Mallangan, wood and pigments

Malagan Pole, c. 1910

Unknown artist, expand_more

In New Ireland, elaborate ceremonies called malagan commemorate the death of important members of society. Music, dance, the exchange of gifts, and the display of specially commissioned sculptures honor the deceased and enhance the prestige of surviving relatives. The sculpted images usually incorporate animals that are the clan symbols of the deceased. The female figure on this pole stands on a pig's head, an animal that plays a prominent role in ceremonial offerings. The circular design in the center, know as mataling, or "eye of fire," refers to the sun. It is flanked by two frigate birds, symbols of strength and important totemic animals in New Ireland culture.

Malagan Pole
Accession Number
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

In consideration of the health and safety of visitors, volunteers, and staff, Mia is temporarily closed to the public. Learn more here.

Mallangan, wood and pigments