The Rituals in East Sepik - PNG

 Along the Sepik River in Eastern Papua New Guinea, where crocodiles reign, there lies a tribe where coming of age is a painful and sometimes dangerous event. 

The Chambri Tribe commonly called The Crocodile Men of Papua New Guinea believe humans evolved from the pre-historic river predators and that the creature is therefore sacred. 

They pay homage to this sacred animal every 4-5 years through a ceremony involving scarification. Scarification might be a trendy new body modification in the western world, but for the Chambri Tribe, it is a right of passage for males aged 11 to 30 years. 

To make the transition from boy to man, elders cut deeply into their backs, chests and buttocks to make the skin appear scaly: like that of a crocodile. The marks are meant to be representative of tooth marks from the crocodile as it ‘swallows’ the young men during the ceremony. To prepare for the ritual, which can be so intense that it results in death, the men live in a ‘Spirit House’ for six weeks.

Words and Photo by : Keran Philemon Yangu

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