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


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Collection No. TB-1701
Size Height: 100cm
Oceanic Arts Australia buys and sells tribal New Guinea art

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

This old and used Asmat Ancestor Figure or kawe is from the Momogo Village in the remote Northwest Asmat area on the South Coast of West Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia.

The male ancestor is standing with his legs slightly bent as if he is in motion moving toward you, the hands are held at the front of his waist.  Carved from a single piece of medium-density wood, the figure has no base or way to stand independently this is because the older figures were tied onto the walls inside the Men’s Ceremonial House or 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.

I spent a lot of time in the Asmat region in the early 1980s and sculptures of this quality were rare.  This figure at collected in Momogo Village on the upper Pomatsj River in the remote NW Asmat area in 1986.  There was only one old man who was a Wow Ipitsj or master carver in that small village.

Many of the artworks that I field collected in the Asmat & Mimika are now in important Museum collections around the world like The Musee du Quai Branly in Paris France. When you walk into the Oceanic Art pavilion the first thing you see are the monuments of Ancestor Poles from the Asmat & Mimika Cultures along with Shields & Dance Costumes, all of which I field collected.  These artworks were in a superb exhibition in 1996 The Asmat et Mimika at the National Museum of African and Oceanic Art in Paris ( now part of the Musee du Quai Branly ) and published in the prestigious Louvre Museum Magazine the same year 1996.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic Art 

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