An image of Konguwavi (gable finial of men's house)

Iatmul people

(Papua New Guinea  – )

Konguwavi (gable finial of men's house)

Other titles:
Roof ornament - female figure surmounted by a bird, Roof ridge ornanament, Roof finial with female figure surmounted by a bird
Not on display
Further information

Aibom is one of the most important pottery manufacturing villages in the Sepik, where fire hearths, bowls, sago jars and gable ornaments are still traded across the region. Historically, pots were made by women, with decorative modelling undertaken by men. Today women both make and decorate pottery.

According to Alexia Kinjimali of Aibom, this 'konguwavi' (gable finial) depicts Kolimangge, the 'mother of all potters', who had the ability to conjure pots with her creative power alone. Kolimangge fled her husband and her homeland of Mavimbit, and hid on Aibom mountain. However, a man from Manggesauen found and assaulted her, and Kolimangge was turned to stone. Since then, women must make pots by hand. The rock forms of Kolimangge and her canoe remain on Aibom mountain to this day.

[entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 31]

Place of origin
Aibom Village, Chambri Lake, Middle Sepik River, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
Cultural origin
Iatmul people
mid 20th century
collected 1961
Ceramic, Sculpture
earthenware, modelled, red, white and black natural pigments
43.2 x 19.0 x 29.0 cm
Gift of Stan Moriarty 1968
Accession number