Harold and Mary Cohen : The Papua New Guinea Slide Collection
Object ID:
Papua New Guinea
The Mendi tribesman lives in the Southern Highlands Province. His wig of human hair comes from members of his family over generations. It is protected from his elaborate many—tiered headdress by netting. This man's headdress is easily 3 times higher than his head. Horizontal to the shaped hair are white feathers of the cockatoo. His forehead, covered by a filed white shell, is topped by the black feathers of a bird of paradise, further topped with sprigs of moss above. A rectangular structure made of split cane above is covered with feathers from various birds of paradise. Usually, men do not create their own. They rent them from a person who specializes in trapping birds. One tradition suggests that the men emulate the colorful feathers of the varieties of birds that live in their area, such as, cassowaries, birds of paradise, toucans, parrots, lorikeets, pitohui, plovers, bower birds and many others. Some believe that people are derived from birds. A necklace of bamboo strips indicates his wealth. A kina shell is a system of money. Mosses further decorate his chest and small leaves form a waist band with his skirt of strips of dyed pandanus screw pine leaves. His face painting is typical of the Mendi: white clay over much of the face with black swipes of charcoal across the cheeks. From forehead to the bottom of his nose, he wears a bright red swath outlined with bright yellow.
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