The Iatmul people, who live along the middle reaches of theSepik River, are among the most prolific and accomplishedsculptors in New Guinea. Iatmul religion was complex andincluded a diversity of rites and ceremonies devoted toancestors, spirits, and other supernatural beings. Almostevery important occasion had ceremonial aspects, andsome, such as male initiations, lasted for months. Iatmulceremonies often included both secret rites known only tomen and public performances in which women and childrenparticipated. In the past, warfare and headhunting wereintegral elements of religious life.The Iatmul were, and remain, vigorous artists and builders.Their most impressive architectural achievements were theirlarge, splendidly decorated men’s ceremonial houses, whichwere the center of male religious life. Ceremonial performancesentailed the use of masks, sacred images of ancestors andspirits, and a range of sacred musical instruments, includingflutes, slit gongs, and drums. Stools incorporating ancestralfigures formed the centerpieces for ceremonial debates.Almost all utilitarian objects also were carved and painted.