Ancestor Figure Asmat People West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia
This beautifully carved old Ancestor Figure is from the Asmat People on the South Coast of West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia . Dating from the 1950’s or earlier, it show the great artistic skills of Asmat Master Cavers or Wow Ipits in the Asmat Language. This tall elegant standing female figure has all of the characteristics of early Asmat Carvings. Carved from a single piece of Mangrove Wood and one highlighted with white lime. The main Asmat creation myth is about the creator being Fumeripitjs who was lonely so he carved figures from wood and then he made a drum, when he played the drum the carved wood figures came to life and that is how the first Asmat people were created.
I spent a lot of time in the Asmat region in the early 1980’s and 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.
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