Oceania

Female spirit figure

Korewori, Middle Sepik
Papua New Guinea

Inyai-Ewa People

Carved wood and pigments
19th century or earlier
Height: 37 ¾ in. (96 cm)

Ex collection Loed Van Bussel, Amsterdam
Ex collection Adrian Schlag

Published: Sepik: Hooks, Figures & Masks, 2018

Price: on request

Melanesia – Papua New Guinea
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This sculpture presents the classical characteristics of female spirit figures in the ancient art of the Ewa region (upper part of the Korewori River). As indicated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, these figures are often described as the representation of two primordial sisters who had fashioned the world and, according to oral tradition, were at the origin of the creation of the valleys where the Inyai-Ewa lived and hunted. These sisters are also assimilated to the female founders of the clan.
Spirit figures were kept in the sacred part of the Men’s House (ceremonial house), or in shelters under overhanging rock cliffs or caves serving as palaces for religious or commemorative rituals.
Female representations are extremely rare: they are greatly less frequent than their male pendants, aripa figures represented in profile and standing on only one foot.