Image: Widow in pipeclay mourning

Widow in pipeclay mourning

Widow in pipeclay mourning - a custom of the Orokaiva people, Oro Province, Papua New Guinea, about 1923

© Australian Museum Archives


For the people of Collingwood Bay in Oro Province, north-east Papua New Guinea, death was associated with elaborate mourning rituals and the wearing of specific mourning attire. After the deceased was buried, their spouse went into seclusion for a considerable period of time, sometimes many months. It was often the widow who did this but, in some areas, it was also the widower. During seclusion she could not be seen or heard by the other villagers and when she went out she had to be covered up by a large tapa. But she could be visited by other women from the village who would help her make the baja (mourning vest) she would wear when her seclusion was over.

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Tags Death Online, remembering the dead, mourning, Oro Province, Papua New Guinea, widow, pipeclay, mourning dress,