Kalman "Kal" Antal Muller is a photographer and author who spent several years during the late 1960s and early 1970s living with and documenting kastom (in Bislama; tradition or custom, in English) communities in Vanuatu, an island nation in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Born in Hungary in 1939, Muller moved to the United States at age twelve. He first visited Vanuatu in 1966 following a sailing trip across the Pacific. As he developed ties with Ni-Vanuatu communities, Muller filmed and photographed traditional practices on different islands across the archipelago, including the Banks, Malekula, Pentecost, and Tanna islands. Muller filmed the naghol (land dive) carried out by the Bunlap community on Pentecost Island, resulting in the film Land-Divers of Melanesia, a collaboration with Robert Gardner and the Harvard Film Study Center. Muller also performed the naghol himself and wrote about the experience in a 1970 article for National Geographic, "Land Diving with the Pentecost Islanders," which was illustrated with his photographs. His time in Vanuatu provided Muller with material for other published pieces featuring his photographs, including a second story for National Geographic and several articles in the Journal de la Société des Océanistes. His photographs and films of kastom communities garnered interest and support from several cultural anthropologists at the time, including E. Richard Sorenson and Alan Lomax, as well as from NIH scientist D. Carleton Gajdusek.
From 1973 to 1975, with backing from Sorenson and Gajdusek, Muller also spent time with the Wixárika (Huichol) community in San Andrés Cohamiata, Jalisco, Mexico, and shot extensive film footage focusing on Wixárika religious practices.
Muller completed a PhD in Modern Language and Literature with a Major in French from the University of Arizona in 1973. Since 1976 he has lived in Indonesia, mainly Papua, where he went on to write English-language guides to traveling and diving in the region. He has also worked as an art dealer and promotor of Komoro sculpture, and as an advisor on indigenous history, culture, and social development to Freeport, a mining company operating in Papua.
Dalton, Bill. "Dr. Kal Muller: Champion of the Kamoros." 2014. Accessed February 28, 2022, https://web.archive.org/web/20210613082307/https://www.baliadvertiser.biz/kal_muller/.
Jolly, Margaret. Women of the Place: Kastom, colonialism, and gender in Vanuatu. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, 2002.
Muller, Kal. "Land Diving with the Pentecost Islanders." National Geographic, December 1970.
Muller, Kal. "Taboos and Magic Rule Namba Lives." National Geographic, January 1972.
Tabani, Marc. "The Carnival of Custom: Land Dives, Millenarian Parades and Other Spectacular Ritualizations in Vanuatu." Oceania 80, 3 (November 2010): 309-328. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20877382.