Carved wood, ochre, red and black pigments, traces of lime, fibers, shells, tapa
Collection number inscribed on the base in white ink: 58.315
Presumed date of manufacture: late 19th or early 20th century
Kaamba village ?
Lower Sepik stylistic area, Eastern Sepik Province
Papua New Guinea
Private collection, Belgium
Renaud Vanuxem Collection, Paris
The impression of compactness conveyed by this large statuette is accentuated by the exaggerated size of the ovoid head, the brevity of the neck, a large torso and, above all, small legs that merge onto a circular base. The sexual characteristics and navel are particularly emphasized.
She is adorned with numerous ornaments: earrings, nose ornament, necklace, bracelets made of fibers and shells. She is still wearing her beaten bark loincloth.
The rarity of this statuette lies in its chest ornament, consisting of ten plates arranged side by side. We know of only one other example with similar characteristics and a similar ornament, described by Heinz Kelm.
This is a female statuette measuring 57cm collected during the Sepik Expedition of 1912/13 in the village of Kaamba on the Keram River. Both were probably made by the same sculptor.
Another feature of this large statuette is the vertical separation on a median axis of the two pigments, ochre and black.
The red ochre color (derived from ochre or Bixa orellana seeds) refers to supernatural powers and testifies to the figure’s ancestral status. The black color, obtained from coal black, is a sign of power.
According to Christian Coiffier , these two colors are probably an evocation of the two halves of the cosmos.
According to Harry Beran’s database, a Papua New Guinea mask from the Mia Van Bussel collection bears the same type of collection number (58.319), as yet unrecorded.
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