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Yanda (bow) and timu (arrows)

mid 20th century
collected 1968


Unknown Artist


Ipili leadership in the Porgera Valley was held by 'akali andane' (Big Men) and 'nembo yene' (Wise Men), who were great orators, warriors and successful negotiators. Before Christian missionisation in the 1960s, rituals of growth ensured that young Ipili boys became proficient hunters and warriors. Spells were learned to ensure arrows would cause infection in an enemy's wounds, or would find their mark more easily with challenging prey.

'Yanda' (bows) made from black palm wood were sometimes decorated with 'wate' (cowrie shells) traded through Enga exchange partners. 'Embo' (bowstrings) were made from 'teya' (liana vine). Each 'timu' (arrow) was painstakingly created for a specific target or purpose. 'Andawa' were barbed and difficult to remove. 'Kanudua' had a knife-like blade. 'Kopi' contained a broad-blade 'blood gutter' and were used for pigs and cassowaries. Decorated arrows, known as 'talango', were principally ceremonial. 'Wanga' were pronged and used for hunting birds.

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


Other Title

Bow and arrows

Place where the work was made

Porgera Enga Province Papua New Guinea

Cultural origin

Ipili people


mid 20th century
collected 1968

Media category

Arms & armour

Materials used

black palm bow, liana vine, cowrie shells (Cypraeidae), bamboo, carved wood, plaited split-rattan binding, red parrot feathers, red ochre pigment, white/grey clay, plant fibre string


bow 163 cm length, 3.5 cm diameter; arrows 118 to 127 cm length, 0.9 to 2 cm diameter


Gift of Stan Moriarty 1978


Not on display

Accession number


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


Natalie Wilson (Editor), Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands, Sydney, 2014, 84 (colour illus.), 85 (colour illus., detail), 160. 28