Buah Merah and Papuan People (1)
Mathelda Kurniaty Roreng, S.TP, M.Si1 and Toshiaki Nishigaki, Ph.D2
1) Head, Agricultural Technology Laboratory
Faculty of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology, University of Papua, Indonesia
2) Consultant, M&K Laboratories Inc., Japan
Special Researcher, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Shinshu University, Japan
What are Papuan People?
It is said that presently living human race, Homo sapiens was born approximately 200,000 years ago in Africa.
Some groups passed along the shores of Indian Ocean and arrived at South East Asia around 60,000 years ago.
Some groups of Africans forwarded to north from Sunda continent and about 10,000 years ago they arrived at the edge of South America passing through Beringia (Bering strait without glaciers) and North America.
Along with global warming and rising the sea levels, the continents of Sunda and Saful disappeared and the present geographic terrains were formed before 10,000 years.
Thus, the present native Papuan people, classified as Australo-Melanesian with language of Non-Austronesia, often called Papuan, have been inhabiting in Papua island for at least 50,000 years (1, 2,).
In Papua, four broad categories of ecological environment can be recognized: swampy areas, coastal lowland, foothills and small valleys, and highlands.
This article focuses on people in the highlands in conjunction with Buah Merah (meaning red fruit).
Some families of the immigrants after landing on Papua island moved up to the highland areas, at more than 1,500m from sea level, possibly to avoid deadly disease Malaria, at least 32,000 years ago.
Buah Merah is a common food of the highlanders
One of the reasons why huge number of people could survive was their farming skill of sweet potato introduced 500 years ago.
Taxonomy of Buah Merah plant is as follow;
English Name: Red Fruit
Buah Merah is the name of Indonesian language, meaning Red (Merah) Fruit (Buah).
Buah Merah, Pandanus conoideus with fruits in Baliem valley
A big longitudinal fruit is around 1 m in length, 20~30 cm in diameter and 10 kg in weight.
Buah Merah fruits with a boy
Cut surface of Buh Merah
Surface of Buah Merah fruit
There are some varieties in Buah Merah inclusive of short-, medium- or long-sized ones.
In the highland of Baliem valley, the local Papuans cultivate and utilize the most economical and nutritious long-sized fruits.
The highland people collect Buah Merah fruit whenever the fruit is matured.
The Buah Merah fruits are cooked in their traditional way to make Pasta source.
The Pasta is ingested with steamed and/or roasted sweet potato, taro or vegetables.
In Bakar Batu, the heated stones are placed between each food material and they are not directly attached to the food materials by putting glasses between the stones and food materials.
After the flesh of Buah Merah fruit is heated with hot stones, it is separated from underlying fibrous layer and then water is put in the flesh.
The Pasta is used as source for cooked meat, potatoes and vegetables.
Mathelda Kurniaty Roreng, S.TP, M.Si
Toshiaki Nishigaki, Ph.D, Pharmacist
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