Dance ornament

Production date
Pre 1975
Papua New Guinea
East New Britain
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Object detail

Register description: Dance Ornament: wood, handle at base carved and painted, openwork, white, green, orange, black and red; carved wood fish in fish trap painted blue and red; feathers at top and on body L1097mm
CH classification INDIGENOUS CULTURES Melanesian & South Sea Islander dance ornament
Production date
Pre 1975
L.1097 x W.77mm
Media/Materials description
Wooden ornament with plant fibre and paint applied.
History and use
Painted wooden wands such as this are carried by the Tolai people of East New Britain during dances and ceremonial performances. The dance wands form one part of the Tolai ceremonial paraphernalia that is collectively known as pokopoko. When in use the wands are given the name bair and are carried one in each in each hand by male performers. Most bair have serrated edges and attached feathers. The central figures of the wands are said to represent tabalivana (spirits) which can take many different forms. In the case of this object a wooden fish is contained in the centre of the wand.

This dance wand was collected in Port Moresby in September 1975. It was carried by a Tolai dancer during the celebrations that took place to mark Papua New Guinea’s independence.
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