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 Mannequin

Funeral Mannequin

Rambaramp, Vanuatu Funeral Mannequin, Southern Malekula Island, 20th Century, Skull, Vegetable Paste, Pigs' Teeth, Cobweb, Wood, Feathers, Pigments, 173 cm, 72.1962.1.33 D

In the southern part of Malekula Island, certain people achieve important status by moving up a hierarchy of rank. When they die, those who are high-ranking officers are honored with the creation of funeral mannequins that are physical representations of them. During the intial funeral rituals, the skull is recovered and reworked to reproduce the deceased's appearance while alive. The mannequin's body is constructed by using vegetable components, and is covered with a coating that was obtained from crushing the plants. Rambaramp is both a physical and social portrait of the deceased. The painted motifs, as well as the cobwebs that cover the head are an indication of the rank that has been achieved in the hierarchy. Moreover, pigs' teeth placed around the legs and arms are important indications. Those teeth are used as money to buy a superior rank. At the end of the funeral ritual, the mannequin is put on public display before being left in the house of the men, where it slowly decomposes. After that, only the skull will be preserved and placed in the structure.