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Pacific art

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Grade monument

early 20th century-mid 20th century


Ni-Vanuatu people

Republic of Vanuatu


In Vanuatu, a grade-taking system enables individuals – usually men – to rise in status and power within their community. Following nomination to enter a new grade, ritual events must be paid for and sufficient 'tusker' pigs made available for public sacrifice. Ceremonies require the wearing of grade-specific ritual paraphernalia and are accompanied by dances, initiations and feasts. Additionally, the initiand must commission a sculpture specific to their grade level. These sculptures are displayed on public platforms during ceremonies to honour the ancestors, and later left to perish and return to the bush.

Carved from tree fern, the name and grade for which this figure was made has been lost and any remnants of over-modelling or painted designs covering the surface are no longer extant.

[entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 4]


Other Titles

Carved figure (Grade-symbol of a male half figure)

Grade society figure (Male half figure)

Place where the work was made

Ambrym Island Malampa Province Republic of Vanuatu

Cultural origin

Ni-Vanuatu people


early 20th century-mid 20th century

Media category


Materials used

carved tree fern (Cycas)


79.0 x 25.0 x 31.5 cm


Purchased 1964


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Ni-Vanuatu people

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1964 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1964, 63. 115

Tony Tuckson, Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 41. 2