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Group of Bundu girls in dancing costume, Jowati, Upper Mendi. Back view



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154 x 110 mm. A group portrait of five Bundu dancing girls in traditional costume: '...The dancing costume consists of a netting of country cotton worn over the body. Long bushy branches of palm-leaf fibre are suspended from the thickly plaited bangles of the same fibre round the arms and wrists: various sebbehs or gree-gree charms hang from the neck, and short knickerbockers of country cloth tied above the knees with country string complete the toilet. To these knickerbockers are fastened small pieces of hollow iron with little rings loosely hanging from them, which, as the dancing goes on, jingle not unpleasantly, for country iron gives out a somewhat rich sound. The chief feature of the get-up is, however, the dressing of the girls' faces with ... wojeh, composed of white clay and animal fat. The girls dance to the music of the seghura ... and also to the sangboi or tom-tom of the men. The girls not only dance together in a miniature ballet but execute very excellent pas seuls (a one person dance) in the most creditable and pretty manner ... At the conclusion of the entertainment the girls are escorted back to their place of concealment - the whole affair being conducted in the most orderly and decorous fashion.' (Alldridge, T.J. (1901), 'The Sherbo and its hinterland', London: Macmillan and Company, pp.138-9). Photograph taken in the 1890s.


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Royal Commonwealth Society Library. Cambridge University Library. University of Cambridge.

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