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

Title

Suma (cooking pot)

collected 1961

Artists

Unknown Artist

No image
  • Details

    Other Title
    Bowl
    Place where the work was made
    Peka River Madang Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Peka people
    Date
    collected 1961
    Media category
    Ceramic
    Materials used
    low-fired earthenware, incised decoration at neck
    Dimensions
    53.0 cm height; 20.0 cm diameter at widest point; 10.4 cm diameter at opening
    Credit
    Gift of Stan Moriarty 1977
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    541.1979
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  • About

    This elongated cooking pot - known as a 'suma' by the Sumau and Usino villagers of the Peka River region - was most likely traded into the Bundi area. From there it made its way to Goroka, where it was collected by Stan Moriarty in 1961.

    Pots such as these were brought into the highlands through marriage exchanges or traded for wooden bowls, dry meat and bows, as the highlanders are not generally known for making pots. Made by Peka men, they then became the possessions of women who married into highlands groups.

    'Suma' pots are described by Margaret Tuckson and Patricia May as:

    '... deep with ellipsoid or ovoid bodies, they have everted cone-shaped bases, are retricted and have direct rims. There are forms with inflected necks or no necks; the walls of the vessels are retricted, cylindrical or everted. Decoration generally extends from the rim down to the inflection point and design motifs are more varied, using incised lines to form vertical, horizontal, zig-zag or scalloped designs ... [Garia vessels] are decorated by applied coiled patterns, incised lines, point impression and combinations of different elements'.

    The body of the 'suma' is formed by the coil method, starting with the bottom coil at the pointed base. Smoothing the outside with a piece of bamboo, the decoration across the neck is made with a bamboo stick. According to Tuckson and May:

    'When the pot is ready for drying it is bound by a woven support, taken to the men's house (a form of ritual) and suspended from the beams to dry for about one month. Hardwood from the bush is used as a fuel for firing the pots; dried pandanus leaves may also be used'.

    By the early 1980s, the production of 'suma' pots was in decline.

    For further examples of 'suma' see Margaret Tuckson and Patricia May, 'The traditional pottery of Papua New Guinea', Bay Books, Sydney, 1982.

    Natalie Wilson
    Curator, Australian & Pacific Art, 2014

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication