I recently conducted an interview with Anne Gordon, a well known Canadian travel writer. Anne had just recently returned from Papua New Guinea and in particular, a trip up the Sepik River where she visited local tribes and learned something of the Malagan culture).
As a travel writer Anne speaks about the benefits of belonging to NATJA and other travel organizations, the benefits such as sponsored trips and the professional development opportunities that are open for travel writing.
As Anne said, “New Guinea is undoubtedly the most exotic and fascinating place she has ever been, there are over 900 tribes scattered throughout the island and an an ecosystem that spreads both above and beneath the surface”. Many of New Guinea’s tribes maintain customs and cultures that hold a special fascination for us in the west. Head hunting and cannibalism still exist in isolated pockets and have been practised quite commonly within the last 100 years.
Anne Gordon’s interview centres around the Sepik River and the carver’s of the Malagan culture, in particular the master carvers of New Ireland, she shows many incredible pictures of the tribes in that area and the tribal culture of New Guinea.
Pictured above is an amazing image of an Iatmul Elder as captured by Anne Gordon, one of the members of our writing co-operative – Edgehill Press. Anne received a tie in the Bronze category for ‘Special Focus Travel Articles’; her article ‘Land of the Last Frontier’, about the Sepik river and the Iatmul in Papua New Guinea was set beside Christine McBeath’s article ‘ Kickboxing in Backstreet Bangkok. Anne recently edited the book ‘Caving in Ontario; Exploring Buried Karst’.
The Iatmul live on the banks of the Sepik River, believing that their ancestors were born from a hole in the mud somewhere up river and they were washed down to their present location in an enormous flood. Life in an Iatmul village centers around the spirit house into which it is normal practice for only initiated warriors to be able to enter (under pain of death). To the Iatmul, their whole world is supposedly perched upon the back of a giant crocodile – this being said, they follow a crocodile scarification procedure that leaves a pattern on the back of the recipient that has a resemblance to crocodile skin.
Anne is a superb photographer and gifted travel writer and as NATJA say, they honor the best of the best from the travel media. Congratulations Anne. See more of Anne’s trip to New Guinea here
Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.
We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).
So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on
1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.
8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).
9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.
Is this a shrunken head or just a severed head? I’m kicking myself now for not having bought it. How would I have explained him at the airport?
I have a collection of various tribal artifacts. The supposed head would have been made in Hong Kong, but it would go just fine on the wall next to this great big Congo mask that I’ve got – I call it Hannibal the Cannibal because it has a mouth of jagged teeth.
On the subject of tribal, check out my malagan mask (I’ts real)
New Ireland – Papua New Guniea – Malagan mask by Anne Gordon
This picture was taken by Anne Gordon (The well known travel writer) see her blog in the travel section of my links (Travels with Anne). The carver wears his mask and the tongue comes separate – she was kind enough to bring this back for me (both the tongue and mask) .
The malagans are distinctive to the tribes that make them and they along with the various other adornments and implements are all part of a funerary right and are collectively known as “malagan”.
It is common for one side of the mask to differ from another and they are sometimes worn to attack the property of the dead person several years after their death to clear the world of their influence. Interesting how this stuff develops. I suppose it helps people forget if sad memories keep hanging on. my mask was specifically made by the carver (Fabian P.) for sale to foreigners. Fabian is an apprentice under a master mask carver in Papua New Guinea (PNG) Most specifically an island called “New Ireland”.
While on the subject of New Guinea, The Underground Atlas” talks of its cave potential as amongst the most exciting in the world – enormous underground rivers and depth potential that can exceed a thousand meters. Very little has been explored, but there is a growing local caving scene. New Ireland – where the picture of the malagan was taken apparently has extensive karst formation – like Jamaica, cone karst and extensive dolines.
I suppose you can guess where I am hoping to take a holiday some day. Check out Anne’s blog for further New Guniea stuff (travel link to the lower right).
Following the release some time ago of my book "Rockwatching; Adventures above and below Ontario", I am pleased to announce the release of my new book "Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica". It is a story of opportunity. Edgehill Press is the publisher. (www.edgehillpress.com)