Unknown Artist

Sacred stone (club head)

Other titles:
Club head, Ritual 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
Tegibo, Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Woala (Wola) people
circa 6000 BCE-circa 1000 BCE
collected 1969
Ceremonial object
stone, hammer-pecked with 12 stars, red pigment
8.5 cm diameter; 5.0 cm width
Gift of Stan Moriarty 1977
Accession number
© Wola people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics