Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Grenville Charles: Tribes of West Papua

Grenville Charles is a freelance photographer, whose main body of work is in TV and film stills for the BBC and Granada Television amongst others. Passionate about tribal cultures led him to travel to Asia where he photographed the Vietnam Hill Tribes of the central highlands, and to the remote jungles of West Papua to document the Dani, Korowai, Mek, Kombai and Asmat tribes. His portfolio of the Tribes of West Papua is featured on ZoneZero.

He was shortlisted in 2004 and was the runner up in 2008 for the Wanderlust Travel Photographer of the Year Award. In 2008, he was one of only 22 photographers selected from international applications to participate in a 5 day Magnum Workshop led by Magnum photographers Carl De Keyzer, Mark Power and David Hurn.

West Papua is the former Irian Jaya, and is home to more than 300 tribes. They have inhabited the island for more than 40,000 years. The Dani tribe are by far the most populous and probably the best known ethnic group in Papua. Another of the highland tribes are the Mek who live in the area surrounding Kosarek, despite there being an airstrip, the area is still very remote and very little visited by tourists.

The lowland jungles are home to the Korowai, since the mid 1980's some of the Korowai have moved to the missionary villages such as Yaniruma and Yafufla, but the majority of them live as they always have, in their treetop homes in the jungle swamps.