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An image of Rimbu (ceremonial headdress) by

Kagua-Erave District, Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea

Rimbu (ceremonial headdress)
Other titles:
Ceremonial hat
Place of origin
Kagua-Erave DistrictSouthern Highlands ProvincePapua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Kewa people
mid 20th century
collected 1964
Media category
Mixed media
Materials used
coil-woven rattan, plant fibre, red and blue pigments, white clay

75.0 x 48.5 x 30.0 cm:

0 - Whole; 75 cm

0 - Whole; 48.5 cm

0 - Whole; 30 cm

Purchased 1977
Accession number
© Kewa people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics
Not on display
Further information

'Rimbu' was a powerful spirit cult practiced by several groups across the southern highlands, in particular the Kewa and Anganen people. It is thought to have arrived in the Mendi Valley in the early 1900s. Ritual knowledge was bought and sold by powerful men and different forms of 'rimbu' were celebrated. The cult involved constructing spirit houses, playing bamboo flutes ('the talk of the spirits'), reciting sacred words and sacrificing and eating pigs. 'Rimbu' was held to increase the health and fertility of people, pigs and gardens, and engaged a wide pantheon of spirits. It was an exclusively male endeavour with women and children excluded.

[Exhibition text for 'Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands', AGNSW, 2014]

Bibliography (2)

Tony Tuckson, Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 28 (illus.), 49. H9

Natalie Wilson (Editor), Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands, Sydney, 2014, 99 (colour illus.), 161. 43

Exhibition history (2)

Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 19 Oct 1974 -

Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 May 2014–10 Aug 2014