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Pacific art

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Mánda hàre (bachelor cult initiate's wig)

mid 20th century
collected 1965


Unknown Artist


The 'hāroli' cult among the Huli of the southern highlands was an important but optional part of male initiation. When young men reached the age of 20 to 22 they could decide to join the celibate 'hāroli' cult for two to three years, to enable them to develop to physical maturity and prepare for marriage. Firm muscles, a full beard and healthy hair could be achieved through periods of seclusion in the bush, self-discipline, the study of mythology and lore, performing 'gāmu' (magic chants) and the keeping of the 'ìba gìya', a magically potent plant.

When 'hāroli' initiates finally appeared in public, they wore crescent-shaped wigs known as 'mánda', which were made from their own hair and coloured with 'hare' (red clay). The 'mánda hare' is typically decorated at the front with the crest of a Superb Bird of Paradise, and adorned with Raggiana Bird of Paradise plumes, parrot and other bird feathers.

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


Other Titles

Drummer's wig

Bachelor's wig

Cultural origin

Huli people


mid 20th century
collected 1965

Media category

Ceremonial object

Materials used

human hair, Superb Bird of Paradise breast shield (Lophorina superba), red ochre pigment, white glass beads, machine-made button, rattan, plant fibre string


20.5 x 46.0 x 23.0 cm


Purchased 1977


Not on display

Accession number


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Tony Tuckson, Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 49. H6

Natalie Wilson (Editor), Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands, Sydney, 2014, 97 (colour illus.), 161. 41