Two provinces make up the Sepik region in Papua New Guinea. They are East Sepik, and West Sepik. They are sometimes called the Sepiks.
These two provinces are dominated the long, serpentine-like Sepik River. It is one of the most important rivers in the world. It is often compared with the Amazon and the Niles because of its unspoiled natural beauty and size. It is home of some of the largest freshwater and saltwater Crocodile populations in the world. It is home to more than 300 languages and 800 languages, making it one of the most diverse culturally-linguistically rich regions in the world.
The Sepik River is a unique place in Papua New Guinea. It is the most well-known region of the country. It is a vital source of water, food and transportation for the people living along its banks. Crocodile eggs and crocodile skins are precious commodities that are highly praised for their quality.
The Sepik River tribes are famous for their intricately carved spirit homes with high-pitched gabled roofs, called haus tambaran. These houses are used to discuss village matters. World-famous for their intricate wood carvings are the Sepik people. These include shields, masks and canoes with crocodile head prows, suspension hooks to eat, spirit house posts, ceremonial hooks, orators’ stools and garamut drums. Their tribes are very proud of the carvers.
The Sepik people still live in the same way as their ancestors and have preserved their fascinating traditions. The Sepik River is the center of Sepik culture. Crocodile hunting is a Sepik tradition. However, man and the crocodile share an intimate bond. Crocodiles are the Sepik’s totem animal. They represent gods, spirits, manhood, strength and power. In legends and beliefs, crocodiles are the central subject. An ancient myth tells of the migration of crocodiles from the Sepik River to land, where they eventually became humans.
Also, crocodiles play an important role in tribal gatherings and ceremonies. The East Sepik Province’s Chambri and Black Water tribes practice skin cutting ceremonies. This is a ritual scarring that mimics crocodile skin. This ceremony is held every four to five years and is meant to make boys men. The men proudly sport their scars that resemble the back of a Crocodile.
Some tribes, like the Yangit, also practice the male initiation ceremony. Yangit female initiation (Kraku Bandi), involves the skin-cutting of young girls after they have had their first period. This ceremony requires that the girls must be kept in isolation for three to four months. A big ceremony is held before the girls can reunite with their families.