The Karawari Caves Precinct of the Sepik River Basin, Papua New Guinea

Midway up the slopes of the Andogoro, Moirutapa, and Kundiman mountains that rise up from the surrounding floodplains and separate East Sepik Province from Enga and Western Highlands Provinces in Papua New Guinea, are the traditional settlements of the Upland Arafundi people (Roscoe & Telban 2004:94). Galleries of stencils adorn the walls of caves once used as spirit houses and shelters by the Upland Arafundi people. In the limestone caves they buried their dead, initiated young men, and sheltered from their enemies. Common among the galleries of stencils are hands made by blowing, spraying or spitting a mouthful of ochre over an outstretched hand. The hand stencils are enduring personal signatures on the cave walls. These hands and other stencils (e.g. kina shells, cassowary feet and other prints) are yet to be dated but the extensive nature of the painted galleries that adorn the walls of these rock shelters, as well as other living traditions (haus tambarans, carved wood and stone figurines, bark paintings etc.) provide real insight into the culture and symbolic conventions of the semi-nomadic peoples who inhabited the caves.

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timestamp Mon, 07/19/2021 - 03:33