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Title

Urungwall (sacred figure)

early 1900-mid 20th century

Artist

Abelam people

Papua New Guinea

Alternate image of Urungwall (sacred figure) by Abelam people
Alternate image of Urungwall (sacred figure) by Abelam people
Alternate image of Urungwall (sacred figure) by Abelam people
Alternate image of Urungwall (sacred figure) by Abelam people
Alternate image of Urungwall (sacred figure) by Abelam people
Alternate image of Urungwall (sacred figure) by Abelam people
  • Details

    Other Title
    Male ancestor figure (surmounted by two birds)
    Place where the work was made
    Maprik District East Sepik Province Papua New Guinea
    Cultural origin
    Abelam people
    Date
    early 1900-mid 20th century
    Media categories
    Ceremonial object , Sculpture
    Materials used
    wood, clay, natural earth pigments
    Dimensions
    146.0 x 31.0 x 23.0 cm
    Credit
    Purchased 1965
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    396.1994
    Copyright

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Abelam people

    Works in the collection

    7

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  • About

    According to Dr Fred Gerrits, who collaborated with villagers to document Abelam cultural history during the 1970s, this 'urungwall' (sacred figure) would have been used exclusively as a resonator during Tambaran cult (initiation) rituals. Kept hidden from women and uninitiated men in the 'sakindungai' (secret area) within the 'korombo' (ceremonial house), 'urungwall' were ‘sounded’ upon arrival, daily during their stay, and again at the departure of the 'ngwallndu' spirits. 'Gwangi' (long bamboo trumpets) were placed into the upper end of the 'urungwall' and blown, with the sound reverberating in the hollow cylinder. 'Urungwall' are considered to be extremely sacred. They were made by and belonged to one person, but they were also used by the whole community.

    This 'urungwall' has the face of a 'waiwu' (human) with a long nose, a feature considered beautiful in Abelam society.

    [entry from Exhibition Guide for 'Melanesian art: redux', 2018, cat no 23]

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications

Other works by Abelam people

See more works