Korowai tree house

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Korowai tree house

The Korowai live deep in the rainforests and, according to the tourist brochures, practice cannibalism even nowadays. According to the anthropologists, however, they are now fishermen, hunters, and farmers. They build treehouses in the boughs of trees, which are typically 8-25 meters high, but which can attain a height of 50 meters, to protect themselves from floods, mosquitoes, wild animals, fire and attacks by enemy tribes, as well as from the evil spirits which swarm the surface of the earth. They do not form large settlements but live in groups of five or six families living near each other above the lands which they cultivate. The treehouses are divided into two or three rectangular areas, where the males and females of the 6-8 person polygamist families live separately together with their animals.

The Korowai measure the passage of time not in years, but in the number of treehouses they have had. This is a serviceable unit of measurement, as the huts, wreathed in the surrounding vegetation, each last about five years due to the effects of this environment on the untreated wood of their frames.

UPDATE: Although the Korowai tribes used to live in small wooden houses built on trees, they never lived at that height. In the BBC documentary, we see huts built at the request of the reporters. The channel later apologized for the fraud. The phenomenon is accurately presented in the ‘On The Spot’ episode ‘Tribes: KOROWAI’ (2013), thanks to András Takács and Eszter Cseke.