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The world’s tribal warriors are descending on Arrowtown.

Dunedin artist Frank Varsanyi is exhibiting 48 life-size sculptures kitted out in full regalia.

They include five Samurai soldiers complete with armour, Aboriginal men with authentic jewellery and dress, and other instantly recognisable tribes – Zulu, Maasai and Kongo.

“These are authentic, cultural period pieces – every one is well researched and I don’t just make it up in my mind,” he says.

“Everything is researched from old books in the 1700s and 1800s. Everything is spot on when it comes to tattoos and paintwork, it is not my artistic impression.”

Varsanyi started making the models 25 years ago after a stint in Borneo while volunteering at an orangutan sanctuary in the Southeast Asia island.

“That is how the adventure sort of began.”

This was followed by trips to the Amazon, the Sahara Desert and Mongolia.

Despite a quarter of a decade making the models, this will be his first public exhibition.

It opens at Lakes District Museum tomorrow.

Varsanyi starts off by building a frame, then adds jib and clay to create human features. Glass eyes and dentures are added – and he uses horse hair.

He has given some of his earlier models a bit of a face-lift to bring them up to standard. Over the years he has perfected his craft.

In the early days he bought glass animal eyes, sanded them down and painted them.

Now they are bought off the internet.

“They are 100 per cent genetically correct.”

Museum boss David Clarke was blown away when he first saw the collection in Varsanyi’s home.

“He has created something quite special without huge resources and is totally passionate about tribal cultures from around the world. I thought it would be the perfect summer exhibition combining art, history and culture all with a wow factor.”

Varsanyi hopes to open a museum in central Queenstown to house the models once the exhibition finishes.

He is currently on the hunt for premises – and plans a move to town next year.

louise.scott@scene.co.nz

Frank Varsanyi’s ‘Tribal Warrior Collection’ runs from tomorrow until Jan 2018