Puppet head (Temes Nevimbur)

Possibly Ambrym, possibly Malekula
20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified, Pacific Islander

Object Place: Vanuatu


Overall: 48 x 11 x 10 cm (18 7/8 x 4 5/16 x 3 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, plant fibers, pigment

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



At times of important rituals, members of secret societies, such as nevimbur of central Vanuatu, animated these types of puppet heads from behind the community’s dancing-ground fence. Many of these ceremonies celebrated the attainment of higher status within the social and religious organizations known as “grade-taking” societies. Merit rather than birth determines grade or rank within such societies.


1948, sold by Galerie Carrefour, Paris, to 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