Gemtasu is getting mummified

  • Photographer
    Ulla Lohmann
  • Prize
    1st Place / Event/Traditions and Cultures
  • Date of Photograph

Tribal Elder Gemtasu from Papua New Guinea believes that traditional mummification gives eternal life. To him, being mummified means that he will be able to forever protect his living loved ones from evil spirits. Gemtasu is the last one to think like this. The young people live a modern life. They have no connection to this ancient tradition, which died out in the 50's. Gemtasu himself mummified his father, which was the last known mummification. He had to teach his children how to mummify with the help of pigs. When Gemtasu passed away peacefully, his family fulfilled his last wish. They all worked together for 4 months to dry his body above a constantly burning fire and they frequently eliminated the body fluids by stroking Gemtasu's body. They would sit together as a family around the fire and talk--as if Gemtasu would still be there. And he is.

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