funeral rites

Funeral rites play a privileged, not to mention primordial role in man’s relationship with what is sacred. 

Through their rich ceremonies they underline the point to which death is present and accepted in non-western societies where the deceased, who will become ancestors, are an integral part of life.

This close relationship between the living and the dead very often passes through a vast exchange system that is symbolic, spiritual and physical all at once and manifests itself through offerings and is embodied in the moulded sculpture, a sign of durability and object of memory.


  • Ceremonial Sculpture

    Ceremonial Sculpture

  • Ancestral Skull

  • Headdress Mask

  • Reliquaire zoomorphe (poisson), crâne

    Zoomorphic (fish) Reliquary, Skull

  • Funeral Effigy

  • Funeral Mannequin

  • Mourner's Mask

  • Funeral Ceremony

  • Bronze Funeral Drum

  • Funeral Statue

  • Anthropomorphic Statues

  • Anthropomorphic Mask

  • Reliquary Guardian Statuette

  • Skull Representation

  • Anthropomorphic Funeral Post

  • Female Figure

  • Funeral Bag

  • Pedestal Bowl, With Zoomorphic Decoration

  • Bowl

  • Funeral Mask

  • Funeral Urn

Ceremonial Sculpture

Ceremonial Sculpture

Malagan Sculpture, Northern New Ireland, Acquired in 1912, Wood, Pigments, Turbo Shell, Operculums, Vegetable Fibers, 3 x 57 cm, Donated by A. Chauvelot, 71.1912.1.6

This horizontal sculpture is a representation of a male figure, standing on a crescent, which is a reference to the moon. Painted on either side of the central character are two circular motifs encrusted in their center with a tubo shell operculum, which are most likely thought of as "the eyes of the sun." Two serpents, with their teeth sunk into one another's tail, frame the whole. In New Ireland, when a member of the community dies, restrictions are placed on all of the deceased's property. To put an end to the mourning period centered around the deceased, and to lift restrictions that are a burden to the dead person's family, the deceased's relatives organize a big Malagan ceremony. All of this unfolds inside of an enclosed plot of land where, next to the deceased's tomb, a complex ensemble of vertical and horizontal sculptures are erected, which are this type of panel. This panel, which has been created for the occasion, is destroyed at ceremony's end. The sculpted and painted signs on this panel do not tell a story, but belong, by rights, to the family. They go back to the property rights that are handed down to the following generations at the time of these Malagan rituals.