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Pacific art

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Painting from ceremonial house (spirit figure with wooden mask)

mid 20th century
collected 1965


Wiski Busengin Woknot

Papua New Guinea

circa 1920 - 1976

Ap Ma people

Papua New Guinea


Throughout the 1960s, comparable panels were found in villages west of the Keram River such as Lol, Paniten and Wom, where this panel originates. The men's ceremonial house in Angoram was also embellished with several similar panels, stitched together to form a large 'canvas'. Father Lehner of the Catholic Mission of the Divine Word sent examples to the Steyler Mission Museum in Germany, while another is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

These all feature a carved and painted wooden head attached to the top of a support of sago palm petioles. Below the head, the body and limbs of a figure – possibly a culture hero or spirit – are painted in white clay and ochre pigments.

[entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 20]


Other Titles

Bark painting (Figure with wooden mask as head)

Spathe painting with wooden mask

Cultural origin

Ap Ma people


mid 20th century
collected 1965

Media category


Materials used

sago palm petioles, wood, plant fibre, natural pigments


135.0 x 70.5 x 7.5 cm overall; 25.0 x 10.0 x 6.0 cm mask


Purchased 1965


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Wiski Busengin Woknot

Works in the collection


Artist information

Ap Ma people

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history