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Ancestor Figure ,Asmat People, West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia


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Collection No. TB-168
Size Height : 85cm
Ancestor Figure ,Asmat People, West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia
Ancestor Figure ,Asmat People, West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia
Ancestor Figure ,Asmat People, West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia
Ancestor Figure ,Asmat People, West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia
Ancestor Figure ,Asmat People, West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia
Ancestor Figure ,Asmat People, West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia

This old and used ancestor figure kawe is from the Coastal Asmat area on the South Coast of West Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia.  The female figure standing but poised as walking one leg slightly forward, the arm loosely held at her sides. Made from a soft wood (mangrove tree) as all older Asmat figure should be, it also has no base or way to stand independently this is because old figures were tied on the walls inside the Men’s Ceremonial House or Jeu.  This figure has old patina from handling

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.  For the Asmat the connection between trees and people are profound.

Provenance : Ex Catholic Mission Collection, Merauke, South Coast West Papua. The priests and brothers at the Catholic Mission in Merauke had carvings like figure that were collected over 50 years of their staff working in many remote areas of the Asmat.

I spent a lot of time in the Asmat region in the early 1980’s and sculptures of this quality in the Coastal Asmat Areas were rare.

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 Ancestor Poles from the Asmat & Mimika Cultures along with Shields & Dance Costumes, all of these I field collected.  These artworks were in 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 .

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