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A Pair of Fine Old New Guinea Sacred Flute Stoppers Middle Sepik River Papua New Guinea


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Collection No. TB-1851
Size Height 45 cm
Oceanic Arts Australia buys and sells tribal New Guinea art

A Pair of Fine Old Sacred Flute Stopper Ornaments from the Middle Sepik River in the East Sepik Province  of Papua New Guinea

This pair of old Flute Stoppers are finely carved & painted in the form of anthropomorphic long-beaked Birdmen Ancestor Figures.

Birds in New Guinea art can be important clan totems and also anthropomorphic spirit beings that are half-man; primordial bird-men and bird-women, who originally created the sacred musical instruments, consisting of bamboo flutes and slit gongs that were kept within the ceremonial houses and played a central role in the ritual life of their communities.

For many New Guinea peoples, flutes are among the most sacred and important of all musical instruments. Sacred flutes were made from hollow cylinders of bamboo and played, like a Western flute, by blowing through a hole in the side of the instrument near the upper end. The tops of these flutes were frequently decorated with ornamental flute stoppers like these two examples.  Some of the finest artworks made in the Sepik River area were the sacred Flute Stoppers.

These sacred flutes were used in pairs and were kept hidden in the Men’s Ceremonial House or haus tambaran.  The sound of the flutes is the voice of specific honored ancestors and they bear their personal names & are given great respect.  Sacred Flutes were only seen by initiated men and played during important ceremonies.

Provenance: The Mrs. Elizabeth Pryce Collection Sydney;  Pryce was one of the finest Australian Oceanic Art Collectors and most of her collection was sold at Sotheby’s Paris on October 10th 2018.

The Todd Barlin Collection New Guinea Oceanic Art

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