carving of a mermaid motif
Jayapura (ANTARA) – Research by the Papua Archaeological Center in Dondai Village, Waibu District, Jayapura Regency, Papua found a black and white carving of a mermaid motif on the pillar of the obhee house or the traditional house of the Sentani Tribe.
When contacted by ANTARA in Jayapura, Monday, a community leader from Kampung Dondai Daud Wally said about the folklore believed by the western Sentani community that in the past the ancestors of local residents came from the “Sunrise” or Pacific region.
The carving with a mermaid motif is depicted as a beautiful woman with dazzlingly beautiful hair, while the lower part is a fish with a tail.
He described the mermaid carving as a reminder that the ancestors of the Sentani people came from the Pacific to the east of Sentani. Today, the mermaid is a symbol of the clan in the western part of Lake Sentani.
Researcher at the Papua Archeology Center, Hari Suroto, said that the mermaid known in the folklore was depicted as living in the ocean.
Scientifically, dugong is called dugong dugon. Dugong is not a type of fish but is a marine mammal that eats seagrass. Seagrass beds are found in bays in the South Pacific waters.
In addition to the mermaid motif, he said, research at the obhee in Dondai Village also found carvings of saw sharks on the poles of the house.
In the past, before the presence of humans, Lake Sentani was a marine habitat for marine fauna, including saw sharks.
Geological processes make the Sentani Sea a freshwater lake, where sawfish then adapt to the new environment. The last saw shark was caught on Lake Sentani in the 1970s.
Saw sharks are a source of art inspiration by prehistoric humans to contemporary Sentani art. The saw shark motif is etched on a chunk of the Tutari Megalithic Site. A shark motif is etched on the obhee’s house post, and a saw shark motif is depicted in Asei’s bark painting.
“Mermaids are identical to the culture of coastal communities. The existence of mermaid motifs in Lake Sentani proves that the life of the people of Lake Sentani cannot be separated from the sea. This is evidenced by archaeological findings in the form of marine mollusk shells Verenidae and Arcidae at the prehistoric site of Yomokho, Kampung Dondai, “he said.
He added that the existence of marine mollusk shells proves that prehistoric humans who inhabited the Yomokho Site had made contact with coastal communities or they were in their activities up to the coast.