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


Mask for initiation ceremonies

mid 20th century
collected 1966


Unknown Artist

Alternate image of Mask for initiation ceremonies by
Alternate image of Mask for initiation ceremonies by
Alternate image of Mask for initiation ceremonies by
  • Details

    Other Titles
    Mask, fighting stick and rattle to be worn together
    Place where the work was made
    Kainantu District Eastern Highlands Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Tairora people
    mid 20th century
    collected 1966
    Media categories
    Sculpture , Ceremonial object
    Materials used
    cassowary feathers (Casuarius), rattan frame, 2 pig tusks, wood, pangi seeds (Pangium edule), rattan, plant fibres, nassa shells (Nassarius), marsupial fur, wood, red and black pigments, green, blue and red parrot feathers
    183.0 x 79.0 x 75.0 cm figure; stick 67.2 cm length; rattle 151.5 cm length :

    a - cassowary feather mask, 183 x 79 x 75 cm

    b - rattle, 151.5 cm, length

    c - club, 67.2 cm, length

    Gift of Stan Moriarty 1974
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Tairora people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    This work was collected by Stanley Moriarty at the Goroka Show in 1966. it was one of two full body masks worn by dancers who ran around the crowd. Each dancer carried a rattle with pangi seeds and a wooden club.

    Moriarty noted that, "This mask made of muruk (cassowary) feathers covers the whole body of its wearer, and is topped with a carved wooden head of a muruk (cassowary bird) which it represents. The wearer carries a rattle on a large stick in one hand and wields a club in the other. There were two people dressed alike and they ran around scaring the young boys in their initiation ceremony."

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 6 publications