Malagan

Malagan (malangan, malanggan) is a traditional ceremony held in parts of New Ireland province in Papua New Guinea. Malagan is also a name for beautiful wood carvings used in the ceremony. This big ceremony is dedicated to a dead person or more of them who died in recent years. Still it would be wrong to limit Malagan to death and dying. Malagan is also an occasion for initiation rituals, paying debts, solving disputes and making different announcements.

Malagan carvings
Malagan carvings

There are several groups of the Malagan carvings – vertical figures (“kobokobor”), horizontal figures (“murumarua”), stacked figures (“eikuar”) and helmet masks (“tatanua”, “miteno” and “wanis”).
The tatanua masks are used in the traditional dance. The locals believe that the spirits of the ancestors are present in the mask worn by a dancer.

Tatanua mask
Tatanua mask

Traditionally Malagan carvings used to be destroyed at the end of ceremony. Nowadys they are usually kept for the future generations. Wood carvings by Ben Sisia and Edward Salle are especially famous. Many Malagan carvings exist in world art collections.