Province: East New Britain
Languages: 5 languages
Population: 328,368 inhabitants (2011 census)
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 recent times. Another major factor that caused the migration inland was the major volcanic activities over the centuries.
The Baining tribes get their name from the Baining Mountains which they inhabit.
The Baining people’s artworks are usually produced for limited uses only. The masks are made from tree bark, bamboo and leaves and used only once for the fire dance ceremony before being thrown away or destroyed.
The origin of the fire dance ceremonies was to celebrate the birth of children, the commencement of harvests and also a way of remembering the dead. The Baining fire dance 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.