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My Friend the Mudman | Papua New Guinea Travel Tips

Before I went to to Papua New Guinea all I heard about was cannibals, crime, and how unsafe of a place it is. My friends told me was about how scary, different, and unpleasant Papua New Guinea would be, rather than the unique and interesting cultures I would experience.

To be honest, it made me nervous that people were sharing so many fears.  But when I arrived I learned that these fears couldn’t be further from the truth. Meet my friend Espional. He is from a small village in Papua New Guinea called Asaro, home of the Mudmen Tribe. This is one of the most feared tribes in the world because... well, they are known cannibals.

Espional told me that centuries ago yes, they were cannibals. Legend has it that the Mudmen Tribe began when an enemy began to take over their land. They retreated to the Asaro River and began to paint themselves with white clay and craft masks from the soft mud. Pretending to be evil spirits they scared their enemy away and protected their land.

Today the Mudmen Tribe wear scary masks and paint themselves with white clay to look like evil spirits to scare enemies away. But there is no more cannibalism. It’s a myth that people in Papua New Guinea are cannibals. So then, why do people still say this?

People often fear the unknown, what they don’t understand, and what appears to be different. We shouldn’t be so quick to label an entire country or community of people without getting to know them first.