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An image of Seated figure holding a shield ('korvar') by

West Irian Jaya (West Papua), Indonesia

Seated figure holding a shield ('korvar')
Place of origin
West Irian Jaya (West Papua)Indonesia
Cultural origin
Geelvink Bay
19th century
Media category
Materials used

26.5 cm

Gift of Christopher Worrall Wilson 2010
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

A deceased person's soul or spirit dwells in carved wooden figures known as korvar. Made principally from wood, korvars are carved following a person's death. The process is accompanied by specific rituals, after which the family of the deceased wraps the sculpture in cloth and store it in the family house. The figure is brought out before important undertakings, such as a battle or extended fishing trips. The priest taps the korvar on the ground to bring the ancestor spirit into the image, explains the plans to the spirit and inquires about the outcome. The korvar is then re-stored after this ceremony. After a number of new korvars are made, family members take the older examples to the cemetery and place each with the skeleton of the person for whom it was carved.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, 2011

Exhibition history (1)

One hundred flowers (2011), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 01 Sep 2011–15 Jan 2012