Papua New Guinea
Spirit plaque for the ceiling of the Men’s House
Carved wood and pigments
Early 20th century
Height: 24½ in. (62 cm)
Ex collection Karel Kupka (1918-1993)
Such sculptures are particularly rare. We know of two other related examples: one is in the Museum der Kulturen in Basel, Switzerland (“Ozeanische Kunst“, Christian Kaufmann, 1980, plate 78), while the second is at the De Young Museum in San Francisco (“New Guinea Art Masterpieces“, John Friede, 2005, plate 222).
Of note here are the wonderful way the motifs are laid out and the color composition, setting up a hypnotic movement that brings the sculpture to life.
This sculpture was in the personal collection of Karel Kupka, ethnologist, author and expert of reference on Australian aboriginal art from the 1950s to the1970s.