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


Rimbu (ceremonial headdress)

mid 20th century
collected 1963


Kewa people

Papua New Guinea

Alternate image of Rimbu (ceremonial headdress) by Kewa people
Alternate image of Rimbu (ceremonial headdress) by Kewa people
  • Details

    Other Title
    Place where the work was made
    Kagua-Erave District Southern Highlands Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Kewa people
    mid 20th century
    collected 1963
    Media categories
    Ceremonial object , Botanical material
    Materials used
    coil-woven rattan, bamboo, plant fibres, metal '7UP' drink can, white clay, red and blue pigments
    77.0 x 48.0 x 45.0 cm :

    0 - Whole, 48 cm (18 7/8"), Width

    0 - Whole, 65 cm (25 9/16"), Length from top to bottom of cane framework

    0 - Whole, 45 cm (17 11/16"), Depth

    0 - Whole, 77 cm (30 5/16"), Overall length from top to bottom of fringe

    Gift of Stan Moriarty 1977
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Kewa people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Kewa people

    Works in the collection


  • About

    'Rimbu' was a powerful spirit cult practiced by several groups across the southern highlands, in particular the Kewa and Anganen people. It is thought to have arrived in the Mendi Valley in the early 1900s. Ritual knowledge was bought and sold by powerful men and different forms of 'rimbu' were celebrated.

    The cult involved constructing spirit houses, playing bamboo flutes ('the talk of the spirits'), reciting sacred words and sacrificing and eating pigs. 'Rimbu' was held to increase the health and fertility of people, pigs and gardens, and engaged a wide pantheon of spirits. It was an exclusively male endeavour with women and children excluded.

    Collected by Stan Moriarty at the Mount Hagen Show in 1963, this 'rimbu' headdress reflects the ingenuity and inventiveness of highlands artists in their appropriation of modern materials into traditional forms; note the incorporated '7UP' drink can.

    [Exhibition text for 'Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands', AGNSW, 2014]

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications

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