Celebrating Objects of Oceania

The objects included in Celebrating Objects of Oceania each carry intimate knowledge and provide us with the stories of how their owners lived. Their mesmerising narratives come to life as we celebrate each object’s important function and story.

This exhibition features rare miniature Yam Masks, their small stature largely unseen before. Traditionally from the southern Abelam region of Wosera, Yam Masks were used during harvest ceremonies for specifically yams. They represent mythical birds; in this case almost certainly a parrot. In Sassoya, Prince Alexander Mountains, PNG, the Peace Eye Mask is a ceremonial object used to bring fertility. The mask is made from laboriously weaving dense bush cane with cassowary feathers which splay in such a way that they form a swirl around the central, raised eye creating an owl-like appearance.

Also dense in decoration, are the Loloi Giant Nassa Shell Rings. Loloi Giant Nassa Shell Rings are made by threading tiny nassa shells onto fine pliable cane, then wound round and round, to make a large wheel-like form. Only wealthy Tolai people of New Britain own these Loloi, as the nassa shells are money, and can only be acquitted slowly, over time. Nassa shells are the traditional currency of the Tolai people, still used even today. A small strand of these nassa shells can be used in daily transactions, to buy a pig, a canoe etc. Thousands of shells on the cane are wound together into large circles called “Loloi”, becoming a shell bank. The nassa shells are collected both locally but also from as far away as being traded in from the Solomon Islands attesting to the rich trade traditions connecting cultures through- out Oceania.

These objects and the many more exhibiting in Celebrating Objects of Oceania give us fascinating sources of study and a window into the rich cultures of the Oceania region. Their worn surfaces testify to their use, while their unique beautiful designs and vivid pigmented colours focus attention on the skill and craftsmanship of those who made them. We celebrate these objects and their indelible human story.

  • Payback Dolls, Mendi Valley, New Guinea Highlands, 1970s

    86 × 18.5 cm
    $3,500
  • Peace Eye Mask, Sassoya, Prince Alexander Mountains, PNG, 1980s - 1990s

    46 × 38 cm

    SOLD

  • Three Miniature Yam Masks, 1980s - 1990s

    17 × 10 cm

    SOLD

  • Celebrating Objects of Oceania Installation View I

  • Cassowary Feather Headdress, Abelam, PNG, 1980s - 1990s

    57 × 100 cm

    SOLD

  • Ceremonial Dance Mask, Ramu River, PNG, Early to Mid-20th Century

    71 × 22 cm
    $3,200
  • Engraved Ceremonial and Fighting Club, Trobriand Islands, PNG, 19th / early 20th Century

    77 × 7 cm

    SOLD

  • Tackle Box, Tuvalu, Micronesia, Early 20th Century

    71 × 22 cm
    $3,800
  • Giant Nassa Shell Ring, Loloi, New Britain, PNG, 1980s - 1990s

    72 × 56 cm

    SOLD

  • Giant Clamshell Ring, Yua, Prince Alexander Mountains, PNG, 19th / early 20th Century

    36 × 22.5 cm

    SOLD

  • Yam Mask, Abelam people, PNG, 1960s - 1970s

    30 × 20 cm

    SOLD

  • Man’s Pectoral, Fofona, Bena Bena, Eastern Highlands, PNG, Mid-20th Century

    35 × 36 cm
    $750
  • Celebrating Objects of Oceania Installation View II

  • Yam Mask, Abelam people, PNG, 1960s - 1970s

    40 × 19 cm

    SOLD

  • Celebrating Objects of Oceania Installation View IV

  • Bone Dagger, Kopar village, Early / mid-20th Century

    40 × 5 cm
    $700
  • Basket Hook, Lake Sentani, West Papua, Indonesia, Early 20th Century

    64 × 16 × 00 cm
    $850
  • Kap Kap, Shell and Turtleshell Hair Ornament, Early / mid-20th Century

    25 × 11 cm

    SOLD

  • Yam Mask, Abelam people, PNG, 1960s - 1970s

    38 × 29.5 cm
    $900
  • Baba, Woven Helmut Mask, 1970s-1980s

    77 × 32 cm

    SOLD

  • Bone Dagger, Abelam, Sepik River Region, PNG, Early 20th Century

    42 × 6 cm
    $950
  • Bone Dagger, Abelam people, Sepik River region, PNG, Mid-20th Century

    46 × 7 cm

    SOLD

  • Celebrating Objects of Oceania Installation View III

  • Female Ancestor Figure, Kairiru Island, North Coast, PNG, Mid-20th Century

    40 × 9 cm

    SOLD

  • Tackle Box ( Tuluma ) Tokelau Island, Micronesia, 19th / early 20th Century

    23 × 29 cm
    $2,200

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