VUNAPAKA CULTURAL GROUP / Papua New Guinea est. unknown / Tolai people, East New Britain Province / Tokatokoi 2011 / Headdresses: wood, feathers, synthetic polymer paint, grass fibre / Six headdresses: 150 x 60cm (each) / Purchased 2011. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © Vunapaka Cultural Group

IATAPAL CULTURAL GROUP / Papua New Guinea est. unknown / Tolai people, East New Britain / Province / Mary 2011 / Tokatokoi, headdresses: wood, feathers, plastic Virgin Mary figurines, synthetic polymer paint, grass fibre / Six headdresses: 91 x 40.5 x 35cm (approx.); 95 x 29.5 x 32cm (approx.); 82 x 39 x 58cm (approx.); 89 x 37.5 x 36cm (approx.); 89 x 34 x 37cm (approx.); 89 x 37 x 36cm (approx.) / Purchased 2011. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © Iatapal Cultural Group

VUNAPAKA & IATAPAL CULTURAL GROUPS
Mary 2011

Not Currently on Display

The tokatokoi (headdresses) created by Tolai men from Vunapaka have been modelled on a group of headdresses worn for a performance at the July 2011 National Mask Festival in Kokopo, East New Britain.

The headdresses feature anthropomorphic forms resembling the serpentine/human marawot figures. These figures were considered spiritual representations of important local figures and used during important rituals held by Tolai secret men’s societies, or to assist with ceremonies introducing young men who have been through an initiation ceremony to society.

Also modelled on headdresses danced at the National Mask Festival, the innovative tokatokoi headdress Mary created by the Iatapal Cultural Group fuses the group’s adherence to Christianity with the tradition of creating masks to honour and bring forth mythical ancestors and cultural heroes.

Incorporating culturally significant materials, and worn to perform sacred traditional dances, these headdresses assert the importance and power of the Madonna in contemporary Iatapal society.

The artists belonging to the Vunapaka and Iatapal Cultural Groups who made these headdresses are all men. Works are created according to strict cultural protocols and overseen by senior men. Some of the forms created reference secret knowledge restricted to only those who have been initiated into a particular part of Tolai society.