Ipili leadership in the Porgera Valley was held by 'akali andane' (Big Men) and 'nembo yene' (Wise Men), who were great orators, warriors and successful negotiators. Before Christian missionisation in the 1960s, rituals of growth ensured that young Ipili boys became proficient hunters and warriors. Spells were learned to ensure arrows would cause infection in an enemy's wounds, or would find their mark more easily with challenging prey.
'Yanda' (bows) made from black palm wood were sometimes decorated with 'wate' (cowrie shells) traded through Enga exchange partners. 'Embo' (bowstrings) were made from 'teya' (liana vine). Each 'timu' (arrow) was painstakingly created for a specific target or purpose. 'Andawa' were barbed and difficult to remove. 'Kanudua' had a knife-like blade. 'Kopi' contained a broad-blade 'blood gutter' and were used for pigs and cassowaries. Decorated arrows, known as 'talango', were principally ceremonial. 'Wanga' were pronged and used for hunting birds.
[Exhibition text for 'Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands', AGNSW, 2014]
Bow and arrows
mid 20th century
black palm bow, liana vine, cowrie shells (Cypraeidae), bamboo, carved wood, plaited split-rattan binding, red parrot feathers, red ochre pigment, white/grey clay, plant fibre string
bow 163 cm length, 3.5 cm diameter; arrows 118 to 127 cm length, 0.9 to 2 cm diameter
Gift of Stan Moriarty 1978
Not on display
© Ipili people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics
Shown in 1 exhibition
Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 May 2014–10 Aug 2014