- Museum number
Female figure carved in wood, with inlaid shell eyes and painted natural pigment.
- Production date
Height: 180.50 centimetres
Width: 23 centimetres
Depth: 11 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Information from Pacific Art in Detail: This life-size female figure was part of a crowd of similar, mostly male figures in the men's house of Sarikim village, in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea. This female embodies a powerfull spirit of the clan 'nggwalndu' and was carved through a long series of initiations.
The 'nggwalndu' figures generally feature a peaked headdress, painted face and body decorations. This particular one is topped with a pair of hornbill birds, one of the most important totems of the Abelam. The pigments covering the figures are considered magical, giving the figures their beauty and power.
It takes an Abelam man twenty to thirty years to conplete the full sequence of eight ceremonies required for him to become fully initiated. The rituals occur in the men's house 'korombo', surrounded by a dazzling array of painted boards and adorned figures. As the men reach each new stage they are shown new objects. At the final stage, two large 'nggwalndu' figures are revealed: the actual sacred objects that only the initiated may see.
Another similar [to Oc1980,11.109] but female.
See Eth. Doc. 954.
Photographs in Dept. Pictorial Archive.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Collection made between 5 August and 7 September 1980 in the village of Sarikim, Wosera Sub-district, Maprik District, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, by the British Museum staff (Dorota C. Starzecka with the assistance of David John Lee, Conservation Department), consisting mainly of the contents of the Sarikim ceremonial house, with some additional material from Sarikim and other neighbouring villages.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number