Harold and Mary Cohen : The Papua New Guinea Slide Collection
Object ID:
Woman Preparing Sago at Water's Edge
Upper Sepik, Manam Island, "Murik Lakes" Region, Papua New Guinea
A woman stands nude at the edge of the water on a wooden platform processing sago.

At the edge of Manam Island, on the Upper Sepik River, in the Murik Lakes region, a woman strains pithy bark from the sago palm tree (saksak), the staple food of the Sepik River peoples and the most important food of the Highlands. A sago palm is felled by men just before it is time for flowering. The starch content is highest at that time. The women dig out the inner pith of the trunk and then carry it to a makeshift trough dug out from the tree bark. Bark is stripped, soaked in water and beaten to remove the bitter taste. The pithy bark turns into white flour that is cooked with vegetables or made into porridge.
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