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Catalog Data

Hallet, Judith Director  Search this
Rueben Aaronson, Co-director, Cinematographer  Search this
Richard Kane, Sound Recordist  Search this
Sam Green, Editor  Search this
Paul Taylor, Anthropologist  Search this
Physical description:
53 min sound color video
Korowai  Search this
Projected media
Collection descriptions
New Guinea
Edited film produced by the Smithsonian Institution documents anthropologist Paul Taylor's expedition into previously unexplored and undocumented rainforest on the island of New Guinea. Featured are the Korowai, a people who live above ground in tree house clusters in the midst of dense rainforest. Footage depicts the process of building a tree house, including site selection, erection, and roof and floor formation; forehead bands worn by women; geometric scars burned into girls' skin for aesthetic purposes; paddling upriver in dugout canoes; and trekking through rainforest. Animal footage includes shots of grasshoppers, bats, boa constrictors, beetles, arthropods and insects. Second part of the expedition documents the journey upriver beyond the pacification land into an area of tribal warfare where cannibalism is said to be practiced. Taylor explores the myth of cannibalism and theorizes it functioned not only as a means of intertribal warfare, but as a highly effective criminal justice system as well. The structural contrast between the placid domesticity of treehouse life and the darker side of cannibalism is a theme explored throughout. Various rituals examined are preparing the sago flour from the sago palm tree, post funeral practices where distant relatives come to claim material posessions of the deceased to compensate for their emotional losses, and moving in process upon completion of a new treehouse.
Repository Loc.:
Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, MD
Funerary  Search this
Adornment--headbands  Search this
Cannibalism  Search this
Headhunting  Search this
Carving  Search this
Dwellings--treehouse  Search this
Sorcery  Search this
Warfare--intertribal  Search this
Law  Search this
Canoes  Search this
Body marking  Search this
Local number:
HSFA 1991.1.0
Data Source:
Human Studies Film Archives