PNG National Mask Festival day two

Day two of the PNG National Mask Festival in Kokopo was back to back dancing from over 20 local groups from the Baining and Tolai claims, along with a couple of initiation ceremonies. It kicked off with the Alor Mask dance by Bitakapuk, in blue and green masks, with a team of drummers and singers, some starting young.

The Atorola Mask dance by Menebonbon was pretty wonderful.


The Buram Mask dance by Main, a Baining group, was unlike any other at the festival.

The Agarere Mask dance by Turagunan was similar to others from day one, but larger in number.

The Guman Mask-Gaulim was clearly Baining with elaborate bark masks, and the first inclusion of a woman in a dance.

The Apalai Mask dance by Vunakaur featured some of the most elaborate Tolai costumes, with fabulous masks.

The headpieces of the Atabaran Mask dance by Napapa were rather wonderful.

More distinctive Baining costumes in the Iru Baining Mask dance by Main, and their own fire to dance around.

One of my favourite dances was Atek Mask by Vunararere, with amazing costumes and energetic dancing.

Atabaran Mask dance by Vairiki was well documented by the group themselves.


The Apap Mask dance by Viviran had more fantastic costumes and great dancing, one of the best of the day.

The first dancing kids of the day appeared with what was announced as Guki, but when the real Guki turned up a couple of dances later the announcer was clueless as to who this group was. They were definitely Baining though.

Akapul Mask dance by Takubar only had two dancers but they made up for lack of numbers with wonderful colour.

The real Guki Mask dance by Muruga Gaulim brought the cute kids out and some great face masks.

Aperapere Mask dance by Gunanur was the first whip dance, which preceded the main dance. Being hit in the arms and legs hard enough that the sticks broke wasn’t very comfortable to watch. The dancers themselves had more impressive headpieces.

The endurance award was won by Atabaran Mask dance by Bitakapuk who danced enthusiastically in heat and humidity for half an hour, though this kid seemed more interested in sucking his thumb than singing.

There was more whipping as part of the Varkinim-Tolai Male Initiation though not for the kids themselves being initiated by receiving gifts to mark their coming of age.

After seeing so many great dances I was a little underwhelmed by Agoigoi Mask dance by Napapar.

The day ended on a high though with the unusual and rather fabulous Sulka Double Headed Mask, with impressively coordinated jumping and shaking.

Author: jontycrane

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