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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.
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:
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.
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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.
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