Production date
Papua New Guinea
East New Britain
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Object Detail

Wooden statue. Painted red, black and white with cockatoo feathers atop its head, the statue is covered with bush fibres.
CH classification INDIGENOUS CULTURES Melanesian & South Sea Islander sculpture
L90 x W110 x H270 mm
Media/Materials description
Wood, pigment and plant fibre.
History and use
This wood carved statue represents a tubuan.

The tubuan (‘old woman’) mask, on which this wood statue is modelled on, is female and as a general rule, takes on a feminine name. The dark conical shape of the mask is adorned with eyes represented by large circles, a feature which also occurs on most dance objects associated with the dukduk. The tubuan is ritually awoken during celebrations such as those involving honouring the deceased. The mask is worn with a skirt of fronds which covers the entire torso. At the end of the ceremonial cycle, this skirt is stored away.

Despite the tubuan's wide, upturned mouth, it is a more negative aspect for which it is renowned for: destroying property, extorting donations and punishing infringements of the traditional law with fines, or as noted in the colonial era, with death. Despite its apparent policing function, its members also make use of magic skills to be used for the benefit of the community.

Uploaded to the Web 27 May 2011.
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