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 > Angoram District > Timbunke 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:


Black and white photograph of two men tending to a costume outside.

Research notes

"Men decorating the Timbuyan costume from Timbunki Village on the Middle Sepik. Before the war this village had nine of these costumes, but eight were destroyed by the Japanese. The heads of the costume are modelled with clay mixed with guat oil and when this dries it sets like cement. When still wet cowrie shells are pressed into place for decoration. The body of the costume is made with plaited cane, and therefore the complete costume is very light. The man wearing the costume looks out through the eyes of the bottom face and the top head wobbles from side to side as the man moves. The beard and hair is made up of human hair ringlets, and a colourful grass skirt is attached to the base of the cane body. The entire thing is painted with red and yellow ochre, as well as black and white pigments made from ashes" [Bartlett 1953].

See 31942, 31943, 31944, 31947, and 31989 [catalogue card note].

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.

From the UQ Anthropology Museum exhibition 'Double Up: Pasifika Treasures from the UQ Anthropology Museum' curated by Diana Young with Jane Willcock, 5 February - 9 April 2010.

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