Iki Palek: Potong Jari Simbol Kehilangan dan Cinta

Perempuan paruh baya itu menarik perhatian saat saya berkunjung ke pasar Wamena, Papua, 2008 silam. Sebatang rokok terselip diantara ruas jari tangan kirinya. Saya mendekat untuk memastikan. Di sela-sela hembusan asap rokoknya, saya melihat kelima ruas jarinya terpotong! 

Memotong ruas jari adalah tradisi yang dilakukan suku Dani di Papua saat anggota keluarga meninggal. Tradisi ini dikenal dengan sebutan Iki Palek. Jumlah ruas jari yang dipotong menggambarkan jumlah anggota keluarga yang meninggal. Pemotongan jari dilakukan menggunakan parang, benda tajam lainnya atau dengan cara menggigit hingga putus. 

Mengapa harus jari? 

Jari-jemari dimaknai sebagai sebuah satu kesatuan tim untuk mengerjakan berbagai pekerjaan. Jika salah satunya terluka atau patah, maka fungsinya pun akan berkurang. Demikian juga keluarga, jika salah satu anggota meninggal suku Dani melihat berkurangnya salah satu fungsi yang menggerakan kehidupan keluarga itu. Sebagai simbol kehilangan, maka perempuan Dani akan memotong ruas jari mereka. 

“Sakit, sulit, tapi lebih sakit dan sedih tidak lagi bersama mereka,” adalah jawaban si mama saat saya tanya bagaimana menjalani hari-hari dan pekerjaan dengan ruas jari tangan kanan dan kiri terpotong. Binar matanya menunjukkan rindu pada setiap anggota keluarga saat dia menunjuk tiap ruas jari yang telah direlakan. 

Tradisi Iki Palek tidak lagi dipraktekkan seiring perkembangan ilmu pengetahuan dan masuknya agama. Namun, kamu pasti akan melihat perempuan-perempuan yang sudah berumur dengan ruas jari terpotong. 

Wamena, Oktober 2008

***

Iki Palek, Finger Cutting As a Symbol of Loss and Love

This middle-aged woman caught my eye when we visited a local market in Wamena, Papua, in 2008. A cigarette was tuck between her left fingers. I walked over to her to confirm my assumptions. There, amidst the cigarette smoke, I saw that all five of her left fingers were cut off!

Dani women in Papua cut their finger off when a family member died. This tradition is commonly called Iki Palek. The number of fingers cut off indicates the number of family members who died. The Dany tribe uses sharp objects or their teeth to cut fingers.

Why finger?

The fingers are defined as a team unit to bring something and get work done. If one of them is injured or cut off, it becomes less functional. That’s how Dani looks at family. The death of a family member means the loss of a part of the whole unit that drives the whole movement and purpose of the family. As a symbol of loss and love, Dani women will cut off their fingers.

“It was painful and difficult, but not as painful and difficult as not being with them anymore,” she replied when I asked how she lived her everyday life without fingers. Her eyes reflected the longing of her loved ones as she pointed at each finger.

The Iki Palek tradition is no longer practiced along with the development of science and the adoption of religion as new beliefs. However, you will definitely see old women with such fingers among the villagers.

Wamena, October 2008.

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