wood frieze carved with birds whose eyes are made of green turbo shell opercula; painted serpents wind their way across the relief; covered with lime and painted in red, black, and white pigments; carved for use in the Malanggan rites when it would be placed in a special hut with other sculptures

Malagan Frieze, 19th century

Unknown artist, expand_more

Wood, pigment, shellexpand_more

Gift of Bruce B.Daytonexpand_more  85.94

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This frieze is a bold interpretation of the New Ireland theme of birds and snakes in struggle - a common subject of ceremonial malagan sculpture and dance performances because it represents the idea that the sky (birds) and earth (snake) preserve the natural order by their constant opposition. Two chickens, surrounded by stylized foliage, accompany a smaller frigate bird along the top edge. The three birds hold the body of an undulating black snake in their beaks.

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Malanggan Frieze (#264)
Details
Title
Malagan Frieze
Role
Artist
Accession Number
85.94
Curator Approved

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wood frieze carved with birds whose eyes are made of green turbo shell opercula; painted serpents wind their way across the relief; covered with lime and painted in red, black, and white pigments; carved for use in the Malanggan rites when it would be placed in a special hut with other sculptures