The eastern half of New Guinea gained full independence from Australia in 1975, when Papua New Guinea was born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. Traditionally, the different tribes scattered across the highland plateau, live in small agrarian clans.
The first visitors were impressed to find valleys of carefully planned gardens and irrigation ditches. The women of the indigenous groups are exceptional farmers. The men hunt and fight other tribes over land, pigs and women. Great effort is made to impress the enemy with terrifying masks, wigs and paint.
“We wouldn’t have acquired a fraction of the extraordinary images had we gone in the measured, sensible way.”
RAINBOW OVER SIMBAI
Nested high in the mountains Simbai is a village that is unreachable except by prop plane. It takes days walking through the bush through steep mud slick hills. With no roads, it is easy to get lost.
This has kept the culture strong and rich and from assimilating to the rest of the world. Simbai really is like stepping into another world.
KALAM PIERCE THEIR NOSE AS INITIATION FOR YOUNG BOYS
When it comes to body decorations, their bodies are heavily donned with “Bilas” (body ornaments) such as large Kina shells, Hornbill (Kokomo)
beak necklaces, cuscus fur, wild garden flowers and arm bands.
Pig fat provides the final shine.
BIRD FEATHERS & KINA SHELLS
The crowns of the head-dresses are decorated with bird feathers comprising those of the cockatoo, parrots, lorikeets and bird of paradise species.
Small round Kina shells are hooked on to and hang suspended from the hole in the nose while others insert King of Saxony bird of paradise feathers.
KALAM MEN AND BOYS
The eastern half of New Guinea, the world’s second largest island, gained full independence from Australia in 1975, when the nation of Papua New Guinea was born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world.
It is believed that the first Papua New Guineans migrated to the island over 45,000 years ago. Today, over three million people, approximately half of the total population, live in the highlands.
LIFE IS SIMPLE IN HIGHLAND VILLAGES
The highlanders live by hunting, done primarily by men, and by gathering plants and growing crops, done primarily by women. The men help clear
the land, but the rest of the cultivation is the responsibility of the women.
The residents have plenty of good food, close-knit families and a great respect for the wonders of nature.