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Title

Male and female ancestor figures

mid 20th century

Artist

Asmat people

Western New Guinea

Alternate image of Male and female ancestor figures by Asmat people
Alternate image of Male and female ancestor figures by Asmat people
Alternate image of Male and female ancestor figures by Asmat people
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Pomatsj River West Papua Indonesia
    Cultural origin
    Asmat people
    Date
    mid 20th century
    Media category
    Sculpture
    Materials used
    wood
    Dimensions
    131.0 x 41.0 x 39.0 cm
    Credit
    Purchased 1976
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    167.1976
    Copyright

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Asmat people

    Works in the collection

    2

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  • About

    According to Asmat legend, wooden statues were first carved by Fumeripitsj who, by beating a drum, gave them life, thereby creating the Asmat people. As the statues were animated, their elbows and knees separated and they began dancing. In ceremonies today, including the consecration of new men’s houses, or 'jeu', men dance with their elbows against their knees, re-enacting the Fumeripitsj story and the transformation from wood to flesh. The stance is also reminiscent of the praying mantis, a symbol of head-hunting among the Asmat.

    Wooden figure sculptures such as this would often be named after ancestors. They are created by master woodcarvers, or 'wowipitsj', who are socially and politically influential.

    [entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 5]

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 5 publications

Other works by Asmat people

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