A Superb Old Asmat Drum West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia
A Superb Old Asmat Drum from the South Coast of West Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia Dating from the early 20th Century
This very fine Asmat Drum was kept by several generations of one family. For the Asmat people, wood and trees and drums are part of their creation mythology where the creator Fumeripitsj carved the first Asmat people from a tree & brought them to life by playing his drum.
This very beautiful old drum has two ancestor heads as part of the handle and was obviously a family heirloom that had been used for a very long time. When I was field collecting in the remote Northwest Asmat area in 1985-1986, the people rarely ever wanted to sell an old drum, they were happy for me to see them but they were generally not for sale which to me shows how important drums were to the families that owned them.
The world became aware of the Asmat people and their art when Michael Clark Rockefeller who was collecting Asmat Art went missing and was presumed dead there in November 1961, the artworks he collected are still beautifully displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
This old drum along with other artworks was collected by Todd Barlin over a 2-year period from 1985-1986, most of these artworks are now in major museum collections around the world including The Musee du Quai Branly Museum in Paris. When you walk into the Oceanic Art Pavilion the first thing you see are monumental Ancestor Poles from the Asmat & Mimika along with a Soul Boat, Shields, and Dance Costumes from the Asmat & Mimika, all of those artworks were collected by me at the same time as this fine old drum. Above are two photos from the groundbreaking exhibition “The Asmat & Mimika” at the National Museum of African & Oceanic Art in Paris now part of The Musee du Quai Branly Museum.
Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Asmat & New Guinea Oceanic Art
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