Huli FAQ

Where do the Huli people live?

A map of Papua New Guinea highlighting the land of the Huli.

The Huli live in the Hela Province of Papua New Guinea in Melanesia — right above Australia.

How long have they lived in Papua New Guinea?

Some anthropologists now believe the Huli have lived in the Hela Province of Papua New Guinea for thousands of years.

What do Huli men and women look like?

The Huli people are short, stocky and muscular people with varying shades of brown skin, coarse, tightly bound black hair and brown eyes. There is also a small percentage of red heads with very light brown skin.

Are Huli men really warriors?

Yes. In the not-too-distant past, the Huli were fierce warriors. Now they are forbidden to carry their bows and arrows on roads and at public places. They no longer receive a traditional education that once taught them how to hunt wildlife and enemies.

What do the Huli wear?

Check out the blog pictures and read about traditional dress in the “Natural World of the Huli” page. See the initiation page for a description of typical dress for the initiation rite and bachelors.

Does the traditional Huli man believe in a heaven and hell?

There is a celestial abode for warriors who died in battle and neutral persons called Dalugeli. Bad people go to Humbinianda which is below the earth and a not-so-nice place. These two Huli abodes are similar to the Viking Valhalla and Hel and the Christian Heaven and Hell.

Is it true that men and women do not live together?

Yes. Huli men have a fear of menstrual blood and vaginal secretions; do not touch women or anything handled by a woman. This taboo is in rapid decline.

Do the Huli clans have chiefs?

Leaders are not called Chiefs, but are called “big-men”. They are usually the richest and most knowledgeable person in the clan besides ritual specialists. They are shown great respect.

Do the Huli really practice sorcery?

In times past, every clan had its own sorcerer who would perform rituals to affect humans in a good or bad way. The Christian catechist and clergy have replaced many of the sorcerers. The practice of sorcery still exists.

Why are men afraid of women?

The Huli believe that the goddess Honabe created everything — pigs, birds, possums, fire, bows and arrows — everything from her powerful menstrual blood. So, women are powerful because they share Honabe’s fecund blood. Men fear them lest their skin dry up, their genitals fall off, and they go insane.

What do the Huli people eat?

The ancient traditional food was taro. About 1,200 years ago the Huli changed to eating sweet potatoes. The main source of protein was pigs. Nowadays, the Huli also eat fish and rice, chickens, and other foods introduced by outsiders.

Who is the main god in the Huli pantheon of deities?

The giant god Datagaliwabe is the most powerful god who punishes people who break moral taboos. Early missionaries considered him to be Yahweh and used his name for “god.” Now god is spelled Ngode.

Does the traditional Huli person smoke tobacco and drink alcohol?

Huli men enjoy a native tobacco which they smoke in bamboo pipes. The only traditional beverage for the Huli is water.

Do the Huli have initiation rituals?

Yes. The initiation rites are amazing — as well as the bachelor cult. However, they are seldom performed now. You can read about them in the “initiation” and “bachelor cult” pages.

If men and women don’t interact, when do they have sex?

The Huli may only have sex on certain days each month due to the female menstrual cycle. and other beliefs about women and their potency. Traditionally, they have sex in the garden. This is changing since the advent of the colonizers and missionaries.