Body Ornaments

Melanesian artifacts from Papua New Guinea can be grouped into several major categories and we have provided below an overview of the major categories that we have used to enable you to easily locate the items that you may be interested in.

When you have identified the groups that interest you then you can go to those categories where you will find galleries of photographs of artifacts either currently in stock or examples of artifacts that we are able to obtain.

Not all of the artifacts available in Papua New Guinea are on display in this site. If you can't identify or locate what you are looking for then please contact us with your specific requirements and we will advise if we are in a position to assist you.

  • Trays and baskets made from woven cane from the Southern Highlands and Bougainville are popular additions to dinner tables and room features.
  • String bags, known as Bilums,come in a range of sizes and made from natural fibres or multi-coloured string.
  • Duti Warriors and assorted figures made from kunda (cane) are very decorative.






  • Taupa or bark paintings depict ancestorial stories about "good" and "evil" spirits.
  • Story boards are carved wooden boards depicting everyday village life with spirit figures shown on the men's house gables.
  • Prows and Splashboards from traditional canoes have intricate carvings of spirits for safe travelling and successful fishing.
  • House Boards are decorative wooden boards found on Haus Tamborans.






  • Decorative Trobriand bowls carved from Kwila, Rosewood or Ebony wood with Mother of Pearl inlay.
  • Tami decorative or functional wooden and coconut wood bowls.
  • Siassi Bridal bowls.




  • Ancestral figures mainly from the Sepik regions.
  • Spirit figures from the Ramu region and Trobriand Islands.



  • Cult Hooks are suspended in the men's house to represent spirits who helped in fighting, hunting, and warding off disease.
  • Skull hooks origionally had skulls hung on the ends to ward off opposing clans.
  • Food hooks are used to hang food from the rafters and keep away from vermin.





  • Hand Drums, Kundu's are made from wood, the skin of a snake, lizard or NOW mainly fish are softened in water, stretched over the mouth & glued to the rim with tree sap then firmly bound at the rim with cane. Pieces of wax or gum are attatched to the skin to modulate the sound & pitch. They are used in the Highlands Provinces, Sepik areas, Tami, Trobriand, Siassi & Manam Islands as well as Ramu Papuan Gulf & Fly River areas.
  • Garamut Drums are a Slit Gong Drum that are hollowed out tree trunks with long slits along the top. They are beaten on the side near the top with the end of a heavy stick to transmit signals, to perform rituals & to accompany dancers. They are used in the Ramu, Siassi & Sepik regions.
  • Flutes, Bullroarers & Whistles are also widely used in PNG





There are many types on Masks in PNG all having specific uses & meanings.
  • Dance Masks, from Sepik & Ramu
  • Ancestral & Spirit Masks (like the Mwai Mask) represent faces of supernatural beings & can be used to ward off evil spirits.
  • Gable Masks made from sago or woven cane arehung on the house gable to protect its residents from disaster, mainly illnesses.
  • Tago Masks made from bark to appear like the spirits that live inside the Tami Island.
  • Kanipu, worn by initiating boys.
  • Orihobo, body mask worn by men.
  • Avoko, marriage mask to bring good fortune & fertility.
  • Yam,encourage bountiful crops.
  • Baining Fire Dancing Masks
  • Malanggaan New Ireland dance mask
  • Tumbuans or large Spirit Creatures,woven body shroud.





  • Penis Guords
  • Bark Belts
  • Wigs
  • Woven Belts with Bridal Shells
  • Kina & Moka Kina Shells
  • Armbands
  • Men'a Apron or Malu
  • Dog or Pigs Tusk Necklaces
  • Toea Shell arm, leg & Necklaces
  • Lailais, Kap Kaps
  • Bagi





  • Sago Pots
  • Zumin Pots
  • Aibom Pots
  • Amphlet Pots
  • Yabob Pots
  • Washkuk Pots
  • Kianantu Pottery glazed & fired for table use
  • Madang Pottery also glazed & fired for table use



  • Shields come in all shapes and sizes, some made of hide stretched over a framework are used mainly to deflect arrows. Others, large and cumbersome, may be over two metres tall and a metre or so wide.
  • Some rectangular, some circular, others more irregular shapes, they can be carved in reliefs or painted with dyes and ochres.
  • Not only is a shield a means of physical defence, it can be regarded also as a sacred object of spiritual significance. Faces on them, for instance, represent clan spirits associated mystically with their bearers who are protected by them.



  • Trobriand Stools carved from one piece of wood, usually Kwila.
  • Headrests or carved Pillows from assorted hard wood.
  • Blackwater stools usually carved with figures holding up the top of the stool.
  • Carved Storyboard Tables carved from either Kwila or Rosewood & depite a specific story of village life.
  • Sepik Carved Tables depicting spirits & specific animals especially crocodiles.




  • Obsidian Daggers
  • Adzes
  • Assorted Paddles
  • Drills
  • Fish Traps, nets, carved hooks, bone hooks
  • Water Carriers
  • Walking Sticks
  • Fire Sticks
  • Mallets
  • Betel nut sticks



  • Clubs
  • Axes
  • Daggers
  • Bows & Arrows
  • Arrow Throwers
  • Spears
  • Arm/Shoulder Shields


Body Art  

There are many types of body art in PNG

  • Sepik Initiation carving of young boys.
  • Highland Dancers body art with Traditional Ochres & bilas
  • Coastal Dancers with Traditional Bilas & clays used for body art.


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