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Art-Pacific (Carolyn Leigh - Ron Perry): Guide to Artifacts

Hunstein Mountains, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea

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[Hunstein Mountains face with concentric points, black and white painted bands and triangles with spots: 13k]

The Bahinemo inhabit the Hunstein Mountains, a range south of the upper part of the Sepik River. The April River flows out to the west. The Chambri Lakes are to the east. They are one of the Sepik Hills language groups.

The Bahinemo people are wide ranging hunter-gathers and subsistence gardeners with small base settlements of houses and a ceremonial house. More permanent settlements sometimes form around missions.

Their weapons are shields, bows and beautiful arrows, spears and clubs. Personal items include net bags, wood bowls and suspension hooks, coconut cups and shell jewelry.

Figure 1: Garra face with concentric hooks. Other masks of this type have a small mouth with sharp teeth below the hooks. We have one with a double face.

The Hunstein Mountains are an extremely difficult environment. In Throwim Way Leg, Flannery reports that because of their own very high infant mortality, clans sometimes kidnap children from other groups.

When Douglas Newton did his work in 1971, the total group numbered only 309 people. Most of the following information is from his book, Crocodile and Cassowary.

[Hunstein style hook with concentric points around central star shape, black, white, orange ochre paint: 8k]

Figure 2: Concentric-hook garra collected in Bitara from Hunstein people who came down to trade. Called tuknip, associated with masali spirits and fertility.

Bahinemo sacred objects are collectively called garra which include:

[Hunstein Mountains face, sections painted with strong white, yellow and orange ochres: 8k]

Figure 3: Mask garra with concentric hooks collected from man in Gahom. Called gra, belonged to "papa bilong mipela" (my father).

The Bahinemo say that a man and a woman at the top of the April River bundled the sacred objects and floated them down on a log. The bundle broke apart in the rapids, scattering the garra to the peoples along the river. This couple is said to still live there, constantly playing their musical instruments, and the area is considered dangerous.

Figure 4: Yam cult tops carved from coconut shell. The left one has a small piece of red cloth to tighten the central stick, the middle one a galvanized nail. The right one is colored with bright pink pigment, possibly school chalk.

They are spun during the yam planting season and at other times for play. We have collected similar yam tops in the Abelam villages.

[3 Hunstein yam cult tops with center flower and possibly other plant motifs: 18k]


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Browse Sepik River villages - Middle Sepik: Aibom | Chambri Lakes | Kamindimbit | Kandangai | Kanganaman | Koiwat and Kamangauwi | Korogo | Mindimbit | Mumeri | Palambei | Tambanum | Yamok | Yentchan | Yenichenmangua | see also Karawari and Blackwater Rvs | above Pagwi: Ambunti Mtns (Waskuk) | Hunstein | Japandai | near Angoram and below: Angoram | Imbando and Taway | Kambaramba | see also Ramu Rv

[Map of the middle length of the Sepik River, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea: 9k]

More articles/photos of NEW GUINEA MASKS:

Middle Sepik River | Angoram | Kambaramba | Tambanum | Hunstein | Imbando and Taway | Mumeri | Blackwater River | Lower Ramu River | Middle Ramu River | basket yam masks | wooden yam masks | Baining | Sulka | Tolai dukduk | Malagan | Papuan Gulf | Gogodala | String and Things | Skin as Ground... | more INDONESIAN MASKS: Bali and Java | Dyak

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Melanesian art TOC | Map of art areas of Melanesia
Papua New Guinea: Highlands: body art - Bundi tapa - jewelry/dancers | Karawari and Blackwater Rivers: masks - carvings - map | Massim: artifacts- Trobriand Kula - map | Kula canoe | New Britain: Baining - Sulka - Tolai dukduk | New Ireland: Malagan | Ramu River: masks - carvings - map | Sepik River: masks - carvings - villages - map | Papuan Gulf: masks - carvings - map - Gogodala - Kukukuku
other areas: Asmat | Solomon Islands: crafts - jewelry - map
art and craft:
barkcloth (tapa) | body art | cane and fiber figures | canoes and prows | jewelry/dancers | masks - Middle Sepik | phallocrypts | pottery - Chambri | shields | story boards | suspension hooks | weapons | yam masks - fiber | yam masks - wood

Indonesian art TOC | Dyak baby carriers and masks | furniture | Java folk art | Lombok baskets | Lombok lontar boxes | masks from Bali and Java | puppets

China: Bai textiles/art TOC | baby carriers | baby hats | woodblock prints

Collecting New Guinea art in the field since 1964.

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Artifacts on this site were collected in the field by my husband, Ron Perry. I take the photographs, do the html, text and maps. Background in Who We Are. Art-Pacific has been on the WWW since 1996. We hope you enjoy our New Guinea tribal art and Indonesian folk art as much as we do. by Carolyn Leigh is licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-ND 4.0