B & W negative

Registration number
Item name
B & W negative 
Indigenous name
Mr Des Bartlett  
Associated cultural group
Pacific > Papua New Guinea > East Sepik Province > Wosera Gaui District > Yentchan village
Mr Des Bartlett 
Acquisition date
January 01, 1954 
Acquisition method
Purchased from Mr Des Bartlett 
H: W: 35 mm L: 35 mm D: Circum:


A black and white photo of a bare-chested woman seated on a log bench and holding a baby in her lap.

Research notes

"Native children when born are white, and gradually darken as they grow older. White clay is used to put marks on the young around the face, and this prevents the baby from crying. Perhaps it works, for they seldom cry. However, young children are rarely put down, and young sisters will carry a baby around for hours while they play with other young girls. A mother dancing during a sing sing will also carry a sleeping baby on her shoulder, and the head of a youngster rocks from side to side with the constant movement. If a baby tends to grizzle it will immediately be given the comfort of a mother's breast and are not weaned until they are two years old. Apparently young babies are not dressed, but they have string tied around their wrists and ankles. This is called their pull pull, or grass skirt. The mother on the left was confined by two old women at Yentchan village (see 33485). A large fire was kept blazing in the house so that the girl could squat over it while in labour. With each spasm one of the old ladies would stand behind the girl and squeeze her abdomen with both arms. It proved very effective." (Bartlett 1953). See also photo 33485 [catalogue card notes].

Part of a series of copies of 330 photos in the range 31891 to 34881 taken by Bartlett on a 1953 trip to the Sepik River with Armand and Michaela Dennis who were making the film 'Among the Headhunters' which was released by Arthur J Rank. The photos include an initiation ceremony held at Yanchan Village on the main river. The photos come from an album of the trip made by Bartlett, a copy of which given to the museum in 1983 along with other photos which were copied at that time.

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