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Pacific art

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Kaua tikit (orator's stool)

early 20th century-mid 20th century


Iatmul people

Papua New Guinea


Claytus Yambon of Korogo village describes four types of 'tikit' (stool) found in Iatmul villages: 'vala tikit' (canoe stool), 'gaai tikit' (house stool), 'geko tikit' used by men in the 'geko' (men's ceremonial house), and the 'kaua tikit', found in the centre of every 'geko'. When men debate, the leaves of the 'kaua' (Cordyline) plant are placed one by one on the 'kaua tikit' to emphasise a point.

'Kaua tikit' and the sacred 'garamut' slit drum represent the village, and the power to control the village is sounded on the 'kaua tikit' and the 'garamut' to call the spirits. The body of the figure on this 'kaua tikit' shows ritual scarification marks, with a 'yatjanji' (four-pointed star) surrounding the navel, as conveyed by Toby Wanaki of Tegowi village.

[entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 26]


Other Titles

Debating stool

Ceremonial debating stool

Ceremonial stool

kawa teket

kawa rigit


Cultural origin

Iatmul people


early 20th century-mid 20th century

Materials used

carved wood, conus shell, cane, red and white natural earth pigments


136.5 38.0 x 34.0 cm overall; 52.0 cm height stool


Purchased 1962


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Iatmul people

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 6 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1962 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1963, 106. 347

Peter Laverty (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly (vol. 13, no. 4), Sydney, Jul 1972, 697 (illus.). "The primitive art area is temporarily situated on the first floor. Exhibits are from the Sepik River, New Guinea, along with a grave-symbol figure from New Hebrides, in the left foreground". The Teket is seen in the centre of the room, together with other works collected by Tuckson in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Hal Missingham (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, vol 4, no 3, Sydney, Apr 1963, front cover (illus.).

JA Tuckson, Art and Australia, 'Primitive art collection', pg. 76-79, Sydney, Jul 1972, 78 (illus.), 79 (illus.). Reproduction on page 79 show 'Teket' on display in the Primitive Gallery at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1972.

JA Tuckson, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Some Sepik River art from the collection', pg. 666-679, Sydney, Apr 1972, 667, 671, 676 (illus.). plate no. 9

Tony Tuckson, Melanesian art, Sydney, 1966, 12. 117