Image: Flute stopper, Papua New Guinea E46234

Flute stopper, Papua New Guinea E46234

Local name: wasela

Provenance: Biwat village, Yuat River, Angoram sub-province, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, Pacific

Flutes represent the voices of ancestors and are played during ceremonies in the village men's house. The stoppers are inserted when the flutes are silent. This wasela was used as a stopper for a sacred flute and as a representative of a spirit to whom an appeal is made for a successful catch of wild pigs in the traps set at night. It was sold to the Museum in 1935. 

Description: human and bird figures; carved wood, painted red, white and black; squatting human male figure with bird's head; cockatoo perched on head and lizard figure on back; figure's limbs adorned with fibre string and cowrie shells; looped fibre piece and long human hair dreadlocks hang from head; stopper plain straight wood.

Length: 52cm; Width: 18cm

Emma Furno
© Australian Museum

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