Indiana University Indiana University IU

Browse the collection

Canoe Prow Ornament

Origin Yos Sudarso Bay
Title Canoe Prow Ornament (Mani)
Date 20th century
Medium Wood and pigment
Dimensions Object: 11 1/2 × 5 3/4 × 2 1/4 in. (29.2 × 14.6 × 5.7 cm)
Overall (includes mount): 15 3/8 × 5 7/8 × 4 1/8 in. (39.1 × 14.9 × 10.5 cm)
Credit Line Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 90.9

Share this artwork!

About this Work

For many who live on and around the island of New Guinea the creation, use, and decoration of canoes have retained their historical significance. Prow ornaments were often used not only as decoration for the canoe but also as a protective amulet. It functioned to both keep the crew safe on their travels and ensure success in fishing.

The imagery of these prow ornaments often combines humans, birds, and fish. This example features a prominent bird figure on top with the addition of hands and two heads, one looking forward the other looking back at the crew. The bird, which would have faced outward when attached to a canoe, has a special role, as birds were understood as particularly helpful to sailors as they can always find land.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

Viewing Information
This artwork is currently on view.


Request this Image
The Eskenazi Museum of Art provides images of its collection, free of charge, upon request. This artwork is under copyright protection. You can request the image and it will be emailed to you when the request is complete.

Cite this Page
"Canoe Prow Ornament | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.