Flat woven anthropomorphic figures - timbuwarra - from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea were kept in spirit houses, conical-roofed structures built some distance from the village, and apparently were associated with fertility and spirits. In ceremony they were carried or were pinned to the tall red wig worn by men. This practice was locally described as "female pinned by a penis to the wig."
Collector Stanley Moriarty refers to it as a female figure representing a dead wife intended for relatives and friends to pay their respects to.
Southern Highlands spirit figure
woven vegetable fibre, cane, red and blue pigments
97.0 x 114.0 cm (irreg.)
Gift of Margaret Tuckson 2005
Not on display
© Wiru people, under the endorsement of PIMA's 'Code of Ethics'
Where the work was made
Referenced in 3 publications
Lynn Chua, Microchemical Journal, 'FTIR and Raman microscopy of organic binders and extraneous organic materials on painted ceremonial objects from the Highlands of Papua New Guinea', pg. 246-256, Amsterdam, 2017, 248, 249.
Heinz Christian Dosedla, Abhandlungen und Berichte des Staatlichen Museums fur Volkerkunde Dresden [Band 41], 'Kultfiguren aus Flechtwerk im zentralen Hochland von PNG', pg. 86-98, Berlin, 1984. General reference to 'timbuwarra' and 'yupin' plaited fibre figures.
Heinz Christian Dosedla, Tribus, 'Kunst und Kunstler im zentralen Hochland von Papua-Neuguinea', pg. 87-119, Stuttgart, Sep 1978. General reference to 'timbuwarra' plaited fibre figures, pg. 94-95. Article in German.