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Artist's cultural association:
Meleun 1973 Description: used in grade ceremony | coloured with black, brown and white ochres
Place made: Vetpao Village, Malakula Island, Malampa Province, Vanuatu Melanesia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, wood, ochre, tree fern, fibre

Dimensions: 129.0 h x 53.0 w x 15.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased by J-M Charpentier on behalf of the CAAB
Accession No: NGA 71.207.180

The Meleun grade level once existed across all of southern Malakula, even in villages that have long been Christianised—the title of Meleun is one of great respect. To enter this grade, two prized pigs with circular tusks are sacrificed during the grade ceremony. The figures head has the same facial painted patterns that the grade-taker would be adorned with during the ceremony, where an additional artform is also present: a Navat Tempaxav figure of stone. The body of the Meleun is made from a tree with many roots, and symbolises the beginning of life for everything.
According to Marcellin Abong [1], only a handful of men (less than five) currently have the title of Meleun and the rights and knowledge associated with this grade.

[1] M Abong, personal communication May 2012.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2013

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