New Guinea that combines words and influences from English, German, and indigenous Melanesian languages. It likely developed out of trade between local inhabitants and Anglophones traders, and is often referred to as ‘New Guinea Pidgin’ or ‘Pidgin English.’ And some words show their influences a bit more obviously than others! Here’s a little vocab lesson…
- Bagarap: Broken/To break down (from ‘bugger up’)
- Gut: Good
- Pisin: Bird (from ‘pigeon’)
- Hausboi: A male domestic servant
- Haus moni: A bank (from ‘house money’)
- Haus sik: A hospital (from ‘house sick’)
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