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Plumes and Pearlshells

Art of the New Guinea Highlands

written by Natalie Wilson

Art Gallery of NSW | ISBN 9781741741056

Paperback – 172 pages


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Spectacular exchange ceremonies involving hundreds of dancers festooned with elaborate body adornments – including highly prized bird of paradise plumes and the revered kina, or pearlshell – is something for which the peoples of the New Guinea highlands are renowned. Appreciating the sophistication and sheer beauty of these adornments, Stanley Gordon Moriarty assembled one of the finest collections including exquisitely constructed headdresses, arm- and leg-bands, ear- and nose-rings and necklaces, made of feathers, shell, bark cloth, animal and plant fibres and natural pigments.

This book presents highlights from this extraordinary collection, now held by the Gallery, as well as other superb pieces used in rituals, war and daily life such as rare gourd masks, painted shields, carved spears, woven and carved figures, textiles and dance masks.



Natalie Wilson is the exhibition curator and works as a curator at the AGNSW
Dr Michael Mel is associate professor and pro vice chancellor (Academic and Development),
University of Goroka
Florence Kamel is a billum artist and managing director and principal designer of Jaukae Bilum
Products based in Goroka, PNG


Dr Polly Wiessner is professor, Anthropology Department, University of Utah
Akii Tumu is director of the Take Anda Cultural Centre, PNG
Chris Boylan is director of Oceanic Art, Sydney
Dr Barry Craig is senior curator World Cultures, South Australian Museum, Adelaide
Trevor Shearston is an Australian author who has lived in and written books on PNG
Kerry Head is a conservator at the AGNSW
Lucy Willet is a conservation intern at the AGNSW

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