- Indigenous name
- Associated cultural group
- Pacific > Papua New Guinea > New Ireland Province > Namatanai District > Dinikindu village
- Dr Elizabeth Brouwer
- Acquisition date
- January 01, 1976
- Acquisition method
- Commissioned by Dr Elizabeth Brouwer
- Raw material
- H: W: 860 mm L: 1030 mm D: Circum:
Stitched mats are made in many parts of Melanesia and are used as raincapes, floor and sleeping mats, wrapping the dead and as covers for newborn children. In New Ireland (Papua New Guinea), the stitched mat is known by the term araazira by the Nalik speaking people. It is made from the large pointed leaves of the amotmot, a type of pandanus tree that grow in the swamps in the forested interior of the island. The araazira is made by women who gift the mats to female relatives as a form of exchange. It is used to cover firstborn children as it is considered a protective barrier from sorcery and malevolent spirits. During special ceremonies called vazufnalik, clans gather in a village hamlet to celebrate the entry of a firstborn child into community life. The mother of the child brings the child - covered in the araazira – into a public space, and then removes the mat publicly, signifying entry into community life. This practice continues today although with the introduction of readymade mats and with the influence of Christianity, their production is dying out.
This Collection Close Up was written by Dr Graeme Were, Senior Lecturer, School of English, Media Studies and Art History.