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The Baining people are among the earliest and original inhabitants of the Gazelle Peninsula of East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. They currently inhabit the Baining Mountains into where they are thought to have been driven by the Tolai tribes who migrated to the coastal areas in comparatively recent times. Another factor that might have influenced their migration inland was major volcanic activity that took place over centuries. (As recently as 1994, the nearby town of Rabaul was almost completely destroyed by two volcanoes, Tavurvur and Vulcan)

A Fire Dancer of the Baining people

The Baining tribes get their name from the Baining Mountains which they inhabit. Their language is also called Baining of which there are a few different dialects.


The Baining people's artworks are usually produced for limited uses only. The masks are laboriously made from bark cloth, bamboo and leaves and used just once for the firedance ceremony before being thrown away or destroyed.

The origin of these firedance ceremonies was to celebrate the birth of new children; the commencement of harvests and also a way of remembering the dead. The Baining firedance is also a rite of passage for initiating young men into adulthood. The fire dance is a men-only event and traditionally the Baining women and children neither partake nor watch.


  • Fajans, Jane. They Make Themselves: Work and Play Among the Baining of Papua New Guinea. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. ISBN 0-226-23443-6
  • Pool, Gail. Lost Among the Baining: Adventure, Marriage, and Other Fieldwork. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2015. ISBN 0-826-22051-7

External links[edit]

Media related to Baining at Wikimedia Commons