Title: Malagan Image of the Papuan Wreathed Hornbill
Date: late 19th to early 20th century
Cultural Region: New Ireland
Medium: wood, pigments, red ochre, and shell
17 1/2 x 5 1/8 x 59 13/16 in. (44.5 x 13 x 152 cm)
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object Number: 244:1952
Place of origin: New Ireland, Papua New Guinea
Current Location: On View, Gallery 106
Malagan sculptures were typically made for funeral ceremonies. This malagan sculpture features the Papuan wreathed hornbill, a large and beautiful bird that lives in the inland forests. These birds are used during many malagan ceremonies, particularly during some of the dramas in which men hold wooden hornbill beaks in their mouths and dance as though they are f lying. The sculpture is particularly interesting because of the filleted fish that appears nuzzling under the hornbill’s beak.

Equally fascinating is the organic arrangement in front of the hornbill that the bird seems to be taking into its body. It may represent some form of power—perhaps that of the regenerative life force, or some other power harnessed by sorcery.
- 1952
Berkeley Galleries, London, England

1952 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Berkeley Galleries, London, England [1]

[1] An invoice dated October 15, 1952 from Berkeley Galleries to the City Art Museum documents the purchase of this object, listed as "carved & painted Malangan, New Ireland" [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, October 10, 1952.
Exhibition History
Title: Ritual Arts of the South Seas: The Morton D. May Collection
Date: August 22 – October 19, 1975
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Publication History
Title: Handbook of the Collections: The City Art Museum of Saint Louis
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: The St. Louis Art Museum: Handbook of the Collections
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Ritual Arts of the South Seas: The Morton D. May Collection
Year Published: 1975
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