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By Henrica Hufantour and Jackleen Tili

MADANG, Papua New Guinea (August 17, 1999 – The National)---About 1,000 people braved the heat at the Laiwaden Oval here for the Tumbuan Mask Festival held over the weekend.

The festival was held outside of Port Moresby for the first time in its five-year history.

It was organized by the National Cultural Commission with assistance from the Madang provincial government.

National Cultural Commission executive director Dr. Jacob Simet said the festival is staged to promote the nation's mask cultures.

He said Madang is home to some of the most interesting mask cultures in the country.

Madang had four dance groups in the festival. They came from Kayan, Gamai, Awar and Toto villages all in the Bogia district.

Also featured were the Soaring mask of East Sepik, the famous Dukduk mask of Duke of York Island, DDK mask dancers of Morobe, the Kilenge mask of West New Britain and the popular Asaro Mudman of Goroka.

Besides the dancers there were eight singsing groups from Madang as well as a group of Milne Bay students who performed the famous Tapioka dance.

According to Dr. Simet, lack of funds prevented the commission from bringing more mask dancers from other provinces.

He said Madang was chosen from other venues because of its central location.

Dr. Simet thanked the provincial government for the K 14,000 (US$ 5,012) it gave to help the commission stage the festival.

The festival was opened by Madang Deputy Governor Pengau Nengo.

Dr. Simet said PNG had 125 mask groups but because of different beliefs and customs, apart from money, it was difficult to bring all the masks groups together for such an occasion.

He described the mask culture as unique and an important symbol and identity of the clans in the country.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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