Arts in Papua New Guinea

Crochet (samban) Personnage féminin - Click to enlarge, open in a new window
Suspension Hook (Samban), Female Figure – Iatmul population – 19th century – wood, hair, soil, pigments, shells - musée du quai Branly, Paris – Former German Collection, Brème (?), Arthur. Speyer, Berlin. Ralph Nash and Van der Schyff Gallery, London. Collection Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller, Geneva - 70.2011.15.1 - © All rights reserved


from tuesday, 27 october, 2015 to sunday, 31 january, 2016


  • Philippe Peltier, Head of the Oceania and Insulindia Heritage Unit at the musée du quai Branly

associate curator

  • Markus Schindlbeck, Head of the Oceania and Australia Collections at the Ethnological museum in Berlin

scientific advisor

  • Christian Kaufmann, Honorary Curator

About the Exhibition


This exhibition presents a collection of 230 sculptures linked to the Sepik Valley, a large swampland in the north of Papua New Guinea. Since the first millennium B.C. this area has sheltered peoples who live on the banks of or in areas close to the Sepik River and its tributaries.

The exhibition gradually unveils a major figure common to all cultures of the “lower” and “middle” Sepik: the founding ancestor(s).

In Sepik societies, the figure of the ancestor does not immediately show itself. Instead it is gradually understood in all its complexity. The exhibition illustrates the multiple forms and variations in which these ancestral figures appear, from their public forms to their “secret” forms.