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

Funeral Ceremony

Funeral Ceremony

Funeral Ceremony, David Malangi (1927-2001), 1963, Australia, Central Arnhem, Ramingining, Eucalyptus Bark, Natural Pigments, 48 x 73,5 cm, Collection of Karel Kupka, 72.1964.10.6

This narrative painting, on outward appearance, is an illustration of the mythological warrior Gurmirringu's funeral ceremony. The deceased is represented, below center. His torso is painted with polychromous hachures, which are an indication of his ancestry. In the central and eastern Land of Arnhem, one covers the body of the deceased, or his coffin with those paintings that are proper to each clan. To Gurmirringu's right is a painting of Dharpa, a "King Brown" serpent that caused the hero's death. The four people seated are participants in the funeral rites. In the upper left, one of them is playing a didjeridoo, a kind of resonating instrument which is called "iraki" in this region. Two other men are knocking tapping sticks together. The fourth is carving a roasted kangaroo, which is the food that will be provided to the guests. Gurrmirringu is one of the clan ancestors that has been depicted by artist David Malangi, who has painted several versions of this funeral rite. The painting presented here was reproduced on Australian dollar bills in 1966.