Female figure

Height: 36 cm

Carved wood

Presumed period: late 19th or early 20th century

Stylistic area of Murik Lakes and the Sepik River coastal region

Eastern Sepik Province

Papua New Guinea

Provenance :

Serge Brignoni, Bern

Christie’s London, December 12, 1989

Seymour & Alice Lazar Collection, Palm Springs

Private collection, New York

This beautiful sculpture represents a female ancestor. She is standing, arms detached from her body, hands resting on her hips. The top of the head supports a sort of pierced headdress for attaching hair. The ears and septum are pierced to hold ornaments that have since disappeared. The curvilinear motifs on the upper chest, shoulders, shoulder blades and top of the head are reminiscent of the scarifications performed during initiatory puberty ceremonies for young girls, but also during mourning. These scarifications are known as taganap sigia.

Kept in the ceremonial house as a being endowed with a soul, it could be presented to men on the eve of battle or used during initiation stages. According to John Friede , they were used in personal shrines to seek protection from the spirits when sailing the high seas, and to help with fishing. Their role was of crucial importance to the clan’s well-being.

the complete study of this very rare piece is available upon request

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