Today I want to share an amazing photo of East Sepik River Crocodile Cult dance taken by Patricia and Bruno from the Ze Wandering Frogs Blog.
Patricia and Bruno are the French-American travel bloggers, photographers, and video producers behind Ze Wandering Frogs’ adventure travel blog.
They write about their travel experiences and outdoor adventures: diving in West Papua Raja Ampat, kiteboarding in Brazil, horseback riding in Mongolia, trekking in the Himalayas, dog-sledging in the Arctic, observing gorillas in Rwanda, and watching traditional dances in Papua New Guinea.
Photo Story: East Sepik River Crocodile Cult
Travelling to Papua New Guinea is an experience of a lifetime.
One of the less-visited countries in the world, located far in the southwest Pacific Ocean, Papua New Guinea has incredible jungles, pristine beaches, and unique culture thanks to hundreds of different ethnic groups.
In a country where 800 different languages are spoken, the traditions take on as many diverse aspects with stunning traditional headgear, colourful masks, wood carving art, and fantastic dances.
We visited the region around the Sepik River in Northwest Papua New Guinea during May, as we crossed into PNG from Indonesia.
The villages and clans from the East Sepik River are famous for their ties to the Crocodile culture, featuring elaborated rituals and ceremonies that include crocodile scarifications and boy initiations.
Each village is known for a specific dance or “singsing” as the local people call these performances.
In Kanganamum, little kids dance along with the Cassowary, and men perform the Tambaran Mask dance wearing heavy straw costumes.
Yenchen is reputed for the colourful Crocodile dance, where men, women, and children dressed in traditional clothes dance along the beating to the rhythms of the drums.
Given the importance of the Sepik River in the culture of the villages, the crocodiles are an integral part of the belief system and are crucial elements of the rites of passages Sepik River.
Seeing these traditional performances, the stunning costumes and colourful headgear was a unique experience!
In the spirit houses, only men are allowed, though female tourists can enter.
In this central building, also called Haus Tambaran in local Pidgin, the masks and costumes were prepared using traditional methods and natural materials.
While the main costumes are passed on from generation to generation, the young men made the skirts themselves, using natural straw that they shape for each new dance.
After watching the preparations, we waited outside the men’s’ house where two proud warriors led the way of the Crocodile.
Women and children came next, dancing energetically as they followed the Crocodile. The music was entrancing, for the dancers and witnesses of the dance alike.
The drummers kept their fascinating rhythm strong, accelerating as the ceremony marched toward a small fire where the women and children dance until the last beats.
A stunning performance, over way too soon! But like this little boy, the traditions and art of Papua New Guinea are forever in our heart, memories of a lifetime.
East Sepik is a province in Papua New Guinea. Its capital is Wewak. The province’s geography is dominated by the Sepik River, which is one of the largest rivers in the world in terms of water flow.
The soul of Papua New Guinea, the Sepik is often compared with the Amazon and the Nile, and it sustains an amazing variety of flora and fauna.
Crocodiles feature prominently in the legends and rites of passage of various Sepik tribes. There is a shared belief in ancestral ties to the crocodiles.
The Crocodile Cult is strong in the East Sepik River region.
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