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Blackwater Dance outfit

Description: Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half of the tropical island of New Guinea (which it shares with the Indonesian territory of Irian Jaya) as well as numerous smaller islands and atolls in the Pacific. The Blackwater River originates from Kuvenmas Lake below Murder Mountain on the island. The Kabriman Village of the Blackwater region created this dance mask. These long nosed masks may represent water or bush spirits. When not being used, the masks hang in the ceiling of a special house made for them. The wickerwork is painted with a thick coat of red clay, white lime and charcoal based pigments. Sometimes red or blue enamel paint is used and feather tassels made from a cassowary, a chicken or other birds are added to the outfit. Different villages have slightly different styles of masks. Occasionally, the mask is woven down to form a full body outfit, like this particular one. The bottom of the skirt is made of sago fronds that hang to the knee, which is meant to conceal the dancer. The dancers perform in pairs during a man’s scarification initiation ceremony.
Collection: The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Copyright: Creative Commons (CC By-SA 3.0);
Geography: Papua New Guinea
Subjects: Dance
Clothing and Dress
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea--Social life and customs

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