Mallangan, wood and pigments

Malagan Pole, c. 1910


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
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Mallangan, wood and pigments