Sepik River and Blackwater River Photos - April 2009

Monday, April 20th we departed in a tender and headed to the headwaters of the Blackwater River

Leaving the Sepik River we traveled the Karawari River, turning onto the Korosameri River. The river channels become far more narrow.

At places the river spreads out into lake appearing swamp. With the rainy season just ending the grassland is covered in 3-4 feet of water. You can see the mountains beginning to appear.

We stopped at Mameri Village and recruited a guide to show us the way

The village has a New York Yankees fan!

Joining the Blackwater River, we came upon Kaningara Village and Mission, located on the first hill above the Sepik River plain

Beautiful flowers

We hiked up to the village

Magnificent view of the swamp land

And a view towards the headwaters of the Blackwater River

The Catholic Church

Church pews

There were great views as we hiked over a mile to the Spirit House where an initiation ceremony was underway

The Spirit House of Kaningara Village

Rarely have outsiders witnessed a skin cutting initiation ceremony

After 6 months of isolation, 16-20 year old young men and women are treated to an all night village celebration. Early in the morning each has lacerations made in his/her body in a pattern on both their front and back

The must lie still for two weeks while mud and oil are rubbed into the cuts

They lay on banana leaves and rotate every thirty minutes to help the cuts heal

The pain is excrutiating

Tom purchased art from the villagers


The kids were curious. Tom passed out candy.

This lady uses the pole to knock fruit out of the trees along the river

The scenery along the Blackwater is amazing

Approaching Govemas Village

Govemas Village

Govemas Village

We ate lunch in the chief's house

The village had, had no visitors since Jim was there two years ago

They are building a new church

We heard flutes when we arrived and discovered they were celebrating the fixing up of the Spirit House

Like the skin cutting initiation, it was a total coincidence that the flute dancing ceremony was underway

Noticing the incredible drums in the Spirit House, we asked for a drum performance which was gladly delivered

Eight men would strike the different sized wooden drums on the side giving a compelling beat and a ritualistic pattern

The results of skin cutting

Both front and back

Our return trip we stopped at Minidimbit Village. This is a photo of Sago.

Kitchen in a typical home

Master bedroom

Of course, the artifact shopping continues...