A folktale from Sentani, Jayapura, retold by Celly Akwan
Who created the first human beings? Nobody knows. People only remember from their oral tradition that the first human beings were a father and his two children, a brother and a sister. Nothing was mentioned about their names and who the mother of the children was and also what her name was. The three human beings emerged from Dafonsoro or Dabonsolo, a small mountain range as high as 2.160 meters north of Sentani Lake and west of Jayapura.
The red arrow shows a map of Sentani Lake, with Cyclop Mountains in the north. This name used during the Dutch period in Dutch New Guinea was given by Louis de Bouganville (1729-1811), a French admiral and explorer who, while saaling along the north coast of New Guinea, saw for the first time the massive, rugged mountains that reminded him of the Cyclops, the one-eyed giant from ancient Greek mythology. The Sentani natives call the mountain ranges Dafonsoro or Dabonsolo.
The children lived together with their father. When they got old enough, the brother married his sister!
Marriage between siblings is not customary among the Sentani people. The rule held for generations is marriage outside the family. So, why did the siblings marry? There must have been no other clans to choose their spouses from for their marriages. Or both siblings loved one another so much that they preferred to marry inside their family. Nobody knows for sure why they married.
Then, their father suddenly died. The couple missed their father very much and so gave him a proper burial. Without their father, the young couple had to continue their life. They were not sure what their future would hold for them and were not prepared for it. Had their father still been alive, he would have guided them with his experience and wisdom before they were able to manage their own life.
“How I wish him to be with us now!” said the daughter with a sigh.
“I also do,” added the brother.
The next day, they were surprised to witness their wishes coming true. They could not believe their eyes, but they really saw their father walk towards them. Just in front of their eyes, what they had thought was impossible became real: their father was alive and well. He had risen from the dead!
So happy were they that they cried out: “Father.” Their father smiled and embraced them.
Despite this fact, the children still did not grasp the mystery of the resurrection of their father. The time he was still with them before he died, he told them about life without death that had existed in the past. That eternal life created by their ancestral god had disappeared because of human folly. Nevertheless, he had known and mastered the secret of eternal life, including its language; as a result, he could rise from the dead.
It was supernatural power given to him on one condition. He would lose it if he did not pass it on to other people.
His children did not know and possess the secret of eternal life and also master its language. This mystery was beyond their grasp and so was not of great interest to them. It was beyond their imaginations.
Their father who failed to inherit that secret to his children was very sad. That secret would disappear forever if he died again. He did not want it to disappear forever; he wanted to inherit in to other human beings so that they could learn its secret and master it for their future life.
But the only people living there included him and his two children. He had tried to find other people farther away, but he had not met anyone yet.
In his deep concern of his inability to share the secret of eternal life with other people, he got an idea. What if that secret was revealed to other living creatures? That secret would be learned by people living after him and his two children and applied to themselves. In such a way, they would inherit the secret.
So, the father tried to share the secret of eternal life with animals. He then revealed it to snakes and spiders and other animals.
The secret is now seen in the ability of these animals to cast off their old skin, like snakes, and get new skin. It can also be seen in the ability to metamorphose from caterpillars into colorful butterflies.
But his sharing of the secret led to an unforeseen curse. During his transfer of the secret to the animals, he unwittingly forgot the supernatural instruction that the secret could also be shared among people and, as a result, lost it. He had to die again.
After some time, he died and the secret of eternal life went with him into his grave.
Today, this secret remains as a symbol in animals and other living beings that are able to shed off their old skin and become new-born again. These living beings are also the symbols for the state of bliss, the Utopia in the future.