BEFORE THEY PASS AWAY.Huli tribe.Papua.By Jimmy Nelson


Huli tribe.Papua.By Jimmy Nelson
It is believed that the first Papua New Guineans migrated to the island over 45000 years ago. Today, over 3 million people, half of the heterogeneous population, live in the highlands. Some of these communities have engaged in low-scale tribal conflict with their neighbours for millennia.
The tribes fight over land, pigs and women. Great effort is made to impress the enemy. The largest tribe, the Huli wigmen, paint their faces yellow, red and white and are famous for their tradition of making ornamented wigs from their own hair. An axe with a claw completes the intimidating effect.


The traditional highland apparel is scant: women wear grass skirts, men
wear nothing but a koteka, or penis gourd. However, to impress and scare
off the enemy, men go to considerably more effort.

The largest highland tribe are the Huli Wigmen, who paint their faces
yellow, red, and white. and are famous for their tradition of making
ornamental wigs from their own hair. These look like plumed hats,
intricately decorated with feathers of birds of paradise and parrots.
Other ornaments include shells, beads, pig tusks, hornbill skulls
and foliage.

The Huli are traditionally animists who abide by strict ritualised offerings
to appease the spirits of their ancestors.

Sickness and misfortune are thought to be the work of witchcraft and sorcery.


The Tari Valley, with magnificent views of the valley below and surrounding
peaks. High mountain forests with roaring waterfalls.
Life is simple in the highland villages. The residents have plenty of good
food, close-knit families and a great respect for the wonders of nature.

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.

They practice cyclical agriculture, moving to a new location after the soil is
exhausted to allow reforestation and recovery. The women are exceptional
farmers. The first Westerners to visit the highlands were impressed to find
vast valleys of carefully planned gardens and irrigation ditches.
Crops grown include sweet potatoes, corn, cabbages and maniocs.


Tribal warfare is a common among the tribes of Papua New Guinea.
They fight over three things: land, pigs and women – in that order.
To be regarded as important, men need plenty of each: land for
farming, pigs as a measure of wealth and a number of wives to tend
to land and livestock.

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