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Pacific art

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Rmarki (day dance display ornament)

mid 20th century
collected 1965


Baining people

Papua New Guinea


The Chachet Baining live in an area surrounded by dense rainforest inhabited by spirits that dominate everyday life. Rituals and ceremonies, where colossal barkcloth masks are worn, act as mediations between the spiritual and physical worlds.

The 'rmarki' shield is carried by a group of boys and men at the opening of the day dance, when the 'kusmespetut' dance is performed to cleanse the ceremonial ground of evil influences. Accompanied by two or three 'ara vuchulka' (polemasks), the 'rmarki' dancers spit ginger juice towards a group of singing and drumming women. The 'rmarki' is then taken away, having 'opened the day dance.

This 'rmarki' featured in the 1966 exhibition 'Melanesian art', together with three 'kavat' (night dance masks) from the collections of artists John Olsen and Douglas Watson.

[revised entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 2]


Other Titles

Dance shield

Tapa dance wand


Cultural origin

Baining people


mid 20th century
collected 1965

Materials used

barkcloth, bamboo, plant fibres, red, red-brown and black natural dyes and pigments


625.0 cm length; 66.0 cm width; 5.0 cm depth


Purchased 1965


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Baining people

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 6 publications


Daniel Thomas AM (Editor), 1965 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1965, 80. 146

Tony Tuckson, Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 42. 10

Tony Tuckson, Melanesian art, Sydney, 1966, 22. 323; "Dance shield. pointed at both ends. Bark cloth on frame with desin in black, some of undecorated area red, 183h cloth, 25w, Baining tribe, Gazelle Peninsula, New Britain".

Natalie Wilson, Hunting the collectors: Pacific collections in Australian museums, art galleries and archives, '(Works of) paradise and yet: Stanley Gordon Moriarty, Tony Tuckson and the collection of Oceanic Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 221-241, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2007, 233.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, Sydney, Apr 1966, (illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), Bulletin, Sydney, 24 Jul 1965.