Unknown Artist

Ingerebe (ancestral board)

Other titles:
Head board, Gerua, Geru, Wenena gerua
Not on display
Further information

'Ingerebe' is the name given to wooden boards which are produced and displayed during the great pig festival - 'idzi namo' - among the Gururumba people of the upper Asaro valley in the eastern highlands region of Papua New Guinea. Known as 'gerua' among the Wahgi people, these boards vary in size from 15 cm to boards over a metre in height. Their shape varies from rectangular to square, crescent or round in shape. Smaller 'ingerebe' are carried in the hands and larger ones may be attached to the head, sometimes with two 'legs' that extend from the board, as in this example.

'Ingerebe' are created to honour the ancestors. Made by men, they are primarily worn or carried by children around the dance ground, before the pig killing ceremony takes place. According to anthropologist Philip Newman, special dances with the 'ingerebe' are performed, which imitate the ancestors as they raise pigs and tend their gardens. He notes:

'The ancestors see the gerua and they know we have not forgotten them. They look and their bellys are good'.

Designs on 'ingerebe' are largely abstract, comprised of geometric shapes dividing the surface, coloured with red, yellow, blue, black and white pigments. The designs represent many aspects of daily and cultural life, and include 'idzi oku'ne', or 'pig skin', that represents the marks made on a cooked pig before it is distributed. Another represents the 'mondo numbuno', or wooden cask in which food is steamed, and appears to be the design on the 'ingerebe' in the Gallery's collection.

After the display is concluded, the 'ingerebe' are placed in the trees or in the ground of the ceremonial enclosure and some are later taken to the burial place of certain people.

Natalie Wilson
Curator, Australian & Pacific Art

Place of origin
Goroka District, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
probably Gururumba people
mid 20th century
collected 1969
Ceremonial object
wood, yellow, light red and black pigments
121.9 x 43.2 cm (approx.)
Gift of Stan Moriarty 1978
Accession number