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


Hodu (water pot)

mid 1990s


Motuan people

Papua New Guinea

No image
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Porebada Central Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Motuan people
    mid 1990s
    Media category
    Materials used
    earthenware, grey patina
    24.1 cm height
    Gift of Lieutenant Commander MW Varley 1964
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Motuan people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics
    Artist information
    Motuan people

    Works in the collection


  • 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.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

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