An image of Taph (lime stick)

Iatmul people

(Papua New Guinea  – )

Taph (lime stick)

Not on display
Further information

With its distinctive beak, the bird on the top of this 'taph' (lime stick) was identified by Justin Kami of Tambanum village as the 'maingie', or palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus), a totemic emblem of a particular clan group in the Sepik belief system.

Among the Iatmul, who originated from the Sawos-speaking region north of the Sepik River, tribes are broken down into many 'ngaiva' (patrilineal totem clans), which are divided into moieties called 'nyowe' (sun) and 'nyame' (mother/earth). This duality arises from Iatmul origin myths. In the primordial waters, there lived a dual being in the form of a crocodile, Karokmali – Jamburamali. The spirit Karambuangga separated these beings: Jamburamali became the sky and Karokmali remained below and became the earth.

[entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 8]

Place of origin
Tambanum Village, Middle Sepik River, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Iatmul people
early 20th century-mid 20th century
collected 1965
cassowary bone (Casuarius)
29.2 x 5.0 x 1.8 cm
Purchased 1965
Accession number