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Title

Decorated male figure

mid 20th century
collected 1964


Artist

Usarufa people

Papua New Guinea


About

Constructed from an astounding array of natural materials, this figure is dressed in the everyday attire of a village man, including a woven belt with wooden 'bat-winged' codpiece, cowrie-shell waistband, woven armbands, nose peg and feathered headbands.

Stan Moriarty described these figures as 'decoy figures', noting their placement inside men's houses and in gardens, with the aim to confound enemy assailants.


Details


Other Titles

Male figure (witch doctor)

Male figure to guard men's house


Cultural origin

Usarufa people


Dates

mid 20th century
collected 1964


Media category

Sculpture


Materials used

wood, split rattan, sedge grass, seeds, marsupial tails and fur, pig tusks, cowrie shells (Cypraeidae), yellow orchid stem fibre (Dendrobium), plant fibre string, feathers, natural pigments


Dimensions

157.5 cm height (figure) :

a - figure, 157.5 cm, height

b - grass lap lap, 44 cm, height

c - 2 possum fur headdress attachments, 43 cm, length of longest attachment

d - lap lap, 40 cm, overall

e - mother of pearl necklace, 47 cm, length

f - penis girdle, 40 cm, height

g - main headdress, 25 cm, 25.0 overall; wood piece 8.0 height

h - waist belt, 18 cm, width

i - waist belt, 20 cm, width


Credit

Purchased 1977


Accession number

300.1977.a-i


Artist information

Usarufa people

Works in the collection

1


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 2 publications

Bibliography


Melanesian art, Sydney, 1966. cat.no. 241

Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973. cat.no. H60