Slave Hand-Blocks Geelvink Bay Area West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia 19th C
This is a very rare type of 19th Century cultural object from the Geelvink Bay area on the Northwest Coast of West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia. A Slaves Hand-Blocks from the 19th Century, made in the form of a Crocodile. There is an important early paper written about these objects by J.M. Hondius 1932 English Translation” Why did the Noemfor Island People make their Slave Blocks in the form of Crocodiles “. In the Publication Cultureel Indie 1932. See in my photos about some examples of these Slave Blocks in the Dutch Museums. Later I will put a link to this interesting article about these rare objects that were used during the 19th Century.
Geelvink Bay & the Islands close by are famous for their Korwar Ancestor Figures Sculptures, these power small sculptures are only part of the creative artworks made be these people, Canoe Ornaments, Headrests & other utilitarian objects were often decorated with Korwar Figures & stylised Crocodile figures. ( see my superb Geelvink Bay Adze with Crocodile Head).
I only had part of the 1932 article about the Slaves Hand Blocks translated roughly from Dutch to English which I will add later to this listing.
The Crocodile is an important totemic spirit animal throughout much of the entire Island of New Guinea. The crocodile is part of the ancient creation mythology for many New Guinea tribes. Crocodiles play a central role in the art and culture of the Sepik River people. According to one of the Iatmul peoples Middle Sepik creation mythology, an ancestral crocodile was responsible for forming the land. In the beginning, the earth was covered by a primordial ocean, into whose depths the crocodile dived. Reaching the bottom, it brought up on its back a load of mud, which became an island when it surfaced. From that island, the land grew and hardened, but it continues to rest on the back of the ancestral crocodile, which occasionally moves, causing earthquakes. Even today initiated Sepik Men have body scarification’s on their back, chest shoulders to resemble crocodiles.
Provenance: The John & Marcia Friede Collection of New Guinea Art also known as The Jolika Collection most of which is now in The De Young Fine Art Museum in San Francisco California .
The Todd Barlin Collection of Oceanic & New Guinea Arts & Arts of West Papua Indonesia
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