Rock Art and (Re)Production of Narratives: A Cassowary Bone Dagger Stencil Perspective from Auwim, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea

Tsang, Roxanne, Katuk, Sebastien, May, Sally K., Tacon, Paul S.C., Ricaut, François-xavier, and Leavesley, Matthew G. (2022) Rock Art and (Re)Production of Narratives: A Cassowary Bone Dagger Stencil Perspective from Auwim, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 32 (4). pp. 547-565.

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Cassowaries (Casuarius) are one of the largest indigenous animal species of New Guinea. Researchers have long been trying to understand their local socio-cultural significance. Here we present new results from interviews recorded in 2018 on ethnography associated with bone daggers, a material culture ornament and tool carved from the cassowary's tibiotarsus. We present a ‘storied notion’—a contemporary narrative from oral history of why cassowary is not simply a bird, and briefly describe cassowary bone ornamentation in Auwim, East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. By exploring the material history of Casuarius through a ‘storied notion’ approach, we reveal that cassowary bone daggers in rock art are narrative ideas of the species from its landscape to ornamentation and through to people's cosmological beliefs surrounding Casuarius. We argue that the cassowary bone dagger stencil can be seen as part of the life history of this animal.

Item ID: 74752
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1474-0540
Copyright Information: ©TheAuthor(s),2022.Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2022 02:04
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430199 Archaeology not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280113 Expanding knowledge in history, heritage and archaeology @ 100%
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