Before They Pass Away: A Photographer Races After Vanishing Tribes

By Jane Hwang - 2014-01-07T15:48:54Z

Photograph by Jimmy Nelson BV courtesy teNeues

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The Asaro Mudmen of Papua New Guinea

"The eastern half of New Guinea, the world’s second-largest island, gained full independence from Australia in 1975, when the nation of Papua New Guinea was born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. The harsh terrain and historic inter-tribal warfare has led to village isolation and the proliferation of distinct languages. The last Stone Age tribe was discovered as recently as 1980, hidden in the jungle. The legend of the Asaro Mudmen says that they were defeated by an enemy tribe and forced to flee into the Asaro River, where they waited until dusk before attempting to escape. The enemy saw them rise from the banks, covered in mud and thought they were spirits." -- Before They Pass Away 

Logging operations and the recent discovery of oil by Malaysian companies have wiped out large portions of the Papuan forest. 

Left: Asaro, Eastern Highlands, 2010