An image of Ui mbo (sacred stone)

Unknown Artist

Ui mbo (sacred stone)

Other titles:
Fertility (Mother), magic stone, Fertility stone
Not on display
Further information

Cults associated with sacred stones were once prevalent throughout the highlands. Sacred stones included oddly shaped river rocks or unearthed objects created by ancient highlands cultures, such as mortars, pestles, club heads and zoomorphic figurines. Ancestral and other spirits resided in these earthly forms, establishing a direct link with the spiritual world. The Enga people believed sacred stones were handed down from the 'sky people' who came to earth and created mankind; others thought they were the petrified bones of the ancestors. Stored in ritual houses or buried at sacred sites, stones were 'fed' the blood or fat of pigs on ritual occasions.

Archaeologists believe prehistoric stone mortars were used to grind seeds and nuts for nourishment, and pigments for ceremonies.

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

Place of origin
Tambul, Tambul-Nebilyer District, Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Kakoli people
early 20th century
collected 1963
Ceremonial object
stone, incised with diamond (uklimb) pattern, red ochre pigment
6.5 to 8 cm diameter; 21.5 cm length
Gift of Stan Moriarty 1978
Accession number
© Kakoli people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics