Posts Tagged With: anthropology

The Tufi Tattoos

Ramona at Kasiawa

Ramona at Kasiawa

When a Tufi girl is ready for marriage she might, for some weeks, enter the hibernating process of getting a facial tattoo. The tattooing is an old traditional practice that has faded away and disappeared in most communities, but there are some areas where the tradition lives on.

Ethel is proud of her tattoo

Ethel is proud of her tattoo

The girl stays in seclusion during the time of the application, which is made by a qualified tattooist – sometimes a relative; always a woman. First the pattern is drawn in black, and when the girls’ parents have expressed their appreciation the tattooist starts the actual process. Dulcie at Kafuaruru village and Levinia at Angorogho, two of the still active tattooists, use a modern needle instead of the bush needle that was tapped by a stick, which was the old way. The dyes today are also mixed with modern ingredients that give a stronger and more lasting colour. This way the tattoo has to be worked over only twice, instead of three or four times which was the rule before.Ethel from Kuruwe says: “Mine was made by a lady from Sefoa. It was my parents that decided, but they listened to me too, of course. Nowadays the girls decide much themselves, but only a few get them. My auntie from Angorogho made one last year on a girl from Mafuia – that’s the neighbour village.”

A hundred years ago tattooing was common all over Papua New Guinea. Most places it was only for the women. The method was basically the same everywhere, but the patterns and what areas would be marked varied between the different areas. Some had their whole bodies tattooed, starting with a section at a young age, then adding some every year, and the final needle applied around puberty. At Tufi it was the face and sometimes the neck, and some would – only for the husbands to view – have their thighs tattooed as well.

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You’ll find some more about the Tufi tattoos in my book Beautiful Tufi, and there’s a set of photos on Flickr:

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Categories: Book, PNG, Travel, Tufi | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

All smiles from ESfO


George Nuku’s on-the-spot art work is a great illustration of the quality of the ESfO conference, Power of the Pacific, that was finished yesterday here in Bergen. As a newcomer  , surrounded by great anthropologists and others, I was impressed from day one till the closing lectures and speaches.


Invited guest speakers Anne Salmond, Marilyn Strathern, Vilsoni Hereniko, Tarcisius Kabutaulaka and Nicholas Thomas all shed light on the congregation, and the many sessions were of the greatest interest and inspiration for everyone, I’m sure, as they were for me (special thanks to my session chairs Anna Paini and Grant McCall).

Marilyn Strathern summarised the event

Incredible too to have a majority of the world’s scholars that have worked in Tufi/Collingwood Bay area gathered in one place, and actually in my home town! It was truly special for me to meet with John Barker, Anna-Karina Hermkens and Libi Gnecchi Ruscone (John and Libi below).


Everlasting respect to hosts Knut, Edvard, Eilin, Annelin + others!!


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Coming soon !!


The ultimate presentation about Papua New Guinean life

 is just around the corner!


Tufi is both mountain and sea, both rainforest and beaches – it’s

PNG in a nutshell. I spent six months finding out about what life

is like around the wonderful Tufi shores and collecting stories of

both the past and the present.

Yes, the future too.



So her you can read about

The Fascinating People

The Beautiful Scenery

The Dramatic History

                                                                                  Photo by Frank Hurley, 1921, Australian Museum (v4589)

It’s a story about dealing with the past, while looking to the future; about being small in a big world, yet proud.

I’ll keep you updated about the publishing process…..

Mr. Jan

Categories: Travel, Tufi | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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