Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Pacific art

View More:


Konguwavi (gable finial of men's house)

mid 20th century
collected 1961


Iatmul people

Papua New Guinea


Aibom is one of the most important pottery manufacturing villages in the Sepik, where fire hearths, bowls, sago jars and gable ornaments are still traded across the region. Historically, pots were made by women, with decorative modelling undertaken by men. Today women both make and decorate pottery.

According to Alexia Kinjimali of Aibom, this 'konguwavi' (gable finial) depicts Kolimangge, the 'mother of all potters', who had the ability to conjure pots with her creative power alone. Kolimangge fled her husband and her homeland of Mavimbit, and hid on Aibom mountain. However, a man from Manggesauen found and assaulted her, and Kolimangge was turned to stone. Since then, women must make pots by hand. The rock forms of Kolimangge and her canoe remain on Aibom mountain to this day.

[entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 31]


Other Titles

Roof ornament - female figure surmounted by a bird

Roof ridge ornanament

Roof finial with female figure surmounted by a bird

Cultural origin

Iatmul people


mid 20th century
collected 1961

Media categories

Ceramic , Sculpture

Materials used

earthenware, modelled, red, white and black natural pigments


43.2 x 19.0 x 29.0 cm


Gift of Stan Moriarty 1968


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Iatmul people

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 publications


Hal Missingham (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, Sydney, Apr 1969, front cover (illus.), 454.

Tony Tuckson, Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 45. 75

Editor Unknown (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, Sydney, Apr 1972, (illus.).