This article on Papua New Guinea covers the highland Huli tribe. This is perhaps the most photographed group of the Highlands, as they take a very prominent role in the annual Sing-sing festivals and in tourist advertisments.

Part of their appeal comes from their unique body display. Unlike most other highland tribes which choose to use black (or red) facial displays, the Huli men choose to use yellow as the basic face display. Furthermore, they use wigs in their displays.


For festive or ceremonial occasions, the participants have to ensure that their group display is suitably fitting. There are two types of basic wig shapes for the men – Mali (married) and Haroli (bachelors). Mali wigs are upturned and Haroli wigs are downturned. Women do not wear wigs.


Schematics of Huli men Festive Display – 1-4 are Mali (married), 5,6 are Haroli (bachelor). 1-5 are donors, 6 is a recipient.


At a moka, the donors would have towering feather sets and the recipients would have red feathers. These towering feather sets are very similar to the rolled koi wal sets as used by the Melpa donors. Donors may sometimes add the unique Crown of Saxony plumes to their feather sets. The men dominate these events and are most prodigiously displayed, in imitation of the various bird of paradise species found in PNG. The women generally take a secondary role in these proceedings.


An interesting video can be seen on this link:



Creating the Figures


These realistic and completely unique figures are made from epoxy putty. Real feathers cut down to size were used for some of the plumage such as the fluffy Red Bird of Paradise or Ranggania plumage. Dried small fronds painted black were used for the Black Sicklebilled bird of paradise and Princess Stephanie plumes. The Crown of Saxony plume was made from wire detailed with tiny blobs of acrylic paint. For vegetation, dried flowers and brass-etched foliage were used. 


Mali donor man chasing his pig which is used for a gift exchange


Haroli Dancer (recipient) performing a bird dance