An image of Kaaihwaarya (mourning necklace)

Unknown Artist

Kaaihwaarya (mourning necklace)

Other titles:
Necklace (worn by both men and women)
Not on display
Further information

Necklaces made by the Baruya people are among the most intriguing and beautiful forms of 'bilas' (body decoration) across the eastern highlands. Like all highlands societies, body decoration is reflective of a person's status within the community and certain items are given specific significance and meaning.

Particular necklaces were worn by Baruya men and women when mourning a dead relative. Some might include the mummified fingers of the deceased person as a sign of respect. Others, such as the 'kaaihwaarya' included small things belonging to the person. These items were wrapped in barkcloth – in this instance red cotton fabric – and hung in cylinders bound with cane and orchid fibre. The cylinders are also said to contain the scent gland of the cuscus, an animal associated with women's initiation ceremonies and marriage.

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

Place of origin
Marawaka, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Baruya people
mid 20th century
collected 1969
4 pendants of grass stem, split rattan, yellow orchid stem fibre (Dendrobium), red machine wove cotton fabric, 5 yellow plant stem segments, wood pendant, plant fibre string
decoration 17.5 cm length; overall 101.5 cm length; pendants 4.2 to 15.7 cm length :
0 - Whole; 2.3 cm; length of longest bamboo segment
0 - Whole; 15.7 cm; length of longest red fabric pendant
0 - Whole; 4.2 x 2.8 cm; wood pendant
0 - Whole; 101.5 cm; length of cord
Gift of Stan Moriarty 1977
Accession number
© Anga people, under the endorsement of PIMA's 'Code of Ethics'