Folktales from Papua with Moral Lessons

Every place has its own story. Papua, is no exception. This magnificent heaven on earth with its amazing natural beauty is bound to have a rich folktales. The Papuan folktales have been religiously passed down from one generation to another. Besides being used to amuse children, it also contains a lot of moral messages. It might be interesting to see these folktales as an inspiration for Disney movies.

Here are 3 Papuan folktales which contain moral messages:

The Maruwai River


Papuan Folktales with Morals
Maruwai river illustration via

This folktale is about a strong man named Maruwai who was a very good hunter with his bow and arrow made from Cassowary bone. Once, the village where he lived had a terrible drought. He asked his parents to go in order to find water. Unfortunately he couldn’t find water nor rain. Thus, he went to his neighbor’s house Bodofon to ask for help.

His friend took him to a giant waterfall and gave him an Upih bowl (made from areca nut leaves) to collect the water. Bodofon gave him one condition before he went home. He shall not put the bowl carelessly but he didn’t tell Maruwai of the consequences. Maruwai agreed to obey the condition. Unfortunately, along the way home he couldn’t resist to hunt a big wild boar and put the upih carelessly on the ground. When he went back to the upih, he realized that the water has become a river. Thus, the river named Maruwai River.

The moral of the story is, one should keep their promise. It shall ensure the success and their journey in life in the future.

The Magical Crocodile


Papuan Folktales with Morals
Crocodile via

This folktale is a story about a man named Towjatuwa that has a wife who will soon give birth. When his wife was about to gave birth, he brought her to a midwife in his village. The midwife said that she needed a sharp rock to operate his wife since she couldn’t deliver the baby normally. Afterwards, he went to the Tami river to find the sharp rock. When he was busy looking for the rock, he heard a voice behind him. He was surprised when he saw a giant crocodile was staring at him with his sharp teeth. When he was about to run away, surprisingly the crocodile greeted him.

The giant crocodile introduced himself as Watuwe. He asked what Towjatuwa is looking for in the river. Towjatuwa told the giant crocodile his story. The crocodile then promised to help to deliver his baby. On the day of the labor, the crocodile helped his wife. The healthy baby boy was born and being named as Narrowa.

Later on, the crocodile told him that the baby boy will grow as a great hunter and asked Towjatuwa to remember one important thing. It is forbidden for his son to kill or eat crocodile as he was helped by a crocodile. Towjatuwa agreed. Years later, his son and his descendants have fulfilled the agreement and protect all the crocodiles in Tami river.

The moral of the story is, return the favor to the people who are kind to you. If you are not able to give the favor back, just remember the good deed.

The Patient Spider


Papuan Folktales with Morals
Spider in web via

Once, there was a spider who lived on the outskirts of the woods. It was spinning the web carefully and thoroughly to build a nest. It builds the web patiently so it looks nice when the sunshine shone and create a beautiful array of colors that can be seen by insects.

Day by day the spider was waiting patiently for an insect to get entangled in the web. One day, a butterfly passed by but it was not entangled by the web. So, the spider wait for the next insects.

After a few days, a dragonfly got entangled on the web. The spider was very happy about it. The spider then injected the poison to the dragonfly and covered it with the web. Suddenly a black crow hit the nest and caused the dragonfly to fall. Unfortunately, when it fell, a colony of ants brought it away.

After the nest is broken for several times, the spider would make a new nest and wait for the next prey patiently. Finally, after a few days, there was a moth caught in the web and he can eat it joyfully.

The moral of the story is patience can bring a good fortune in the future. So be patient.


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