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


Amo ato (tree fern head)

mid 20th century
collected 1964


Fore people

Papua New Guinea

Alternate image of Amo ato (tree fern head) by Fore people
Alternate image of Amo ato (tree fern head) by Fore people
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Okapa (Moke) Okapa District Eastern Highlands Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Fore people
    mid 20th century
    collected 1964
    Media categories
    Ceremonial object , Mixed media
    Materials used
    tree fern, shells, remains of bird feathers, 2 pig tusks, 9 mammalian teeth, white and pale red natural pigments, plant fibre string
    36.5 x 17.0 x 21.5 cm :

    0 - Whole, 36.5 cm (14 3/8"), height including feather headband

    0 - Whole, 17 cm (6 11/16")

    0 - Whole, 21.5 cm (8 7/16")

    Purchased 1977
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Fore people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Fore people

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The Fore men carve human heads into fern trees ('amo ato') to make scarecrows. They are placed in the gardens especially during the season during which new crops are planted. Some of these fern heads are also placed outside houses to trick sorcerers ('tukavu'). When they see these figures, they believe that there is someone at home and they go away.

    Alphonse Kona, University of Papua New Guinea, 2014

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 4 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

Other works by Fore people