Suvarna Garge (Editor)


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The Angu or Änga people, also called Kukukuku (pronounced "cookah-cookah") or Toulambi by neighbouring tribes, are a small and previously violent group speaking a number of related languages and living mainly in the high, mountainous region of south-western Morobe, a province of Papua New Guinea. Even though they are a short people, often less than 5 foot, they were once feared for their violent raids on more peaceful villages living in lower valleys.

Despite the high altitude and cold climate of their homeland, the Änga only wore limited clothing, including grass skirts, with a piece similar to a sporran, and cloaks made from beaten bark, called mals.

They are also known to Westerners for practicing a sexual ritual involving pre-adolescent boys acting as courtesans for male tribal elders. Men practice homosexuality until marriage (Emotions Revealed by Paul Ekman). Pederasty is only customary among the northern tribes and is absent among the Ankave and some southern groups. The northern groups are also typically more patriarchal in character, while the southern groups emphasize complementarity between the sexes.

An account of some of the first contact between the Angu and westerners is described vividly by J. K. McCarthy in his book Patrol into Yesterday: My New Guinea Years.

Four of the Änga languages are almost extinct, but the largest tribe, the Hamtai, are thriving, with a population of 45,000. The Hamtai tribe has become a tourist attraction for their mummies. There are three famous mummy sites around Aseki in the Hamtai territory. The Hamtai people now have a small income from charging scientists, tourists and photographers a fee before entrance to the mummy sites.

There are two legends as to how the Änga received the name "Kukukuku." One is that when an Australian government patrol officer described hearing them speaking their language, he made up the word kukukuku, because he said their speech sounded as though someone were pouring out a Coca-Cola bottle onto the ground. (The language has a lot of uvular consonants, "back k's"). But some of the people themselves used to say that when they met the first patrol officer, he asked who they were. A man answered, "He's my son." The speaker used the word "kouka" which means man or boy.


Angu Wikipedia