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The Sepik River Tribe

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Film Professor

on 8 September 2015

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Transcript of The Sepik River Tribe

The Sepik River Tribe
Many variations among villages along the Sepik River - art and trade
Head Hunting and Cannibalism
Scarification and the Crocodile
Crocodiles (both fresh and saltwater) are revered by the Sepik River Tribe and worshiped as the water spirit.
Staple foods: fish and sago (saksak) flour, extracted from the pith of the sago palm.
Tribal art - wood carvings

The old tradition was that young men could only come of age if they killed someone and took their head. They would sometimes use the skulls as trophies after war. Some tribes ate human flesh. This practice became obsolete in the 1920s.
Spirit Houses
Large spirit houses are built in the center of villages - only men are allowed in. Important ceremonies occurred here.
Boys are initiated to become men by going through a ceremony where their backs are cut to resemble the markings of the crocodile, which is a symbol of strength and power.
Dennis O'Rourke
1. In the Cannibal Tours reading, the author says that documentaries "primarily serve to make the audience feel good..." Do you agree with that statement? Do you think that a documentary's main purpose is not to enlighten but to help the viewer feel as if they have "achieved some cachet or absolution for themselves..."? (Page 3)
2. In the article Cannibal Tours, on page 6, O'Rourke states, "'Cannibal Tours' is a documentary film but it also is a fiction because it is an artifact, that is: someone made it." Thus, this implies documentaries are interpretations so they will never be fully truth, but the questions remains where should the line be drawn between fiction and documentary?
As Christians, if pursuing filmmaking, what is our role in balancing the truth and fiction of documentaries?

Savi Masks - Most powerful masks
tongues out - sign of aggression
Only certain powerful men can take them out of storage
Don't need to be danced to be powerful - just need to gather them.
Used in men's ceremonial Haus Tambarans
Mai Masks
represent pairs of mythological brothers and sisters
Names can't be said (even your own name) - represented with masks instead
Used in men's ceremonial Haus Tambarans - elders wear them and can say names to evoke magic and healing
Turtle mask - represents hunting spirits. Men want a lot of them around before going hunting.
Dream mask - the legend is that once you dream it, the spirit will make you do bad things until you have carved it.
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