Marind or Marind-Anim are people living in South New Guinea.

Marind people
Marind-Anim people
Marind-Anim men dressed for ceremony, south coast Dutch New Guinea.jpg
Marind-Anim men dressed for ceremony, south coast Dutch New Guinea. c 1920s.
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Indonesia (southern coast of Papua)
Marind family within the Trans–New Guinea phylum of Papuan languages, Indonesian language
Christianity (predominantly), indigenous beliefs
Related ethnic groups
Indigenous Papuan peoples of West Papua and Papua New Guinea, other Melanesians


The Marind- anim live in Papua province of Indonesia. They occupy a vast territory, which is situated on either side of the Bian, from about 20 miles to the east of Merauke up the mouth of the Moeli in the west (between Frederik Hendrik Island and the mainland, east of Yos Sudarso Island, mainly west of Maro River (a small area goes beyond Maro at its lower part, including Merauke).[2]

A map showing New Guinea language groups. The Marind-speaking area is highlighted in red.


The territory of the Marind tribe consist of a low-lying, deposited coastal area. This area is for the most part flooded in the wet season. The hinterland, which is situated somewhat higher is intersected by a great number of rivers. Originally, either sago or coconut palm trees were planted, though stretches of bamboo could also be found.


Traditionally the social structure of the Marind was characterised by a clan system. Marind-tribe was divided into moitiesm, each consisting of patrilineal clans (boans). These clans are subdivided into subclans (also boans).

The people lived spread in several extended families. Such an extended family derives its origin from a mythological ancestor. Ancestor veneration has a characteristic form here: these mythological ancestors are demon-like figures, they feature in myths, and act as culture heroes, arranging the ancient world to its recent state, introducing plants, animals, cultural goods.[3] They have often the form of plants or animals; there is a kind of totemism, but it is not accompanied by a regular food taboo of the respective animal or plant.[4] Totems can appear both in artefacts[5] and myths.[6]

The word for such an ancestral spirit being is dema in the Marind languages. The material similarity of this word to “demon” is incidental. Each extended family keeps and transfers the tradition, it is especially the chore of the big men of the respective family. The influence of these big men does not go beyond their extended family.[3]

In the past, the Marind were famed because of headhunting.[7] This was rooted in their belief system and linked to the name-giving of the newborn.[8] The skull was believed to contain a mana-like force.[9][10]

From the 1870s to around 1910, the Boigu, Dauan and Saibai people, along with the neighbouring Papuan peoples, were being harassed by thugeral "warriors" from the Marind-anim. In literature dealing with the period, these people are generally termed 'Tuger' or 'Tugeri'.

The Marind-anim are also notable for their sexual culture. Ritual intercourse (otiv-bombari) with women would take place on the day of a girl's wedding, when after the ceremony she would have sex with her new partner's male kin before having sex with her husband. This ritualistic intercourse would take place during other times as well, such as after the woman has given birth.[11]

Marind culture was researched by several ethnologists and missionaries. For example, the Swiss Paul Wirz, the German Hans Nevermann,[12] and the Dutch cultural anthropologist Jan van Baal, who was the Governor of Netherlands New Guinea from 1953 until 1958.[13]

The Marind languages form a small family of the Trans–New Guinea language phylum.[14]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "Marind in Indonesia". Joshua Project. Retrieved 2014-09-18.
  2. ^ Nevermann 1957: 225
  3. ^ a b Nevermann 1957: 12
  4. ^ Nevermann 1957: 13
  5. ^ Unknown photographer 1920s (see postcard image online)
  6. ^ Nevermann 1957: 86, 202/note 108 (= Die Taube und die Enten)
  7. ^ Nevermann 1957: 9
  8. ^ Nevermann 1957: 111
  9. ^ Nevermann 1957: blurb
  10. ^ Nevermann 1957: 112
  11. ^ Keesing, Roger M. & Strathern, Andrew J. (1998), Cultural Anthropology: A Contemporary Perspective, 3rd. edition, p. 120
  12. ^ Nevermann 1957: 7
  13. ^ Van Baal 1966. A comprehensive standard work on Marind-anim culture.
  14. ^ Baal 2007: Marind-anim, Orientation (see online)


  • Van Baal, Jan (1966). Dema. Description and Analysis of Marind-Anim Culture (South New Guinea). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
  • Van Baal, Jan (2007). "Marind-anim". World Culture Encyclopedia. Advameg Inc.
  • Corbey, Raymond (2010). Headhunters from the swamps: The Marind Anim of New Guinea as seen by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, 1905-1925. Leiden: KITLV Press and Zwartenkot Art Books.
  • Nevermann, Hans (1957). Söhne des tötenden Vaters. Dämonen- und Kopfjägergeschichten aus Neu-Guinea. Das Gesicht der Völker (in German). Eisenach • Kassel: Erich Röth-Verlag. The title means Sons of the killing father. Stories about demons and headhunting, recorded in New Guinea.
  • Unknown photographer (1920s). "Marind-Anim men dressed for ceremony, south coast Dutch New Guinea". Old photographs (postcard). Oceania Ethnographica. A fabulous image of warriors with their drums; the man on the left holds an extremely rare type of carved wooden fish totem.

External linksEdit