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Title

Oru (cooking pot)

mid 20th century


Artist

Motuan people

Papua New Guinea


About

Motuan women from villages in the area around Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea were once prolific potters, their wares exchange through the traditional 'hiri' trading voyages undertaken by Motuan men. In former times, pots were carried in boats, known as 'lakatoi', along the coast to the Papuan Gulf and exchanged for sago. Today there are only a handful of Motuan women versed in traditional pottery making, as inexpensive metal saucepans have virtually replaced clay vessels.

Pots are formed from clay mixed with sand and sprinkled with sea water until the correct plasticity is reached. The rounded bases of broken vessels are used to form new pots, the soft clay dragged up the inner side walls to create a rounded shape. After a period of drying in the sun, a stone anvil and wooden paddle are then used to shape the walls until thinned out, and a near perfect sphere is formed. Simple geometric patterns are incised on the rim and sides using a shell and, after further drying in the sun, the pots are low-fired on a bed of coconut fronds and leaf stems. Following firing, and while still hot, the pots are coated with a mixture of mangrove bark soaked in water and then rubbed with various leaves and plants to seal the surface.


Details


Other Title

Cooking pot


Place where the work was made

Porebada Central Province Papua New Guinea


Cultural origin

Motuan people


Date

mid 20th century


Media category

Ceramic


Materials used

earthenware, incised design, partly blackened


Dimensions

24.1 cm height; 31.8 cm diameter (rim) :

0 - Whole; 24.1 cm; diameter at rim

0 - Whole; 31.8 cm


Credit

Gift of Lieutenant Commander MW Varley 1964


Location

Not on display


Accession number

IA11.1964


Artist information

Motuan people

Works in the collection

2


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


Referenced in 3 publications

Bibliography


Tony Tuckson, Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 41. cat.no. 7

The traditional pottery of Papua New Guinea, 'Central Province', pg. 55-72, Kensington, 1982. General reference to Motuan pottery.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1964 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1964, 62. cat.no. 113