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Pacific art

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Lamu (hearth stand)

mid 20th century


Yaul people

Papua New Guinea


These solid objects made of clay and fired to a low temperature are modelled by men whereas women make cooking pots. They were used to support a cooking pot over a fire. This particular object with the animal above may not have been functional. The people of Dimiri and associated villages living in swamp country, traded pots, as well as baskets, mosquito bags and artifacts with the group to the west, the Mundugumor (Biwat people) who lived on both sides of the Yuat River. The aggressive Mundugumor preyed on the swamp villages but "they were careful not to kill all of them for then there would be no makers of pots left alive" (Margaret Mead, 'Sex and temperament in three primitive societies', New York, 3rd ed, 1963, pg. 171). Stylistically the pot head has strong affinities with wooden masks of the Yuat style, the pouting mouth, the lower raised cheeks, the bulbous nose.

revised entry from AJ Tuckson, 'Some Sepik River art from the collection', AGNSW Quarterly, vol 13, no 3, 1972, pg. 671.


Other Titles

Clay gargoyle

Ridge ornament

Hearth support

Cultural origin

Yaul people


mid 20th century

Media category


Materials used

earthenware, incised and modelled


19.0 cm height; 27.0 cm width :

0 - Whole; 19 cm

0 - Whole; 27 cm


Purchased 1965


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Yaul people

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Tony Tuckson, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Some Sepik River art from the collection', pg. 666-679, Sydney, Apr 1972, 667, 670, 674 (illus.). plate no. 4

Tony Tuckson, Melanesian art, Sydney, 1966, 7, between pg. 12-13 (illus.). 30

The traditional pottery of Papua New Guinea, 'East and West Sepik Provinces', pg. 208-325, Kensington, 1982. General reference to Yaul pottery. See Fig. 9.63 for similar hearth stand with the addition of a bird.

Daniel Thomas (Editor), 1965 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1965, 79-80. 143