The mudmen of Asaro tribe

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Posted on Sat, Nov 22 2014 14:58:08

asaroThe members of Asaro tribe, who live outside the village of Goroka in the Eastern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea, are very proud of their unique tradition, introduced by their ancestors. According to the natives themselves, this tradition helped the tribe to survive. In the ancient times, when their villages were systematically looted by their beligerent neighbors, the tribesmen had to fight the enemy on a regular basis or give way to those who were stronger.

Due to constant skirmishes and clashes the tribe lost a lot of people and was on the verge of complete annihilation – the warriors of the neighboring tribes attacking Asaro tried to kill as many male children as possible, in order to weaken the tribe and ensure their future victories.

Eventually, one of the local sages invented a rather strange way of doing battle in a special outfit. Before the battle, he would summon all the soldiers to a secret place, where they were engaged in special preparations for the coming battle. Each of them would cover their heads with a thick layer of white clay. When it dried, it became a sort of helmet that arrows could not penetrate. To make the helmet look more fierce, they would carve it and decorate it with wild boar tusks to resemble wild animals or monsters.

When a detachment of Asaro soldiers was prepared for the battle, they all looked like a monsters from another world. No wonder that when Asaro warriors appeared before their enemies looking like that for the first time, the enemies were petrified with fear. From then on, the fate was on the side of Asaro - they used it to their advantage and even managed to terrorize the entire region for many years. Their stratagem was passed from generation to generation. The tribe that was once almost extinct, became strong and prosperous.

After the invention of clay helmets, they improved their uniforms by covering the entire body with mud. Even though the times have changed, this tradition goes on, Asaro tribe members love to walk around in their uniforms and the craftsmen strive to create the most hideous and awe-inspiring helmets, mostly to show off and to attract tourists.

You can see the tribesmen by going directly to the place or at the annual Goroka show, which happens on 16th of September, where all the tribes show their music, dance and culture.

Gallery: The mudmen of Asaro tribe


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