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

Mourner's Mask

Mourner's Mask

Mask, New Caledonia, End of the 19th Century, Pigments, Liana Bark, Woven Coconut Palm Fiber, 95 cm, 72.1962.2.1

In New Caledonia, the mask is the symbol of the chieftain's allegiance to the country's elders, who are the masters of the lands. He receives, along with the others, political emblems like the spear-like carving that adorns his hut, or the hache-monstrance. In the northern region, he is closely involved in mourning for chieftains who have died, and he makes an appearance at all of the funeral cermemonies. He is the dead chieftain's substitute. The mask is associated with local spirits, and animal and vegetable symbols, whose names it carries. It carries the local name of Wimani and comes from the Koumac region. In this case, the materials used would have a symbolic relationship with water. The mask, which is carved from soft wood and is easily putrescible differs from the hard wood used for many other masks. The outfit is made of liana whose roots particularly seek out water. Associated with magic practices, these lianas, once dried, were burned to chase away thunderbolts. For rituals held for chieftains, the headdress placed above the mask was sometimes blackened.