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


Pelu kámané (serving bowl)

mid 20th century
collected 1965


Sawos people

Papua New Guinea

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Kamangaui Village Middle Sepik River East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Sawos people
    mid 20th century
    collected 1965
    Media category
    Materials used
    earthenware, coiled and chip-carved
    24.0 cm height; 25.5 diameter
    Purchased 1965
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Sawos people

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Kamangaui is one of several Sawos villages known for their conical-shaped pottery bowls, used for serving food. Pots and sago are traded from Kamangaui to Timbunke and Tambanum on the Sepik River, in exchange for fish, requiring a three-hour walk in either direction.

    Clay is dug solely by women who also make the initial form using a coiling technique. Men then decorate the pots with a prodigious variety of designs, each depicting specific totems of the clans they represent. With its slightly closed opening that keeps food warm, this bowl is known as a 'pelu kámané'. According to Gabriel Mowe from Kamangaui, the design recalls the 'silik nyuwa' (spider webs) found inside a village house.

    [entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 11]

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

    • Tony Tuckson, Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 46. cat.no. 110; 'Serving bowl. Karawari River? Clay, low fired, carved. 24 h. Collected Tambanum 165'

Other works by Sawos people

See all 7 works