The Asaro Mudmen of Papua New Guinea

Our first legend of the new year comes from Papua New Guinea. From this legend a festival was born, and now the Asaro embrace the image of looking like spirits from another realm. They have even elaborated on the legend by elongating their fingers with shoots of bamboo, and crafted spooky clay masks to be paired with their muddy body parts. Today, tourists can visit the Asaro village and watch the Mudmen perform many of their traditional dances and ceremonies. Enjoy!

The Asaro Mudmen

A long time ago the Asaro were caught in the midst of a fierce tribal war. One battle ended badly for the Asaro, forcing them to take cover on the muddy banks of the Asaro river. As they hid, the clay mud covered their entire bodies, drying to a shade of a ghastly white.

The Asaro waited until dusk to make their escape. But what they didn’t realize was that their enemies were still waiting nearby.

When the Asaro arose in the misty light of dusk, bodies whitened by the dried mud, they looked like spirits awakened from another realm. Their superstitious enemies were so frightened by the sight that they ran for their lives without firing a single arrow, forfeiting the battle.

The Asaro Mudmen (Papua New Guinea)

“The Asaro Mudmen,” illustration by Tara Bonvillain, copyright 2021.

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