A crocodile: your only precious jewel

A crocodile: your only precious jewel

A crocodile means prestige, strength and power

Nearby a remote village on Sepik, the largest river in Papua New Guinea, there are some of the world’s most isolated tribal populations; in this place live about 8000 people, protected by their waterways, as it is from the origin of the times.

The crocodile here is considered a deity related to the Creation. This population believes that the upper jaw of the crocodile gave birth to the sky and the lower one to the Earth. The crocodile gives both life and strength: they hunt and kill this animal in order to eat it , because they think that it can give them the power.

 

In this place the feast of the tribes takes place in August, from the various villages, they all come dressed up for the annual meeting, ready for the ritual dances.

Their jewels and precious ornaments, which they proudly shown, adorn the bust of women, men and children: live crocodiles tied around the body with appropriately locked jaws. They give prestige, strength and power to the owners who wears them. Women’s dresses are little skirts made of sun-dried palm leaves. These leaves are also tied to their head. The makeup is a simple mixture of red earth smeared on their face and body.

The magic of Mount Hagen

To the north of the island, however, on Mount Hagen, other numerous tribes meet on a large dirt field and compete among themselves performing in dances and colorful costumes. Here there’s a world that looks like a kaleidoscope. It is not easy to imagine how they can create so many different masks with so few materials, derived from nature. Extraordinary costumes diversify one ethnic group from another. The various belonging groups are characterized and distinguished with The use of different kind of frasca and leaves, of earth, of the colors obtained from berries and flowers, of shells and feathers of the birds, characterized the various belonging groups and make them unique.

The women of each tribe can be recognized by the different colors and designs with which they adorn their face and body. The wonderful feathers of bird of paradise and parrot, create crowns that surround their head and necklaces of shells, with which the dowry of the bride has been paid, adorn almost all women.

Some of them paint their face half white and half bright red and cover the head with abundant green leaves which they also use to form the skirt and the chaps.

Women of the Sili Muli tribe have huge wigs and paint a black stripe on their eyes. They wear long straw skirts and beat a hollow wooden instrument, dancing in an orderly row moving slowly left and right.

It would take a whole book to describe the brilliance of each costume. How to tell of the great masks made of earth with frightening appearance, of the smoking earthenware headgear with inside sticks and leaves that burn producing a lot of smoke, or of colored noses in which thin rigid wires are threaded like long moustaches. The fantasy on Mount Hagen is freely expressed and uses every trick to create wonder and surprise. Every resource is used to win the competition. Winning it means to be able to express dominance over other ethnic groups, without fighting with lethal weapons.

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