Santo Island, Sanma Province, Vanuatu Melanesia

Rova [decorated platter] Materials & Technique: sculptures, wood
Dimensions: 36.0 h x 65.0 w x 6.3 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2012
Accession No: NGA 2012.899
  • During special festive events, and in ritual circumstances, shallow decorated platters were used to prepare and serve Nalot, a pudding made from grated yam, taro, breadfruit and other ingredients.
    Very fine platters were visual links to the owner’s prestige and power within the community.
    The loops at the top of the platter are likely to be stylisations of prized pigs’ circular tusks, a ubiquitous symbol of wealth and status across northern Vanuatu. When not in use, the platter would have been hung up on display on a wall in the men’s club house (Anali), and the style of this platter suggests it was created in the north-western Big Bay region. Both handles have deeply carved dentate patterns that echo those seen on architectural features of the Anali.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2013

    From: Crispin Howarth Kastom: Art of Vanuatu National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2013