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Papua New Guinea Mythology Gods and Goddesses

Papua New Guinea is a country that is rich in culture and tradition. One aspect of this culture is the mythology of the gods and goddesses that are revered by the indigenous communities. These deities represent different aspects of the Melanesian culture and offer insights into the beliefs and values of the people.

Exploring the mythology of Papua New Guinea reveals a diverse pantheon of gods and goddesses. Some of the most prominent deities include Areop-Enap, the Giant Spider God, and Baloma, the spirits of the dead. The mythology of Papua New Guinea is characterized by animistic beliefs and ancestor worship, which are central to the traditional rituals and beliefs of the Papuan culture.

Ancestor worship is a significant part of the religion of the indigenous communities in Papua New Guinea. Through prayer and ritual, supernatural beings and forces can be controlled to a large extent by the use of magic, which is central to Melanesian religion. The presence and activities of ancestral spirits are revealed in dreams and by divination.

Creation Myths

The Beginning of the World

In Papua New Guinea mythology, the beginning of the world is often depicted as a time of chaos and confusion. One popular creation myth tells of a great flood that covered the earth, destroying everything in its wake. However, from the chaos emerged a new world, where the gods and goddesses could thrive. Another creation myth tells of a giant spider god named Areop-Enap, who created the world by spinning a web that stretched across the sky.

The First Beings

According to Papua New Guinea mythology, the first beings to inhabit the world were often supernatural in nature. One creation myth tells of a sun deity named Dudugera, who brought light and warmth to the world. Another myth tells of a cosmic serpent named Agunua, who created the rivers and streams that flow through the land. In some stories, the first beings were human-like creatures who possessed magical powers and could communicate with the gods and goddesses. These beings were often revered as ancestors and were believed to have played a significant role in shaping the world as it is today.

Major Deities

Papua New Guinea Mythology is rich with a diverse range of gods and goddesses, each with their unique characteristics and stories. Here are some of the major deities worshipped by the people of Papua New Guinea.


Kuniya is a goddess of fertility and motherhood, worshipped by the people of the Highlands. She is depicted as a beautiful woman with long hair and is often associated with snakes, which are considered sacred in Papua New Guinea. Kuniya is believed to bring good fortune and prosperity to those who worship her.


Sukurru is a god of the sea, worshipped by the coastal tribes of Papua New Guinea. He is depicted as a powerful and fearsome deity, capable of creating and destroying entire islands. Sukurru is believed to control the tides and the weather, and is often depicted holding a trident and riding on a giant sea turtle.


Daramulum is a god of the sky, worshipped by the people of the Sepik River region. He is depicted as a wise old man with a long beard and is associated with thunder and lightning. Daramulum is believed to be the creator of the universe and is often depicted holding a staff or a spear.

In conclusion, Papua New Guinea Mythology is a fascinating and complex belief system that has been passed down through generations. Each deity plays a significant role in the culture and traditions of Papua New Guinea, and their stories continue to be told and celebrated today.

Nature Spirits and Ancestral Beings

Papua New Guinea mythology is rich in stories of nature spirits and ancestral beings. These entities are believed to be powerful and influential in the lives of the people, and are often invoked in rituals and ceremonies.

The Duk-Duk

One of the most well-known nature spirits in Papua New Guinea is the Duk-Duk. This spirit is believed to be a protector of the people and is often depicted as a large, masked figure. The Duk-Duk is said to have the power to bring rain and fertility to the land, and is often invoked during planting and harvest seasons.

Masalai Spirits

Another important group of spirits in Papua New Guinea mythology are the Masalai. These spirits are believed to inhabit the forests and mountains, and are often associated with natural disasters such as earthquakes and landslides. The Masalai are said to be shape-shifters, and can take on the form of animals or other natural elements.

In addition to these specific spirits, ancestral beings are also an important part of Papua New Guinea mythology. The people believe that their ancestors continue to watch over and protect them, and that they can communicate with them through dreams and visions.

Overall, the rich mythology of Papua New Guinea reflects the deep connection that the people have with nature and their belief in the power of spirits and ancestral beings.

Cultural Heroes and Legendary Figures

Tomas Kabar

Tomas Kabar is a prominent figure in Papua New Guinea mythology. He is known for his bravery and intelligence, and his ability to outsmart his opponents. According to legend, Tomas Kabar once defeated a giant spider god called Areop-Enap by tricking him into getting stuck in a spider web. Tomas Kabar is also said to have created the first human beings by molding them out of clay and breathing life into them.

Sedan and the Sisters

Another important figure in Papua New Guinea mythology is Sedan, a powerful warrior who is said to have defeated many enemies in battle. One of his most famous exploits was his victory over the seven sisters, a group of powerful sorceresses who had been terrorizing the local villages. Sedan defeated the sisters by using his wits and his strength, and he became a hero to the people of his village.

In conclusion, Papua New Guinea mythology is full of fascinating stories and legendary figures. From the brave and cunning Tomas Kabar to the powerful warrior Sedan, these cultural heroes continue to inspire and captivate people all over the world.

Rituals and Ceremonies

Malagan Carvings

The Malagan carvings are a significant part of the rituals and ceremonies of Papua New Guinea mythology. They are intricately carved wooden sculptures that are used in funerary rites to honor the dead. These carvings are believed to embody the spirits of the deceased and are often adorned with feathers, shells, and other decorative elements. The Malagan carvings are considered sacred objects and are only used during specific ceremonies.

Fire Dances

Fire dances are another important aspect of Papua New Guinea mythology. These dances are performed during special occasions such as weddings, funerals, and other significant events. The dancers wear elaborate costumes and use fire as a symbolic representation of the power of the gods. The dances are believed to be a way of communicating with the spirits and asking for their blessings. Fire dances are a visual spectacle that is both mesmerizing and awe-inspiring.

Mythological Places

The Sacred Volcano

In Papua New Guinea mythology, the sacred volcano is believed to be the dwelling place of the gods and goddesses. It is a place of great power and significance, and is often the site of important rituals and ceremonies. The volcano is considered to be a gateway between the physical world and the spiritual realm, and is believed to be the source of life and fertility.

Baining Mountains

The Baining Mountains are another important location in Papua New Guinea mythology. The mountains are home to a number of spirits and deities, and are believed to be the birthplace of many of the country’s traditional stories and legends. The Baining people believe that the mountains are a sacred place, and that they are imbued with great spiritual power.

In addition to their spiritual significance, the Baining Mountains are also known for their stunning natural beauty. The area is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including many rare and endangered species. Visitors to the region can explore the mountains’ many hiking trails, or simply take in the breathtaking views from one of the many scenic overlooks.

Contemporary Influence

Modern Storytelling

Papua New Guinea mythology continues to inspire contemporary storytelling in various forms, from literature to film. The country’s rich cultural heritage has been a source of inspiration for many writers and filmmakers around the world. For instance, the novel “Mister Pip” by Lloyd Jones, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007, tells the story of a young girl growing up in Bougainville during the civil war, who finds solace in the teachings of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations”. The novel is a testament to the power of storytelling and how it can transcend cultural boundaries.

Cultural Preservation

Efforts to preserve Papua New Guinea’s cultural heritage have been ongoing for many years. The government, in collaboration with various cultural institutions, has implemented several initiatives aimed at preserving traditional practices, including mythology. One such initiative is the National Cultural Commission, which is responsible for promoting and preserving the country’s diverse cultural heritage. The commission has established cultural centers in various parts of the country, where visitors can learn about the country’s cultural practices, including mythology.

Moreover, several non-governmental organizations have also been established to promote cultural preservation, including the Papua New Guinea Museum and Art Gallery. The museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts, including traditional masks, carvings, and sculptures, which are used to educate visitors about the country’s cultural heritage. These efforts have been instrumental in ensuring that Papua New Guinea’s mythology and other cultural practices are preserved for future generations.