Collection Online

Me poko ow (Larvae)

earth and natural pigments on sago palm petiole
137.5 × 73.5 cm
Place/s of Execution
Bangwis village, Washkuk Hills, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
Accession Number
Pacific Art
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through the NGV Foundation with the assistance of The Thomas William Lasham Fund, Founder Benefactor, 2001
© Courtesy of the copyright holder
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Not on display
The painting depicts a type of large edible larva found in the thick woody stump of the me poko vine, hence its name: the ‘me poko (vine) larva’ (me, wood; poko, vine; ow, larva). The animal is shown, highly schematically, at two different stages in its life-cycle: as a larva and as a mature insect of imago. The grub is represented by means of a large triangular ‘face’ (misoma), shown in the upper and in a mirror reflection in the lower half of the painting. Each face possesses a pair of large black ‘eyes’, a black bulbous ‘nose’, and a black ‘mouth’. The ‘mouth’ represented by the black ovoid form in the centre of the design, is shared by both faces; these two images, therefore, are partially merged. The mature insect is represented by its antennae (boriina boriina); these are two pairs of white hooks formed in the centre of each side of the design.