Once a year, a dusting of colourful magic is bestowed upon Mount Hagen for two days, as more than 80 tribes gather to unite in a cultural extravaganza of feathers, bones, technicolour body paint, song and dance at one of the largest ‘Sing – Sings’ festivals in Papua New Guinea called the Mount Hagen Cultural Show.
The festival which started in 1961, before PNG became independent, was created to unify warring tribes. Nowadays, travellers from all over the world come to the highlands to submerge themselves in the rituals, the hundreds of dialects and the stories told through the mesmerising songs and dances of the tribal groups. The scene is awash with swaying feathers which decorate the elaborate headdresses. Pig tusks are pierced proudly through ears and noses and the sound of rattling bones hung around dancer’s necks becomes a background melody for the day. Suspended between the stunning backdrop of the mountains and the lush green grass is a sea of moving bodies, painted in rich earthy colours, every tribe displaying their art form according to their interpretation of the earth, their ancestors and spirits.