Collection Online

Nokuyagaba (Sago-stealing spirit)

earth and natural pigments on sago palm petiole
115.4 × 66.9 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
Physical description
The painting depicts a type of impish forest spirit named Nokuyagaba, a term literally means ‘sago-taking ghost'. These small winged spirits are believed to live in hollows in trees high up in the forest canopy and in deep fissures in large boulders in unihabitated parts of the forests. The anthropomorphic ‘face’ represents the spirit shown in the upper and lower parts of the bark, a pair of large black eyes, a bulbous black nose and open mouth displaying teeth.