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Visit to Papua New Guinea's biggest sing sing

Those beautiful people, the cheerful colors, the great headdresses. More than 800 languages ​​and as many different tribes, all with their own culture. The reason I've been dreaming for years to go to Papua New Guinea to go. After a week at the Hey Wigmen After having stayed, it is now time to see some of those more than 800 tribes. We do that during the Mount Hagen show; a show where tribes show their splendor in a sing-sing. By putting on the most beautiful make-up, wearing the most fantastic headdresses and performing the most challenging dances. This seemed like a good idea to them instead of fighting, and I can't disagree.

Also read: Information and first introduction to Papua New Guinea

What is a sing sing?

Sing-sing is a gathering of some tribes or villages in Papua New Guinea. People come together to show their different culture, dance and music. The purpose of these gatherings is to share traditions peacefully, as each island, region and sometimes even village has its own dance. Villagers paint and decorate themselves for song-singing they only have once a year.

In the past, the different tribes fought with each other. In the meantime they have put down the spears and picked up the dance steps.

Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl
A Huli Wigmen, © MYgrations.nl
A Huli Wigmen, © MYgrations.nl

The biggest sing-sing in the country

Mount Hagen is the third largest city in Papua New Guinea with 46.250 inhabitants. It is the capital of the Western Highlands Province and is located in the large fertile Wahgi Valley in the central mainland of Papua New Guinea, at an elevation of 1.677 m.

A Huli Wigmen, © MYgrations.nl
Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl

The city is named after the ancient eroded volcano, Mount Hagen, about 24 miles northwest of the city. And the volcano is named after the German colonial officer Curt von Hagen.

Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl
Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl

De Mount Hagen Cultural Show was first organized in 1964 by many different tribes from the Western Highlands Province. The show aimed to share the cultural experience with each other and to calm the ever-present hostility and enmity between tribes by bringing all the tribes together in one cultural event to show the positive side of life and the diversity of cultures among the natives celebrate. And that worked out nicely.

Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl
Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl
Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl
Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl

Off to the party!

Because our car broke down again, we arrived a little later, but just in time to see everyone getting ready for the big sing-sing. After making up, it's time to head to the field where it's all going to happen. Not everyone is allowed on the field. Except for the dancing groups, only people with a ticket are allowed to enter the field. This is often too expensive for the locals, so you mainly see a lot of white tourists with large cameras inside. That's not to say that the people from Mount Hagen and surrounding villages don't get anything. On the contrary. They are all on hills around the field and perhaps have the best view.

Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl
Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl

From the knolls you can see all the tribes performing their dances, the song echoes through all the streets of Mount Hagen and the breeze reaches the hills but not the fields.

Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl
Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl

So we are on the field, in the sweltering heat and without sunburn. It is very cosy, there are stalls with souvenirs and we also find some food and drinks. The groups dance alternately, sing out loud and have fun taking pictures with us. And us with them of course.

Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl
Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl
Tribes at the Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl
Mount Hagen Festival, © MYgrations.nl

The winner of the sing-sing

There are about 100 tribes who peacefully share their cultural traditions through costumes, dance and music. Disguised in anthropomorphic body paint, dressed in the most colorful headdresses, jewelery made from shells and boar tusks, and skirts made from leaves and fur, the groups perform their primal dances. The tribe that gets the most applause and the biggest reaction from the audience wins.

When the Huli Wigmen take the stage, perform their dance and let out their warrior cries, it soon becomes apparent. Not very surprising, of course, because Mount Hagen is located in the area of ​​the largest tribe in the country. Besides, it's just too crazy to watch. The Huli Wigmen leap high into the air, the feathers of birds of paradise on their heads move gracefully through the air and the cries are, even now, terrifying. We can imagine that you will think twice about fighting with the Huli Wigmen warriors when you hear these sounds.

Also read: The Huli Wigmen of Papua New Guinea

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