Skip to content

Collection

All

Search

Pacific art

View More:


Title

Samban (suspension hook)

early 20th century
collected 1956


Artist

Iatmul people

Papua New Guinea


About

'Samban' (suspension hooks) are carved by men throughout the Sepik region and are used to suspend nets or trays filled with food, protecting contents from water and vermin. Objects such as weapons, musical instruments and ancestral human skulls or victims of headhunting were also hung on samban in the past.

Found in all dwelling houses, the most heavily decorated 'samban' held an important place in the 'geko', or men's ceremonial house. These sacred objects were thought to embody clanspecific, ancestral 'waken' spirits, which could be animated when offerings were made. Double-headed 'samban' such as this, with its elongated heads with bird-like beaks, have been likened to 'mai' masks, which appear as brother-sister pairs during Iatmul ritual performances.

[entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 27]


Details


Cultural origin

Iatmul people


Dates

early 20th century
collected 1956


Media category

Sculpture


Materials used

wood, white pigment


Dimensions

59.0 x 28.7 x 9.4 cm


Credit

Purchased 1976


Accession number

163.1976


Artist information

Iatmul people

Works in the collection

40


Place

Where the work was made
Chambri Lake

Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history


  • Melanesian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Apr 1966–22 May 1966

  • Melanesian art: redux, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Nov 2018–17 Feb 2019


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


Melanesian art, Sydney, 1966, 12. cat.no. 132; 'Hook. Double headed, beak type. Wood carved and engraved, filled with white on black, 23h, Sepik River. Coll: S.G. Moriarty. M348'