Plumes and pearlshells

art of the New Guinea Highlands

The peoples of the New Guinea Highlands are renowned for their spectacular exchange ceremonies, which involve hundreds of dancers festooned with elaborate body adornments, including highly prized Bird of Paradise plumes and the revered kina, or pearlshell.

Art Exhibition previously on at Art Gallery of New South Wales in New South Wales, Australia.
From Friday 30 May 2014 to Sunday 10 August 2014

Plumes and pearlshells  image

Published by Art Gallery of New South Wales on Friday 15 November 2013.
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Appreciating the sophistication and sheer beauty of these objects, Sydney businessman Stanley Gordon Moriarty assembled one of the finest collections of Highlands material culture during his travels there between 1961 and 1972. Among these were exquisitely constructed headdresses, arm- and leg-bands, ear- and nose-rings and necklaces, made of feathers, shell, bark cloth, animal and plant fibres and natural pigments.

This exhibition presents highlights from this extraordinary collection of body art, now held by the Art Gallery of NSW, as well as other superb pieces used in rituals, for war and in everyday life, including rare gourd masks, painted shields, carved spears and arrows, woven and carved figures, knotted and looped textiles, and elaborately constructed dance masks.