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Orator’s stool


The centre of an Iatmul village of the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea, is the spirit house. It is where objects imbued with spirit are kept, and where men gather to conduct their religion, or simply to gossip and to sleep.

This stool, or teket, from Kanganaman Village is the seat for the principal ancestral spirit, who authorises village orators to carry on their debates. Each speaker in his turn holds a bunch of sword-like cordyline palm leaves, which he strikes against this seat in calling on the names of the ancestors and emphasising significant points. Such debates are often carried on for hours, underlining the importance attached to this event.

Orator’s stool
 Orator’s stool

 Orator’s stool

 Orator’s stool

 Orator’s stool
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Orator’s stool (c. 1930), natural pigments on wood, with shells and natural fibres
Dimensions H 207 x W 68 cm
Registration No. X 78457
Image source: Museum Victoria

© Museum Victoria Australia