Oceania, Papua New Guinea, Maprik region, Abelam peoples, ca. early to mid 20th century CE. A hand-carved wooden ancestral statue of an enormous size standing upon bent, delineated legs with male genitalia between the slender hips. The rotund abdomen is framed with bent arms and stylized hands, and angled shoulders trace upward to the thick neck. The ovoid face bears an amicable countenance with plateaued brows, a narrow nose, a bulging forehead, and an incised mouth smiling back at their living family members. A curving beard and projecting headdress surround the stylized visage, and tall rabbit-ear projections top the pate. Brown pigment envelops the entirety of this gargantuan statue, with faint traces of traditional white, yellow, and orange-red linear motifs visible along the legs, thighs, and shoulders. Size: 16.5" W x 127.25" H (41.9 cm x 323.2 cm); 129" H (327.7 cm) on included custom stand.
Figures like this were carved in the likeness of a deceased family member and were often spiritually consulted during times of crises or for advice before making an important decision. The overall size of this example indicates that the represented deceased was perhaps someone of great significance.
Provenance: private Tucson, Arizona, USA collection, acquired between 1950 and 1985
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Losses to areas of abdomen and nose as shown. Several fissures on feet, head, headdress and projections, and head, as well as a large but stable fissure running the height of the verso. Extensive insect damage, fading to original pigmentation, and splintering in some areas. Nice pigmentation remains and earthen deposits.