Bark belt

Western Highlands
20th century, 1950–2000
Artist unknown, Pacific Islander, Artist Unidentified, Pacific Islander

Object Place: Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea


Overall: 14 x 27.5 cm (as coiled) (5 1/2 x 10 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Bark, pigment

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art, Textiles and Fashion Arts



Rarely collected by non-anthropologists, bark belts are part of the traditional dress of men who live along the Papuan Gulf, as well as those in the Highlands. The pattern on this belt is similar to others from the New Guinea Highlands, particularly those of the Simbu peoples. Shaped when still green, or by heating the bark, the strip is long enough to go round the waist two or three times. Once secured, it often supports a netted apron. Resembling a rigid corset, it is nonetheless said to be easy to wear because of its light weight.


1967, acquired in Angoram, Sepik, Papua New Guinea by Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart