MASKS, STATUES & FOOD HOOKS FROM PAPUA NEW GUINEA (PNG) & (IRIAN JAYA), ASMAT. RARE OCEANIC ART

We have collected for 40 years, directly from the tribal artists of Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya, the Trobriands, often in remote jungles, rarely visited, to find the best art and artifacts available. Here is a review of a few things we carry:

The Asmat are widely known for their skills in woodcarving and the strikingly modern, abstract geometric designs they use in objects such as war shields. But Asmat art is intricately tied to complex religious and cultural beliefs which are less easily accessible to the average western viewer. Integral to an understanding of traditional Asmat culture are the subjects of warfare, headhunting, and ancestor worship.

Rare Clan Mindja Minja Cult heads (masks) with phallic noses, hand carved with primitive tools,  painted extensively with black, white and red clay pigments, created from natural sources, can be found in the "Waskuk" Upper Sepik region of PNG and are used during ceremonies of the Yam harvest. Such wood figures were not worn but hung in the men's house or haus tambaran and used during secret celebrations and festivals,

 Scarce Totem Effigy, Palembei village, Papua New Guinea. These rare statues represent renditions of mystical mythological tales and were kept in the men’s spirit house (called Haus Tambaran or Gaigo). They worked as a magical shield together with other figures in the Gaigo, generally protecting from bad magic worked against the village by marauding demons (Maselei) or magic generated by enemy sorcerers (Sanguma).

Mindimbit Ancestral figures and masks, Iatmul tribe, (Middle Sepik River, Papua New Guinea) were carved from wood, painted with natural pigments, often adorned with rattan and cowrie shells, bush twine & feather accents.

The men of Japandai carve a unique statue representing an Aibom woman carrying a Chambri pottery fireplace on her head. During a long conflict with a neighboring village, these statues were set up in the village and gardens with offerings placed in the "fireplace" in a successful effort to fight the competing sorcerers' black magic.

Hand carved wood hooks are used along the Sepik as the rest of PNG for both secular and ceremonial purposes. They are suspended in the men´s house and in individual houses to hang valuables or ritual items. The different styles belonged to individual clans and were not allowed to be copied.