Summer at home in Daisy Hill

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A PRIMITIVE TOUR IN A PRIMITIVE COUNTRY

 In 1965 I was teaching in Papua/New Guinea. During the school holidays my colleague, Bev, and I booked a tour to see the Mt Hagen Show. Mt Hagen was a small town in the Highlands where every year the people of the Highlands stage a cultural show. It attracted tourists from all over P/NG. However, the small town was not really geared for an influx of tourists. We had to take our own sleeping bag as our accommodation was community sleeping on the floor of the Govt. Stores building.
 We ate our meals in a mess set up in the old District Office building. Bev is waiting for me.

 It is much colder in the highlands than on the coast in Pt Moresby, where I lived. This was my piece of floor space for sleeping. The primitive conditions didn't seem to stop me enjoying myself.

 In the agricultural pavilion there were people dressing in their traditional dress and paint for the tribal dances we would be seeing during the day. Native people came from many different villages in the mountains. I was surprised to see an axe weapon tucked into a grass skirt.

 I often came across scenes where the old and the new
 were hand in hand. Traditional dress and a western umbrella.

 Some of the head dresses were fabulously made from feathers, often Bird of Paradise feathers. The European guy is Kurt, a Swiss artist who was living in Pt Moresby. 

 Shells are rare in the highlands so they became a symbol of wealth. Here they are worn around the neck and through the nose. The girl has a cuscus skin around her shoulders.

 The women covered their skin with oil from pig fat. It was to make their skin look shiny and to keep them warm.

There were many different tribes dressed differently doing their dances. I think these are the Wabag people.

Again I was fascinated to see a stone age man with a then 'modern' helicopter.  I was a bit nervous standing next to him, they looked very warlike in their traditional dress.

 At night there was a torchlight dance of the warriors. Some of the locals joined in the front of the main group of chanting, singing and dancing tribes.
The noise was deafening and quite scary. It was hard to believe they were not really on the war path. 

We were only there for a few days and then we flew back to Pt Moresby in a trusty DC3 through the valleys and over the peaks of the mighty Owen Stanley Mountain Range. It had been a wonderful experience to see some of the ancient culture of the native people (now called nationals) of the highlands. 

27 comments:

  1. More interesting pics from your PM days ...

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  2. You are so adventurous. Camping out conditions in PNG highlands and in Salzburg. There is a nice indication of self consciousness in the photos.

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  3. Diane, what a cool adventure.. The cultural show reminds me of the Polynesian Culture Center I visited in Hawaii.. It is neat seeing the native costumes worn by the different villages. Wonderful photos and memories for you! Thanks for sharing, enjoy your weekend!

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  4. Diane, what wonderful memories you have. Your time in PNG must have been such an adventure. The tribal photos are just wonderful . The time you are putting in converting your slides must be satisfying

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  5. i have only seen photos like this in National Geographic.. i can almost here the noise by looking at the pics... i am thinking the pig fat would keep off bugs to.. but then it might cause sunburn also...

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  6. what an amazing experience! just awesome!

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  7. What amazing things you have seen, Diane. You were such a good photographer so young, and how fun it must be for you to think and look back at these memories. I love reading about them.

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  8. What fun. I too remember sleeping on floor in a sleeping bag way back.
    Interesting people.

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  9. Fun days Diane! I can't imagine putting pig fat on my skin but it certainly gives a lovely golden glow. Beauty Products with a difference.

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  10. Fantastic photos and what a special and amazing experience. You must have really enjoyed that and love to see photos of when you were young

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  11. On some of my adventures in PNG I slept on the floor on a woven sleeping mat just like the locals ... I found it comfortable enough.

    When I flew into Mt Hagan it was in modern aircraft. I found the descent with high mountains on both sides to be quite amazing.

    I did not see any of these events in the highlands but did attend some in Moresby. Your images are just great.

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  12. Oh my goodness what a bunch of stunning photos, it is a country that I know very little about and yet they are so close to us

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  13. Well done Diane.
    Never got to Mt.Hagen but saw some minor displays in the Finnesterre area and in the Wau region.

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  14. Diane I'll be very sad when you eventually run out of images and informative stories of your time in PNG. It really is a marvellous series!

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  15. i really find your photos and stories about this time in your life quite fascinating. I too would have been a bit nervous standing beside this guy who looked very war like. Wnen I was getting my masters degree the end of the 80's, I spent some time on an Indian Reservation in the uS and one of the night time pow wows that I at tended reminded me of some of the feelings I had at night attending this. So amazing!

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  16. An amazing experience Diane, and yes a wee bit scary especially when you're young!

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  17. What an adventure I'm having, reading about your time in PNG and seeing your photos. TY, Diane.

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  18. Interesting tribe pictures.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  19. Diane,
    Do you EVER run out of adventures? I don't think so. And lucky for us, your readers! :)
    Great pictures, too.
    Have a good week - Marsha

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  20. Wow what a great adventure!!! You got some amazing photos and it is so fun to see those and read the tales!

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  21. I too enjoyed reading these latest recollections and seeing your photos. Must have been quite something actually being there, with all the dancing and music. You've got a lot of incredible memories Diane. Thanks for sharing them like this :D)

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  22. That was quite an adventurous life to say the least ! I only know this from movies ! Our teachers at that time had to deal with farmer's kids and cows !

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  23. What an amazing experience you had as a young woman. Life-defining!

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  24. It is so interesting to see the old pictures you made in those times. I wonder modern times have changed much now there.

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  25. Another memory or your fabulous adventures shared with us, adiane, thanks. Some of the tribesmen and women did look a bit fercious. Interesting facts about the use of pig oil.

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  26. Diane, wanted to know that IF you were the sender of an email that said it was "a confidential message" it was unopened & deleted it. I have made it a practice to delete what seem like suspicious emails without opening them. Friends have opened similar messages (supposedly from friends) with somewhat disastrous results to their PC as the accounts had been hacked. So if you were NOT the sender, then perhaps your email address has been hacked and you might want to know.

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  27. Sounds like the most amazing experience. I wonder what it would be like now, there. Do you have any idea?

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