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A Fine New Guinea Yamate Ancestor Board Kamoro Mimika People South Coast West Papua

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Collection No. 290-217
Size (161x16cm)
New Guinea & Oceanic Art
New Guinea Oceanic Art
Abelam New Guinea Art

A Fine New Guinea Yamate Ancestor Board, Kamoro Mimika People South Coast West Papua Irian Jaya Indonesia 

This beautiful Yamate Ancestor Figure is best described as a two-dimensional ancestor figure, Yamate is finely carved in slightly different forms and then incised with designs & ochre painted.

The Kamoro are also referred to as the Mimika which is a reference to the “Mimika River” where they live, they are related to the more well-known Asmat people their neighbors to the east and they both speak the same language. The Kamoro people were tired of the endless headhunting & revenge within the Asmat area and they moved up the coast out of easy reach of the Asmat head-hunters.

The Kamoro art reflects their more peaceful and gentle nature, their artworks are more subtle and not aggressive like their Asmat neighbors, they also use colours and designs that are not found in the Asmat area.

Much of the art of the Kamoro people of southwest New Guinea centers on ceremonies and wood carvings that honour the spirits of individuals who have recently died.  Portraying recently deceased ancestors, Yamate were primarily created during the emakame, a complex ritual honouring the dead and celebrating the renewal of life. A pivotal event in the Emakame was the revealing of a group of Yamate, each of which represented a specific deceased person, whose name it bore. Some Yamate were also used on festive occasions as ornaments on the prows of canoes.

In the early 1980’s I spent several months living with the Kamoro in two villages in the Eastern Mimika area, these long visits were the opportunity to really get to know people well & to be invited back to attend traditional ceremonies for The Mbitoro Ancestor Poles, during these ceremonies that last up to one year, there was the occasion when Yamate were made and displayed outside their amazing ceremonial house.

This Yamate along with other carvings collected over a two-year period in 1985-1986 are now in major museum collections around the world including The  Musee du Quai Branly Museum in Paris, when you walk into the Oceanic Art Pavilion the first thing you see are monumental Ancestor Poles from the Asmat & Kamoro (Mimika) collected by me, they were originally in an exhibition ” The Asmat et Mimika “ at The National Museum of African and Oceanic Art in 1996 (now that museum is part of The Musee du Quai Branly).  The exhibition the Asmat and Mimika in 1996 was published in the prestigious Louvre Museum Magazine

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of New Guinea Oceanic Art



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