“What’s Your Favorite Country?”
Like you, I have been asked this question numerous times. Of all the TCC destinations (my count is now 320 out of 321) the country that I mention when asked this question is Papua New Guinea. This country holds a strange fascination for me.
The people of the lowland Sepik River area are known for their artistic creativity. Since we collect masks, we found the villages along the river (only accessible by boat) to be a treasure trove for our collection.
The capital, Port Moresby, doesn’t have much to offer except for the terrific National Museum and Art gallery. Also, the large warehouse called PNG Arts has an outstanding collection of artifacts from all over the country and at prices that are quite reasonable.
My favorite area in the country is in the highlands. The people of the highlands were not discovered until the 1930’s. There, depending on the location, you may still see men armed with bows and arrows and wearing very colorful shorts, or just penis shields made of dried gourds. Some wear huge wigs made from their own hair adorned with decorative feathers and bones, and boar tusks threaded through their noses. In some areas the women wear just thick grass skirts and shell and bone necklaces. A great photo op at every turn. The men love to have their pictures taken and they don’t expect payment as in some other countries.
The men consider themselves “warriors” and they still fight in what is termed “payback” wars if one of their personal or tribal prized possessions are used, taken or harmed. In order of importance these prized possessions are their pigs, property and women.
A spectacular event held in several of the larger towns in the highlands is the annual “Sing-Sing.” This is an event where the various tribes of the area get together in peaceful competition of singing and dancing. Each tribe wears its traditional costumes, adornments and face and body make-up. It is a photographer’s bonanza. If you haven’t yet been to PNG, I suggest you consider a visit.