Crocodile sculpture

Production date
Pre 1990
Papua New Guinea
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Object detail

Wooden sculpture in shape of crocodile, with carved and incised geometric designs.
CH classification INDIGENOUS CULTURES Melanesian & South Sea Islander sculpture
Production date
Pre 1990
Production place
L 320 x W 30 x D 45 mm
History and use
The crocodile is representative of the ‘water-spirit’, the primordial crocodile that created the land, sea and everything in and upon it.

The crocodile is specifically associated with the ‘crocodile initiation ceremony’, a practice that still occurs in several areas along the Sepik River. The initiates are kept secluded in the Haus Tambaran (spirit house), where they receive knowledge and physical scarification across their back and torso that emulates both the skin of the crocodile, and the teeth marks from the crocodile who has ‘devoured’ the boy, and transformed him into a man with the spirit of the crocodile.

This object was collected by donor Peter Watt in 1990 and donated to the Museum of Tropical Queensland in 2012.
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