Children of Tarakbits put mud all over their bodies and dance as “mud men” to welcome the arrival of a Catholic bishop. Tarakbits is an isolated village in the isolated Western Province, nearby the Indonesian border, and mostly inhabited by Catholics. Many of the local traditions in the country have disappeared due to the Christian missionary activities, as most Churches forbid traditions like singing and dancing, which are regarded as primitive ancestor worship rituals, and thus heretics. But the Catholic Church still allow most of the local traditions to be preserved, as long as it’s not against the Christian faith. The Catholic Church in Tarakbits even allow traditional Papua dances to be practiced inside the church.

Tarakbits, Western Province, Papua New Guinea, 2014

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