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 > Iatmul group
Mr Des Bartlett 
Acquisition date
January 01, 1954 
Acquisition method
Purchased from Mr Des Bartlett 
H: W: 35 mm L: 35 mm D: Circum:


Black and white photo depicting a woman standing in a village setting holding a palm leaf.

Research notes

"This Sepik lass is holding may flies in a palm frond. Sepik women wear a very short, although attractive, grass skirt. The fibre is made by soaking the stem of wild hibiscus plants in the river for three weeks. After washing thoroughly a strong white fibre is left, and this makes excellent string as well as being used for grass skirts. By dyeing this different colours the women are able to make very bright and attractive grass skirts. The scars seen on the abdomen of this girl were made by an old Meri when the girl had her first menstrual period, and its purpose was to let out the bad blood. During the second month the cuts are re-opened and allowed to bleed freely, but after that the girl would not become sick nor suffer pain each month" (Bartlett 1953).

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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