Author: Fitri Kurniasari Editor: Veronica Widyastuti Illustrator: Maman Mantox Translator: Ratih Soe Proofreader: Sari Nursita Origin: Papua

The residents of Mimika, Papua were busy preparing the tools to get sago.  They put a boat on the riverbank. They brought axes, mattocks, and sufficient food and drink supplies. The journey they were about to make could take three days. Once ready, the residents sailed on the boat across the great river.

“Let’s dock here. There are a lot of sago trees!“ shouted an old man.

Everybody agreed. After unloading all the tools, the men began to cut down the sago trees with their axes, while the women prepared the containers. After the sago trees collapsed, the people removed and scraped the bark, then squeezed the heart of sago to get the starch. Next, the sago starch was shaped into balls as big as a tennis ball, or into long cylinders like a rice cake. Finally, the shaped sago starches were placed in a wicker basket called tumang. After the work was done, the residents returned to the boat and headed home.

On their way home, a dragon suddenly appeared and attacked them. With a flick of its tail, the dragon destroyed the boat into pieces. All the passengers fell out of the boat and drowned. Surprisingly, a pregnant woman named Oku managed to cling onto a piece of plank. Oku survived the crash and reached the river bank. Worried that the dragon would run after her, she ran into the woods. While she was in the forest, she only ate young leaves and tubers.

After three months of living in the jungle, Oku gave birth to a baby boy. She fought and struggled to give birth alone in the woods. She named him Biwar.

Biwar grew into a handsome and strong young man. Oku taught him archery, fishing, making fire, and playing tifa—a kind of drums. On one sunny morning, Biwar trotted towards his small hut.

“Mom, I brought a lot of big fishes,” cried Biwar.

Oku came out in haste. “Gee, how big they are.  Where did you catch them?”

“I went fishing in the deep river, farther than where I usually fish. It has great scenery, Mom, “ answered Biwar.

“Didn’t I tell you not to fish in the river? It’s very dangerous, Biwar,“ said Oku.

“Why?” asked Biwar cluelessly.

Then Oku told him how the dragon’s attack made her stranded in the forest.

“I’ll fight the dragon, Mom, so it won’t bother you anymore,” said Biwar.

“No, son. It’s really dangerous!“ said Oku.

But Biwar would not listen to his mother. He was determined to seek the dragon.

On the banks of the river Biwar saw a cave. He was sure the dragon was there. When he got near the cave, Biwar played his tifa.

The sound of tifa attracted the attention of the dragon. It came out of the cave.

“Who are you, young man?” asked the dragon.

“I am Biwar, the son of a resident whose boat you once destroyed,” said Biwar aloud.

“Ha ha ha! I don’t like it when a boat passes in my area. This is my domain. Do you not fear me, Biwar?“ The dragon sneered.

“Why should I be afraid? You did wrong by attacking the Mimika residents without reason. I challenge you to run a race. If you lose, you must promise not to interfere with the passing boats again!“ exclaimed Biwar.

The dragon paused. It stared at Biwar. The dragon did not believe an inexperienced young man could beat him.

“Alright,” replied the dragon. It was convinced that Biwar would lose.

So they raced. Biwar, who was very nimble and agile, managed to sprint ahead of the dragon. He navigated through the broad forest in no time. Meanwhile the dragon’s enormous body made it impossible to pursue Biwar. The dragon was far behind.

“Boo-hoo, I lost. You’re so clever and brave, Biwar. Very well. From now on I promise not to interfere with the passing boats again,“ said the dragon.

Since then, the dragon had become friends with Biwar. He had never disturbed the passing boats ever since.

Biwar went home and told her mother everything. Oku was glad because his son could beat the dragon and survived. Eventually they both returned home using a boat that Biwar built. They crossed the river safely because the dragon did not disturb the passing ships anymore.

When they arrived at the village, Biwar and Oku were warmly welcomed. The Mimika residents threw a party to celebrate Biwar’s success to convice the dragon to stop bothering them. Now they were free to cross the river. Biwar was a bold man indeed!


tifa: traditional Papuan drums

This post is also available in Bahasa Indonesia.

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3 Responses so far.

  1. Sari Nursita says:

    I like this story! Our teenagers should follow Biwar’s example 😀 😀
    My favorite part:
    “I’ll fight the dragon, Mom, so it won’t bother you anymore,” said Biwar.
    *swoon* we need more heroes like you, Biwar 😀

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