REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS PAST - 1970



THE SPECTACULAR HIGHLANDERS OF NEW GUINEA, SOUTH PACIFIC
ORNAMENTATION FOR LOVE, WAR AND WEALTH



Locked in Stone Age isolation until a generation ago, they were discovered beyond the massive walls that cut through New Guinea.

Here in one of the untouched edens of the world, every village has its dancing park for sing sings, every villager his badge of decoration for festivals of initiation, courting and pig killings.


ADORNMENT: FOR GODS, FOR LOVE,FOR WAR
FANTASTIC BIRDMAN OF OLTOKANE VILLAGE

Clay face painted red under a weeded wig, this Chimbu man wears a cloak of dark tangat leaves resembling black cockatoo feathers that are almost as prized as those of the bird of paradise. Mystically involved with birds, Highlanders imitate their calls and postures in courting songs and dancing-ground ceremonies.

MENACING ASARO MUD MEN
Fiercely disguised by grey mud and masks sculpted over cane frames with pig tusks and animal or human teeth, these Asaro warriors commemorate a victorious battle of their ancestors who, driven into the Asoro River by an enemy tribe, emerged so demonically mud-covered that their attackers, thinking them evil spirits, fled.


CHIMU WOMEN MOURNING A DEAD WARRIOR

Death extracts a drastic change in appearance from these lamenting women of Wandi who trade the splendour of bright paint for sombre clay and dress in jute string and withered leaves. 

Dried grass replaces nose ornaments and shell necklaces are discarded for mourning beads, called Job's Tears.

POWERFUL HEADMAN OF THE ANDAGALIMP LINE
MOGE CLAN LEADER IN HIS WIG OF HUMAN HAIR SYMBOLIZING WEALTH

The fairgrounds boil with a pageantry of people, jewelled in grass seeds and pearl shell, armed with bows and arrows. Bodies greased with pig fat, faces often menacing with ochre, mud, and nose tusks, almost all Highlanders wear on their heads jungles of tall, torch-flaring plumes of the bird of paradise.




The Spectacular Highlanders of New Guinea, South Pacific
Adornment:for gods, for love, for war
Photography: Irving Penn
Text:Andre Leroi-Gourhan
Vogue December 1970