SERIES E    GOROKA

 

 

We proudly present our latest range of figures. Surely this must be the most unusual series of miniatures ever produced!

 

These figures represent the Highland tribes of Papua New Guinea who gather every two years to celebrate their ethnicity in all its glory at Goroka on Mount Hagen. There are various exchange (moka) festivals, Sing-Sing festival, initiation rites and ceremonies.

 

The participants would wear their headdress, long aprons and rear coverings of cordyline leaves. Make-up is then applied and feathers are then inserted into the headdress. Additional foliage, ornaments and shell decorations would then complete the ensemble.

 

At a moka, these groups would try to outdo each other with their display and the size of their gifts, comprising pigs and valuable shell ornaments. The activities usually comprise gift exchanges and group dancing displays. The groups are broadly divided between donors and recipients, with both groups being adorned differently. In addition, helpers who are generally family members will participate on either side and also be appropriately adorned.

 

The participants go to great lengths to ensure that their group display is generally coordinated. The men dominate these events and are most prodigiously displayed, in imitation of the various bird of paradise species found in Papua New Guinea. The women generally take a secondary role in these proceedings.

Either head nets or wigs could be worn. The most basic form of head dress is a head net, wrapped around the wearer’s head. This is also worn for casual display, unadorned or with bits of foliage and plumage added. Sometimes, an animal skin is wrapped around the head net. Men also belong to various sects and societies. They display their kinship with each other in the form of brightly painted geru boards, made from bark, and inserted into their display.

 

Women do not generally use wigs and the feather sets may be inserted directly into the head nets. The head net could be left in dark brown, or daubed with red ochre or white clay.

 

Wigs (peng) of either black or reddish-brown colour supported by bamboo frames are built up from hair or seed burrs and worn on top of the wearer’s head net.

 

Papua New Guinea abounds with numerous bird species, the most colourful being the various birds of paradise, parrots, lorikeets, cockatoos, eagles and others. Their plumages are featured profusely in native display. Depending on taste and the occasion, various groups may decide to wear certain feather combinations on their wigs or head nets. Only certain combinations of feathers are allowed in specific displays.

 

These figures are based on copious research into scanty documentation and visual records of many of these tribes. The various tribes can be identified by their headdress, body colouration and adornment. As many of these natives smeared themselves with greasy paint and pig fat, the glossy finish on these figures perfectly captures their final appearance.

 

Artistically, this range posed a few challenges.

 

Firstly, the depiction of complex headdress in toy soldier style comprised various cast pieces, soldered wire and cut sheet metal.

 

Secondly, the depiction of dance movement was achieved by deliberate juxtapositioning of the shoulder lugs. Thus numerous torsos were created and made into castings comprising upper and lower body parts to allow for many permutations.

 

Thirdly, additional wires and specific cast items representing drums, beads, shells and grass skirts were randomly added as adornment to personalize each piece. Sheet metal was used extensively to represent feathers, grasses and leaves.

 

Each set will be sold as a grouping of 4-6 pieces, although individual pieces can be ordered as well. Please note that the intention here is to create unique pieces. No attempt will be made to duplicate exactly any existing figure.

The tribes represented here are as follows:-

Melpa/ Enga

Mendi

Huli

 

(Click on each heading to see the specific sets)

 

A GOROKA DISPLAY

 

The Display Base can be purchased separately

 

Enjoy your visit.