“We, the Meakambut people, will give up hunting and always moving and living in the mountain caves if the government will give us a health clinic and a school, and two shovels and two axes so we can build homes.”
Those are the closing words of a poignant article in the February 2012 issue of National Geographic magazine: “Last of the Cave People” by Mark Jenkins. An NGM team had gone up into the mountains of Papua New Guinea to report on one of the last nomadic cave-dwelling people in the world and found the remnants of a people barely surviving. Sickness, hunger, the sparsity of animals to hunt, infant mortality and an understanding that there might not be a future for them led John Aiyo, one of their leaders, to give this message to the NGM reporter to bring out of the forest and relay to the government.
The article is accompanied by beautiful photographs (which I am not allowed to use here) of a jungle we might easily mistake for paradise. One of the photographs was of hand stencils in a cave painting—the ubiquitous image of hands on cave walls, found throughout the world and throughout time. There is also a photograph of one of the tribesmen painted up, walking through the jungle. This surprised me, because books (see Books Page) such as Man as Art by Malcolm Kirk and Tribes by Art Wolfe report that the people of Papua New Guinea only paint themselves for festivals—today, most of which are at least in part tourist exhibitions. The article suggests that in this case the men painted themselves specifically because they were heading down out of the mountains with the NGM reporter’s team.
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- The Unplanned Lede (mixingplatforms.wordpress.com)
- UW receives Papua New Guinea art (mysanantonio.com)
- Mike Tyson’s Tattoo: what the…?
- Bark Masks and Bodypainting of the Yamana (or Yaghan) and the Selk’nam (or Ona) of Tierra Del Fuego
- From a Mask to a Painted Face — Face Painting from Cultural Sources
- 45,000 Views – 2008 Transformations (thestorybehindthefaces.com)
- The Kinetic Art of Face Painting – Pt.1: Sending Art off into the World (thestorybehindthefaces.com)