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Malakula Island, Malampa Province, Vanuatu Melanesia

Dance adze Early 20th Century Materials & Technique: sculptures, axes, wood, paint
Dimensions: 69.0 h x 6.0 w x 41.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1972
Accession No: NGA 72.545

An anthropomorphic image dominates the handle of this dance object, and overall it is shaped like an adze. It is unclear whether the work has its origins in the Nalawan society or in the Nimangi grade-system activities. It is of a ceremonial nature, and would have been worn by during a performance, hanging from the performer’s shoulder so that the figure looks outwards from the wearer’s chest, perhaps acting as a symbol of the wearer’s grade level.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2013

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