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Funerary Pole

Object Number:55-17-7
Current Location: Collections Storage
Provenience: Australia
Northern Australia
Melville Island
Date Made: 1954
Early Date: 1954
Late Date: 1954
Credit Line:National Geographic / University Museum Expedition; Jane C. Goodale, 1955


Funerary pole (Pukamani pole, or "Tudini" meaning pole), carved from the wood of a bloodwood tree and painted with natural red and yellow ochres, white clay and black from charcoal. Top: single projection white, yellow, black followed by "window" of black, white, then yellow stripes. Some months after a burial, the Tiwi people of Melville Island, off the coast of Northern Australia, place carved and painted poles around the grave of the deceased, amid dancing and singing, at the climax of traditional funerary observances. In 1954 Bryn Mawr anthropologist Jane Goodale commissioned a set of eight Pukumani poles for the collections of the Penn Museum. Due to size constraints imposed by the shipper, they are slightly less than normal height.

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