Kerewa people / Skull Hook (Agiba) / 19th-early 20th centuryKerewa people
Skull Hook (Agiba)
19th-early 20th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Pacific; Melanesian; New Guinean; Papuan; Kerewa
Creator Name-CRT: Kerewa people
Title: Skull Hook (Agiba)
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1800
Creation End Date: 1933
Creation Date: 19th-early 20th century
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Wood, paint, fiber
Dimensions: H. 55 7/8 in. (141.9 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1978.412.796
Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1969

Large "agiba" or "skull hooks" were used to display trophy skulls within the men's ceremonial houses of the Kerewa people of the Papuan Gulf region, on the south coast of New Guinea. Agiba depict important ancestors, often the mythical founders of village clans. Each clan owned one or two agiba which were kept in the clan's allotted space within the ceremonial house. The skulls of slain enemies were hung from the agiba with loops of rattan. As time passed, a platform was often constructed in front of the agiba to support the weight of the growing pile of skulls. Together with its skulls, the agiba was both a shrine and a source of supernatural power. The displays of trophy skulls were also status symbols, which marked the clan's prowess in warfare and headhunting.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1978.412.796
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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