An image of Yupini (fertility figure)

Unknown Artist

Yupini (fertility figure)

Other titles:
Yupin figure, Figure, Upin with male and female organs, Yupini, Yupin with male and female organs
Not on display
Further information

Illness or misfortune among the Enga and Ipili people was customarily attributed to ancestral ghosts. The success of crops, welfare of pigs and children, or victory in battle could all be hindered by a restless ancestor. Sacred rituals to placate the ancestors were held at special sites with only ritual experts, certain tribal elders and novices present.

The 'kepele' ritual, whose influence spread across the western Enga and Ipili region, was the largest of all fertility rituals. Lasting for five to six days, the 'kepele' involved ceremonial dances, the sacrifices of pigs, feasting and ritual training of young men. 'Kepele' culminated in the simulated 'mating' of woven 'yupini' figures with sacred stones, which represented the ancestors. The 'yupini' and sacred stones were then fed pork, and magic 'spells' were recited. Finally, the 'yupini' and sacred stones were laid to rest in a cult house until the next 'kepele' was called.

Natalie Wilson
Curator, Australian & Pacific Art

Exhibition text for 'Plumes and pearlshells: art of the New Guinea highlands', AGNSW, 2014

Place of origin
Laiagam, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Yandapu-Enga people
(mid 20th century)
collected 1963
Mixed media, Ceremonial object
coil-woven vine and rattan, dried plant fibre
51.0 x 34.0 x 23.5 cm figure
Gift of Stan Moriarty 1978
Accession number
© Yandapu-Enga people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics