Ancestor Figure

Lower Sepik
Papua New Guinea

Carved wood and pigments
19th century or prior (C14 Test – Ciram)
Height: 27 in. (68.5 cm)

Ex Sotheby’s New York, 18 Nov. 1997, lot 304
Ex Galerie Yann Ferrandin, Paris

New Beginnings – Parcours des Mondes 2017

Video – Full screen

Price: on request

Melanesia – Papua New Guinea
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These anthropomorphic figures go by the name of kandimboa(n)g among the peoples living in the region of the mouths of the Sepik and Ramu rivers. According to Joseph Schmidt (see Die Ethnographie der Nor-Papua, 1933), they incarnate the mythical founding heroes of the clan. Otto Reche (Der Kaiserin-Augusta-Fluss/ Sepik River, 1913) states that they also served as memorial figures for ancestors who had marked the history of the clan. They were solicited during initiation rituals, and finally served as protective figures for the community.
Each statue bore the name of an ancestor, the name itself attached to a specific myth and song.
When not being used in ceremonies, the statues were kept in the men’s house where they received offerings of food.
This female figure is punctuated by empty spaces, paradoxically bringing it to life. Its powerful expression and archaic style are archetypal of classic Melanesian art.