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Hornbill carving

Hornbill carving
Late 19th century
Northern New Ireland
Wood and pigment
l. 81.3 x h. 34.5 x d. 10.5 cm
UEA 942

This is a sculpture of the Papuan hornbill, a large bird native to New Ireland. Carved also with a frigate bird, two skeletal fish and a human figure, it is thought to have been from a Totenboot (mortuary boat). The carving would have been mounted on a canoe displayed at the climax of the Malagan, a series of feasts and ceremonies in which the dead were honoured.

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