Mindja figure

oceania | Papua New Guinea

Mindja figure

Papua New Guinea

Yam fertility figure
“Kwaga” (according to Douglas Newton’s notes)
Nukuma people
Washkuk Hills, Upper Sepik

Carved wood and pigments
Early 20th century
Height: 32 ¼ in. (82 cm)

Field-collected by Douglas Newton, 1973
Ex collection Douglas Newton (1920-2001), New York, inv. # “Nu 15”
Ex collection John & Marcia Friede, Jolika, acquired from the above 2002
Ex collection Marc Assayag, Montreal
Ex private collection, New York

Published: Faces, visible - invisible, April 2021
Mindja Figure 82 cm / Galerie Flak Price on request
This votive board called Mindja was used in a series of yam harvest cults based on a myth of origin for the great ritual cycles. A central element in this myth involved an old woman teaching her adopted grandson how to grow yams.

This 82 cm tall figure is highly expressive and conveys a deep sense of mystery and poetry. The enigmatic smile at the center of the carving is highly inspiring.

This Yam fertility figure came from the celebrated collection of Douglas Newton (1920-2001), former chief curator of the Museum of Primitive Art in New York and then chief curator for the Tribal Art department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Douglas Newton is the author of numerous reference books on the arts and cultures of Oceania. New Guinea was the passion of his lifetime.

This mindja board was collected in Papua New Guinea by Douglas Newton in 1973 and remained in his personal collection until his death in 2001. It was later acquired from Douglas Newton Estate by John Friede in 2002.

The provenance information above was confirmed by Virginia Lee-Webb, The Douglas Newton Archive (certificate of provenance dated February 7, 2021)
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