This Ceremonial Pottery Head is from the Kwoma People in the Waskuk Area of the Upper Sepik River area of the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. It was collected in the 1960s & is really the finest Kwoma Pottery Head I have ever owned.
These Pottery Heads called Wasau were used during these Yam Harvest Ceremonies on the ceremonial platforms. These pottery heads relate to a specific myth about an ancestor called Sopermel who carried a Wasau in his belly.
See: The Traditional Pottery of Papua New Guinea by May & Tuckson 1982 page 218 for the full story as recorded by Christian Kauffmann.
Ritual leaders organize the Yina ceremony at yam harvest time. The next two ceremonies featuring their own sculpted images of Mindja and Nokwi and must also be performed before the full harvest and consumption beings.
Older ritual objects are hidden in garden huts, away from the village. They have acquired power over time and through use. For the annual ceremony both old and new objects are freshly painted. They are firstly covered in black paint and left to dry. Only on the final day before the ceremony is the other colours; red, yellow, and white added.
The ceremony takes place inside the men’s Ceremonial house (korob) A platform is built, and while one major Yina figure is displayed as a focus, other Yina’s and Wasau pottery heads are used. The pottery heads are particularly beautiful when displayed on the ceremonial platform.
Slit gong drums are played and songs of myth relating to the yam harvest are sung. At the finish of the ceremony, the cult objects are wrapped tightly in sheaths from the black palm and returned to the garden hut.
Provenance: The Todd Barlin Private Collection of Oceanic Art
||Yena: Art and Ceremony In a Sepik Society
||Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford 1983
||Crocodile & Cassowary
||Museum of Primitive Art, NY.
||Island Ancestors Oceanic Art form the Masco Collection
||University of Washington Press 1994
May & Tuckson: The Traditional Pottery of Papua New Guinea by Bay Books Sydney 1982
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