TEXTILE OF PAPAUA NEW GUINEA

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Papua New Guinea, officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a sovereign state in Oceania that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia, a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia. Its capital, located along its southeastern coast, is Port Moresby. The western half of New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. It is the world’s third largest island country with 462,840 km2 (178,700 sq mi).

At the national level, after being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea established its sovereignty in 1975. This followed nearly 60 years of Australian administration, which started during World War I. It became an independent Commonwealth realm in 1975 with Elizabeth II as its queen. It also became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in its own right.

Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. As of 2019, it is also the most rural, as only 13.25% of its people live in urban centres. There are 851 known languages in the country, of which 11 now have no known speakers. Most of the population of more than 8,000,000 people live in customary communities, which are as diverse as the languages. The country is one of the world’s least explored, culturally and geographically. It is known to have numerous groups of uncontacted peoples, and researchers believe there are many undiscovered species of plants and animals in the interior.

Independent State of Papua New Guinea

                       

FLAG

NATIONAL EMBLEM

Location of Papua New Guinea (green)
Capital

and largest city

Port Moresby
09°28′44″S 147°08′58″E
Official languages
  • English
  • Hiri Motu
  • PNG Sign Language
  • Tok Pisin
Indigenous languages851 languages
Ethnic groups
  • Papuan
Religion 

 

  • 95.5% Christianity
  • —64.3% Protestantism
  • —26.0% Catholicism
  • —5.2% Other Christian
  • 3.1% Unspecified
  • 1.4% Others/None
Demonym(s)Papua New Guinean
LegislatureNational Parliament
Independence 

from Australia

• Papua and New Guinea Act 19491 July 1949
• Declared and recognised16 September 1975
Area
• Total462,840 km2 (178,700 sq mi) (54th)
• Water (%)2
Population
• 2020 estimate8,935,000 (98th)
• 2011 census7,275,324
• Density15/km2 (38.8/sq mi) (201st)
CurrencyPapua New Guinean kina (PGK)
Time zone

UTC+10, +11 (AEST)

CULTURE

It is estimated that more than one thousand cultural groups exist in Papua New Guinea. Because of this diversity, many styles of cultural expression have emerged. Each group has created its own expressive forms in art, dance, weaponry, costumes, singing, music, architecture and much more. Most of these cultural groups have their own language. People typically live in villages that rely on subsistence farming. In some areas people hunt and collect wild plants (such as yam roots and karuka) to supplement their diets. Those who become skilled at hunting, farming and fishing earn a great deal of respect.

Seashells are no longer the currency of Papua New Guinea, as they were in some regions—sea shells were abolished as currency in 1933. This tradition is still present in local customs. In some cultures, to get a bride, a groom must bring a certain number of golden-edged clam shells as a bride price. In other regions, the bride price is paid in lengths of shell money, pigs, cassowaries or cash. Elsewhere, it is brides who traditionally pay a dowry.

People of the highlands engage in colourful local rituals that are called “sing sings”. They paint themselves and dress up with feathers, pearls and animal skins to represent birds, trees or mountain spirits. Sometimes an important event, such as a legendary battle, is enacted at such a musical festival.

The country possesses one UNESCO World Heritage site, the Kuk Early Agricultural Site, which was inscribed in 2008. The country, however, has no elements inscribed yet in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, despite having one of the widest array of intangible cultural heritage elements in the world.

TEXTILES OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA

BILUM

The name Bilum comes from a term for womb and they are still used to carry babies. However, they are not just for small children, bilums are used for precious belongings, food, harvested materials and firewood. Traditionally they were made from the bark of a particular tree. Strips of bark would be twisted round with rope to form the bag. However nowadays more materials are used, including different yarns.

There are four primary colours used for bilum in traditional societies of Papua New Guinea: red, black, white, and yellow, which speaking of the country’s national identity since they constitute the national flag. These are traditional colours that have distinct local dialect names of indigenous communities. The colours blend into different bilum structures depending on which societies they exist. They add flavour of variations and layers in pattern designs. The colours are extracted from local plants for dying Fibres for bilum weaving. The process of colour-making remains with indigenous communities as custodians of the traditional colours concept. PNG plants naturally and wildly grow in the country’s tropical environment (on both coastal and higher altitudes) while others are nurtured. Distinct plants are used by different traditional societies. Fibres are extracted from barks of these plants.

Dye-producing plant species found in local environment vary in different traditional societies. Some of these plants like the turmeric as shown are grown in gardens and homes for easy access and usage. Extracted Fibres are sun-dried for half or whole day depending on the type of Fibre. Fibre is either hung or laid on a flat surface both methods are accepted.

Vibrant yellow colour for dying is extracted from turmeric plant. It is a common colour used for bilum and grass skirt-making. The main traditional colours are red, white, black, and yellow; supplementary colours are also used.

Colour stored Fibre is well dried and stored as Fibre storage for bilum making. They easily accessed when needed for the type of bilum the weaver intends to make. Current generation of weaver used the main colours for traditional bilum weaving.

Process of bilum making includes Fibre arrangement done to determine the type of bilum feature the weaver intends to weave. The combination of Fibre and colour determines the traditional bilum piece and the flavour.

The dried stored Fibre is specifically selected by the weaver for specific bilum type. Different Fibre texture is selected without blending to give the essence of the completed traditional bilum piece. Fibre blending is avoided.

STRUCTURE OF BILUM

The weavers carefully designed and built patterns for bilums representing their identity and culture in various traditional societies.

BILUM CATEGORIES

The continuity of bilum concept can be best pictured with the development of five bilum categories: pig, baby, garden, bilum wear, and sacred bilums pieces for different purposes. The bilum concept surrounds people’s daily life and existence. It occupies their own cultural spaces in traditional societies.

  • Pig Bilum

As diversity is one of the characteristics of PNG, the country has many local dialects that refer to the pig bilum. The elder women weave the pig bilum with strong twisted ropes so that the piglets do not easily break them and escape into the bush.

  • Baby Bilum

The elderly and married women weave baby bilum using fine small twisted ropes. They use it to carry newborn babies like safe and comfortable sleeping beds enabling them to sleep long hours of the day. They are put to sleep by swaying them to lullabies.

  • Sacred Bilum

Only elder women weave sacred bilum using fine twisted ropes. The structure of this bilum varies according to climate condition and environment setting. Variations of the bilum are determined by the features of the identities of indigenous tribes, ethnic traditions, and cultural values.

  • North Wosera Bilum

The North Wosera bilums are found among the South Abelam people scattered on the low hills of Sepik plains of Maprik, East Sepik Province. The colours and pattern in layers and variations are distinct features in the common Sepik bilum.

  • Yamuk Bilum

The Yamuk bilum is transmitted by Kapmakundi people of Wosera Gawi in East Sepik Province. It has two main features: the use of common colours and variations in patterns and designs. The Yamuk bilum occupies a distinct cultural space in the Kapmakundi society.

  • West Sepik Bilum

The West Sepik bilum is a combination of pure white pieces woven by women for various purposes. Different traditional societies of West Sepik have common features such as big bilum handles, single or double bilums, and white being the dominating choice of colour of fibre.

  • Madang Bilum

The Madang bilum represents different societies of Madang Province, which is differentiated by its structure, colours, patterns, and designs.

  • Morobe Bilum

The Morobe bilum pieces are found in different traditional societies of Morobe Province. Their features (such as colours, designs, and patterns) are very common. While they serve different purposes, they occupy a distinct cultural space in whichever traditional society that owns them.

  • Goroka Bilum

The Goroka bilum occupies the cultural spaces of pig, baby, garden, bilum wear and sacred bilums serving different purposes.

  • Simbu Bilum

For making a bilum wear and sacred bilum pieces, white fibre is twisted with cuscus fur to make the twisted ropes smooth and warm in cold climate in contrast to pig, baby, and garden bilums that are woven without cuscus fur. The Simbu bilum neither has any of the national colours nor pattern.

  • Mountain Hangen Bilum

Mountain Hagen bilum pieces are found in different traditional societies of Western Highlands Province. They have very common features in terms of colours and patterns that have distinct names in local dialects in the societies in which they are created.

  • Highlands Bilum
  1. Highlands bilum has the common features in the structure with only pure white fibre in pig, baby, garden, bilum wear and sacred bilum. They have different sizes and are weaved with no designs and patterns.
  • Rigo Bilum

Rigo bilum pieces found in Central Province have distinct local dialect names and serve different purposes. The bilum has common features such as national colours, structure, designs, and patterns.

TRIBES OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA- CULTURE AND CLOTHING

1: Baining fire-dancers

The fire dance performed by the Baining people is perhaps one of the most famous displays in PNG. The Baining people live in the mountain forests of East New Britain province, on the second-largest of PNG’s 600 islands, about an hour drive from the town of Kokopo. Their unique tradition sees young men paint their skin white and don elaborate masks with painted spiralling eyes and large lips. They wear the giant bamboo and bark masks while dancing among the flames of a roaring fire. The elaborate ritual is performed by the spirit men of the tribe and is performed to mark births and deaths. It is also said to be an initiation ceremony to welcome young men into adulthood.

2: Cult of the crocodile

The Crocodile Men of the Sepik region are famous for their intricate body patterns. These are cut into the skin to resemble the hide of a crocodile – an animal revered by people in this province as it is believed to symbolise strength, power and manhood. Young men in the tribes of the Sepik region go through a brutal initiation ceremony to mark the skin on their backs and shoulders.

The men chew betel nut, which acts as a mild stimulant, to help ease the pain during the gruelling process.

3: The Asaro mud men

 The men from PNG’s eastern highlands are known for their eerie clay masks. The grey headpieces can weigh up to 10kg and are decorated with pigs’ teeth and shells. To complete the intentionally ghoulish costume, the men extend their fingers with bamboo, creating a Freddie-Krueger-style claw.

“The Asaro Mudmen are uniquely photogenic in their otherworldly costumes,” says David McGuinness, founder and director of Travel The Unknown. “They re-enact an Asaro legend in which a small group of Asaro tribesmen and women scare away a bigger tribe by dressing up in such costumes and doing the dance they now often recreate. The larger tribe, believed that they were the dead come back to life – a sure-fire way to scare away superstitious Highland tribesmen. If you visit an Asaro village they will be happy to reenact the whole dance – with fire, chanting and clicking of those eerie claws.”

4: The Huli Wigmen

Hailing from Tari in PNG’s southern Highlands, the Huli Wigmen create spectacular headdresses from their own hair. It’s a coming-of-age tradition for boys to be sent into the forest for months at a time to grow their hair. They live in a hausman (men’s house) in the jungle with the tribe’s elders.

The spectacular wigs are decorated with feathers and ochre, and they smear their faces in yellow clay. The Huli Wigmen are a regular feature at the annual Goroka Cultural show in September.

5: Oro’s Tattooed Women

Oro province in the southern PNG is famed for its beautiful tapa cloth designs. Each clan owns the rights to their specific designs, and these intricate patterns are also emulated in the facial tattoos of women from the province.

Young women are given the tattoos when they come of age, usually between the ages of 14 and 18, and the markings signify they are ready for marriage. The craft is passed down through generations. Female elders take the girl into their care for up to two months and use a thorn to pierce the skin, dyeing the cuts with a mix of charcoal and water.

6: Chimbu Skeleton Tribe

The isolated Chimbu, or Simbu, tribe live in PNG’s Highland region and are famous for their skeleton dance. Young men paint their bodies black with white bones to resemble the dead.

Not much is known about the Chimbu tribe, who first made contact with the western world in 1934, but it is clear that their dance is intended to intimidate their enemies. The Highland region is a hotspot for flare ups of tribal disputes and individual groups adopted unique tactics to scare away rival tribes.

7: The Suli Muli dancers

Adorned with giant headdresses made of moss, and their bodies smeared in different coloured soil and clay, the Suli Muli dancers are an impressive sight. The tribe gets its name from the song lyrics to their traditional dance. They shout “suli muli” to the beat of kundu drums as they rhythmically move through the performance. Enga Province is their home, and they are often seen performing at the Enga Cultural Show, held in August each year at Wabag. Like the Huli Wigmen, their ornate headdresses can be made from human hair. But moss, plant fibres, feathers and different coloured leaves are also used to give them body and as decoration. Their black face paint and bare chests are also a key part of their traditional dress.

HING OF PAPUA NEW GUINEANS

Clothing in the pre-European period was made from plant material, including reeds (for skirts), bark (for belts), gourds and shrubs. In parts of the highlands, men covered their buttocks with Cordyline fruticosa leaves. In the western part of the highlands, women’s skirts were made from the Eleocharis dulcis reed. Traditional clothing has become uncommon, however, and has been largely replaced by second-hand clothing imported from Australia. Traditional clothing is now worn mostly for ceremonial occasions or in some remote locations by older people. Some clothing made from local plant material is sold occasionally.

NATIONAL DRESS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA

The papua new guinea national dress refers to a long dress with designs on it. it is called meri blouse in tok pisin. it has been worn for many years by papua new guinea women and has become one of their national symbol.

JEWELRY OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA

There is a huge variety of Papua New Guinea jewelry from the mainland and surrounding islands. Tribal jewelry were originally made using neolithic tools like shark teeth and obsidian. The materials were those found in nature such as shells, teeth, bone, bush fiber, feathers, stone, wood and turtle shell. As soon as Pacific Cultures came in contact with European they started to incorporate glass trade beads. Later they incorporated all sorts of other European materials.

TRADITIONAL JEWELRY

Papuan Gulf kap kap

Made of a filigree of turtle shell over a bailer shell base

Lumi pectoral Sepik region

Made from eggshell couries, nassa shells and bush fiber

New Ireland Mis terminal necklace

Made of turtle shell, glass beads, shell and dogteeth

PNG Highlands Fofona Back adornment

Made of bush fiber Eggshell cowries and nassa shells

Papuan Gulf Archers wrist guard

Made of Conus shell sections black palm and bush string

Massim Dogadoga chief’s necklace

Made of a circular pig’s tooth and spondylus shell segments

Sepik penis Gourd

Made from Carved Dwarf coconut cane and nassa shell

Admiralty Island Wedding Apron

Made of shell currency, seed pods trade beads and bush fiber

Russel island nose piece

Made of Giant Clam shell

Kula Earrings Massim Region

Made from turtle shell and spondylus shell disks

Lower Ramu Dogtooth pectoral

Ramu River Nose Piece

Made of bush fibre nassa shells bone and glass beads

Motu Pectoral Port Moresby area

Sepik Puberty Skirt

Made from Jobstears and shell segments on bush fibre

Sepik Turtle shell Armband

Tanga Island Armband from New Ireland Province

Made from a Giant clam shell

West New Britain Pig Tusk necklace

Made from a matched pair of Circular pig teeth cane and fibre

Lower Sepik kapkap adornment

Made from bailer shell turtle shell filigree and a bush fiber necklace

Headband from Collingwood Bay

TATOO

AS FAR BACK as the old men and women can remember, tattooing has been a tribal custom of the coastal peoples of Papua New Guinea. Among the Motu, Waima, Aroma, Hula, Mekeo, Mailu and other related southwestern groups, women were heavily tattooed from head to toe, while men displayed chest markings related to their exploits in the headhunt.

By World War II, however, tattooing traditions largely disappeared in Papua for a variety of reasons; headhunting was outlawed; missionaries discouraged initiation ceremonies; and tattoos associated with Hula and Motu trading voyages (lakatois) became obsolete, especially since motorboats had replaced sailboats, making these trips much less dangerous. Today, only a few groups around Port Moresby and others like the Maisin living near Collingwood Bay in southeastern Papua remain as the last coastal people to carry intricate forms of tattooing on their bodies and faces.

Tattoos were generally inked upon women in a fixed order among all coastal Papuans. Many of the tattoo motifs were passed down through the family – from mother to daughter, and sometimes from father to son. First, girls between five and seven years of age were tattooed on the backs of hands to the elbows and from the elbows to the shoulders. Girls between seven and eight were tattooed on the face and lower abdomen, the vulva and up to the navel, then the waist down to the knees and the outside of the thighs. At ten, the armpits and areas extending to the nipples were tattooed with the throat done shortly thereafter. When puberty approached, the back from the shoulders down, then the buttocks, back of the thighs and legs were marked. When ready for marriage, V-shaped designs from the neck down to the navel were tattooed. Sometimes, special tattoos could be added if the father, brother, or close relative of the girl killed another man, or if they showed prowess in fishing or trading expeditions. All of these markings were ritualistic, and in some cases erotic. If a girl did not have them, she was not acceptable for marriage.

Waima woman wearing full body tattooing, ca. 1910. Her sternum tattoo below the neck was called ‘frigate-bird,’ and the branching elements on her abdomen “centipede.” The turtle-shell motif appears on her legs above the knees, and the ‘fluttering’ or ‘flying spark’ motif represents the lines tattooed on the face. The photographer could not provide a detailed record of the tattoo patterns worn beneath the petticoat, although he doctored this and many subsequent photographs by painting over them so they would show more clearly. This was not an uncommon practice in Papua, because tattoo pigments did not show up well on dark complexions. The subject has been posed in front of a white canvas sheet to provide contrast. Motu women with back tattooing, ca. 1915. Kaiakaro designs on the spine or waist comprise an abstract ‘star’ motif like a Maltese or St. Andrews cross. The motif is related to flight and may also represent the brilliant colors of certain butterflies from the region. Gado tattoos appear on the upper shoulders and buttocks and resemble serpents slithering downwards and horizontally.

TATTOOING KITS & THE WOMEN WHO USED THEM

Typical tattooing kits were fairly simple and the technique employed to apply the tattoos was a form of hand-tapping. Among the Motu, the wooden “hammer” was called iboki and the needle-like gini was a lemon branch twig with a thorn projecting out at one end. The Motu first painted the desired tattoo motif on the skin and allowed it to dry. With the gini held in the left hand, with the point of the thorn almost touching the skin, and the iboki held in the right hand by the small end, the gini was tapped with enough force to cause the thorn to pierce the skin. For finishing the tattoo, the gini may have had three or four thorns tied together for filling.

Usually, tattoo pigment came from the charred remains of the candlenut. Candlenut (Aleurites moluccana) was also utilized as pigment in Hawaii (kukui) and other Pacific islands in Polynesia. Interestingly, I have found that the leaves and sap of the candlenut tree were used throughout Polynesia, the Philippines, China and Indonesia in the treatment of arthritic joints or as a healing application for chapped lips, cold sores and sunburn. Even in Papua, the Sinagoro tribe specifically utilized several types of “medicinal” tattoos to treat rheumatoid arthritis. These marks were usually grouped around aching joints on the back, neck, shoulders, and forehead. Triangular motifs seen under the left breast of a Sinagoro man in the 1880s appeared to one explorer as “hav[ing] been tattooed for palpitations or uneasy sensations in the region of the heart.”

Hula facial tattooing, ca. 1915. The stepped tattoos (lakatoi) on the woman’s cheeks and nose note that her father participated in several successful trading voyages. However, some scholars believe that this design evolved from the concept of an elbowed bird’s wing, possibly a predatorial bird. The motif on the throat denotes that the woman is married.

Traditionally, tattoo artists were almost always female and different women were employed for tattooing specific parts of the body. Among the Mailu, facial tattoo artists seem to have been paid more, as this work was the most painful and dangerous. Around 1900, a typical payment for facial work included two strings (pairs) of armshells, quantities of cockatoo and parrot feathers and a string bag, whereas other parts of the body may have only brought small payments of cooked food.

Mekeo backpiece displaying centipede and frigate bird symbolism, and Mekeo torso designs, ca. 1915. The V-shaped mark running from the shoulders to the center of the sternum denotes marriage, and the ‘spirit bird’ motif below the neck in the shape of the double ‘M’ is perhaps symbolic of the frigate bird. A ‘star’ or concentric diamond pattern is illustrated between the navel and breast, and zigzagging tattoos under each breast represent the centipede; other motifs are known simply as patterns used in tattooing.

Aroma woman, ca. 1915. All portions of the body are tattooed with various designs. Pau-lo, or bamboo motif on chest, is reminiscent of the design found on Aroma beheading knives. A frigate bird design appears on her nose, and the centipede (aivamele) pattern on the lower right abdomen. Other motifs are unnamed or perhaps unknown. Tourist postcard of an elder Waima woman of the Bereina District, ca. 1970.

MOTIFS

The tattooed tribes of coastal Papua seemed to prefer abstract motifs of natural subjects, and those of falling objects (stars), flying birds, especially predatory birds (Frigate bird, hawk) or other creatures associated with movement and predatory habits (like centipedes, serpents, and crocodiles) were quite common. But some of these animals were tattooed onto living skin for other reasons; they were able to straddle diurnal and nocturnal lifestyles, thus mastering the worlds of both light and darkness. For the Papuans, this otherworldly existence was perceived in abstract reality as “life” on the supernatural plane of the living and the dead. And it is no surprise that most, if not all, of these animals were believed to repel evil spirits and were tabooed from being eaten altogether.

Group of Waima girls with frigate bird motif on sternum below neck, centipede motif on sides of the abdomen, ca. 1915.

Frigate birds, however, seem to have ranked highest on the tattoo motif map. Characterized in folk belief as a rapacious, ravenous, and voracious seagoing predator, frigates were widely associated with Papuan headhunting mysticism, somehow lending power to the wearer, or even to the family of the tattooed, acting as a sort of spiritual “assistant.” This belief was shared, since many other headhunting groups living in Polynesia, Melanesia, and Indonesia tattooed the emblem (Note: frigate tattoo motifs extended as far as the headhunters of Easter Island).

Mailu facial tattooing, ca. 1915. This woman has the aisava motif on both sides of the forehead. It consists of two parallel lines forming a double-angled zigzag on either side of the central line of the forehead, terminating at the upper end in a coil. Aisava means ‘frigate-bird.’ The ‘bake’ pattern curves upwards and backwards near the corner of the eye and seems to be another bird design. The curving lines that emanate from the corner of the nose and travel to the ear are called boi, or the ‘reef heron’ motif. The repeated zigzag which forms the dominant feature of the cheek represents the frigate bird. It has been suggested by some scholars that the frigate bird symbolized “the host of the spirit of the dead” among some coastal Papuans.

Sometimes tattoo motifs took the form of harmless birds like the great-beaked hornbill or bina among the Papuan Hula and Motu. Among the Iban of Borneo, the hornbill was tattooed on headhunter’s chests, because it was thought to provide protection against the intrusion of evil spirits. It was associated with the Upperworld and it was a sacred omen bird. This association between man and bird, was expressed in tattoo as well as in mimic bird dances, songs and the wearing of feathers as a symbolic ornament. Among the Papuan Hula of the 1880s, warriors who had taken human life wore white cockatoo feathers in their hair, the mandibles of the hornbill on their foreheads and other plumes as headdresses, not to mention tattoos on the legs and chest. As noted, before, even sons, daughters and the wives of those men who had taken heads were entitled to tattoos worn on their skins.

Hula kadidiha or ‘armpit’ tattoo patterns, ca. 1915.

But Papuan men who headhunted were considered to be unclean until they had undertaken specific ceremonies to purify themselves. Usually, once they had returned from an expedition, headhunters were secluded from the community for a period of time and then reincorporated into the village after, as one elder said, “having been assured of scaring the ghost of the dead away.” One traveler to the Hula noted in 1883 that, “Even the dead ancestors of tribes are on the watch to deal out sickness or death, to anyone who may displease them, and the natives are most particular to do nothing that should raise their ire.”

Circa WWII postcard depicting two Motu girls demonstrating the proper method of hand-tapping technique. Collection of the author.

THE FORGOTTEN CODE

Men’s and women’s bodies along the Papuan coast no longer speak their complex and ritual language. And as the skin continues to heave in the moist jungle heat, it no longer glistens with elaborately patterned tattoos.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA BODY PAINTING

In the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, self-decoration is associated with festivals and ceremonies where people reinforce their identity as members of a group or clan. Particular combinations of body painting, wigs, feather headdresses, necklaces, armbands, aprons, ear and nose rings signify who you are and where you are from.

This photograph shows Wulamb, a Wahgi girl, preparing to receive her bridewealth prior to marriage. Among many indigenous tribes of Papua New Guinea marriages were traditionally arranged to maximise clan advantage. The two families involved exchanged gifts prior to the ceremony. The gift from the groom and his kin, known as a bridewealth, historically consisted of highly prized pearl and bailer (melo amphora) shells. From the 1940s the Australian administration introduced a money economy to the Wahgi communities. Just as the bridewealth had been presented as a row of shells on a huge, feathered banner in previous times, so dollar notes were hoisted up onto banners in this new era.

Wulamb is getting ready in all her finery for this important occasion. She wears a headdress of cassowary and red parrot feathers and is draped in a purple cloth to protect her clothes and ornaments from the powdery face-paint that is being applied. The face is painted, not with any particular design, but to look shiny and glossy as a sign of ancestral favour.

Red, yellow and white remain favourite colours with which to paint the face and body in Papua New Guinea. Today synthetic colours are often used but this bamboo tube with plant-fibre stopper was acquired before 1901 and contained a natural red pigment, the value of which is indicated by the time and effort taken to decorate its surface with carvings. In pre-contact New Guinea, when metal was not available, carving tools were made from local materials such as shell and splinters of basalt. Animal teeth, boars’ tusks, or sharpened bird bones were often used for engraving, whilst sanding was done with actual sand or sharkskin.

REFRENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papua_New_Guinea#Culture

What is a bilum?

https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/the-bilum-of-papua-new-guinea%C2%A0-ichcap/wQJy7dFUGXPnLQ?hl=en

https://www.wanderlust.co.uk/discover/discover-papua-new-guinea/content/papua-new-guinea-tribes-and-cultures/

Papua New Guinea’s Most Famous and Fascinating Tribes

https://www.new-guinea-tribal-arts.com/new-guinea-jewelry/#:~:text=There%20is%20a%20huge%20variety,stone%2C%20wood%20and%20turtle%20shell.

THE FORGOTTEN CODE: TRIBAL TATTOOS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA

http://web.prm.ox.ac.uk/bodyarts/index.php/temporary-body-arts/body-painting/190-papua-new-guinea-body-painting.html

By- Janvi Nagada (MSc. in Textile and Fashion Technology)