This paper is an exploratory investigation of Papuan Gulf spirit boards. These ceremonial items and their designs were owned by clans and other patrilineal groups and comprised an important aspect of traditional ceremonial life. During the early contact period, they were intensively collected by Europeans and now appear among world-wide museum holdings of Papua New Guinea material culture. The Australian Museum has an extensive collection of spirit boards that provide the primary data for this study. Here spirit board design elements are analysed to understand how they are distributed between or only retained within cultural groups living in the east-central Papuan Gulf. The paper also examines ways to analyse spirit board designs.