One of the major tourist draws for Papua New Guinea are the annual singsing cultural shows held in major cities on a yearly basis. The one in Mt. Hagen is at the end of August, which we are belatedly putting up pictures of now!
We went with Fr. Raphael, the dean of studies at GSS
The place to be, we learned for next year, is outside the showgrounds, where everyone is getting dressed
The center ring, where all the groups gathered and performed simultaneously. Entrance fees were K250 kina per person, so we did not go in.
Instead, for 3 kina per person, we stood in the entrance corridor and watched all the groups come in.
Groups come from all over Papua New Guinea to participate.
These dancers were local- their style of costuming was the most commonly seen
Fr. Raphael knew this group from a former parish assignment!
The male version of local attire
Note the kina shells around their necks, for which the currency was named
These dancers were from the Southern Highlands, the province where the main Capuchin presence is
Known as the Huli Wigmen, they grow out their own hair to make wigs from
These dancers were from the coast and had excellent hats
A simulated hunting party
A non-traditional but crowd-pleasing group of skeletons hunting a forest-monster like creature
Close-up of the excellent hats
Anastasia’s least favorite: the Asaro mudmen, from the Eastern Highlands. She hid her face the whole time they were passing by. Talking about it afterward, she has been reassured by the knowledge that their terrifying clacking fingernails are actually bamboo, and that you can see their bellybuttons, which means they’re really people.
At the show, I started reflecting about different cultures and body image, partly off of Osborn Fiber Studio’s post “Theology of a Mom’s Body.” Generally, modern PNG culture for women indicates that you should wear a baggy top, preferably with enough material to fit you through a term pregnancy, and one’s thighs should be covered at all times, whether in cargo shorts or a skirt. But in traditional dress, the rules seem to be reversed. And everyone, but everyone, of all ages and body types, is out there and proud. There were old women, with all the sagging dreaded in the US, strutting by pounding their drums, as if to say “Yeah, I nursed six children, this is what you look like afterward, so what?” I found it rather refreshing.