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Introducing Western Highlands & Jiwaka Provinces

The people in this area are fiercely proud, with strong tribal loyalties and complicated clan affiliations. In part, it was because of such divisions that three districts split from the Western Highlands and formed Jiwaka Province in 2012.

Mt Hagen is by far the region’s largest town (and the capital of the Western Province) and it wasn’t that many years ago when farmers could be seen proudly strutting through Hagen’s market in traditional clothing. The men favoured wide belts of beaten bark with a drape of strings in front and a rear covered by a bunch of leaves attached to a belt (known collectively as a tanket or arse gras). Women wore string skirts and hung cuscus fur ‘scarfs’ around their necks. Such attire is now reserved for singsings and political rallies but the proud swagger lives on. Singsings are still an integral part of life and a great opportunity to witness the Highlanders’ singular sense of style – make every effort to see one.