More: Arapesh, Ari, Banaro, Baruya, Binim-Kukusmin, Busama, Darabi, Dobu Isl., Eipo, Etoro, Foi, Gebusi, Huli, Jaquai, Kaluli, Keraki, Kewa, Kimam, Kiwai, Koko, Kwoma, Lesu, Manus, Marind Anim, New Britain, New Ireland, Normanby Islanders, Paiela, “Sambia”, Trobrianders, Vanatinai, Wogeo





Heider (1972:p182; 1976:p183)[1] states that the Dani say that “a couple do [sic] not begin to have sexual intercourse until a specific ceremony is held, two years after the major wedding exchange ceremony and thus two years after the couple has established a common residence”. Heider (1976:p194) performed systematic observations, including audio- and videotaping, on mother-infant dyads in two Dani regions. “Although we have not yet analysed the data, it became obvious to us during the observations that although we were seeing on the Western Dani an expectable amount of mothers erotically manipulating their infants, there was virtually none of this among the Grand Valley Dani”. The penis gourd is worn from the age of six. Boy’s initiation rites are void of sexual reference, but teenage songs, drawings and string figures forms “one of the few areas of Dani life where there is any significant level of sexuality” (1976:p194-5; 1970:181-4, 205, 305-9)[2].


O’Brien (1969:p331-2)[3]:


“Men, women, and children were always willing t o discuss most questions concerning sex and often expressed curiosity about American sexual customs. Children are not naive or uninformed about sex, and are aware of many of the terms and gestures referring to sexual intercourse by the time they are five or six years old. They are also well aware of the causal relationship between intercourse and pregnancy. Joking is common among persona of all ages. […] Another example of sexual Wing occurred at a feast, when a mother laughingly teased her four-year-old daughter who was partially sitting on a piece of pork, saying, ‘your vulva is touching the Pig’. Children especially are fond of teasingly accusing each other of irregular behavior such as sexual intercourse with animals. [...] when discussing intercourse with a small mixed group of adolescents and adults which included a married couple and a boy about eight years old, a married man suggested that the young boy should leave and that the subject should not really be discussed in mixed company. Laughter and joking greeted his remarks; the young boy remained and the discussion continued”


Sexual intercourse often begun before menarche and is thought to cause menstruation (p343-4).



Studying the Baliem Valley Dani, Irian Jaya, Butt (1998)[4] found that “[…] girls should marry at a sufficiently mature age ("when her breasts are like papayas," said one informant)”.









Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology, Berlin

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Heider, K. G. (1972) The Grand Valley Dani pig feast: a ritual of passage and intensification, Oceania 42:169-87; Heider, K. G. (1976) Dani sexuality: a low energy system, Man, New Series 11,2:188-201

[2] Heider, K. G. (1970) The Dugum Dani. Chicago: Aldine

[3] O’Brien, D. (1969) The Economics of Dani Marriage: An Analysis of Marriage Payments in a HighlandNew Guinea Society. PhD Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, YaleUniversity []

[4] Butt, L. (1998) The Social And Political Life Of Infants Among The BaliemValley Dani, Irian Jaya. A Thesis Submitted To The Faculty Of Graduate Studies And Research In Partial Fulfilment Of The Requirements Of The Degree Of Doctor Of Philosophy, Department Of Anthropology, McgillUniversity, Montreal