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 of two women wearing skirts holding palm leaves, sitting amongst bundles of palm leaves. One woman is holding a child who has something in its mouth. In the background is grass and trees.

Research notes

"The mayflies which rise on the Sepik River during the dry season add a delicacy to the diet of the natives. The women collect the mayflies as they skim over the surface of the river by sweeping them into heaps with their paddles. Herons and other wading birds perch on logs drifting downstream and eat the mayflies as they fly past within easy reach of the log. Ducks and pigs from the village eat the mayflies which die and get swept into the bank by the current. The mayflies only stay up for about an hour before dying off, but in this time the women have gathered large heaps into the canoes. Men occasionally help the women by cutting palm leaves which are filled by the women before cooking" (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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