Orator's stool (teket)


About this object

A carved wooden 'chair' with humanoid figures supporting the seat, and one large figure forming the back with its head extending into the shape of a bird's head at the top. The figures' eyes are formed by inlaid shells (probably cowrie), and they are painted with red pigment and white spots.

'Teket' are some of the most important and prestigious treasures of the Iatmul people. This looks like a chair, but is not used as a seat; during debates in men's communal houses, the speaker hits it with a bundle of leaves to emphasise his points. The main figure may represent an ancestor of the clan, whose spirit takes its place in the seat, or the primeval creator. The bird at the top is probably a cockatoo which is associated with mating rituals and is a common motif in the Sepik. The two smaller figures are female and may represent two wives.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Religion; Performance
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Oceania: Melanesia: Papua New Guinea: East Sepik: Middle Sepik
  • Date made
    1950s - 1960s
  • Materials
    Wood; Pigment; Cowrie
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, World Cultures
  • Acquisition
    Purchased from Gallery 43, 1968
  • Collector
    Philip Goldman
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
    1965 before
  • Measurements
    1150 mm x 360 mm x 190 mm
  • Related people
    Gallery 43 ( Previous owner); Philip Goldman ( Collector)


Previous owners

  • Gallery 43

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1968
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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