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


Kaaihwaarya (mourning necklace)

mid 20th century
collected 1969


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Title
    Necklace (worn by both men and women)
    Place where the work was made
    Marawaka Eastern Highlands Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Baruya people
    mid 20th century
    collected 1969
    Media category
    Materials used
    4 pendants of grass stem, split rattan, yellow orchid stem fibre (Dendrobium), red machine wove cotton fabric, 5 yellow plant stem segments, wood pendant, plant fibre string
    decoration 17.5 cm length; overall 101.5 cm length; pendants 4.2 to 15.7 cm length :

    0 - Whole, 2.3 cm (7/8"), length of longest bamboo segment

    0 - Whole, 15.7 cm (6 3/16"), length of longest red fabric pendant

    0 - Whole, 4.2 x 2.8 cm, wood pendant

    0 - Whole, 101.5 cm (39 15/16"), length of cord

    Gift of Stan Moriarty 1977
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Anga people, under the endorsement of PIMA's 'Code of Ethics'

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    Necklaces made by the Baruya people are among the most intriguing and beautiful forms of 'bilas' (body decoration) across the eastern highlands. Like all highlands societies, body decoration is reflective of a person's status within the community and certain items are given specific significance and meaning.

    Particular necklaces were worn by Baruya men and women when mourning a dead relative. Some might include the mummified fingers of the deceased person as a sign of respect. Others, such as the 'kaaihwaarya' included small things belonging to the person. These items were wrapped in barkcloth – in this instance red cotton fabric – and hung in cylinders bound with cane and orchid fibre. The cylinders are also said to contain the scent gland of the cuscus, an animal associated with women's initiation ceremonies and marriage.

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

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications