Huli Origins of Man Myth

(From Mendi Diocese Liturgical-Catechetical Commission. Legends, Mendi: Papua New Guinea. (mimeograph). circa 1956. p. 2. )

The original man came from the sky. His name was Datagaliwabe. At first a big fire covered the earth, then a flood came which quenched the fire. Datagaliwabe dried up the flood waters. When the waters receded, he formed a man from the mud. He blew on this man and life came into him. The man was called Dindipini (root of the earth).

Dindipini’s wife came from Lebani (in the Duna country). How she got there is not known, although her name, Dindipinitingi means “body of Dindipini.) They had a son whom they called Tagonimabe. When he grew into manhood he crawled up a tree. There he saw a woman hidden in a hole in the tree trunk. Suddenly a snake began to slither up the tree trunk. So Tagonimabe took the woman and climbed right to the top of the tree trunk with the snake in close pursuit. Just as the snake was about to attack, a rope appeared from the sky. Datagaliwabe pulled the two up into the sky with him. There Tagonimabe and his woman were married. Later they descended to earth somewhere in the Upper Wage Valley (Enga territory) and in time had two sons.

The first boy was called Damindini, as this meant born black. The second son was called Tahonane, meaning born white. The first boy was nursed at his mother’s breast, but when the second son was born, Datagaliwabe came down from the sky and fed him with his special milk. Therefore, Tahonane grew quickly and left the area. Because he had white skin the people said he will never die.

After this, the father Togonimabe went to the forest east of Tigibi and died there (Obebe territory). His bones still lie there now. Then the mother, Tia-angibuna (mother possum) and her first born Damindini left Wage and came over the mountains, through Hoiebia down through the Tari and into Bosavi (Duga Territory).  There they both stayed. Damindini married a Bosavi girl called Pebando and they returned to Tari settling by the pine forest east of Kupari. Damindini and Pebando were now the sole humans living in the Tari basin. They had a son called Tilali (man of short stature.)