An image of Rimbu (ceremonial headdress)

Kewa people

(Papua New Guinea  – )

Rimbu (ceremonial headdress)

Other titles:
Not on display
Further information

'Rimbu' was a powerful spirit cult practiced by several groups across the southern highlands, in particular the Kewa and Anganen people. It is thought to have arrived in the Mendi Valley in the early 1900s. Ritual knowledge was bought and sold by powerful men and different forms of 'rimbu' were celebrated.

The cult involved constructing spirit houses, playing bamboo flutes ('the talk of the spirits'), reciting sacred words and sacrificing and eating pigs. 'Rimbu' was held to increase the health and fertility of people, pigs and gardens, and engaged a wide pantheon of spirits. It was an exclusively male endeavour with women and children excluded.

Collected by Stan Moriarty at the Mount Hagen Show in 1963, this 'rimbu' headdress reflects the ingenuity and inventiveness of highlands artists in their appropriation of modern materials into traditional forms; note the incorporated '7UP' drink can.

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

Place of origin
Kagua-Erave District, Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Kewa people
mid 20th century
collected 1963
Ceremonial object, Botanical material
coil-woven rattan, bamboo, plant fibres, metal '7UP' drink can, white clay, red and blue pigments
77.0 x 48.0 x 45.0 cm :
0 - Whole; 48 cm; Width
0 - Whole; 65 cm; Length from top to bottom of cane framework
0 - Whole; 45 cm; Depth
0 - Whole; 77 cm; Overall length from top to bottom of fringe
Gift of Stan Moriarty 1977
Accession number
© Kewa people, under the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Museums Association's (PIMA) Code of Ethics