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Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea


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Collection No. TB-2638
Size 93cm x 39cm
Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea
Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea
Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea
Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea
Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea
Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea
Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea
Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea
Bowl Tami or Siassi Island Huon Gulf Morobe Province Papua New Guinea

This monumental size Food Bowl is from Tami or Siassi Island in the Huon Gulf Area of Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea. Carved from a single large piece of hardwood in a deep oval shaped bowl. The outside of the bowl if finely carved high relief a prominent ancestors face at either end of the bowl. The other designs are stylised birds & fish carved in high relief and highlighted with white lime infill into the design.  These old bowls are family heirlooms that are kept through generations and used on ceremonial occasions. Important old bowls are also used in traditional dowry payments made by a young mans family.  This old bowl dating from the early 20th Century.

Tami bowls were carved from a type of hardwood known as kwila. The process of hand-hollowing was a long and tedious process considering that nearby islands had mastered the much-expedited process of hollowing with fire. The incredibly hard wood used for Tami-style bowls also made working with traditional Papua New Guinean tools like stone or shell adzes and animal teeth all the more difficult.

Designs were chosen with great care. Especially before production moved from Tami to Siassi, each bowl was marked by a design serving as kinship group’s trademark. To copy the design of another carver was enough to start a feud, and it was often avoided. This is one of the reasons why the region’s bowl production was localised on Tami Island for as long as it was.  The anthropomorphic figure seen wearing a three-peaked headdress at opposite ends of the bowl pictured upside-down is a benevolent spirit called a balum and may come from the mainland New Guinea folk adjacent to Tami Island. Crocodiles which for the Tami were also representative of powerful spirits feature heavily. Generally, designs without anthropomorphic faces have pairs of either stylised crocodiles or lizards somewhere along their sides.

Provenance: Collected  in 192os by  Dr Edwin Archibald Holland who was in New from 1927 to 1933.

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