ID numberART21325
Collection typeArt
TitleKiwaian dance
MeasurementOverall: 19.7 cm x 27.2 cm
Object typeDrawing
MakerDargie, William
Place madeNew Guinea: Papua New Guinea, Papua, Port Moresby
Date made1943
Physical descriptionwatercolour and pen and ink on paper
CopyrightAWM copyright
DescriptionWhile stationed in Papua New Guinea, Dargie noted the following observation in relation to this drawing:
The Kiwaians are possibly the most virile and hardworking of the Papuan natives, in the opinion of ANGAU [Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit] officers. They differ in some respects from other Papuans, both in customs and physical appearance. One of the most striking features is the predominance of the long arched Semitic type of nose among them. They are in a totemistic stage of culture, a somewhat rare thing in Papua and even in the Torres Strait Islands. Haddon records that in 1898 it was common for the men to paint the symbol or image of their particular totem on chest or back before taking part in a dance, but I did not see any evidence of this on this occasion. Dancing seems to represent their highest cultural achievement, and in this they have reached a very high standard of expression. New dances and songs are still composed (see below) and the men who have the ability to create these things are held in very high respect by their fellows.
The Kiwaians who danced on this occasion were mostly boys who had worked on the carrier line over the Kokoda trail in August-December 1942, and the main feature that they presented was a new dance composed to commemorate their part in carrying supplies and bringing back the wounded Australians. In this dance they carried sticks, about fifteen feet in length, and topped with a triangular white pennon. The dancers mimed the actions of carrying wounded men (although in a rather abstract manner), crouching to avoid bullets, and shrinking away from a threatening enemy".