South of Torricelli Mountains,
West Sepik, Papua New Guinea
Carved wood and natural pigments
Early 20th century
Height : 32 ¼ in. (82 cm)
Field-collected by Michael Hamson, Rauit Village, 1999
Ex collection John & Marcia Friede
Ex private collection, Sydney
Illustrated: “Carved and painted works of the Torricellis” Barry Craig, fig. 6 p. 9, Pacific Arts, 2012
Price: on request
Barry Craig from the South Australian Museum, in his benchmark study of the sculptures of the region (Pacific Arts, The Journal of the PAA, vol. 12, 2012), was able to list a total of only eight female figures known at present, including the one shown here.
Representing a spirit named Wilbae, this sculpture served in ceremonies linked to healing, fertility of the land and plentiful food. Among their functions, these female spirit figures also insured the success of hunting expeditions and warfare.
Of a remarkable poetry and expressivity, this carved figure brings to mind the figures of such artists as Chaissac or Dubuffet.