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A Fine Old Collection of Micronesian Squatting Ancestor Figures Tobi Island Caroline Islands


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Collection No. TB-1688
Size 7cm to 21cm
Oceanic Arts Australia buys and sells tribal New Guinea art

A Fine Old Collection of Seven Early Micronesian Figures, Early Japanese Colonial Period, (Early 20th Century)

These interesting figures are all finely carved in squatting position, their stylized facial features and angular bodies with shell eyes, these figures embody the spare, minimalist approach to the human form typical of the sculptural traditions of the Caroline Islands of Micronesia in the western Pacific. These figures are from the early Japanese Colonial era in the early 20th Century, they were likely made for trade but still had a living connection to ancestor figures that were made for traditional ancestor worship & protection. Later examples of figures did not show detailed gender/ genitalia but all of these figures are clearly male & female which makes them early examples.

A similar example of a single figure in the Collections of Metropolitan Museum New York Collection No 2003.8

These striking abstract squatting figures with almost mask-like heads occur throughout the western Caroline Islands and probably functioned as ancestor images. An American sailor Horace Holden, shipwrecked in 1832, described a religious structure on Hatobei Island “‘carved images are placed in different parts of the building and are supposed to personate their deity’

(Holden 1836 pg. 85 – 86, cited in Wavell 2002 pg. 67) One hundred years later Atsushi Someki, a Japanese anthropologist, stated that these seated figures were ancestor images kept in special positions in the house, and as in other locations in the Pacific, they depict remote or recent forebears who could be honored with offerings and asked for assistance in times of need

The collection of Seven Figures is in three pairs of matched male & female ancestor figures in varying sizes and together with a small squatting figure.

The largest set: Male figure at far left-back is 22cm & Female at far right-back is 19cm

The next set with great heads and expressions: 12.5cm & 12cm

The next Set is 8cm & 8.5cm

The Smallest one is 6.5cm

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea & Micronesian Oceanic Art

I first went to Papua New Guinea in 1985 for an adventure & what I found was that I really enjoyed being with the people of New Guinea, over the next 38 years I spent extensive time spent collecting and documenting traditional art & ceremonies in remote areas of Papua New Guinea & West Papua, The Solomon Islands & Vanuatu & the other Pacific Islands countries. During these travels, I made major collections of New Guinea & Oceanic Art for major Museums and Public Art Galleries

I was honoured by being in the prestigious Louvre Museum Magazine for the collections I made for The Museum of African & Oceanic Art Paris in1996 (now the Musee Quai Branly) for the exhibition “Asmat et Mimika d’ Irian Jaya April 1996 At THE MUSEE NATIONAL des ARTS D’AFRIQUE et d’ OCEANIE, Paris

See my new EXHIBITIONS GALLERY  showing the Museums and Art Galleries Exhibitions that I provided artworks for over the past 40 years. There is the link to the article about my artworks published in the prestigious Louvre Magazine in 1996

I have artwork for Museums and art Galleries but also for collectors at every stage of their collecting. I want to encourage people to explore the fine art of New Guinea & West Papua and the Pacific Islands and to be able to see and touch the artworks in a relaxed and friendly manner in my Sydney Gallery. I would like to invite you to visit my gallery and see the artworks in person and also look at my website www.oceanicartsaustralia.com where there are many Galleries & Sub Galleries to explore.

My Gallery of nearly 40 years is the last physical gallery in Sydney that specializes in New Guinea and Oceanic Art.  Sydney is very close to New Guinea & the Pacific Islands where all of these amazing artworks came from, Australia’s closest neighbors.

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