Tribal Leader Shows Off ‘Smoked’ Mummy He Sleeps With

Margie Jones
08/11/2023

Tribal chief Eli Mabel holds the body of his ancestor, Agat Mamete Mabel. Agat Mamete Mabel, was a tribal chief who ruled a remote village in Papua, Indonesia some 250 years ago.

Eli Mabel of the Dani tribe (see more remarkable photos below) spends many nights in the hut where the mummy is kept to make sure nothing happens to it, he told Agence France-Presse.

In protecting the blackened mummy ― said to be the remains of an ancestor of his who ruled some 250 years ago ― Mabel aims to preserve the old Dani tradition of mummification, in which the bodies of venerated tribespeople were preserved with smoke after death.

But mummies never die.

Tribal Leader Shows Off 'Smoked' Mummy He Sleeps With

ADEK BERRY via Getty Images

This photo, taken on Aug. 7, 2016, shows chief Eli Mabel with the mummified remains of his ancestor Agat Mamete Mabel outside a traditional house in the village of Wogi in Wamena, the long-isolated home of the Dani tribe high in the Papuan central highlands.

Tribal Leader Shows Off 'Smoked' Mummy He Sleeps With

ADEK BERRY via Getty Images

The Dani people no longer practice mummification, but tribespeople keep a number of mummies, some a few hundred years old, as a symbol of respect to their ancestors.

Tribal Leader Shows Off 'Smoked' Mummy He Sleeps With

ADEK BERRY via Getty Images

The mummy is curled up like a fetus, like all mummies in the Dani tradition.

Tribal Leader Shows Off 'Smoked' Mummy He Sleeps With

ADEK BERRY via Getty Images

A Dani man in Wamena on Aug. 8, 2016. The man was participating in the 27th Baliem Valley Festival, featuring highland tribes of Dani, Yali and Lani in their mock battles as symbol of high spirit and power that have been practiced for generations. The festival was held from Aug. 8 – 10.

Tribal Leader Shows Off 'Smoked' Mummy He Sleeps With

ADEK BERRY via Getty Images

This Aug. 9, 2016, photo shows a Dani man participating in the festival.

Tribal Leader Shows Off 'Smoked' Mummy He Sleeps With

ADEK BERRY via Getty Images

Another participant in the festival. The photo was taken on Aug. 9, 2016.

Tribal Leader Shows Off 'Smoked' Mummy He Sleeps With

ADEK BERRY via Getty Images

This photo, taken on Aug. 9, 2016, shows Dani children participating the festival.

Tribal Leader Shows Off 'Smoked' Mummy He Sleeps With

ADEK BERRY via Getty Images

In this photo, taken on Aug. 8, 2016, Dani women participate in the festival.

Tribal Leader Shows Off 'Smoked' Mummy He Sleeps With

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IndonesiaAnthropologyMummiesdani mummydani people

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