Gift of the Morse Foundation
- Tell the story of Tsenabonpil. The story of Tsenabonpil came from the people of New Ireland, the same people who made this
Find a wild pig on the malagan pole.
Head of a pig on the bottom of the pole.
Find a woman.
Crouching on top of the pig.
Find three birds on the pole.
Pair of birds on either side of the center and one at the top.
Find a man.
Between the two birds on the top half of the pole.
There is a
design on the pole that New Ireland people call a mataling, or "eye of fire."
Where is it?
What is at its center?
A sea snail shell.
- The New Ireland artists who carved and painted this pole divided large surface areas into decoratively
Where do you see patterned parts on the pig's head?
Separate color and pattern around the eye, mouth, teeth, ear; crescent shape between the eye and mouth; red-and-white stripe along the top of the head; rectangle below eye and ear.
Detail showing pig's head from the Malagan Pole (image is rotated 90°)
Detail showing the negative shapes around the female figure from the Malagan Pole
- POSITIVE SHAPES
occupy space, just like you do. The spaces around positive shapes are called
Where are the negative shapes in this part of the malagan pole?
Negative shapes exist all around the female figure on the bottom of the pole, as well as in front of the figure created by the extended bird tail. Accept a variety of answers as all of these areas may be difficult to see in any one detail image.
Do the negative shapes make this sculpture appear sturdy or delicate?
Many small negative shapes create a feeling of lightness and delicacy.
What else has the artist done to make this huge sculpture look delicate?
Small geometric designs painted all over the sculpture contribute to its delicate appearance.
- Malagan festivals, like the one for which this malagan pole was made, are ways for New Ireland communities to commemorate
someone who has died. Funeral rites and festivities help souls depart the world of the living and get used to the world of the dead.
How do we honor and commemorate our ancestors? What kinds of ceremonies do we have when people in our communities die?
Another example of a New Guinea assemblage piece
Wood, fibers, metal, shells, hair
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
- Malagan sculptures may take months to carve. The malagan festival culminates in the unveiling of malagan sculptures. After the
festival is over, the sculptures are often left to rot.
Why do you think the people of New Ireland leave the sculptures to rot after the malagan festival?
Once the festival for which they were created is over, the sculptures are no longer of any use to the community.
- Malagan sculptures are hidden until the final day of the malagan ceremony. When they are unveiled, guests make a token gift to gain
admission to the display.
Where do we keep our art objects?
What do we call an unveiling of art objects at a special exhibition?
Do guests ever make a "token gift" to gain admission to these places?
Some museums charge admission fees or suggest donations.
- New Ireland artists employ the technique of
What does that word mean?
A form of art involving the assembly and arrangement of unrelated objects, parts, and materials in a kind of sculptural collage.
Could you have an assemblage of people? How is a malagan festival an assemblage?
A malagan festival brings together large social groups and provides an opportunity to reestablish bonds between neighbors and friends.
Can you think of an example of an assemblage of ideas?
A science fair.