Asmat: Cannibal Craftsmen of New Guinea

Location:New Guinea
Subject:Arts and crafts
Length:60 minutes
Format:1/2-inch VHS
Year Released:1977
Series:Other Lands, Other Peoples
Director:William Leimbach
Distributor:Lucky Country Productions
Library Code:
Description:The Asmat -- "people of the tree" -- have ritualized revenge. A warrior killed in battle must be commemorated in an elaborate ceremony. A giant mangrove tree is felled and brought to the village, where the women make a ritual defense against the returning men and the tree. From the tree, a bis, or ancestor pole, is carved in stylized effigy by skilled craftsmen who take six weeks to complete their work. Then warriors don their warpaint, go out and kill a warrior of the rival village, cut off his head, and eat him. The intimate daily routine in the village of Otjenep is seen to center about the sago tree, from which they derive an edible pulp, twine for nets, roofing thatch, and basket fibers. Today, their central ritual banned, the Asmat are left idle, falling prey to the tobacco and technology that western civilization offers in return for the riches in mangrove wood and oil to be found in their swamps.
Record No:114
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