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Monumental Figure of A Crocodile Man Ancestor holding a Woman


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Collection No. TB-1667
Size Height: 236 cm
Monumental Figure of A Crocodile Man Ancestor holding a Woman
Monumental Figure of A Crocodile Man Ancestor holding a Woman
Monumental Figure of A Crocodile Man Ancestor holding a Woman

This monumental figure of an anthropomorphic Crocodile Man holding a woman is from the middle Sepik River area of Papua New Guinea.

Carved from a single large piece of timber, with ochre painted decorations and ground Conis Shell Eyes.

This represents a  story of a woman taken into the river by a Crocodile Man Spirit.  The Middle Sepik Communities have many stories and mythologies about Crocodiles; often they are sorcerers in disguise.  Young men when initiated are given scarification on their bodies that look and represent crocodile’s skin.

According to Crispin Howarth at The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra “ each community has its own artistic canon, history and cosmology, according to an origin myth of the Iatmul people, who live along the banks of the middle length of the river, the world was created by a primordial crocodile that swam everything into being. Every time the floods came, it was thought to be the primal crocodile settling down into the waters, as the land and the crocodile’s back are one and the same. Earthquakes were signs that the crocodile was moving. The jaws of a crocodile symbolically represent this worldview: the upper jaw is the sky and all within it and the lower jaw is the land and the river and everything upon and in it”

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