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Japan Environment Quarterly (JEQ)
Volume 6 | June 2014

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Voice of MOE Family in the World

Are they made of mud? Mudmen!



Second Secretary, Economic Cooperation Section, Embassy of Japan in Papua New Guinea, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Mudmen-intimidating but somewhat humorous

Nearly 800 tribes remain in Papua New Guinea today. Each of these tribes forms and lives its own culture, but the "Mudmen" are conspicuous even among them. As their name suggests, the Mudmen cover their entire bodies in mud and wear mysterious masks made of mud.

Ethnic warfare was common in Papua New Guinea as recently as half a century ago. Never having been great fighters, the Mudmen tribe was always fleeing from their enemies. One time while fleeing, they became stuck in a pond and got covered in mud from head to toe. When they finally regained their footage and looked back at their pursuers, the enemies mistook their mud-covered figures for ghosts and turned on their heels. Though no one knows the truth of the matter, legend has it that this was the birth of the tribe. The Mudmen are said to have won battle after another by covering themselves in mud.

In reality, the tribe does not always dress in mud. But they do dress for festivals to please the tourists.

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