In remote regions of Papua New Guinea, the tribes people
still lead a simple, subsistence existence, using the stone
tools in the same style they've used for centuries. In these
tropical climes the men wear a garment (of sorts) known as
a penis gourd or 'horim', which is fashioned
out of an orchid chord. The gourd, which is often decorated
with tassels and shells, is fastened around the waist with
bilum string and worn over the penis at a jaunty angle.
The gourd is not actually unique to Papua New Guinea - similar
accessories have also been the fashion in parts of South America
and Africa - but in parts of PNG they are still considered
everyday dress and tribesmen may have several different ones
which they'll wear on special occasions and during ceremonies.
Nonetheless, in most parts of the country Western dress is
considered more acceptable and in the 1970's the Indonesian
government proposed a ban on the wearing of skimpy, primitive
gourds in the interests of public modesty. Their attempts
were met with fierce opposition, and the gourd has become
something of a symbol of defiance against the authorities.
Even so, Western dress is required within the confines of
The penis gourd is made out of an orchid chord or
other vegetable shell, which is weighted while growing to
give it a peculiar elongated shape. They are usually decorated
by local women, who'll embroider them with twine, shells,
seeds or tassels.
Bag a bargain
Gourds are increasingly popular with tourists, and certainly
make for a novel souvenir for the folks back home. They tend
to prefer more ornate gourds - the larger the better - and
a whole industry has grown up to cater to their preferences.
Some people even fashion novelty gourds out of Western objects,
such as tin cans, rubber tyres and old toothpaste tubes.