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Alfur people

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Title: Alfur people  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Nuaulu, Alune people, Seram Island, Ethnic groups in Indonesia, Wemale people
Collection: Ethnic Groups in Indonesia, Headhunting, Indigenous Peoples of Southeast Asia, Malay Culture, Seram Island
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Alfur people

Alfu people
Alifuru / Alfuros / Alfures / Alifuru / Horaforas
Alfur people, most likely Alune people, in the mountains of Seram.
Regions with significant populations
Melanesia (regions of former State of East Indonesia in present day Indonesia), Micronesia
Animism, Dynamism (metaphysics), Totemism, Folk religion
Related ethnic groups
Alune people, Moluccans, Melanesians

Alfur, Alfurs, Alfuros, Alfures, Alifuru or Horaforas (in Dutch, Alfoeren) people is a broad term recorded at the time of the Portuguese seaborne empire to refer all the non-Muslim, non-Christian peoples living in inaccessible areas of the interior in the eastern portion of Maritime Southeast Asia.[1]


  • Etymology 1
    • Present-day use 1.1
  • Culture 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Note 5
  • External links 6


Plantation workers in Halmahera carrying the funnel-shaped baskets favored by Alfur people to collect forest products.

Several origins for the term Alfur have been proposed, including from Spanish, Portuguese, and even Arabic.[2] The most likely hypothesis however is that it originated from Tidorese halefuru, a compound composed of the stems hale "land" and furu "wild, savage".[3] From Tidore it was adopted and used by Malay traders and the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch adventurers and colonists who came to the Spice Islands.

The term referred to certain lands and their inhabitants that were considered "wild", "untamed" or "pagan", particularly in regions that fell under the influence of Tidore and neighboring Ternate. The term was thus especially used of peoples in the Maluku Islands (Halmahera, Seram, and Buru among others) and nearby areas of northern and central Sulawesi. Until the 1900s even Papuans were also often called "Alfur".[4] In 1879 Van Musschenbroek, former Resident of Menado, described the use of the term in the following way:

"The general native criterion whether one still is [or is no longer] an Alfur lies in the laying aside of heathenism through the adoption of a monotheistic religion, be it Christianity or Islam. There are thus Alfurs among the most diverse races, both among the Melanesian inhabitants of New Guinea and the true Polynesians of Ceram (actually Serang), as well as among the (Micro?)-nesian Sangirese and the Malayo-Polynesian inhabitants of Celebes."[5]

As with the so-called

  • Robert Gordon Latham, On the Pagan (Non-Mahometan) Populations of the Indian Archipelago
  • Alifuru Consciousness Video

External links



  1. ^ Chris Ballard: 'Oceanic Negroes': British anthropology of Papuans, 1820–1869. In: Bronwen Douglas, Chris Ballard (Hrsg.): Foreign Bodies: Oceania and the Science of Race 1750–1940. ANU E Press, Canberra 2008, page 184
  2. ^ A. B. Meyer, Über die Namen Papua, Dajak und Alfuren In Commission bei Carl Gerold's Sohn, Wien, 1882
  3. ^ M. J. van Baarda Woordenlijst. Galelareesch-Hollandsche. Met ethnologische aanteekeningen, op de woorden, die daartoe aanleiding gaven Martinus Nijhoff, `s-Gravenhage, 1895.
  4. ^ De Papoea; What's in a name?Anton Ploeg.
  5. ^ S. C. J. W. van Musschenbroek (compiler). "Toelichtingen, behoorende bij de kaart van de bocht van Tomini of Gorontalo en aangrenzende landen,de reeden, afvoerplaatsen, binnenlandsche wegen en andere middelen van gemeenschap." Tijdschrift van het Aardrijkskundig Genootschap vol. 4 (1880), page 94, note 1.
  6. ^ Georg Friederici, Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse einer amtlichen Forschungsreise nach dem Bismarck-Archipel im Jahre 1908. Beiträge zur Völker und Sprachenkunde von Deutsch-Neuguinea. Mitteilungen aus den Deutschen Schutzgebieten. Mittler und Sohn. Berlin, 1912.
  7. ^ The Sultan's CrownMaurine Shimlock & Burt Jones,
  8. ^ Kal Muller, Spice Islands; The Moluccas, Indonesia Travel Guides. Periplus editions. Singapore 1991 ISBN 0-945971-07-9
  9. ^ Lonely Planet Indonesia, 8th edition p.762


See also

Alfur people usually have little contact with the more urbanized society of coastal towns, which includes the transmigrasi settlers.[8] The Alfur retained a custom of headhunting until the 1940s.[9]

[7] Generally these people keep their traditional


Following increased awareness and respect for indigenous peoples and their ways, the term Alfurs is used nowadays without derogatory meaning. In present-day publications like guide books "Alfur" is included as a generic name for the indigenous people living in forest areas of the larger islands of the Maluku, like Halmahera, Buru or Seram.

Present-day use


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