Papua New Guinea: Huli Wigmen Hair School
Huli Wigmen go to a special hair school where they spend 18 months at a time growing their hair and then making a wig out of it. It is the right of passage for every Huli man to have 2-3 wigs in his life and potentially sell a couple as well. Under the tutelage of a skilled instructor, Huli men spend 1.5 years “nurturing” their hair – they sleep on bricks and rocks so as not to flatten it, the hair is never washed in 18 months, there are special ceremonies to “water” the hair so it grows better, and finally they take care of each other to make sure there are no ticks and other insects. There are tests and swearing in ceremonies to pass along this endeavor. The wig is often modeled while the hair is still attached to the head, then it is cut and made into a circular wig. Two-times wig can then be further framed into a square “hat” for senior Wigmen worriers. The art of wig growing and making is past from generation to generation.