The Wigman, PNG (West Chelsea Contemporary)


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This is a Wigman from the Enga Province of Papua New Guinea. The pride that these warriors have in the wigs that they weave from their own hair can only be rivaled by the exuberant mating dance of the resident male Birds of Paradise. Adolescent boys, ready to come of age, are selected and invited into the village “spirit house” by the elder men. Only men are allowed inside the sanctity of this lair. Here it stands that the young boys will become men. For eighteen months the young ones learn from the elders the ways of being men. During this time, no hair shall be cut. Once the time has passed, the training is complete and the boy’s manes are now ready to be presented to them. To become a man, the apprentices must weave their own hair into immaculate wigs, then and only then, can they prove that they are Enga Warriors. Upon exiting the spirit house for the first time, it is then that they will be surfacing as men. Proud in their world, dignity in full plume.

“The Wigman, Papua New Guinea” has been collected and resides in the Raymond James Collection.

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