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Pacific art

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Bàeahago (man's dancing belt)

mid 20th century
collected 1969


Unknown Artist


The Huli is the largest cultural group in the southern highlands and society is grounded in the landscape of the valleys of the Tamari River basin. Myths describe the creation of the landscape by ancestral spirits and rituals link daily life with that of the spiritual world. The 'màli' ritual used to be performed to honour the clan's evil spirits that have the power to kill enemies in battle. 'Màli' is also the Huli word for dance, describing the sideways jumping of men with drums.

'Màli' dancers today are still adorned in ceremonial dress that includes human hair wigs, layers of looped string aprons, woven armbands and a 'bàeahago' (man's dancing belt). The 'bàeahago' is decorated with a striking geometric zig-zag pattern known as 'gīlini gīli', which is made from plaited cane and 'yàgua' (black fern frond). 'Gīlini gīli' is also used around arrow-heads, axe-heads and killing-picks. It denotes the up and down movement of the 'màli' dance.

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


Cultural origin

Huli people


mid 20th century
collected 1969

Materials used

tree bark, twill weave pattern in split rattan and black fern frond


overall 87.0 cm length; 26.5 to 28.2 cm diameter; 12.2 to 13.3 cm width :

0 - Whole, 12.2 cm (4 13/16"), width of woven belt at widest point

0 - Whole, 87 cm (34 1/4"), length of bark (approx.)

0 - Whole, 13.3 cm (5 1/4"), overall width of belt

0 - Whole, 26.5 cm, smallest diameter

0 - Whole, 28.2 cm, largest diameter


Gift of Stan Moriarty 1977


Not on display

Accession number


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


Natalie Wilson (Editor), Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands, Sydney, 2014, 120 (colour illus.), 162. 64