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


Kaua tikit (orator's stool)

early 20th century-mid 20th century


Iatmul people

Papua New Guinea

Alternate image of Kaua tikit (orator's stool) by Iatmul people
Alternate image of Kaua tikit (orator's stool) by Iatmul people
Alternate image of Kaua tikit (orator's stool) by Iatmul people
  • Details

    Other Titles
    Debating stool
    Ceremonial debating stool
    Ceremonial stool
    kawa teket
    kawa rigit
    Place where the work was made
    Middle Sepik River East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Iatmul people
    early 20th century-mid 20th century
    Media categories
    Sculpture , Ceremonial object
    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
    © Iatmul people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Iatmul people

    Works in the collection


  • About

    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]

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 5 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 6 publications

    • Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1962 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1963, 106. cat.no. 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. cat.no. 117

Other works by Iatmul people

See all 44 works