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Ancestral Figue (Ngwalndu)

Arts of the Pacific Islands

These three Abelam works are all associated with the korumbo, a large ceremonial house for spirits. Every few years, Abelam men carve representations of ancestral figures in conjunction with the initiation ceremonies of young men. The figures represent the benevolent spirits, or ngwalndu, of individual clans and are considered responsible for clan prosperity. The figures are carved in the forest and brought into the korumbo, where they are covered with mud and painted.
MEDIUM Wood, pigment
DATES 20th century
DIMENSIONS 156 x 14 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (396.2 x 36.8 x 31.8 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. Melville W. Hall
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Ceremonial house ("tambaran") figure in form of a wooden anthropomorphic figure painted red, yellow ochre, white and black. The body consists of a thin vertical shaft with scalloped edges. Extending from top of head are two large hornbill heads; there are also hornbill heads at base of figure. On each side of the figure, in high relief are other avian forms, some of which are parrots, and human heads. Condition: Deep crack on left side of head extending from crown to chin. There are checks on face, forehead. Just below head, in high relief is a central group of avian-like forms that has a crack on left side and there is slight movement at the break. Loop under chin cracked, but firm and no movement. Received with modern metal stand.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Abelam. Ancestral Figue (Ngwalndu), 20th century. Wood, pigment, 156 x 14 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (396.2 x 36.8 x 31.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Melville W. Hall, 81.164.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 81.164.1_bw.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 81.164.1_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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