One of the most interesting places we visited on our Swain Destinations trip to PNG was the wig school, located in a large Huli village near Tari, in the Southern Highlands. Wig schools are run by Wig School Masters, and are open only to young males who have had no sexual encounters of any kind. Over the course of an 18-month program, students will grow and carefully tend to their hair with the end goal of crafting the elaborate wigs used by Huli men during tribal skirmishes and ceremonial singsings. In this image here, a group of young students are seen ritualistically watering their hair and cleansing themselves in a small mountain stream.
Traditionally, outsiders have been forbidden from visiting wig schools; recently, however, the Huli Wigmen have opened their doors on certain occasions to allow visitors the opportunity to glimpse at this important bit of cultural heritage.
Flash Parker traveled to PNG courtesy of Tourism Papua New Guinea and Swain Destinations as part of AFAR’s partnership with United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, and peace-of-mind to destinations across the globe. For more info on Flash’s journey, visit the USTOA blog.