Old Basket Hook Figure Lower Sepik River Early 20th Century
This fine old used Basket Hook Figure is from the Coastal Sepik area in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. Carved in the form of a standing male ancestor, his legs are slightly bent and his hands held to his hips. The way that the legs and arms are positioned gives the figure a feeling of movement. The shoulders are positioned unnaturally on the front of the body and that is one of the most delightful aspects of Sepik artists, their artworks can be surreal.
At the base of the figure, there are remnants of a hook that were either missing or never fully carved, there is still enough of a hook to hang a traditional string bilum bag. Basket hooks were used to hang from the ceiling by a rope and string bags of food or other important objects that then could not be reached by rats or mice. A simple effective technology used by cultures around the world. The surface of this figure has a small dimpled carving & marking of traditional rasps and a nice aged patina.
Sepik River artists made many beautiful unitarian art objects that were both functional and a way of honouring and making visible their ancestors on a daily basis.
Basket Hook Figures have always been a favourite type of artwork for me to collect, they are some of the most beautiful objects made in the Sepik River area and have so much variation in forms & style.
Provenance: The Todd Barlin Private Collection of Oceanic Art