shake your tale feather – the art of seduction

I caught the end of the ‘Rituals of Seduction: Birds of Paradise’ exhibition at the Australian Museum last weekend.  Im in love with birds and feathers at the moment, birds along with the black panther are my favourite animal.  To give you the vibe of the exhibition, here’s the official blurb: Rituals of Seduction: Birds of Paradise – It takes the visitor to the vine-tangled forests of New Guinea, Australia and Indonesia where the exotic birds of paradise engage in extraordinary rituals, and helps answer the perennial question: what do you have to do to attract a mate?  As noted by eminent naturalist Sir David Attenborough, more than any other animal species, male birds of paradise have evolved the most varied and surreal answers to this question!

I was so inspired by the colour, the intricacy and the boom boom wow factor of the ornate head pieces worn by Papua New Guinea (PNG) tribes people.  And by the dazzling beauty of the birds, they are amazing.   The traditions and the pageantry from both the birds and the tribes was so exotic and alive and vivid.

The boy birds have the most showy plumes and do these mad courtship dances to attract the ladies…..the exhibition showed how some modern dance; – hip hop, simulates the birds movements (by coincidence or mimicry). The men of the tribe wear the head pieces as a symbol of status and to attract a mate, I was having a bit of a laugh thinking western women are lucky if a guy slaps on a bit of aftershave.  And I was thinking how different it is in my world where the emphasis is on women attracting…….as we preen our tail feathers, coif our hair, wax what we don’t want, remove blemishes and ‘make up’ the rest.

I really enjoyed seeing how the tribes approached the age old question of how to attract a mate, with the help of the mighty feather.  I haven’t touched on the destruction of forest that’s slowly eroding these beautiful traditions, or the exploitation of the practices for tourist pleasure.  It’s a Friday morning and I thought I’d just like to share the beauty of difference and how were all connected.  Seems how to attract a mate is an age old universal pre occupation.  Feathers are the go in PNG, no online dating required.


About maree

I'm creative and curious and love writing about the fine and messy art of creating an authentic joy laden life.


  1. Justine Gosbee

    Bring back the old fashioned man maybe not so much makeup as these New Guinean men but hey there’s nothing wrong with a spot of eyeliner I say!

  2. the exhibition is obviously very inspiring – great post! Daft fact:
    You also reminded me I always used to get naturalist and naturist mixed up – could have been embarrassing if I’d ever met one of either!

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