Harold and Mary Cohen : The Papua New Guinea Slide Collection
Object ID:
Papua New Guinea
A close—up view shows variations on the grass skirts and drums of Melpa (also spelled Medlpa and also called Hageners) women of the village of Kindau, in the Western Highlands dressed for a "payback" ceremony. Their faces and bodies are brightly painted in red with grease added to make their bodies shine. Surrounding the eyes are circles of yellow and white with blue dots, almost obscuring the eyes. A yellow line is drawn down the nose and across the nostrils in white with the same blue polka dots. Another similar decoration surrounds the mouth and chin. Women wear their finest costumes for the rare "payback" feast. Their chests are arrayed with many layers of shells, including the giant bailer shells. Colorful headbands hold up the many feathers from various birds of paradise and astrapias. Each woman's breasts are bare except for coverage with her bride's wealth of bailer, kina, and cowrie shells, dog's teeth, and fur from the cuscus possum—like marsupial.
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