Harold and Mary Cohen : The Papua New Guinea Slide Collection
Object ID:
6.01.0581.HMC
Title:
Chief, Bride, and Widow (his wealth necklace)
Place:
Mt. Hagen Village Market, Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea
Description:
Three figures stand in a row: Two women and a man stand together displaying their traditional clothing. A widow covers her head amd body with a veil. She wears many strands of Job's tears seeds, typical of a mourner. The bride display strands of kina shells, demonstrating her wealth. The Chief on the right wears his kina shell and carries a spear.

At the time of weddings, mokas, and mourning, the Melpa (also called Medlpa or Medpa or Hageners), wear prescribed clothing, ornamentation, and body painting. When a husband dies, a wife (on the left) wears 365 necklaces of Job's tears seeds. Each day of the mourning period, she removes a necklace. Her face is painted like a black mask. She is covered from the top of her head to her river grass skirt. A young wife (in the center) wears three moka kinas on breast plates. Each is a symbol of the bride's wealth that the groom's family has paid her. Her family becomes deprived because she moves to the groom's family area and works for them. The groom (to the right) wears a long pendant of bamboo strips, a demonstration of his wealth. A giant bailer shell at his neck is another symbol of wealth and status in his community. His headdress contains a complete Superb bird of paradise. Its iridescent blue, wedge—shaped breast—shield and a velvety black, erectile cape are a favored decoration for a headdress. He carries a long pole in one hand and
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