We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Sacred stone

early 20th century
collected 1966


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Title
    Male stone (rubbed with female stone to give strength)
    Place where the work was made
    Mount Elimbari Simbu (Chimbu) Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Chuave people
    early 20th century
    collected 1966
    Media category
    Ceremonial object
    Materials used
    stone, red ochre pigment
    14.5 x 11.6 x 8.5 cm
    Gift of Stan Moriarty 1978
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Chuave people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    Cults associated with sacred stones were once prevalent throughout the highlands. Sacred stones included oddly shaped river rocks or unearthed objects created by ancient highlands cultures, such as mortars, pestles, club heads and zoomorphic figurines. Ancestral and other spirits resided in these earthly forms, establishing a direct link with the spiritual world. The Enga people believed sacred stones were handed down from the 'sky people' who came to earth and created mankind; others thought they were the petrified bones of the ancestors. Stored in ritual houses or buried at sacred sites, stones were 'fed' the blood or fat of pigs on ritual occasions.

    Archaeologists believe prehistoric stone mortars were used to grind seeds and nuts for nourishment, and pigments for ceremonies.

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

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications