Ancestor Figure Upper Sepik River East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
This beautifully carved old female Ancestor Figure is from the Upper Sepik River area in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea.
The figure was originally once part of a larger carved house post. The house post was part of a Men’s Cult House or Haus Tambaran.
Made from a single piece of hardwood, she is standing with her hands on her hips. Her torso and shoulders have deeply incised clan designs which represent body scarification. Scarification is similar to tattooing except the designs are upraised on the skin by rubbing ash into the cut designs which are often part of initiations. Scarification was widely practised in the Sepik River area and famously so in the Middle Sepik River area where initiated men having their back, chest and posterior scarred to look like crocodile markings, the crocodile is a important totemic animal.
Ancestor figures were an important part of a communities spiritual well being, they offered protection from malevolent forces and help to ensure fertility for gardens growing large yams and taro.
Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Papua New Guinea Art & Oceanic Art.
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