Rmarki (day dance display ornament)
mid 20th century
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]
Tapa dance wand
Place where the work was made
mid 20th century
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
© Baining people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Purchases and Acquisitions for 1965, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 Mar 1966–03 Apr 1966
Melanesian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Apr 1966–22 May 1966
Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 19 Oct 1974 -
Melanesian art: redux, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Nov 2018–17 Feb 2019
Referenced in 6 publications
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.
Aboriginal and Melanesian art, Sydney, 1973, 42. cat.no. 10
Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, Sydney, Apr 1966, (illus.).
Melanesian art, Sydney, 1966, 22. cat.no. 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".
Bulletin, Sydney, 24 Jul 1965.
1965 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1965, 80. cat.no. 146