2017 Crocodile Prize winners announced at Moresby awards
Journos gather for remarkable Sean Dorney tribute dinner

Striking photos of the past & present of Papua New Guinea

Joseph Kayan
Joseph Kayan, a Goroka Show participant from Chimbu Province


See all of Sandro’s wonderful images here

WASHINGTON - Is any place on the planet less familiar to Americans than heavily forested, mountainous, linguistically complex, faraway Papua New Guinea?

The images here document just a few points on the wide spectrum of life in PNG today. At one end is what might be called extravagant tradition. To see that, the photographer Sandro, who’s based in Chicago, went to the Eastern Highlands and attended the Goroka Show.

That’s a three-day festival where people from all over the country showcase their customs. In a makeshift studio Sandro photographed men and women wearing costumes unique to their villages.

This kind of undertaking is not without risk. Anthropologists rightly caution against ethnic stereotyping, and a Papuan elder in feathered regalia doesn’t stand in for the entire population any more than a woman wearing a calico bonnet in Colonial Williamsburg is a typical American.

GunmanBut his headdress is an amazing heirloom, a thing of beauty deeply linked to an ancient way of life.

At the other end of the spectrum is the underworld of Port Moresby, the capital, a city plagued by car-jackings and other street crimes.

Many of the perpetrators are young men who left the countryside in search of work, only to end up unemployed and living desperately in grim settlements.

Sandro’s pictures of them reveal a combination of fierceness and vulnerability that is downright poignant.

Then there are the women Sandro photographed. They toil on the other side of the world, but they’re familiar—one stooping under her burden, another smiling with a youngster on her hip.

These women don’t represent PNG. They represent humanity. They’re us.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bernard Corden

If ever we need to evaluate the corrosive impact of transhumanism even the traditional bilum is now woven with a pocket to accommodate iProsthetic smartphones......"How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in’t" - Shakespeare (The Tempest Act 5, Scene 1).

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)