For peoples of the Dani tribe, finger cutting, or Ikipalin, was a typical mourning practice. Located in a remote area of Papua, New Guinea, that is only accessible by plane, the Dani had their own unique way of dealing with and expressing grief. As a physical way to manifest the emotional pain of losing a loved one, the Dani removed a portion of a finger when someone close to them died. The custom was primarily followed by women, but older men sometimes participated as well. Although the practice was declared illegal and is no longer practiced by the Dani, evidence of the custom can be seen on older women from the tribe, many of whom are missing multiple portions of their fingers. The more loss a woman experienced, the more she lost of herself.
Why did the Dani cut their fingers? What purpose did it serve? Scroll down to learn more about this intriguing custom.