Before They - Photography Project by Jimmy Nelson


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South of the Jayawijaya mountain range of Papua Indonesia lies a large area of lowland. The area accommodates a myriad of rivers forming swamps, wetlands and mangrove forests. It’s the habitat of the Korowai, an indigenous culture that until the early 1970s, believed that they were the only humans on earth.
“If the hand does nothing, the mouth does not chew”
The Korowai are one of the few Papuan indigenous peoples that do not wear the Koteka, a penis gourd. Instead, the men ‘hide’ their penises in their scrotums, to which a leaf is then tightly tied. They are hunter-gatherers, living in tree houses. They adhere to strict separatism between men and women.
Indonesia + Papua New GuineaGo to journey ›
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"We were often met with a great deal of scepticism about out intentions."

- Jimmy Nelson

Mabul Village, Dekai region, Southern Papua

August 2010

Both Dani and Yali build round or oval huts made out of straw and wood, with thick thatched roofs. Dani and Yali men, women and children sleep
separately in different huts (honai). While the Korowai live in tree houses, they also adhere to strict separatism between men and women.