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Ancestral Figure (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 146 x 14 x 14 in. (370.8 x 35.6 x 35.6 cm)
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. Melville W. Hall
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Ceremonial house ("tambaran") figure is monumental in scale. At the top there is a male figure with two hornbill heads on top of the figure's head. All of the figure's anatomical details are clearly indicated. At his feet there is a small four-legged animal. Pigment traces. Condition: Fairly extensive surface erosion from top to bottom. Below the small animal there appears to have been another form that has been broken off. Checking throughout, particularly on left side of figure in head and abdomen region. Mounted on a black metal modern stand.
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