The Amungme The Asmat The Bauzi The Dani The Kombai

The Asmat

The Asmat are an ethnic group of New Guinea, and residing in Papua province of Indonesia. Possessing one of the most well-known and vibrant woodcarving traditions in Pacific, their art is sought by collectors worldwide. The Asmat inhabit a region on the island's southwestern coast, totaling about 19,000 square kilometers and consisting of mangrove, tidal swamp, freshwater swamp, and lowland rainforest. The land of Asmat is located both within and adjacent to Lorentz National Park and World Heritage Site, the largest protected area in the Asia-Pacific region. The total Asmat population is estimated about 70,000. The term "Asmat" is used to refer both to the people and the region they inhabit.


Even today, the Asmat are relatively isolated and their most important cultural traditions are still strong, though their interaction with the outside world has been increasing over the last decades. Many Asmat have received higher education in other parts of Indonesia and some in Europe. The Asmat seek to find ways to incorporate new technology and beneficial services such as health, communications, and education, while preserving their cultural traditions. The biodiversity of their area has been under some pressure from outside logging and fishing, although this has faced significant and not unsuccessful resistance. In 2000, the Asmat formed Lembaga Musyawarah Adat Asmat (LMAA), a civil society organization that represents and articulates their interests and aspirations. LMAA has been working with Indo-Pacific Conservation Alliance since 1999, and has established separate traditional sub-councils, or Forum Adat Rumpun (FAR) to implement joint activities. In 2004, Asmat region became a separate governmental administrative unit or Regency, and elected Mr. Yufen Biakai, as former director of the AMCP and current Chairman of LMAA, as its 'Bupati' (head of local government).

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