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Three Old New Guinea Massim Ancestor Figures Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea

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Collection No. TB-453 A, B, C
Size Heights :11.5-22cm
New Guinea Oceanic Art
New Guinea & Oceanic Art
Abelam New Guinea Art
Asian & Japan Scholars Art
Asian Buddhist Art

Three Old New Guinea Massim Ancestor Figures Milne Bay Province Papua New Guinea

These three interesting small size Massim Figures look great together, they each have a unique personality, the one on the far left is my favorite as the carver used his imagination to do something different than the average squatting figure, it came from the collection of ex-Richard Baird he supposedly acquired in from the Australian artist Leonard French who had a fine collection of New Guinea Art.  The other two are both fine sculptures but together they are a “sculptural group” and look amazing

Finely carved in a naturalistic style sitting with the elbows resting on the knees & the hands held under the chin, carved from a single piece of hardwood and the incised designs and facial features are highlighted with white lime.

The squatting figure is a style of figure that runs from all of the way from the indigenous people of Taiwan through SE Asia; Indonesia & the Philippines and throughout the Island of New Guinea.

Culturally the Milne Bay region is referred to as “the Massim,” a term originating from the name of Misima Island but is used to describe the artworks from the whole province made of 600 islands, about 160 of which are inhabited.

The Massim are well known for other types of beautiful artworks like their intricately carved canoe ornaments and fantastically imaginative Lime Spatulas.  The Massim are also known for their great maritime skills and a complex trading system called the Kula Ring.  Kula is also the name for certain ornaments & wealth objects like stone axe blades and shell money. These valuables are traded purely for the purpose of enhancing one’s social status and prestige.

Carefully prescribed customs and traditions surround the ceremonies that accompany the exchanges which establish strong, ideally lifelong relationships between the exchange parties (karayta’u, “partners”). The act of giving is a display of the greatness of the giver, accompanied by shows of exaggerated modesty in which the value of what is given is actively played down. Such a partnership involves strong mutual obligations such as hospitality, protection, and assistance.  Kula valuables never remain for long in the hands of the recipients; rather, they must be passed on to other partners within a certain amount of time, thus constantly circling around the ring. However, even temporary possession brings prestige and status. Important chiefs can have hundreds of partners while less significant participants may only have fewer than a dozen.

These figures date from the early 20th Century

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic Art

I first went to Papua New Guinea in 1985 for an adventure & what I found was that I really enjoyed being with the people of New Guinea, over the next 38 years I spent extensive time spent collecting and documenting traditional art & ceremonies in remote areas of Papua New Guinea & West Papua, The Solomon Islands & Vanuatu & the other Pacific Islands countries. During these travels, I made major collections of New Guinea & Oceanic Art for major Museums and Public Art Galleries

I was honoured by being in the prestigious Louvre Museum Magazine for the collections I made for The Museum of African & Oceanic Art Paris in1996 (now the Musee Quai Branly) for the exhibition “Asmat et Mimika d’ Irian Jaya April 1996 At THE MUSEE NATIONAL des ARTS D’AFRIQUE et d’ OCEANIE, Paris

See all of the links & photos in my new EXHIBITIONS GALLERY and there is the link to the article in the prestigious Louvre Magazine 1996

I have artwork for Museums & Art Galleries but also for collectors at every stage of their collecting. I want to encourage people to explore the fine art of New Guinea & West Papua and the Pacific Islands and to be able to see and touch the artworks in a relaxed and friendly manner in my Sydney Gallery.  I would like to invite you to visit my gallery and see the artworks in person and also look at my website www.oceanicartsaustralia.com  where there are many Galleries & Sub Galleries to explore.

My Gallery of nearly 40 years is the last physical gallery in Sydney that specialises in New Guinea & Oceanic Art. Sydney is just a couple hours’ flight to New Guinea & the Pacific Islands where all of these amazing artworks came from, Australia’s closest neighbours.