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A Fine Old New Guinea Ancestor Figure Asmat People West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia

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Collection No. SOLD
Size Height: 74 cm
New Guinea & Oceanic Art
New Guinea Oceanic Art
Abelam New Guinea Art
The Art of Compassion The Todd Barlin Collection

A Fine Abstract Figure Asmat People West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia

This beautifully caved ancestor figure was made by an Asmat master carver or Wow Ipitsj. The Asmat live on the South Coast of the Island of New Guinea called West Papua or Irian Jaya Province in Indonesia.  This interesting carving is where the body is a deeply incised cylindrical form and the hands are carved and held close to the body just under the chin. This artwork likely dates from the 1940-1950 period, it is made out of the mangrove tree and that is the type of wood that was used for many types of carving including the famous monumental Mbis Ancestor Poles.

The Asmat main creation myth is about a creator named Fumeripitsj he was lonely so he cut down a tree and carved some wood figures but they were lifeless, he then carved a drum and when he played the drum the figures came to life and that was how the first Asmat People came into being.

I spent a lot of time in the Asmat region in the early 1980’s and old Ancestor Figures of this quality in the Coastal and Northwest Asmat Areas were rare. Many of the artworks I field collected then 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 at The Musee du Quai Branly the first thing you see are the monumental ancestor poles from the Asmat & Mimika along with Dance Costumes Shields and large Soul Canoe , all of these were field collected by me. Originally they were in an exhibition ” Asmat et Mimika at The National Museum of African and Oceanic Art in 1996 (now that museum is part of The Musee du Quai Branly).  The exhibition the Asmat and Mimika in 1996 was published in the prestigious Louvre Museum Magazine see the link below and a photo of the exhibition above.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Oceanic & Indonesian Art


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