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

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Size 123cm SOLD
Oceanic Arts Australia buys and sells tribal New Guinea art

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

This beautifully carved old Ancestor Figure is from the Asmat People who live on the South Coast of West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia. Dating from the 1950s or earlier, it shows the great artistic skills of Asmat Master Cavers or Wow Ipits in the Asmat Language.

This tall elegant standing female Ancestor Figure has all of the characteristics of early Asmat sculptures. Carved from a single piece of Mangrove Wood and originally highlighted with white lime The figure has no base or ability to stand up independently because when used traditionally the figures were tied to the inside wall of the Asmat Men’s Ceremonial Houses called jeu 

The main Asmat creation myth is about the creator 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, this shows the important connection for the Asmat people between trees, their forests & humans.

I spent a lot of time in the Asmat region in the early 1980s 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 is 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 New Guinea Oceanic Art 


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