MAASTRICHT 14 - 24 March 2019 Stand 605
Art of the Asmat Choice Oceanic & Eskimo Master-Works
and Selected Works by Eugène Brands (1913-2002)
I am very pleased to finally be able to offer a superb selection of very rare and early Asmat Art at TEFAF 2019 along with choice examples of Oceanic & Eskimo Art. The Art of the Asmat, is well known and marvelously well documented notably by Michael Rockefeller, Tobias Schneebaum, Ursula & Guenter Konrad, Bishop Alphonse Sowada, Dirk Smidt, and Adrian A. Gerbrands. Under Dutch influence since the 18th century, the Western half of New Guinea is home to many wonderfully distinct cultures notably the Korwar, Wadke-Jamna, Sentani, Humboldt, Dani, Mimika, Asmat, Digul, Marind Anim and Fly River people. Today it is known as Irian Jaya or West Irian or simply Indonesian New Guinea as it is an integral part of Indonesia since it was handed over by the Netherlands in 1963. Within the last one hundred and fifty years thousands of carvings have been collected by Dutch colonial personnel, administrators, clergymen, soldiers, settlers, visiting anthropologists and sundry visitors. Unfortunately much of what was acquired in the last fifty or sixty years are objects either recently manufactured in late transitional styles or simply made specifically for sale - some times quite far away as in the workshops of Bali or Djakarta. I have chosen to exhibit a limited number of very fine and notable pieces of Asmat Art related here to ancestor worship, warfare and headhunting. First is a rare, intricately carved bamboo, anthropomorphic headhunters horn used to announce the return of the victorious raiders that was originally in the collection of Philip Goldman as of the 1950’s/1960’s. Principal amongst these Asmat Master-Works is an archaic headhunters drum with four decapitated human bodies carved in cameo. The four emaciated figures represent two males, one female and possibly a child. There seems to be no documented myth in the literature referring to this arrangement and display of victims; possibly it relates to a local situation that was only recorded in this sculptural manner. Following a successful headhunting raid the village would organize a feast and I have been able to secure the monumental ceremonial feast-dish from the collection of the painter Eugène Brands. This food-bowl is carved in the form of the great, red striped, war canoes of the Asmat, pictured here in the background. The ends of the dish are carved to represent the open worked prow ornaments - in this case the praying mantis - a major headhunting emblem. The artist Eugène Brands was an early member of the CoBrA mouvement and an avid collector of Tribal Art living in Amsterdam after the Second World War. Through my longstanding friendship with his daughter, Eugenie Brands, I have the privilege of exhibiting at TEFAF this year several marvelous paintings and drawings by Eugène Brands ranging from the early days of his surrealist interests right up to the later years of his life. There are as well, two magnificent pieces from his Tribal Art collection in this catalogue. I have always felt that it is of the utmost important to give the young a helping hand so as to ensure the future. It is essential to let them explore and expand their knowledge by participating in academic and commercial ventures. Thus I have entrusted the Asmat section here to the enthusiastic members of CASOAR. This group of young students of Oceanic Art at the Ecole du Louvre are the future of our « Oceanic » world. They will become the curators, academics and perhaps the dealers, experts, restorers and why not the collectors of this new century. They have banded together and created a wonderfully insightful and beautifully designed web site (casoar.org) through which they offer an amazing and novel perspective on Oceanic Art subjects. I have asked them to provide the ground work for the Asmat chapter of this catalogue, an area of knowledge that is rarely approached by academics outside of the Netherlands and the United States and they have risen to the occasion well beyond expectations. And so I leave you to the insightful texts provide by CASOAR on the Asmat, and of course my texts on the rest of the Oceanic and Eskimo art… Anthony JP Meyer
Asmat : A general presentation
The Asmat have long been known as the " Tree People ". This name is indicative of their established links with trees and the forest which are a common thread in all areas of their society. The Asmat People live in south western Papua New Guinea, in an area approximately the size of Belgium (some 30,000 square kilometers) dominated by forests and mangroves, which is divided into several sub-sections offering a variety of environments. The Asmat region is located between the Arafura Sea, to the Southwest, and the Highlands of New Guinea to the North - land and sea intermingle. The coastal areas dominated by wetlands and the marshes are characterized by abundant flora and fauna, which provide important resources for the established populations. Shellfish, crocodiles, various species of birds thrive in the mangrove where various species of palm grow as well. This exceptional diversity of endemic species diminishes further in-land and up the rivers. The freshwater rivers and lakes provide an environment for fish and of course marsupials and many species of birds, including cassowaries, cockatoos and birds of paradise. Crocodiles are also present in this area along with freshwater turtles, snakes and pigs. The sago palm grows in both regions and is of paramount importance both for the daily and the spiritual life of the Asmat. In the North, the drier climate leads to the scarcity of animal and plant species, forcing established villages to trade with the tribes and villages further downstream.
This ecological and climatic disparity is accompanied by a cultural diversity and different lifestyles. There are some fifteen different cultural groups, which speak five languages, subdivided into dialects and sub-dialects1. It is difficult to establish the precise timing for the historical arrival of these populations, but it is estimated that they are the descendants of the first migrants to arrive on the island at around 50,000 BP2. The most recent sources estimate that some 70,000 people currently live in the Asmat area3. Mythology does not provide explanations concerning the arrival and establishment of the first populations. As in the case of other Melanesian populations, the accounts of their origins do not mention the creation of the world but speak of the human and cultural roots. The tree is at the heart of the creation myths as it is from the wood of a tree that Fumeripitis, the first mythical man, carved the Asmat men. From wooden figures they became truly human through ritual, accompanied by the sound of songs and drums. The life of the Asmat is structured by rituals, which punctuate their existence. Each village, which on average houses several hundred people, regularly organizes great rituals and ceremonial moments that are an opportunity for feasts bringing together all inhabitants.
Asmat society is based on a matrilineal system4, where roles in daily and ritual life are divided according to gender. The yeu, the Mens House, is the social, political, religious and intellectual nervous center of the village. It is here that ritual objects are made and preserved. Women can only enter the yeu on special occasions, the same for the young boys who are rarely admitted prior to their initiation. Like other Melanesian societies, initiation allows male adolescents to enter into the world of men, through the learning of the founding myths and through various trials - the most important among the Asmat being the practice of Head-Hunting - today forbidden. Head-Hunting is what earned the Asmat their ferocious reputation among the neighboring tribes and Europeans. It stems from the Asmat perception of the life cycle, for whom death is never natural but always provoked by harmful acts. Every death must therefore be avenged, otherwise the soul of the deceased will wander eternally between the world of the living and safan, the world of the dead. Life and death irrigate each other. This can be seen in the rituals, like headhunting or the bis pokumbu ceremony, linked to the large bisj poles, remarkable sculptures that relate to death. These objects are the paragons of Asmat art and have become more generally one of the greatest symbols of Melanesian art. Difficulty of access, caused to the marshes and the dense forest of the region, associated with the aggressive reputation of the Asmat populations, kept the area in relative isolation from both Papuan and European explorers. A few brief European incursions took place between the 17th and 19th centuries, notably those of Jan Carstensz in 1623, and James Cook in 1770, who report a violent incident in his journal that accelerate the departure of the expedition5. Through the Dutch commercial ambitions of the Vereenidge Oostindische Compagnie (VOC, Dutch East India Company), the Netherlands took control over the western part of Papua in the late eighteenth century. After the collapse of the VOC in 1799, the Dutch government inherited the VOC zone of influence which became the only Dutch Colony in the Pacific. A government office was only established in Papua in the 1900’s6. The Asmat region, considered hostile, remained unexplored, despite some brief military and scientific expeditions in the early decades of the 20th century. Contacts between Asmat and the expeditions were brief but allowed the acquisition of the first objects. Some, considered "probably" Asmat enter into the collections of the Leiden museum in the Netherlands in 1838. In 1907, an exhibition of Asmat objects was organized at the Museum voor Land en Volkenkunde in Rotterdam, from the collection of J.H. Hondius van Herwerden (1875-1940) who visited the area in 1906. The Asmat are mainly known to the Dutch through their violent head-hunting raids against the neighboring and already evangelized Kamoro People and Dutch authorities and settlers. In 1939, a government outpost was opened by the Dutch government at Agats. Shortly there after the Dutch outposts were abandoned as Japanese troops invaded and occupied the Asmat territory during the Second World War. This period is marked by the introduction of new goods, foods, as well as paper money, which upset the balance of Asmat societies. After the war, it is estimated that one-fifth of the population at that time, or six thousand people, went into exile in neighboring areas7. The Agats office reopened in 1953 and became the center-point for the establishment of Catholic missionaries. The arrival in the Kamoro area of Asmat populations allowed the Catholic fathers to become familiar with their traditions. Thus, Father Gerard Zegwaard (1920-1966), affiliated to the Mission of the Sacred Heart, learned their language and became the referent for all missions established in the region. He wrote an article on headhunting, published in 19598. As of 1954, a permanent Government office was installed and the Asmat area became a Dutch administrative region, which accelerates contact and cultural transformations. The Asmat gradually became aware of the economic value of their artistic productions and representatives of European museums arrived to acquire objects in the field. Carel Maria A. Groenevelt (1899-1973), with the support of the Dutch government in the 1960s, collected objects for the Tropenmuseum of Amsterdam and the Museum voor Land en Volkenkunde of Rotterdam. A wider interest for the Asmat is born, including in the United States. In 1961, Michael Rockefeller (1938-1961), son of the Governor of New York State and billionaire Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979), went to Asmat territory where he lost his life in a boat accident in the river Betsj. His body was never recovered and this incident continues to fuel the reputation of cruelty and cannibalism amongst the Asmat.
The West Papua became part of the Republic of Indonesia on May 1, 1963. The Indonesian government banned Asmat cultural practices between 1964 and 1968. Subsequently, a program of artistic production was set up under the auspices of UNESCO and Bishop Alphonse August Sowada. Jac Hoogerbrugge and Adrian A. Gerbrands, an ethnologist from Leiden's Rijksmuseum, were appointed to help revitalize the Asmat cultural productions. In addition, Gerbrands carried out a study of eight sculptors who were among the most important sources on Asmat art of the time9. Continuing the effort to highlight Asmat art, the Asmat Museum of Culture and Progress (Kedubayaan dan Kemajuan Museum) opened in 1973 in Agats, with the support of the Rockefeller III Foundation, the Asia Foundation and the Catholic church and helps to sustain and enhance one of the most recognized artistic traditions of the Pacific. Camille Graindorge & Marion Bertin 1. Konrad, Gunter (éd.), Konrad, Ursula (éd.), Asmat. Myth and Ritual. The Inspiration of art, Venezia : Erizzo Editrice, 1996, p. 36. 2. Konrad, Gunter (éd.), Konrad, Ursula (éd.), Asmat. Myth and Ritual. The Inspiration of art, Venezia : Erizzo Editrice, 1996, p. 36. 3. Morin, Floriane (dir.), Peltier, Philippe (dir.), Ombres de Nouvelle-Guinée, Paris : Somogy, 2006, p.262. 4. And so, the place of each person in Asmat society is defined by the maternal lineage. 5. Wassing, René, « History: Colony, Mission and Nation », in Smidt, Dirk, Asmat Art: Woodcarvings of Southwest New Guinea, New York : George Braziller, 1993, p. 27. 6. Wassing, René, « History: Colony, Mission and Nation », in Smidt, Dirk, Asmat Art: Woodcarvings of Southwest New Guinea, New York : George Braziller, 1993, p. 27. 7. Wassing, René, « History: Colony, Mission and Nation », in Smidt, Dirk, Asmat Art: Woodcarvings of Southwest New Guinea, New York : George Braziller, 1993, p. 29. 8. Zegwaard, Gerard, « Headhunting Patrices of the Asmat of Netherlands New Guinea », American Anthropologist, vol. 61, n°6, 1959, pp. 1020-1041. 9. Gerbrands, Adrian A., Wow-Ipits. Eight Asmat Woodcarvers of New Guinea, La Haye : Mouton, 1967.
A monumental ceremonial feast bowl carved from a single piece of wood in the form of a head-hunting canoe. The stern and prow are decorated with magnificent carvings representing for the prow a stylized human figure in the closed “hocker” position (squatting with hands to chin and elbows on raised knees). This figure with its enlarged crested head is a representation of the praying mantis – a major head-hunting symbol. Here the figure sits above a stylized cockatoo with raised crest and spread wings. At the inception of the “prow” there are bird heads carved to either edge of the dish. Further towards the center again to either side of the gunnels are small representation of a bird this time with a wing or tail. The stern offers a stylized figure with stretched out hands behind the head of a giant hornbill. The outside of the bowl is painted with simple wide bands of red ocher as are the great war-canoes. A bowl of this importance and caliber would have been used for serving the ever present roasted sago grubs for large feasts during important ceremonies related to the main social events of the village : head-hunting and initiation. The traces of tooling on the bowls surface suggest that it may have been carved partially with Neolithic tools as well as with metal blades. Asmat, Area, possibly the Yits River, Indonesian New Guinea. Wood (alstonia ?), and pigments. 215,5 cm. 19th/20th century. Collection of Eugene Brands (1913-2002) cofounder of the CoBrA mouvement, Amsterdam ; Private collection by descent, the Netherlands. There is unfortunately no family record of where Brands might have purchased the bowl however I can surmise that through his longtime friendship with Frits Lemaire the son of Louis Lemaire, the most important Tribal Art dealer of mid 20th century Holland he might have acquired the dish from Lemaire gallery.
Wenet - the Praying Mantis motif as p o r t r ay e d b y a n A s m a t t o To b i a s Schneebaum
The Praying Mantis
Mantises are an order (Mantodea) of insects that contains over 2,400 species in about 430 genera in 15 families. The largest family is the Mantidae ("mantids"). Mantises are distributed worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. They have triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks. Their elongated bodies may or may not have wings, but all Mantodea have raptorial forelegs that are greatly enlarged and adapted for catching and gripping prey; their upright posture, while remaining stationary with forearms folded, has led to the common name praying mantis. Mantises are mostly ambush predators, but a few ground-dwelling species are found actively pursuing their prey. Females sometimes practice sexual cannibalism, eating their mates after copulation. Mantises were considered to have supernatural powers by early civilizations, including Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, and Assyria. Amongst the Asmat the Praying Mantis, known as wenet is a major Head-Hunting symbol and is usually portrayed in stylized form as a human seated in the closed ”hocker” position (hands to chin and elbows resting on raised knees). In many cases the forearms of the figure are lengthened or enlarged to conform with the powerful raptor forelegs of the insect. Mantises are, or at least appear to be, very intelligent and personable and they seem capable of recognition. They are often kept as pets in New Guinea.
Sago, its consumption and place in the imaginary of the Asmat
A trunk that rises to the sky, a nourishing marrow, a wood with multiple uses; the sago tree, source of life for the Asmat, has many faces. The sago palm (Metroxylon sagu) is a medium-sized palm tree native to Southeast Asia with a trunk that can grow up to twenty-five meters1 and grow for eight to ten years2 until it reaches its maximum development. The trunk, rich in starch, is crowned by high palms and an inflorescence. The sago palm flourishes and produces seeds and fruits only once before dying. Sago starch, commonly known as sago, is the basis of the Asmat diet. This starch, although abundant, offers few vitamins and proteins and must therefore be consumed in large quantities to provide a solid energy input. The swamp environment is a fertile ground for the growth of the sago. The tree provides of food in two ways: in the form of a starch, but also through the proliferation of the larvae of red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus). The fallen sago-trunk is an extremely productive biotope for larvae development. These larvae are also commonly known as "sago grubs" and are a popular delicacy amongst the Asmat. They have a slightly sweet taste similar to that of hazelnut. They can be simply chewed and eaten raw, or cooked - most often roasted. â€¨ The Asmat use the palm and its fruits in many ways. In addition to supplying food, the young shoots, fronds, bark, wood and seeds are traditionally used for the roof and walls of buildings, for belts and woven bags, for masks and clothing decoration, for feasts, for the manufacture of bowls or the sculpture of mythological figures. The broad base of the central rib of the leaf is especially used for the making of sago flour3. Thus, the sago palm in all its uses (wood, fruit, leaves, the parasites it houses) is omnipresent and essential in the daily life and ritual of the Asmat. Although it is the staple food, obtaining edible sago requires time, effort and a series of technical operations before being consumed4. First of all, once the tree has been cut down the bark is removed to open the trunk so as to access the inner marrow. This marrow is beaten with pounders and then filtered with water. One of the palm fronds is then used to form a sort of gutter, along which the water flows carrying the starch out of the pounded marrow. The starch deposited in this gutter, after the water has evacuated is the edible part. Once hardened, it is cut into pieces and placed in bags made of woven sago leaves for later consumption. Sago is cooked by women. It is sometimes mixed with fish or meat, or sago larvae for certain occasions and cooked in the fire after being rolled in a large palm5. Harvesting sago larvae, requires more time. Once the tree is cut down, it is left for several weeks so that the larvae develop. Men pierce holes in the trunk in order to favor the installation of weevils and the proper growth of their eggs. At the end of this maturation period, the men return to and open the tree, in which they usually find up to 30 or 40 larvae6, this is by no means enough for a ceremony thus the men must cut down other sago trees as well. These larvae, through their many-fold resonance with the notion of fertility, constitute one of the key foods for certain rituals. A clear link is established between trees and humans among the Asmat, as killing (cutting down) a tree is similar to the act of killing a man, especially during head hunting. The nurturing capacity of the sago invites a parallel with the procreative capacity of the woman in Asmat vision7. The tree "carries" indeed the food as the larvae within it multiply and proliferate. The tree is therefore a carrier of life just as the woman carries the child in her womb. During a ceremonial event, a particularly large sago is chosen to be the "mother-tree"8. It will then be adorned with a skirt of leaves, as women wear. This reference to fertility is also found in the attention given to sago larvae. These harvested larvae, once brought to the village, are deposited inside the Menâ€™s House, or yeu9 in two sago palm containers that are several meters high. The women place the larvae in one container, and the men deposit them in the other. Once these containers have been filled, they are opened, and the larvae are shared. According to A. Gerbrands10, these containers would have previously held the brains of enemies killed in action. The brain is a source of strength and fertility for the one who ingests it. Gerbrands proposed to draw a parallel with sago larvae, which are shared and consumed at parties, leads us to consider that a high fertility is attributed to the weevilâ€™s larvae. The sharing of such strong, symbolic and powerful foods has implications that extend beyond a simple meal with family or friends. Indeed, the collective consumption of the larvae, like that of sago, increases the bonds and the socialization and thus the harmony within the group11. A number of Asmat ritual feasts are an opportunity to consume sago together. These events all have a specific purpose. This is the case of the imui festival, through which the objective is to initiate a pact of friendship between two people, who by the exchange of sago larvae act this strong bond that will unite them thereafter. Another ritual, an, aims to calm the relationship between enemy villages, and to establish peace between them. It also involves the consumption and sharing of sago. This sharing is one of the key moments in the celebration of the raising of bisj poles12. It is also an act necessary for the good understanding between the two families of a young couple. Everyone can consume sago, in a ritual context, as in everyday life. Conversely, the larvae used in the rituals are attributed a power that is too strong and almost dangerous for consumption by pregnant women, children and sick people, who therefore cannot risk eating them13. Sago and larvae are, through their multiple ritual implications, an essential element for vitality and harmony within and between groups. But what origin do the Asmat attribute to this starchy food?
Many Asmat myths recount the origins of sago. Bishop Alphonse Sowada14 mentions the myth of Beworpits. The beginning of the story highlights how difficult it is for a family to find food sources in ancient times when sago did not exist yet. Beworpits decides to sacrifice his life to support the perpetuation of his lineage, and ensure the survival of the group, for which he must find a more abundant source of food. One night he turns into a sago, and explains to his family when they discover his new form that the tree he has become will soon birth other sago palms, and they will not have to worry about constantly looking for food anymore. It is interesting to note how this story links the tree and the man, which for the Asmat are in fact of the same essence. Beworpits explains to his loved ones that after thrusting his head into the ground, his hair and head became the roots, his torso the trunk, his legs the branches of the tree ... Among the many wood-based artefacts from the Asmat, sago bowls occupy a prominent place. These bowls are often painted and vary in size between one and several meters. As an example, the bowl in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, collected by Michael C. Rockefeller in 1961 before his well-known and tragic death, measures 90.2 cm15. Most bowls are made of soft wood, others of bark or consist of a simple leaf; hardwood bowls, for their part, appear in the production of Asmat artists from the 1960s onwards16. Asmat wood carvers, called wowipits17, are the origin of sago bowls. These bowls adopt a shape and a decoration similar to those of the canoes: long and narrow like the sago trunk, they offer at their ends sculptures of mythical figures or animals and insects and show the same motives as the war canoes on their outside. These “sago” bowls are used both in the context of daily life, as well as in the context of feasts marking the return of a head hunt. The carved figures from the Asmat imaginary evoke headhunting by intimately associating the headhunter with the female praying mantis (Mantis religiosa), whose has the reputation of beheading and eating the male after mating and the victim’s heads with the larvae and sago that the dish contains. Flying-fox bats (Acerodon jubatus), darting from tree to tree to pull fruit, are also common among carved patterns. The bowl in the Metropolitan Museum offers on its "prow" the head of a black cockatoo, ufir in Asmat language, a bird also known for its speed and agility harvesting fruit, that the Asmat collect on the forest trees of Irian Jaya which are assimilated with heads. The two-meter-long beautifully decorated bowl presented here, shows a praying mantis. Margaux Chataigner & Elsa Spigolon 1. Schuiling, D.L., 2009. Growth and development of true sago palm (Metroxylon sagu Rottbøll) with special reference to accumulation of starch in the trunk: a study on morphology, genetic variation and ecophysiology, and their implications for cultivation. (PhD thesis Wageningen University). 2. Konrad G., Konrad U., 1996 (Edition allemande : 1995). Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art. Edité par Gunter et Ursula Konrad, Erizzo Editrice, Venezia, 1996. P 91. 3. Ibid. p 92. 4. Ibid. p 92. 5. Gerbrands.A., 1967. “Art and Artist in Asmat Society” in Rockefeller Michael Clark. The Asmat of New Guinea : the journal of Michael Clark Rockefeller. New York, Museum of Primitive Art. p 16. 6. Ibid. p 17 7. Ibid. p 16 8. Ibid. p 16. 9. The yeu are ceremonial houses accessible only to initiated men. It is in the yeu that most festivals and dances take place, but also where the ceremonial objects are secretly stored. 10. Gerbrands.A., 1967. “Art and Artist in Asmat Society” in Rockefeller Michael Clark. The Asmat of New Guinea : the journal of Michael Clark Rockefeller. New York, Museum of Primitive Art. P 18. 11. Konrad G., Konrad U., 1996 (Edition allemande : 1995). Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art. Edité par Gunter et Ursula Konrad, Erizzo Editrice, Venezia, 1996. p 103. Alphonse Sowada addresses in this book the various ritual moments of sago sharing and larval consumption. 12. The carved bisj poles are erected to incite the living to avenge the dead. The consumption of sago is necessary at certain moments during their creation and ceremonial usage. 13. Konrad G., Konrad U., 1996 (Edition allemande : 1995). Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art. Edité par Gunter et Ursula Konrad, Erizzo Editrice, Venezia, 1996. p 94 14. Ibid. p 93. 15. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/311618. Consultation : 02/02/2019. 16. Sowada A., Konrad G., Konrad U., 2002. Asmat, Perception of Life in Art - The Collection of the Asmat Museum of Culture and Progress. B. Kuhlen Verlag. p 266. 17. Kjellgren, E., 2007.Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. MetPublications. Available online for download and consultation.
Asmat Ancestors Skulls
Two empty orbits staring out over a clenched jaw. A skull. The remains, a relic, but not only that, because amongst the Asmat, the skull of the deceased is adorned and decorated with great refinement – a work of art. At the death of a particularly important individual, the body was wrapped in a mat and left to decompose on a structure installed at the edge of the forest1. Once the process of decomposition was complete, the head was recovered. This was the only element preserved, the remaining bones being buried under the roots of certain trees2. After carefully cleansing the skull, the lower jaw was held in place by a woven rattan tie that passed through the nasal cavities. The typologies of the ornamentation and the elements used vary according to the status of the deceased and the wealth of the people who mourn him3. However, skulls decorated in the Asmat area can be classified through their specific stylistic features. The Asmat often closing up the orbital and nasal cavities with a sticky paste made from a mixture of beeswax and sap4, into which are inserted small shiny gray seeds from a grass (" job’s tears ", coix lacrima jobi) and the red and black seeds that come from a climbing shrub ("rosary pea" or " paternoster bean ", abrus precatorius)5. These decorative elements replace crucial anatomical parts that are now missing from the deceased's face and give it a new esthetic power. The artist plays with the color of the seeds animating the attitude and recreating a "presence", a material manifestation of the power of the ancestors. The skull is equipped with various elements of body adornment. It wears the same nose ornament (bipane) that was worn by the living person, made of shell, animal or human bone. They are often held in place by a loop of the same rattan braid that retains the lower jaw. Other times covered with the same sticky, seed-encrusted mixture that blocks the cavities forming a nose and replicating the piercing of the men's septum. Skulls are also generally dressed with a braided plant fiber cap, which often combines the same seeds mounted on the headband as the orbital incrustations, and finished off with white cockatoo feathers. Some more elaborate examples also include ear ornaments and side pendants composed of the usual ornaments but with a greater variety of materials: tufts of cassowary feathers, a piece of cuscus tail (marsupial native to New Guinea and Australia), a piece of hornbill beak or a beetle's head6. These headdresses as well as the nose ornaments are ostentatious signs of the person's prestige and importance in Asmat society, not all individuals possessed such ornaments and they were exhibited only in particular contexts, usually ceremonial. The materials that make up these ornaments all have a symbolic importance, whether in relation to the animal from which they were obtained (the cassowary was for example associated with strength and speed7) or their color. They are usually symbols of courage and strength and were reputed to have a real magico-technical action, inspiring fear to enemies during warfare for example. Thus, the importance given to white cockatoo feathers, which feeds on fruit, is in fact a metaphorical evocation of the warrior's ability to capture human heads, which are represented by assimilation to fruit by the Asmat8. The deceased, who has become an ancestor through the transitional process of funeral rituals, was thus offered on view in his finery as a reminder of his important social prestige and his fame was reflected on his descendants. The making of these skulls is part of the religious practice described as "ancestor worship" by the missionary Gerard A. Zegwaard (who stayed in an Asmat village at the mouth of the Utumbuwé River between 1952 and 1956). He is one of the first to attempt to understand the ritual and spiritual organization of the Asmat cosmogony through the institution of head hunting9. According to his studies, as well as those of Bishop Alphonse Sowada10, this ancestor cult can be related to their fundamental conception of life and death forming a continuous cycle. This circle brings the spirits of the individuals out of the world of the living to the world of the dead before their liberation and transformation to that of the ancestors (also called spirits) known as Safan11. The various authors disagree on certain details, which certainly shows the cultural differences that could exist between the groups, but all seem to agree that each individual possesses in himself, in addition to personal internal forces, a "spirit" (ndet) which is actually a "reincarnation" of an ancestor12. This entity gives abilities and a characteristic personality to the individual. It is associated with a name whose revelation denotes its presence, whether it takes place at the end of an initiation13 or simply after a certain period following the birth of the person according to Sowada. It is also possible to "cumulate" several ndet names and thus several ancestor forces according to information from the same author, a situation that confers on certain rare individuals even more extensive powers and abilities. In this cosmogony, the "dead" are not really dead because they only change their form to become "ancestor" or "spirit" according to the Western translations which attempt to account for the entirety of this particular status and are rather incomplete. Men and women who had gained renown during their lifetime in their possible gender specific actions in society such as war, hunting or material prosperity remained influential and respected even after their deaths14. They were regarded as still powerful individuals, with real power of action. The Asmat sought to reconcile with their ancestors in order to gain their various abilities through the performance of appropriate ceremonies and by reciting formulas. The greater the vital force of the ancestor, the more it was embodied in the different objects that the person had come into contact with15, the skull obviously being a privileged medium, but it also included shields for example. To preserve and decorate the skulls of important deceased people makes it possible to establish a concrete, material link with the dead and to capture their power. Beyond the bond with the deceased relation, the skull is also a connection with everyone’s spirit’s world in general16. Zegwaard17 believes that keeping the skulls of the dead is also an effective way to " keep at bay” spirits, whose power can be just as beneficial as dangerous, especially if their death has not yet been "avenged" by a punitive headhunting raid, the only way to guarantee the souls departure from the world of the dead for that of the spirits - a capital action needed to restore the social equilibrium based on reciprocity18. According to Zegwaard, the spirits cannot bear the sight of their own bones and these were used to frighten them off so as to better protect oneself. This ambiguity of behavior towards the spirits of the dead is found, for example, in the Jipae ceremonies where the dead are invited to better be able to "send them away" afterwards. These skulls of ancestors (ndambirkus) should not be confused with the other category of skulls which is an essential part of Asmat material culture, the "skulls of enemies" (ndaokus). These are obtained as a result of war raids carried out in neighboring villages as part of the practice of head hunting. They were not honored with ornaments or decoration even though Zegwaard indicates that they could be decorated and painted as part of the boys' initiation ceremonies, where they occupy a central place. They were kept completely devoid of decoration and the lower jaw was always detached19. The lower mandible, as well as some cervical vertebrate were made into necklaces worn by important women20. These enemy skulls were the property and pride of the headhunters who had taken them - as trophies they were the proof of their warring capacity which gave them access to a certain status within Asmat society21. The trophy skulls were generally kept in the Men's House, where they were hung together on a rattan tie, creating a kind of "fruit cluster" that might be part of the continuity of the victim-fruit-head metaphor mentioned above. In the North-Eastern area, an example collected by Konrad, now in the Museum für Völkerkunde in Berlin, shows a skull preserved in a ceremonial net with other objects such as pig teeth, shells or an animal jawbone22, which are possibly important objects left by the ancestors for the group and stored in a bag as noted by Zegwaard23. Smidt says that they were also hanging skulls near banana trees, coconut palms or in sago marshes to stimulate growth24. In the case of a skull belonging to a member of the group, it was returned to the elder of his children or to his widow and was treated with affection. The skull was kept in the family home where it could serve as a neck rest, so that the sleeper could draw on his ancestor's strength by sleeping at night on his forefather’s skull25. This also helped to make sure that sleepers’ own spirit (ndet) is not bored or unwell and decides to leave the body to go for a walk, a dangerous phenomenon for the person because he risks, if ever mishap came to him, a fatal separation between his body and his mind26. Ancestors skulls were also worn suspended from the neck on a string, as a sign of the link between the bearer and the world of the ancestors27. Asmat ancestor skulls are thus evocative and indicative of a particular cosmogony, where death is only a simple stage in the cyclical life of these spiritual entities that we call ancestors. This continuity beyond death makes them powerful beings who continue to influence the daily lives of the living, who seek themselves to enjoy these powers through the privileged bridges that are certain objects. The skull, both relic of the ancestor but also intercessor with his world, is a capital "object-subject" in this quest. The artistic means used in its assembly and decoration accentuate and evoke in a disturbing way the presence of the spirit, imposing its power and influence on its relatives as much as on art collectors. Morgane Martin.
1. HELFRICH Klaus, « 11. Kopfjagd und Ahnenschädel » in Asmat : Mythos und Kunst im Leben mit den Ahnen, Berlin : Museum fur Volkerkunde, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 1996. p.166. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. SMIDT, Dirk A. M., « The Asmat : Life, Death and the Ancestors » in Asmat Art : Woodcarving of southwest Newguinea, Leyde : Rijkmuseum voor Volkenkunde, 1993. p.15-25. 5. Ibid. 6. See the objects illustrated in Asmat : Mythos und Kunst im Leben mit den Ahnen, pp. 165-170. 7. ZEGWAARD, Gerard, « Head-Hunting Practices of the Asmat of Netherlands New Guinea » in American Anthropologist, New Series, vol. 61, No. 6, 1959, pp. 1020-1041. p.1033. 8. Ibid., p. 1034. 9. Ibid. 10. SOWADA, Alphonse « Fundamental Concepts of Asmat Religion and Philosophy » in Asmat, Myth and Ritual, the Inspiration of Art, Venise : Erizzo Editrice, 1996. pp. 65-72. 11. SMIDT, Dirk A. M. « L'aire Asmat » in Ombres de Nouvelle-Guinée : Arts de la grande île d'Océanie dans les collections Barbier-Muller, Paris : Somogy, 2006, p. 268. 12. SOWADA, Op. cit. p. 65. 13. ZEGWAARD, Art. cit. 14. SOWADA, Op. cit. 15. HELFRICH, Op. cit., p. 165 16. Ibid., p. 166. 17. ZEGWAARD, Art. cit., p.1040. 18. SOWADA, Op. cit., p. 65. 19. HELFRICH, Op. cit. p.164. 20. See the objects illustrated in Asmat : Mythos und Kunst im Leben mit den Ahnen, p. 170. 21. HELFRICH, Op. cit., p.164. 22. in Asmat : Mythos und Kunst im Leben mit den Ahnen, p. 168. the object is illustrated p.169. 23. ZEGWAARD, Art. cit, p. 1033. 24. SMIDT in « The Asmat : Life, Death and the Ancestors ». 25. Ibid. 26. KONRAD, Ursula & Gunter, « Asmat Art » in Asmat, Myth and Ritual, the Inspiration of Art, p. 304. 27. HELFRICH, Op. cit, p. 165.
Eugène Brands and his Asmat Ancestor Skull, C. 1988
An extraordinary drum which appears to be unique in the corpus of recorded Asmat art. The body of the drum is decorated with four decapitated corpses carved in high relief within the champlevĂŠ zoomorphic decor. There are two males, one female and possibly a child. This depiction of headless victims is so far unique, and I have no idea of what it represents. It is possibly a form of report or tally of heads taken by a village or an individual warrior, or perhaps the local record of a horrific event that took place long ago involving the decapitation of four victims. One aspect of the carving is however most interesting â€“ upon close inspection it appears that the four bodies, while carved in the same manner and iconography are done so at different times. The large body here shown as a cut-out seems to show the greatest age and highest quality of carving technique. The other three bodies descend in age and in qualitative consistency until one arrives at the smallest figure â€“ almost frog like and which may represent a youngster. The blocks from which the bodies are carved are thick sections of the original wall of the drum showing how far down the carver must go to achieve the fabulous thinness of wall needed to create the resonance chamber of the instrument. Several other Asmat drums do have full human figures carved out from the wall of the drum however they all appear to represent full figures retaining their heads. Another interesting fact is that the rattan ring used to retain the lizard skin on the drum actually has a center cord of compacted or tightly woven human hair. The general decor carved in low relief on the body of the drum offers superb representations of large flying fox linked to the two upper bodies. The long handle is composed of series of bent arms ending in hands as well as bird heads. The drum skin retains the small resin lumps used to tune the pitch of the drum. When in use, the drummer may often go to a fire to dry out the skin rendering the drumming more powerful. Central Asmat, Area, possibly Yiwa River, Indonesian New Guinea. Wood, cane, human hair, lizard skin, and vegetable resin. 19th/20th century. 105 cm. The handle shows old repairs and a split in the drum wall has been restored. Acquired at a small Dutch auction with no other provenance. Ex private collection, the Netherlands.
Head-Hunting : To the sound of the drums and the horns
In the pre-colonial Asmat tradition, the horns or trumpets sounded the triumphant return of the headhunters. Their expedition was prepared and celebrated in the village through rituals engaging men and women dancing to the sound of war-trumpets and drums. Thousands of kilometers from their original place of creation and function, the observation of the Asmat objects presented here allows us to discover the link between these musical instruments and head hunting as something obvious and tangible.... The horn here is carved with a pair of legs and represents a headless stylized human figure. Decapitated figures are carved in high relief on the body of the drum. They offer a very detailed anatomical treatment, which is extremely rare in the art of the Asmat region. Unless death concerned a newborn or an old man, the Asmat never considered it a natural occurance, but explained it by a violent voluntary act (murder) or black magic caused by an enemy. Between the world of the living and the Safan, that of the ancestors, there is an intermediate domain where the souls of the deceased wander and remain dangerously close and linked to the living. In order for the soul of the deceased to find rest by joining the ancestral world, the death of the individual had to be avenged and compensated for by the murder of another person during a head hunting raid. A victim must have a name, indicative of his existence and his social relations. Thus, a very young child could not be killed; but women, as well as men, could be victims of head-hunting. Since unrevenged spirits were a daily threat, it was the responsibility of head hunters to restore the balance of the community, disrupted by the death of an individual. The three domains of the cosmos; that of the living, the souls and the ancestors were therefore in constant interaction and at the end of each cycle, the ancestor was reincarnated under another form of existence. Thus, head hunting was the founding activity of the Asmat, a responsability that ensured the continuity of life as murder is necessary in this a cyclical conception. The original myth of headhunting begins with two brothers, Desoipit, the handicaped elder and Bewiripit, the youngest. The name of the first means "man (ipit) infirm (deso)" and that of the second "man (ipit) proud, decorated, colored (bewir)". One day, Bewiripit returned from the hunt with an enormous pig. In butchering it, he stuck his dagger so violently into the neck of the animal, that the head immediately came off ! Desoipit lamented to his brother that it was not a man's head : "A pig's head is just a pig's head," he said... Bewiripit's reflected on this, but he did not know where to find a human head ! Desoipit then offered his own head, which Bewiripit initially refused of course. Bewiripit finished by beheading his elder whose spirit guided him - explaining how to make the cuts, to prepare the different parts of the body, to organize the ceremonies, etc. Desoipit, or rather his spirit, taught Bewiripit in detail the rules of head hunting and initiation. If head hunting was later banned by the Dutch colonial power and subsequently by the Indonesian government, it was always necessary step in the initiation of young boys to become men. The young boy who brought his trophy to the village also took the name of his victim and his vital force, concentrated, according to the Asmat, in the skull. The rituals related to head hunting engaged cannibalistic acts, in which the ingestion of human flesh materialized the assimilation of the victims life force. Asmat cannibalism was in no way related to a nutritive reason, as Western imagination often tends to think – it was purely ritual. Another part of the initiation cycle consisted of a voyage on a canoe, in which the initiate held the skull of his victim between his legs. As he traveled, he curled his body up around the skull, as if he were getting older. Suddenly, the boy was plunged into the water and when he came out, he was reborn. By taking the life of another, the young Asmat was born again. Following a victorious head hunt, the new initiate was even welcomed by the family of the victim who recognized in him another form of existence of their deceased relative. Headhunting was also a way to create new alliances between groups. Moreover, the biggest head-hunters in the community were the most prestigious because they acquired, through the killing of an enemy, new resources and new networks of alliances. It was, moreover, possible to attract female favors only on condition of being considered a good hunter. A man who did not show enough interest in this venture was treated by them as a "lump of meat" ... The women had the privilege of cutting off the head of the victim from which the victor then gave them the jawbone, which they wore on a necklace. Asmat drums were used for rituals related to head hunting and all other types of ceremonies. When playing the instrument, however, the humid climate required the constant retuning of the lizard skin membrane every ten minutes over the fire. When not in use, the drums were stored in the yeu (Men's Houses), suspended from the rafters or placed on a shelf, above the hearths. Thus, the wood remained dry and protected from insects. A long exposure to smoke also gave the wood a dark color, a patina accelerated by the oil with which the musicians were anointed during the ceremonies.The drums were made from a single log hollowed out with fire and a a shell blade to scratch the inner part. They all have an hourglass shape, but their decor and size vary according to the region. A stretched lizard skin serves as a percussion membrane. It was fixed with lime and human blood, but also with rattan to which could be added human hair. The founding myth relates that the beating drum gave life to the first Asmat, and so ritual activities cannot exist without them. The mythical hero Fumeripit, after surviving a drowning, built himself a house. Feeling lonely, he sculpted wooden figures of men and women, which he placed around the hearth. But Fumeripit still felt alone ... He had the idea of making a drum and beating it which brought the wooden figures to life. This myth highlights why carving and woodworking gave the sculptor a special status in Asmat society. The artist was linked to founding myths and spirits. Making the drum, but also playing it were acts that retold the myth of creation. The Asmat artist was called wowipit (create) or else cesscuipit (inspired man), as he was carving motifs that communicated to him by the spirit world. The artist played an important role in ensuring a balance with the spirits, who, let us not forget, constituted a constant threat to the living. As such, the artist enjoyed an important prestige that sometimes rivaled that of the headhunters. Trumpets, or horns, when used for music, were played with drums. Most were made of bamboo, except in the southern region, where they were made of wood. If the trumpet could be played for musical purposes, it was also used to give signals. In coastal areas, for example, the ritual fumbofum (fu: wind, horn and mbofum: open, audible, visible) indicated the launch of head-hunting expeditions. The horn also announced the return of victorious warriors and could indicate the number of heads taken. It was also used by warriors it to frighten the enemy. On many carved objects, we can see recurring patterns associated with head hunting. For example, the figure of the praying mantis, reputed to decapitate and ingest her mate after mating, is compared to the hunter, as well as the hornbill and cockatoo that eat the fruits of trees, themselves assimilated to heads. Looking closely at the openwork loops of most drums, such as the one presented here, we can guess the patterns of bird beaks and insectoid members that are thus indirectly reminiscent of headhunting. On the bamboo horn, the hybrid beings that mix in with the geometric interlacing decoration probably evoke the praying mantis and thus, the headhunter. Over and beyond being a violent and vengeful act, headhunting had a powerful link, if not symbiotic with mythology, cosmology and initiations. The prestige and power of the individual depended on it. The drums and the trumpets, if we want to understand them as participative agents of the rituals linking the living and the dead, life and death, or still initiates and initiated, cause us to rethink the relation of art and artist. It is with the pounding of the drums, and by the artistry of the sculptor that the original wood figures moved, came to life and finally, became the Asmat. Soizic Le Cornec & Garance Nyssen 1. SMIDT D., « L’aire asmat- L’expression de la vie transcendant la mort », in PELTIER P. & MORIN F. (dir), 2006. Ombres de Nouvelle-Guinée: Arts de la grande île d’Océanie dans les collections Barbier-Mueller. Paris, Somogy Edition d’art, Genève, musée Barbier-Mueller., p.268. 2. KONRAD G. & U., 1996. Asmat. Myth and Ritual, the inspiration of art. Venise : Erizzo Editrice., p.75. 3. Ibid., p.75 « Pah! A pig head is just a pig head » 4. Ibid, p.75-76.The author points out that while the myth of the two brothers at the birth of headhunting is found in all asmat regions, not all groups necessarily perform the same rituals. The Emari Ducur, for example, do not use skulls for boys' initiation. 5. SMIDT D., « L’aire asmat- L’expression de la vie transcendant la mort », in PELTIER P. & MORIN F. (dir), 2006. Ombres de Nouvelle-Guinée: Arts de la grande île d’Océanie dans les collections Barbier-Mueller. Paris, Somogy Edition d’art, Genève, musée Barbier-Mueller., p.271. 6. KONRAD G. & U., 1996. Asmat. Myth and Ritual, the inspiration of art. Venise : Erizzo Editrice., p.43-44. 7. SMIDT D., « L’Irian Jaya », in DOUGLAS N., 1998. Arts des Mers du Sud, Insulinde, Mélanésie, Polynésie, Micronésie: collections du musée Barbier-Mueller. Paris, Adam Biro., p.189-190. 8. SMIDT D., « L’aire asmat- L’expression de la vie transcendant la mort », in PELTIER P. & MORIN F. (dir), 2006. Ombres de Nouvelle-Guinée: Arts de la grande île d’Océanie dans les collections Barbier-Mueller. Paris, Somogy Edition d’art, Genève, musée Barbier-Mueller., p.271. 9. GERBRANDT A. A., ROCKEFELLER M. C., Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1962. The Art of the Asmat, New Guinea: the Museum of primitive Art, New York collected by Michael C. Rockefeller. New York, N.Y. : The Museum., p.7. 10. KONRAD G. & U., 1996. Asmat. Myth and Ritual, the inspiration of art. Venise : Erizzo Editrice., p.41. 11. bid., p.43. 12. Ibid., p.41. 13. SMIDT D., 1993. Asmat Art : Woodcarving of Southwest Newguinea. Leyde : Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde., p.47. 14. VAN RENSELAAR H. C., 1961. Art from Asmat. Amsterdam: Royal Tropical Institute., p.10. 15. GERBRANDT A. A., ROCKEFELLER M. C., Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1962. The Art of the Asmat, New Guinea: the Museum of primitive Art, New York collected by Michael C. Rockefeller. New York, N.Y. : The Museum., p.5. 16. SMIDT D., « L’Irian Jaya », in DOUGLAS N., 1998. Arts des Mers du Sud, Insulinde, Mélanésie, Polynésie, Micronésie: collections du musée Barbier-Mueller. Paris, Adam Biro., p.190.
A very important necklace, probably for a HeadHunter representing an erect penis covered partly with a fringed skirt or cache-sexe made of Job Tears seed. The neck strap is decorated with several pieces of bamboo that are probably tally markers for the number of heads taken. Asmat Area, Irian Jaya ?, Indonesian New Guinea. Gourd, feathers, seeds, and fiber. 66 x 9 cm. Mid 20th century ?. Collected in the field by a Dutch colonial some 30 to 40 years ago and since then forgotten amongst his belongings. Ex Private Collection, the Netherlands.
See a similar but un-identified example in “Asmat, Leben mit den Ahnen“ by Konrad & Konrad & Schneebaum, 1981, Fig a, p. 150, INV. N° N019, col. Konrad. Other known examples are the one in the collection of Ursula & Gunter Konrad, the one in the JOLIKA collection, De Young, Museum, San Francisco ; one in the collections of the Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, Paris and one other in a private collection.
A fine and classical war-horn used to announce the victorious return of a raiding headhunting group. The decor is composed of a row deeply carved champlevĂŠ hands under another row of fluid, zigzag double lines. The mouth piece or blow hole is possibly phallic in form. While most Asmat war-horns or trumpets are carved out of sections of large bamboo the Southern Asmat in the Safran region created and used large wood examples in the pre-contact period. Southern Asmat, Safan Area ?, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Wood with a very fine patina of use and age. 19th/20th century. 66 x 12,4 cm. Ex Private Collection, the Netherlands.
A superb and rare head-hunters horn, or fu in the form of a stylized human figure. The body of the horn is deeply carved with a high relief decor representing a mix of floral and anthropo-zoomorphic beings. The two legs of the main figure are the single leg to each side in profile of two insecto-humaoid beings representing the praying mantis which is a very powerful head-hunting symbol. Two smaller humanoid figures are incorporated into the floral decor on both the front and rear of the horn. On the upper edge to either side of the blow pole there are piercings for the attachment of a carrying cord or fiber tally markers showing the number of heads taken. The presence of legs on this example indicate that the horn represents a decapitated man - a victim and thus this horn would have belonged to a man of substance an important head-hunter. The transformation of the horn into a human figure recalls and shows the link that the Asmat entertain with the spirit world and their ancestors. The fu is also be used as a headrest which helps to provide a superb patina. Each man has his own horn with a specific sound. The powerful and masterly carving as well as the presence of the proteiforme beings place this example amongst the most important and beautiful examples of early Asmat art. Asmat, Irian Jaya, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Bamboo with a fine patina of age and usage. 55,5 cm. 19/20th century. Ex coll. :. Philip & Rosalind Goldman, London, Galerie 43, George Street then Davies Street, London circa 1960/70. By family descent. Acquired from the family by Loed van Bussel, Amsterdam in 2014. Ex Galerie Meyer, Paris. Ex Private collection, Paris There are similaire examples in the collections of the British Museum (N° Oc1969.13.46); the Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac (N° 71.1970.21.1); and the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen , Leiden (N° TM-2316-65).
Three rare, full sized, staff-figures, or apets. These large staff-figures were reportedly carved just before the start of the bis ceremony as a way of obtaining the ancestor's permission to proceed with the carving of the great bis post and the subsequent ceremonies. The apets were presented and placed near or around the central hearth of the Men’s House - which explains the slightly smoked patina. As well, apets were seen as a preliminary indication of a forthcoming head-hunting raid. Information collected by Ursula & Gunter Konrad in Yow Village (Becembub linguistic area, Central Asmat) indicates that the apets are clan related and represent a being named Daneu. Smaller examples do exist but seem to be made for sale to Westerners. Field collected by Koos Knol from an old yeu, or Men’s House in Area A, Central Asmat, Irian Jaya, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Sago frond stalk, fiber, wood and chicken feathers. 20th century. Dimensions : two tallest examples are 272 cm w/o feathers (300 cm with feathers), the shorter example is 249 w/o feathers and 283 with. Galerie Meyer acquired six large apets in 1998 from Koos Knol who had discovered them in the yeu of Warse Village (Simai language area). Of these six apets, three were sold to the Musée des Arts d'Afrique et d'Oceanie, Paris in 1999 (now in the collections of Musée du Quai Brany - Jacques Chirac, Paris Inv. N° 72.1998.8.2; 72.1998.8.3; 72.1998.8.4); one to the Linden Museum, Stuttgart and two examples went to a private French collection. There is a definite difference in composition between the two groups of apets. The ones from Warse Village represent two human figures standing one above the other; the lower so stylized that only the arm slits are cut through. The three presented here collected from an unidentified village only have a single figure at the top. These incredibly rare staff/figures are amazingly fragile and ephemeral thus it seems that none of great size were previously collected. The Konrad collection contains at least one short example carved with what appears to be a non-traditional figure. Ref.: Helfrich, Klaus; (ed.): ASMAT - Mythos und Kunst im Leben mit den Asmat. Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin, 1996. Page 167, Fig. 11.1 for a small one with a "late" or colonial style figure collected by Ursula & Gunter Konrad in 1994 (inv. N° N° A 0099). See pages 128, 129, 163, & 164 for texts relating to the apets.
Extremely rare in collections, apets1 or bete apibis2 are large sculptures (up to three meters high) usually carved at the top end with an anthropomorphic form. They are made from the soft inner stem of the large fronds from crown of a sago palm tree3 and can be surmounted by a feathered ornament (cockatoo feather for the Konrad collection4, here rooster feathers5). Carved just before the start of the preparations for a bisj6 or bis7 festival, which is given in honor of the deceased, these objects are considered as a way to obtain the permission of the ancestors to begin the sculpture of the big bisj poles8, the center-piece of the ceremony. According to information collected by Gunther and Ursula Konrad, famous storytellers of Asmat life, in Yow village (Becembub language area, central region) the apets might represent an ancestor named Daneu9 (one apets is illustrated from the Konrad collection but carved with a non-traditional figure). The apets figures are displayed in the yeu, the large Men’s House which is the social and ritual center of the village. They are placed against the poles of the central hearth which explains their lightly-sooty patina10. Accompanied by spears, bows and arrows, they are intimately linked to the practice of head hunting: they are a call for all men to revenge the deceased to be honored during the bisj festival11. For the Asmat, death is rarely natural. It mostly results from an enemy attack whether it is physical violence (as in head hunting) or black magic (as in the case of illness). Head Hunting, as such, is to be considered as the means of avenging the deceased. In addition, according to the Asmat, the promise of a restored equilibrium allows the spirits to leave the intermediate world in which they find themselves, similar to the Western concept of limbo, to travel to Safan, the world of the ancestors. This departure is also beneficial to the whole group as the souls of the dead, at that intermediate level of existence, wander aimlessly, manifesting themselves to the living throughout the natural world (plants, animals, and leaving traces in the environment ...) and disturbing the general harmony12. Following the creation of the apets, for which there are no further references in the literature, a dozen men go to the forest to select the trees for the future bisj poles. Although Adrian Gerbrands is reserved about the nature of the wood13, the texts generally indicate that the bisj are carved from mangrove trees. Once the trees are selected, the area is cleared (grass, in particular, is cut) and lime is thrown against the selected trunks to mark them. On the day of the felling, which is defined according to various factors such as the presence of the whole group in the village, a high enough level of water in the river to float the trunks etc.), the men paddle into the forest on ten or twenty canoes occupying the entire width of the river. They sing and rhythmically beat the walls of their boats to attract the attention of the spirits in who’s honor the party is preparation and to inform neighboring villages which are potential guests14. It is interesting to observe how the trees are cut. An attack is made against them as if they were enemies to be decapitated in headhunting. We must also note that in the Asmat creation myth, one of the founding heroes gives birth to men through carved wooden figures15. Some men, especially the older ones, list all their victims whose names they know. When the trees finally fall under the repeated blows of the axes, the air is filled with cries and songs. The trees are then debarked, showing a blood-red sap that reinforces the man / tree analogy. Finally, the trunks are carried back to the village on the shoulders of the men and then arranged, for the largest trunks, between two canoes and for the smallest, on a single canoe16.
The poles are carved in the village. The roughing out of the figures is performed with the axe in front of the yeu in the presence of the families of the deceased. Meanwhile, other men begin the construction of an extension to the Men's House. It is there, hidden from the eyes of women and children, that the sculptural work continues. Although novices can carve, the team is always supervised by a well-known wowipit17 (sculptor). He holds the knowledge about the nature of the wood, which tools should be used to create a proper pole, the figures, the style and the oral traditions, the songs and myths. The finished poles, which can be up to five meters tall, are always carved of a single piece. The top of the tree (whose branches have been removed) is planted in the earth, the body of the trunk usually is carved with superposition of anthropomorphic figures (one, though most often two or more) representing the dead or other figures of the lineage. The pole terminates with a triangular projection carved from the aerial root of the tree.
Called tsjemen18 or cemen19, literally penis, this projection symbolizes male power. The rear of the pole is sometimes carved in the form of a canoe to help the deceased better reach Safan located where sky and sea meets. The final touch is arranged by the family of the deceased (step-sons and brothers-in-law) on the day of the ceremony. They paint the pole with red, black and white pigments and decorate it with leaves and cassowary feathers. When finished, the poles are raised in front of the Men’s House and the men swear to avenge the dead. Four days later, the bisj are carried away into the fields of sago palms where the men address themselves one last time to the spirits: "We took you here but do not stay there, leave for Safan". The carved poles, left to rot, will fertilize the earth by the force they have accumulated during the feast20. The bisj poles are therefore the vector by which the living communicates with the spirits to promise revenge and encourage their departure towards Safan. But for a head hunt to take place, the group must be strong and united. The ceremony therefore also has a direct impact on the living. It is usually organized when the group is reduced, whether because of death (due to head hunts or illnesses) or internal conflicts21. Different moments, during feast or preparation, then favor the weaving of links between members of the group and the rebalancing of relations when necessary. Regarding the links they have forged, we can for example note the great food exchanges taking place on the day of the ceremony, which allows the participants to build or renew relations in a festive atmosphere. In another manner, we can also note ceremonial exchanges of women during papis22, a ritual taking place the night after the felling of the trees. The objective here is twofold, on the one hand, the men between whom the transaction is taking place swear mutual support, on the other hand, the exchange of women guarantees to the group a reproductive moment and thus provides children and repopulation, which is essential in a head hunting society where death is omnipresent. The rebalancing of the society is played out in ritualized conflicts. Consider, for example, the fight between middle-aged men and teenagers on the day of tree cutting. Of no great violence, it consists mainly of a mutual throwing of tufts of grass and reeds. This in complete contrast to the attack by the women upon the return of the men to the village the same day. This time, the assault is violent and, while usually women remain passive in the face of abuse from their husbands23, here the men are not allowed to respond. The women are armed with bows and arrows but are only allowed to aim at the lower body. Although rarely fatal, some injuries can be severe. Despite the blows and projectiles, the men lay all the cut trunks in front of the yeu. The attack stops then but resumes at night. The women now armed with torches are allowed to inflict burns as they wish on their husbands. In various degrees, these attacks can be seen as a manner of “social” or "mental cleansing"24 thus ritually restoring a balance between different social categories and the individuals. The bisj ceremony also helps its participants to set out again on a new, more united and stronger basis, to carry out the promised, vengeful headhunting raid. Although sometimes very different from one village to another25, the bisj ceremonies are always of dual purpose: to commemorate and to restore. These goals call for the revenge of the deceased by the promise of a head-hunting raid. Words and deeds come together as the men enumerate their warlike exploits while the mangrove trunks are attacked and debarked as one would butcher a man. The apets associated with the weapons (around the hearth in the yeu) constitutes a call for revenge, well before the start of the bisj ceremony preparation, reminding the men at all times of the imminence of a head hunt. Thus, the apets foreshadow the important bisj ceremonies and exist as an essential part of Asmat persona where living and killing are part of a common principle deeply rooted in the daily lives of everyone26. Rare in literature as well as on the art market, apets are poorly documented, ephemeral and particularly fragile works of art. It is therefore exceptional to find here three large examples which, moreover, seem to be the only known examples carved in a traditional style to circulate on the art-market since 1998 when the first examples were offered by Galerie Meyer. These were sold to the Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie (presently in the collections of the Musée du Quai BranlyJacques Chirac, Paris), to the Linden Museum in Stuttgart and to a private French collector27. Margot Kreidl
1. HELFRICH Klaus, JEBENS Holger, NELKE Wolfgang and WINCKELMANN Caroline, Asmat : Mythos und Kunst im Leben mit den Ahnen, Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 1996. P. 164. 2. KONRAD Ursula and KONRAD Gunther, « Bis Pkumbu : The Ancestor Pole Fest » in Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art, Venise, Erizzo Editrice, 1996. P. 275. 3. IBID 4. HELFRICH Klaus, JEBENS Holger, NELKE Wolfgang and WINCKELMANN Caroline, Asmat : Mythos und Kunst im Leben mit den Ahnen, Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 1996. P. 167. 5. Galerie Anthony Meyer, description of Apets. 6. SMITH Dirk A. M., « The Asmat : Life, Death and the Ancestors » in Asmat Art : woodcarving of southwest new guinea, Leiden, Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, 1993, p. 22. 7. Galerie Anthony Meyer, description of Apets. 8. IBID 9. HELFRICH Klaus, JEBENS Holger, NELKE Wolfgang and WINCKELMANN Caroline, Asmat : Mythos und Kunst im Leben mit den Ahnen, Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 1996. P. 167. 10. Galerie Anthony Meyer, description of Apets. 11. KONRAD Ursula and KONRAD Gunther, « Bis Pkumbu : The Ancestor Pole Fest » in Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art, Venise, Erizzo Editrice, 1996. P. 275. 12. KONRAD Ursula and KONRAD Gunther, « Bis Pkumbu : The Ancestor Pole Fest » in Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art, Venise, Erizzo Editrice, 1996. P. 40. 13. VAN DER ZEE Pauline, Etsjopok : avenging the ancestors : the Asmat bisj poles and a proposal for a morphological method, Ghent, Working papers in ethnic art, 1996. P. 19. 14. KONRAD Ursula and KONRAD Gunther, « Bis Pkumbu : The Ancestor Pole Fest » in Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art, Venise, Erizzo Editrice, 1996. P. 278-279. 15. CASOAR, Le poteau Bisj, maintien de l’équilibre du groupe, https://casoar.org/2017/09/29/le-poteau-bisj-entre-chasse-aux-tetes-et-reactivation-de-la-forcevitale-de-la-communaute/ , 29 septembre 2017, consulté le 11 février 2019. 16. KONRAD Ursula and KONRAD Gunther, « Bis Pkumbu : The Ancestor Pole Fest » in Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art, Venise, Erizzo Editrice, 1996. P. 279-282. 17. KONRAD Ursula and KONRAD Gunther, « Bis Pkumbu : The Ancestor Pole Fest » in Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art, Venise, Erizzo Editrice, 1996. P. 290. 18. SMITH Dirk A. M., « The Asmat : Life, Death and the Ancestors » in Asmat Art : woodcarving of southwest new guinea, Leiden, Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, 1993, p. 22. 19. KONRAD Ursula and KONRAD Gunther, « Bis Pkumbu : The Ancestor Pole Fest » in Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art, Venise, Erizzo Editrice, 1996. P. 279. 20. KONRAD Ursula and KONRAD Gunther, « Bis Pkumbu : The Ancestor Pole Fest » in Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art, Venise, Erizzo Editrice, 1996. P. 286-296. 21. KONRAD Ursula and KONRAD Gunther, « Bis Pkumbu : The Ancestor Pole Fest » in Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art, Venise, Erizzo Editrice, 1996. P. 275. 22. KONRAD Ursula and KONRAD Gunther, « Bis Pkumbu : The Ancestor Pole Fest » in Asmat : myth and ritual : the inspiration of art, Venise, Erizzo Editrice, 1996. P. 284. 23. IBID 24. VAN DER ZEE Pauline, Etsjopok : avenging the ancestors : the Asmat bisj poles and a proposal for a morphological method, Ghent, Working papers in ethnic art, 1996. P. 19. 25. IBID 26. CASOAR, Le poteau Bisj, maintien de l’équilibre du groupe, https://casoar.org/2017/09/29/le-poteau-bisj-entre-chasse-aux-tetes-et-reactivation-de-la-forcevitale-de-la-communaute/ , 29 septembre 2017, consulté le 11 février 2019. 27. Galerie Anthony Meyer, description of Apets.
The tree IS fellED, the shield, the spear, the dagger and the phallic axE
In the Asmat world, the artist, the master sculptor is referred to as wowipits which means "Asmat woodcarver. »1 The artists are not trained to achieve this status but are noticed for their gift for art by imitating their elders. Indeed, it is common for every man in the Asmat culture to know how to carve wood in order to create the objects of everyday life. The wowipits is responsible for the creation of objects when they must have precise and powerful ornaments such as shields, spears or paddles. The main tools of the wowipits are animal teeth, shells and sometimes stone blades. As for the colors, Asmat art is almost exclusively red, white and black.
The raw material of the master carver is wood. The Asmat region is covered by numerous forests and mangroves: the Asmat were often called "the people of the tree" in the early descriptions.2 This analogy is made not only due to the environment of the Asmat but also because of one of their founding myths - the myth of Fumeripitsj. The mythical hero Fumeripitsj, built the first house yeu (Men’s House). While on the coast, he drew the contours of the house, which was then made of wood, with palm leaves to cover the roof and form walls of the house. But as the house was empty, Fumeripitsj began carving people in the trunks of the surrounding trees in order to populate this house.3 Fumeripitsj is considered the creator of the Mankind but also the first master wood carver. The mangrove tree is one of the most popular trees and is used for figurative sculpture as well as for objects related to warfare such as shields and spears. When creating a shield, the sculptor begins by sourcing his wood. The wowipits will use a massive above surface root or a trunk of mangrove in order to cut a board that will form the shield. The wooden planks are cut from the root using axes and knives and are then thinned to measure approximately 1.5 cm in thickness all over except on the back of the shield where a protuberance is left in order to create the handle.4 The front part of the shield is then carved to show motifs (which can also be called ideograms) representing in particular the bi pane, a traditional male nose ornament. Once the motifs are carved, the wowipits will then paint the shield in red and white - one color for the background, the other for the patterns - and paint the outlines in black.5 Shields were created and used for warfare. Used as a protection against the arrows of enemies, the shields were used in defense during territorial wars and during head hunting raids. Shields are not only defensive in form and material, they are also defensive by the patterns represented on their surface, and by what they embody. Each shield is a representation of an ancestor who offers protection over the warrior. In addition, the patterns depicted on the shields are supposed to be an image "representing" the ancestor of the shield that is there to scare the enemy and which will be enhanced by the use of the shimmering colors of red and white. The shields, as protective elements due to their representation of ancestors, were placed in front of or next to house entrances in order to guard against evil spirits.6 These protective elements, representatives of the ancestors are not only present on the shields but also on Asmat spears. These can have three different types of function depending on their form and degree of stylization: spears for warfare and hunting, spears for fishing or garden spears used as tools for digging. Spears with openwork motifs are usually spears related to ceremonies and war. These spears are often made in palm wood, appreciated for its lightness. The tip is adorned with a series of barbs in the form of hooks with a pointed tip, which is sometimes replaced by a cassowary claw glued on with beeswax.7 The patterns of the openwork panel are almost always related to head hunting with elements representing bats or pigs, two animals that can be associated with head hunting; the bat (flying fox) eats the fruits of the tree which are assimilated to the heads of the enemies, and the wild pig, is often compared to human beings8. In some cases one finds the praying mantis motif that refers to the ancestors. The artist as we have seen is a special person recognized for his talent yet the wowipits is no less an individual than others in the village. As such, he must also hunt, fish and prepare sago.9 As a member of society, the artist also participates in all activities related to the village. He takes part in the ritual life, the ceremonies but also warfare and head hunting which, are fundamental elements of Asmat society. As an initiated man, the sculptor participates like all others in all these activities. It can be observed among the Asmat as elsewhere in New Guinea that there is a "valorization and an aesthetics of war, violence and domination".10 We find in warfare the idea that men have a special status that goes beyond their personal identity to take on a more collective dimension. A head hunt just as dangerous as hunting for cassowary, an impressive and aggressive animal. The bird has long, sharp claws making it particularly difficult and dangerous to capture. Cassowary hunting is therefore not only a technical feat, but also relies on magic and ritual abilities. The parallels between hunting cassowary and warfare as both showcase "great men" has been brought to notice by anthropology.11 The importance of the animal is also obvious in the material culture of the Asmat. For example, the ends of the spears generally have a cassowary claw as the tip. The bird supplies the bones used to making daggers. These daggers are cut from the long leg bone, which is sharpened and polished to make it particularly lethal. The parallel between cassowary hunting and warfare is also obvious here as daggers are also being made of human bone.12 These bone daggers (cassowary and human) are used as piercing weapons. For example, there is mention of this type of human bone dagger used for the preparation of the skulls of enemies. During a ritual, the skull of the enemy, cleansed of skin and flesh, is opened with a star-shaped stone or club-head. The warrior uses a bone dagger to extract the brain to prepare it for sago ceremony.13 These daggers are also widely used as an ornament worn through a woven band on the upper arm, they are decorated with cassowary feathers and Coix lacryma-jobi seeds.14 The dagger can therefore be read as a marker of the importance, place and the social role of the individual. The expertise of the Asmat artist also extends to other materials than wood. Men specialized in stone work acquire the same reputation as skilled sculptors and are also qualified artists.15 Stone is an important element in Asmat material culture but paradoxically absent in the region. The stone blades mounted as axes are essential tools for the carving of wooden objects. These stones come from the Highlands in the hinterland. The rarity and the issues involved in accessing these lithic resources give stone objects great value and this value lies as well in the hardness, texture, shape, color and polish. Stones beyond their technical aspect, acquire by their great valorization, a ceremonial dimension. Some stones had probably no practical function but were considered purely ritual elements. Ceremonial stone blades often have a red color in use. Among the ceremonial stones, we can cite some who will be sexed. On some there is a relief decoration of bumps and a long ridge along the length. It is considered a penis. It resonates with another type of stone that has a notch, identified as a vagina. Both embody the principle of masculine and feminine. There is a ritual in the region of Brazza in which phallic stones are used during dances. The dancers carry the stone in their hand, clinging to their belts or around their necks.16 More generally, the Asmat ceremonial stones represent an important wealth item, a sort of treasure for the community. When they are not used the stones are hidden in the forest, under the roots of certain trees or in other important mythical places. The stones are only brought out on special occasions. In the funeral ritual, a ceremonial stone is placed on the torso of an important deceased person. Stones can also be used during healing rituals. Finally, the ceremonial stones can also be used as compensation for alliances between villages in case of conflict and as compensation for marriage by which the groom's clan compensates the bride's clan for the loss of "labor power" as the bride goes to live with the husband’s clan17. The artist, wowipits, appears as a complex and indispensable person within Asmat society. Without him as creator and sculptor the great events of Asmat society cannot exist. Neither war, nor ceremonies, nor marriages can take place. The wowipits in the manner of Fumeripitsj, through his sculptural achievements and ancestral links, gives society its vital breath. Clémentine Débrosse & Enzo Hamel 1. Smidt, p. 47. 2. Gerbrands, p. 39. 3. Gerbrands, p. 21. 4. Gerbrands, p. 24. 5. Konrad, 2002, p. 184. 6. Shields of Melanesia, p. 157. 7. Konrad, 2002, p. 294. 8. Gerbrands, p. 31. 9. Smidt, p. 47 10. Peltier et al., p. 354 11. Refer notably to the writings of M. Godelier La Production des Grands Hommes, 1982. 12. Konrad, 2002, p.366 13. Helfrich et al., p.164 14. Helfrich et al., p. 153 15. Helfrich et al., p. 228 16. Konrad, p. 60 17. Helfrich et al., p. 231
A very fine sago grub platter carved with a full figure ancestor as the finial. It is interesting to note that the style of figure is very reminiscent of the decapitated bodies on the drum seen in the previous pages. The treatment of the hands, feet, ribcage, and genitals are distinctly similar to those of the bodies depicted on the drum. The edge and rear of the platter are deeply incised with stylized floral motifs and flying fox. Central Asmat, Area, possibly Yiwa River, Irian Jaya (Indonesian New Guinea), Melanesia. Wood with a patina of age and wear. 75 cm. Early to mid 20th century. Ex private Dutch collection.
Rare and imposing life-size male head from a large and important ancestor figure. The nasal configuration is most unusual with hooked nostrils turning back and up to the pierced septum. The mouth is wide open as if screaming and the tongue protrudes. Asmat People, Area A, Irian Jaya, Melanesia. Iron-wood with traces of pigments and wear. The head was waxed by the previous owner who acquired it from Winkler in Holland. 39.5 x 17 x 18.5 cm. Early to mid 20th century. Collected in the field by a Mr. Winkler, a oil-field geologist while prospecting on the upper reaches of the Sor River above Yaosokor Village in 1957. Ref. : Konrad, Gunter & Ursula & Schneebaum, Tobias: ASMAT, Life with the Ancestors. Friedhelm Brückner, Glashütten. 1981.
An exceptionally rare type of headrest, or wiwas (wiwa), representing a human ancestor figure when seen vertically with the finely sculpted head at the top, the body represented by the scroll covered tapering cylinder, the hands at the opposite end placed to either side of the large penis. When seen horizontally the headrest becomes the representation of a horn-bill, with the ancestors hands becoming its wings. The horn-bill is not only an important clan emblem but is directly related to headhunting and the world of the spirits. The scrolls can be seen as highly stylized was motifs representing the open clearings in the jungle or the tail of the cuscus. Asmat People, Area A, Irian Jaya, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Wood and traces of red and white pigments. 65.7 x 11.4 cm. 20th century.
A wiwas (wiwa), or headrest with the cylindrical body covered with typical champlevé scrolls known as was representing the open clearings in the jungle or the coiled tail of the cuscus, a tree dwelling marsupial of the phalangeridea family. Large hands are carved around either extremity along with bands of dentate motifs. Only men could use such carved wooden headrests or the bamboo war-horns or of course human skulls for sleeping. Michael Rockefeller explored the Asmat area twice and tragically lost his life there in 1961. He purchased at least two headrests during his expeditions but reports his surprise at never seeing one in use. They seem to be quite easy to miss as headrest are used only at night and are carefully put away a dawn each day, keeping the floor of the sleeping area clear and clean. He did photograph a carver wishing to sell a large ornate newly made one which he identified as a vash. Asmat People, Area A, Irian Jaya, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Wood and traces of red and white pigments. 55.6 x 10 Ø cm. 20th century. Ex coll. : F. Pujol, Barcelona.
A warriorâ€™s dagger decorated with deeply incised motifs. The articulation is covered with a knotted bush-fiber string snood and embellished with thirteen cassowary feather tassels (possibly indicating the number of heads taken by the warrior. Asmat People, Irian Jaya, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Human bone, fiber, coix lacrima seeds and cassowary feathers. 33 cm. 20th century. Ex private Dutch collection.
Left : A fine spear with a large classical panel representing stylized wenet figures (praying mantis form). The tip of the spear is equipped with a long sharp nail from the foot of a cassowary. Asmat, Irian Jaya, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Hard wood with lime infill, resin and cassowary claw, with a good patina of age and use. 265 cm. Early 20th century. Collected in the field c. 1930/40 by a Dutch colonial. Ex private Dutch collection. Center : A fine spear with a large classical panel representing stylized wenet figures (praying mantis form). Asmat, Irian Jaya, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Hard wood with lime infill, with a good patina of age and use. 263,4 cm. Early 20th century. Collected in the field c. 1930/40 by a Dutch colonial. Ex private Dutch collection. Right : A fine barbed spear with an oval panel representing stylized wenet figures (praying mantis form) and having its original feathered tassel on the middle section of the shaft. Asmat, Irian Jaya, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Hard wood with lime infill, chicken feathers and cane, with a good patina of age and use. 262,8 cm. Early 20th century. Ex private Dutch collection.
Ceremonial stone axe blades from the Asmat area are extremely rare. In principle they are not functional but are used in certain rituals and ceremonies notably fertility and death. There are various types and shapes and most are painted, usually with red ocher. In the case of the one on the left the stone represents a phallus, carved with a raised ridge. The finely surfaced black stone example here above has a small bump to either side and is painted red with a grid motif forming crosses. Left : Hard granitic type stone with a pecked or hammered surface and traces of pigment and lichens. 29,8 x 7,7 x 4,8 cm. Non dated pre-contact period. Right : Hard black stone (possible very fine grained basalt) with red pigment. 36,5 x 7,4 x 2 cm. Non dated pre-contact period.
Eugène Brands, born on January 15, 1913 in Amsterdam, is frequently mentioned in the same breath with the CoBrA movement, and yet he belonged to it for only a very short time. He studied advertising design at the Amsterdamse Kunstnijverheidsschool (Amsterdam Arts and Crafts School) and worked as an advertising designer for several months at various agencies. In 1948 he joined the Dutch experimental group REFLEX, which later, gave birth to the CoBrA movement. He left CoBrA after only a year following the notorious 1949 joint exhibition in the Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam. With his very personal views on art, Eugène Brands was very much a loner. Brands considered himself self-taught as an artist, after all - as he later formulated it – « painting is a process of supervising what happens as unconsciously as possible on the canvas or the paper ». He was interested in primitive cultures, and notably their music. Brands tried to express many of the magical elements of the tribal cultures in his work, making marvelous masks in the 1940’s, a period which for a long time during the 1950’s was also characterized by his fascination with children’s drawings, helped in his case by the fact that his daughter Eugenie was a toddler. For years he drew inspiration from her childhood, resulting in magnificent little paintings, most of them oil on paper. Early on he began to collect tribal sculpture from the cultures that so fascinated him and he acquired African, Oceanic, and Asian art from the main Amsterdam dealers of his time. He befriended Frits Lemaire, the son of Louis Lemaire, who photographed Brands and his masks in a well-known series of theatrical, surrealist poses and settings. In the 1960s Brands gradually abandoned representative art in favor of abstraction and as of 1967 he lectured at the Royal Academy for Modern Art and Design in 's-Hertogenbosch. During this period, he began to paint large areas of colour “of an impenetrable, cotton wool-like substance,” as CoBrA historian Willemijn Stokvis writes. Brands had numerous one-man exhibitions at home and abroad. Important exhibitions are in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1969, in the Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam in 1988, in the Beyerd in Breda in 1990, as well as in the CoBrA Museum for Modern Art in Amstelveen in 1997 and 2001. He continued with abstraction and color until an advanced age, when from 1993 onwards he concentrated on painting with gouache on paper, which was less demanding physically for him than the large canvases. Eugène Brands, for whom panta rhei (everything flows) was the credo, died the day of his 89th birthday on 15 January 2002.
Eugène Brands WHAT’S ON A NOSE? 1944 16.5 x 37 cm Colour pencil drawing Collection of the Foundation EUGENE BRANDS
Eugène Brands VLOEDLIJN COMPOSITIE 1944 21.5 x 25.5 cm. Pencil drawing Collection of the Foundation EUGENE BRANDS
Eugène Brands TURKIJE 1940 47.5 x 25.5 cm Collage Collection of the Foundation EUGENE BRANDS
The EXPERIMENTELE GROEP IN HOLLAND in the attic with Karel Appel. Left to Right. standing: Anton Rooskens, Jan Nieuwenhuys, Eugène Brands, Karel Appel and Theo Wolvecamp; in the foreground: Corneille, Gerrit Kouwenaar, Jan Elburg and Constant Nieuwenhuys with guitar.
The cover of REFLEX by Eugène Brands in 1948. This was the short lived magazine of the EXPERIMENTELE GROEP IN HOLLAND calling for a return to naturalness and spontaneity in art, and opposing modernist conventions of the post-war period. The EXPERIMENTELE GROEP gave birth to the CoBrA mouvement.
Eugène Brands with his drawings of ”primitive” masks and one of the remarkable examples of his mask making in 1947, photographed by his friend Frits Lemaire.
Eugène Brands ROUGE ET NOIR AU FOND COULEUR D’OR 1995 37.5 x 37.5 cm. Gouache on Canvas
EugÃ¨ne Brands FLOWING GOLD 1988 35 x 28.5 cm Gouache on paper
An extremely rare and superbly conceived war spear. The barbs descend from the point in a long spiral twist around the foreshaft and terminate with a single large reverse barb. Maty (Wuvulu) Island, Bismarck Archipelago, PNG, ParaMicronesia. Hard wood (casuarina ?). 208 cm. 19th century. Ex coll. : Galerie Meyer, Paris; Dr Amiot, Neuilly.
A superb ray-skin rasp or file commonly used throughout the Pacific for smoothing wood, or for grating sandalwood to perfume coconut oil. The skin of sharks and rays is covered in placoid scales, or dermal denticles. These are very similar to mammalian teeth; the outer layer being covered with a hard enamel-like substance. These scales give shark and ray skin its hard, rough texture, ideal for smoothing wood. The rasp here is carved to represent the shape of the sting-ray. The skin is applied wet to the wood handle and takes its form definitively as it dries. Temotu province, Santa Cruz Islands (Polynesian Outlier), Solomon Islands, Melanesia Oceania. Wood and the raw skin of the stingray. 39,5 cm. 19th/20th century. Ex Coll. : John-Charles (Jack) Edler c. 1996; Jim Elmslie, Australia; Elizabeth Pryce, Sydney. Sold Sotheby’s, Paris, l’Art de Vivre en Océanie - collection Elizabeth Pryce, 10 octobre 2018, lot 35. An old unidentified number : 102(or 3)D is painted on the front of the handle. See an identical example in the British Museum, N° Oc1912:0708; Given by Archdeacon Comins of the Melanesian Mission in 1912.
The Islands of the Melanesian Mission, showing Charles Coleridge Harper’s journey. Christ’s College Sports Register, September 1885
Rev. Charles Coleridge Harper
Chiefs in Santa Cruz photographed by J.W. Beattie, prior to 1908.
The tema or kapkap is a chest ornament worn only by men in the Santa Cruz Group. It is the central and most important element of the ceremonial costume and its size and quality are indicative of the owner’s wealth and social importance. The representation of the iconography is no longer recorded but the most probable hypothesis is that it represents the silhouette of a frigate bird against the full moon or the sun. The vertical, double row of triangles situated above the bird motif are probably representations of stylized fish. One other possibility is that the two long lateral points (of what appears to be the frigate bird) are each a profile (or cut-away) view of the head of a mythological dog, whose front paw is shown as one half of the inverted central "V" form – this could be a reference to the nguzunguzu canoe prow ornaments. It is probable that the larger tema are the oldest. For this matter, tema measuring fifteen centimeters or more in diameter are exceedingly rare. Graciosa Bay area (?), Ndende Island, Santa Cruz Islands, Para-Polynesia, Melanesia. Shell (Tridacne gigas), natural fiber with string reinforcement and turtle-shell (Hawksbill turtle : eretmochelys), 15 cm x 0.4 ø cm. 19th century. Collected in the field by Rev. Charles Coleridge Harper in 1885. Provenance: Charles Coleridge Harper (1866-1943), an Anglican priest, an associate of the Melanesian Mission and grandson of Henry John Chitty Harper (1804-1893), the first Archbishop of Christchurch, New Zealand. Acquired in 1885 whilst part of the Melanesian Mission expedition on the barque-rigged schooner Southern Cross with Rev Arthur Brittan to various islands across the South Pacific. Thence by descent through the family. Harper noted in his surviving diaries in 1885, upon arriving at Santa Cruz where the present example was acquired : "the men are all elaborately adorned; they wear breastplates of shell, and armlets of the same material...".
An exceptionally fine and large mat or sese (a large blanket type mat) used as a ritual exchange item during the ceremonies of passage de grade, marriage or death; and the sese is often used as well, as a wrap for the deceased. The design on this mat is stained (or dyed) using the “reserve“ technique and shows a variation on the archaic motif of the “Bird of the High Seas“ (Oiseau du Large) or bwihil nan ut lewawan. The significance of this design is now totally forgotten, by even the oldest generations. Seses are usually about three meters in length. The design is carved on the outer layers of the banana trunk to produce a stencil which will be placed over the rolled mat before being dyed. The long sides of the mat are fringed while the short sides are edged with a woven, open-work motif with twin knotted tassels in their center. This is one of the largest known mats of its kind. Northern Pentecost Island, Vanuatu, Melanesia. Pandanus fiber (Pandanus tectorius) and dye made from the infusion of Ventilago neocaledonica bark (local name : butsu laba). 400 x 85 cm w/o fringes. 19/20th century. Field collected in the mid 20th century by a visiting French academic. Se a similar example in the Museum der Kulturen, Basel N° VB 4435
A rare form of food pounder from a high Grade man decorated with two janus birds as the finial. Gaua Island, Banks Islands, Vanuatu, Melanesia. Wood. 19th century. 80 x 9.2 x 6 cm.
A Kanak woman wearing an identical comb illustrating the remarkable dimensions of the ornament.
André & Huguette Fabre at Puntis House c. 1955/56
Details of the extremities of the upper band showing the incised decoration.
An extremely fine, and very large bamboo comb worn both by men and women. Carved in one piece from a section of semi-flattened bamboo, it has the upper band delicately engraved with linear designs. The extremities are decorated with lateral panels of large incised reversed triangles with hash-mark filling. The comb has 26 long, thin teeth in perfect condition. Kanak, New Caledonia, Melanesia. Bamboo. 19 x 19 x 0,3 cm. 19th century. Collected by Magistrate Henri Louit (1846-1905) between 1890 and 1894 at Bourail in New Caledonia. Subsequently the family home of Puntis in the Gers, South West France. By descent to Alice Guermont, then to Jean-Louis Despiau then to his daughter Hugette Fabre (née Despiau). Collection of André & Hugette Fabre, Toulouse.
A very fine and powerful chiefly war-club of the â€œbird-headâ€œ type known as go porowa ra maru (in Paici language). While this type of chiefly club is regarded as representing a bird beak and head by European academics, the true representation is that of the beaked head of the great sea-turtle from what local informants have reported. New Caledonia, Melanesia. Wood with trade-cloth, fiber attachments and sinnet binding on the shaft; restoration to the tip of the beak. 19th century. 72 x 5 x 23 cm. Originally found on a Flea-Market in Chartres, France.
The great Apouema mask is said to represent the deceased high chief. The performer wore the Mourners mask high on the head, looking out from the mask's mouth, rather than the eyes, his body covered with a net cloak covered with black pigeon feathers. The symbolism of the mask made connections with the underwater world of the dead and it's acting performance was supposed to underline the chief's abiding power. The nose is typically beak-like, curving out and down. In this case the nose has extended exterior nostrils flaring in an aggressive manner. The mask was topped with human hair, also used to form the beard (both now missing). The hair of male mourners was used for this; they grew it long, and cut it after the period of mourning. At the back of the head is a band of plaited vegetable fiber, similar in construction to the hats worn by men of high rank. The wearer carried a club and spears as if ready for battle. This type of mask was first recorded by the French botanist and explorer Jacques-J.H. de Labillardiere in 1792. When the first missionaries met the Kanak, they thought the masks were representations of devils and tried to stop their use. As a result, few were made after French colonization in 1853. Masks were used in the North and Central part of New Caledonia at the time of European contact, by which time their use had diminished in the South. Southern masks are usually carved with small noses and those from North with big extended curved ones. There is some uncertainty about the original role of such masks. They have been associated with gods and spirits, in particular an evil water spirit. They symbolize the power of the community leader: a mask was given to the leader when he attained this rank. Masks were worn as part of the mourning rituals performed for a dead leader, and were regarded as a substitute for him in the ceremony. Kanak, North New Caledonia, Melanesia. Wood, human hair, bamboo, cane, vegetable fiber, and trade cloth. The face of the mask is stained black with a concoction made from the burnt nut of the Bancoul tree (Aleurites moluccana) - the Candle Nut. Restoration to the tip of the nose and conservative consolidation to the face and coif. 42 cm. 19th century. Bonhams, Londres, 27 mars 1990, lot 296; Kevin Conru, Bruxelles, 1999; A french private collection; Christies, Paris 2009; a French private collection; Christies, Paris 2014; A private collection, London. Admiral William Oswald Story, C.B.E. (18 April 1859 / 14 January 1938). William O. Story was an officer in the British Royal Navy. He served during the 1875-1876 expedition to Perak (Malaysia), and subsequently in Egypt and at Suakin in Sudan. He served in H.M.S. Opal 1886 on Australian Station as well as in H.M.S. Katoomba in 1891 on Australasian patrol. It is probable that he acquired the present mask during this period of his Pacific Ocean postings. He emigrated to Canada in 1911 and in the First World War he was loaned by the British naval service to Canada, where he was appointed Admiral Superintendent of Esquimalt Dockyard, the Canadian naval base on the Pacific Coast. He remained in Canada until his death in 1938. This mask, together with a group of Oceanic artifacts, collected around 1890, remained in England when the Admiral left for North America. These objects were found by his descendants in the family home and offered for auction in 1990.
A rare standing double korwar, or ancestral representation. It shows the main ancestor upright, on a thick rounded base, standing with a smaller korwar figure placed in front. The eyes of both figures are indicated by glass trade-beads attached with pegs (blue for the large figure and white for the small one – right one missing). Western Geelvinck Bay, Korwar Area, Vogelkop Peninsula, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Wood (alstonia ?) and glass beads with a patina of age and wear. 24,7 cm. 19/20th century. Ex private Dutch collection, acquired from Loed van Bussel, Amsterdam.
A rare standing korwar, or ancestral representation. It shows the ancestor upright, on a thick rounded base, standing behind an openwork plastron or shield. The complex motif of the frontal element is composed of scrolls forming a highly stylized “tree of life“. The figure is powerfully sculpted with both hands gripping the frontal shield. The face has a strong aquiline nose with wide nostrils, high cheekbones and a wide mouth showing the teeth. Western Geelvinck Bay, Korwar Area, Vogelkop Peninsula, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Wood (alstonia ?) with a good patina of age and wear. 30,2 x 13,5 x 11,9 cm. 19/20th century. Ex coll. : André & Lita De Bock, Amsterdam. Acquired from Jap Polak, Amsterdam.
An extremely rare amulet representing a standing male ancestor. Some of these amulets were reportedly used in maritime magic and taken on canoes for use while fishing. Yamna Island, North Coast, Irian Jaya, Indonesian New Guinea. Wood with a very fine patina of age and use. 17.5 x 3.8 x 4.3 cm. 19/20th century. Ex coll.: Visser; Kortmann; BuschardtÂ ; private collection, France; AndrĂŠ & Lita De Bock, Amsterdam.
A female figure standing with both hands held to her sides. The arms are decorated with arm-bands and descend from overly large shoulders. The navel, vulva, and knees are well defined. The face is unusual with a wide crescent-form smile under the long median nose. The left eye is formed of two concentric circles while the right eye is unfinished and of slightly smaller size. The differences between the eyes and the quite obviously finished figure leads to suppose that this might be a portrait of a female ancestor â€“ a person who lived as opposed to the more generic form of ancestral representation. Lake Sentani, West Papua, Indonesian New Guinea, Melanesia. Wood (restoration to the nose and a filled crack on the face and abdomen). The figure previously had an old label on the rear, which was still present in 2003. Following cleaning and restoration all trace of this label are now gone. 60 cm. 19/20th century. Acquired from Michel Hugenin, Galerie Majestic, Paris, circa 1980's. Ex coll. : Jean Chatelus, Paris. Sold Artcurial, 1 July 2003, Paris, Lot 4; Ex Joel Cooner, Dallas; David Rosenthal, San Francisco; Gal. Meyer, Paris; Ex coll. : AndrĂŠ & Lita De Bock, Amsterdam.
A very fine Janus figural food (sago) pounder. The back to back figures are represented by their over large heads carved in high relief and their bent arms with hands clasped in-front just under the chins. A third figure composed again of only the head and arms is situated at the top of the split finial. Yakamul (spelled Jakamal by Prof. Holtker), Siau Language group, North Coast, PNG, Melanesia. Wood with a fine patina of age and wear. 55 x 6 x 7.2 cm. 19th/20th century. Collected by Prof. Georg Holtker between 1936 and 1939. Ex SVD (Societas Verbi Divini - Society of the Divine Word) Mission Museum, Haus der Völker und Kulturen, Sankt Augustin, Germany, Inv. N° 71-10-21. See inventory card for complet information (in German). De-accessioned by exchange with Ulrich Hoffmann. Ill.: Hoffmann, U.: FASZINATION ALT-AMERIKA, Verlag Arte America, Stuttgart 2002, page 167, fig. 181 (left). The missionary Father and Professor Georg Höltker (1895-1976) was Professor of Ethnology at the SVD Missionary Institute in Sankt Gabriel (Austria) before his posting to Freiburg University in Switzerland. A relentless collector, he left important collections of ethnographic objects and photographs from New Guinea in several locations. In addition to the collections of the Museums of Basel and Neuchâtel, as well as the Vienna Museum and Sankt Gabriel, it is necessary to mention the important collection deposited at Sankt Augustin near Bonn and that which is in the University of Freiburg. Georg Höltker was stationed in New Guinea from 1936 to 1939 doing ethnographic research notably on the North Coast of the Sepik Area. Due to WW II he returned to Europe and settled in Freiburg. From 1943 to 1953 he taught at the Tropical Institute of Basel. He succeeded to Father W. Schmidt at the chair of ethnology at the University of Freiburg which he occupied from 1948 to 1953. In 1960 he resumed his academic activities at Sankt Augustin and the Anthropos Insitute, Germany as a teacher of ethnology to future missionaries.
An important female ancestor figure standing on both feet with arms to her side. She wears important keloid motifs on her breasts, shoulders and buttocks. Lower Sepik, PNG, Melanesia. Wood with red pigment and a patina of age and wear. The left arm is an old restoration and the ears are deficient. 55 x 14 x 12 cm. 19th century. Ex coll. The collection of the Müller familly, Der Haus zum Dolder, Dr. Edmund Müller jr. (1898/1976), Beromünster, Switzerland & the Foundation Dr. Edmond Müller. Sold as lot 16, Property from the Foundation Dr. Edmond Müller (accession n° 3576) Sotheby's, New York, 22/11/1998. Private coll. : The Netherlands.
A miniature mask representing a bearded human face. The eyes are decorated with European shirt buttons and the ears show ornaments composed of glass trade-beads. There is a strong Washkuk influence visible in the architecture of the powerful geometric forms of the nose and coloration. There is a strong probability that the mask was carved along the lower Sepik but perhaps by a man from the Washkuk. Lower Sepik, PNG, Melanesia. Wood with pigments, buttons and glass beads pigments. 14.5 x 5.2 x 4 cm. 19/20th century. Provenance : the Sacred Heart Mission (MSC) of Tilburg, Netherlands. Inv. NÂ° 766. Acquired from Willem Zwiep, Amsterdam.
A small amulet ancestor mask carved with totemic animal on the forehead. These minute masks were worn attached to the manâ€™s bag. The mask is of classic format with the slanted oval eyes over a powerful pointed nose showing the nasal ornament. The mask shows a dentate beard and the lower facial area is incised with deep motifs. There are traces of an unidentified old inventory number in white paint on the inside of the mask. Coastal Area, Murik Lakes, Lower Sepik, PNG, Melanesia. Hard wood with traces of pigment and a patina of age and wear. 18,7 cm. 19/20th century. Ex coll. : Jap Polak, Amsterdam ; AndrĂŠ & Lita De Bock, Amsterdam.
A very early amulet figure representing a male ancestor. He is powerfully carved standing with arms akimbo and hands to his hips. The face appears to represent a long nosed ancestral spirit mask with the pointed nose and projecting brow over a pointed chin. The rear of the figure is deeply carved showing a pronounced musculature. The topknot is pierced twice and surmounts an elaborate headdress. The figure stands on a pierced section (one side now missing). Lower Sepik, Murik Lakes, PNG, Melanesia. Soft, light wood with red ochre and dry patina of age and wear. 14,5 cm. 19th century. Ex coll. : The CoBrA Artist EugĂ¨ne Brands, Amsterdam ; Eugenie Brands by descent. Possibly acquired from Galerie Lemaire, Amsterdam.
A very rare, small, and archaic amulet figure representing a male ancestor. The figure is extremely well carved with a powerfully sculpted body and a finely rendered face. The ears and nose are pierced. There is a small topknot carved on the top of the head. Boiken sculpture is extremely rare and very few examples are as yet published in the literature. Boiken plains, North Coast, PNG, Melanesia. Hard wood with an ancient patina of wear and age. 17,5 cm. 19th century (stone carved). Collected in the field by Michael Hamson. Ex David Rosenthal, San Francisco; Gal. Meyer, Paris; Coll. AndrĂŠ & Lita De Bock, Amsterdam.
A very early beard amulet figure representing a male ancestor. He is powerfully carved standing with arms akimbo and hands to his hips. The very large head represents more then half of the total height of the figure. The face is of classical style with large slanted coffee bean eyes and aquiline nose over a minute mouth. There is a pierced topknot on the head for suspension. The rear of the figure is well carved showing pronounced shoulder blades. These minute figures were worn attached not only to the man’s bag but more often were worn in their beard. Coastal Area, Lower Sepik, PNG, Melanesia. Soft, light wood with red ochre and dry patina of age and wear. 13,5 cm. 19th century. Ex coll. : Pr. Ralph Linton ; ex J.J. Klejman, New York ; ex coll. : Dr. Martin Lunin, purchased from Klejman on 6/12/1965 ; ex Michael Hamson N° MHF 277 ; ex coll. : André & Lita De Bock, Amsterdam. Pub. : Michael Hamson – Parcours des Mondes 2014, Paris, N° 3, p. 7
A large powerfully carved suspension hook. The finial represents a grinning ancestor with cowrie inlayed eyes. The facial features are strongly carved with an aggressive and haughty expression. The diamond shaped body of the hook represents the crocodile and the wide swept hook points the wings of the flying fox or the great Harpy eagle. Iatmul Language group, Middle Sepik, PNG, Melanesia. Hard wood with a thick encrusted, blackened patina of age and use. Old worn damage to the right hook point. 96,3 x 36 x 6,4 cm. Early to mid 20th century.
A very large aripa hunting and warfare spirit figure in the form of a stylized human figure in profile. The main elements of the figure other than the large powerfully carved head are reduced to essential identifiers : the torso is shown with four upward curving hook points representing the ribcage under a vertical « heart » protrusion; the shapely single leg shows a thick band worn at the knee. The head of this ancestral spirit figure is large and shown in profile nestled in a half-moon crescent frame supporting the ears. The face has a well-shaped, pierced nose, large concentric circle eyes and a pouting mouth. The neck offers a double notch of undefined purpose. These profile figures appear both in the Ewa pantheon as well as amongst the Yimar where they are better known as yipwon. Used in war related ceremonies these figures were « heated » and brought to life by rubbing them with the warrior’s blood and paint as well as offering ritual chants and ceremonies. After a victorious raid the figure would be « washed » with the victim’s blood and offered pieces of the body. This figure is exceptionally tall and extremely well carved. The hook points are incised as is the upper thigh to one side. Caves of the Korewori, Ewa People, Inyai Village area, Upper Korewori River, South bank of the Middle Sepik River, PNG, Melanesia. Hard wood with traces of lichen and calcifications due to storage in a limestone cave. 196 cm. 17th/19th century (C-14 test). Ex coll. : Ronald Clyne, New York; Ann & Sam Charters, Connecticut (acquired from Ronald Clyne circa late 1960’s).
The strange figures of the Ewa, emerging straight from the visions, the imagination and religious belief of the Papuans of New Guinea, represent ancestors but also spiritual beings related to hunting and war. They are the vestiges of another era - one before the arrival of the western world on the shores of New Guinea. The interior of the island, largely unexplored until the second half of the 20th century, is still often accessible only by boat, on foot or by air. These aripa - the vernacular and generic name of these carvings - figures and heads, were individually held by the Ewa population, who originally lived on the foothills from which spring the Moi and the Nai rivers (Nai being the local name of the Korewori River) south of the Middle Sepik, the great nourishing river of Papua. When hunting game or raiding enemies, the owner of the sculpture called to the soul of the aripa with an offering, thereby ensuring its collaboration. The sculptures also became commemorative monuments to their deceased owners and were kept in rock shelters and limestone caves scattered in the mountains, covered with dense rainforest, far away from the dwellings. The Korewori River, a southern tributary of the Sepik River, was discovered in the early years of German colonial exploration at the beginning of the 20th century and then forgotten until the end of the 1960s. Just after the Second World War, the Ewa, living in an area of difficult access near the source of the Moi, were relocated further down towards the bank of the Korewori River (Nai), in order to facilitate control by the Australian colonial administration. The Ewa were forced to leave their sacred sculptures far behind them, physically and religiously. The « Caves of the Korewori » (or Karawari), still filled with their treasure trove of Ewa sculptures, were fortuitously « discovered » in the mid-1960s by Ivan Salomon, a foreman working for a sawmill in Angoram. The mill was managed by Nils (Mads) Madsen, who subsequently bought and sold a large number of these aripa sculptures. Madsen died shortly after in a plane crash on July 28, 1968. His untimely demise added to the aura of mystery that still surrounds these remarkable works of art, for little was known about the Ewa from an ethnographic point of view. It is estimated that at least three hundred wooden sculptures were found in rock shelters and limestone caves near the Ewa villages of Inyai, Ratoma and Danyig by Madsen and others. The Ewa sculptures, aged 400 to 600 years on average, and hidden for centuries in caves, were unveiled to the public for the first time in 1968 - the French dealer Maurice Bonnefoy of D'Arcy Galleries in New York had acquired a large selection of Ewa pieces and exhibited nearly 120 of them. Bonnefoy published the sculptures in his ground-breaking catalogue « The Caves of the Karawari », written by Professor Eike Haberland from the University of Frankfurt. Subsequently, in 1971, the Museum für Völkerkunde in Basel - today the Museum der Kulturen - was able to acquire by public subscription 85 pieces from Maurice Bonnefoy for 1,500,000 Swiss francs. Carbon-14 tests indicate that most of the sculptures date from the 14th to the 19th century, although some examples can be traced back to the 10th and 11th centuries AD. Thus, Ewa art is contemporary to our European Middle Ages. These are the most archaic wooden art-works known in the Pacific - and they have reached us in a remarkable state of conservation. The extreme hardness of the wood, as well as the relatively dry and protected conditions of the caves, allowed these works of art to pass through time. Ewa sculptures can be seen in many institutions around the world: at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris; at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra; at the St. Louis Art Museum in the United States; the M. H. De Young Museum in San Francisco; the Museum für Völkerkunde in Frankfurt; the British Museum in London, and of course the Museum der Kulturen in Basel ...
Ronald Clyne, (1925 â€“ 2006) a commercial artist and notable book and record cover illustrator and designer made 12 trips to New Guinea to buy art, starting in the 1960s. He continued visiting up to the early 1970s, stopping after independence and the instauration of stricter export regulations in 1975. During this period and in following years Clyne acquired many of his pieces of New Guinea native art from two Catholic priests, both missionaries in different parts of the country. He would receive large crates of art works - keep what he considered the best for himself and sell off the other pieces to friends.
A superb miniature shaman figure representing a spiritual ancestor. The figure, with its almond-shaped head set low on the shoulders, is decorated with a series of engraved crossed linear tattoos on the torso. The facial features are carefully engraved to enhance the spirituality of the ancestral image. Okvik Culture, Saint Lawrence Island, Bering Strait, Alaska, Mineralized walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). 300 BC - 200 AD. 3,7 cm
An important headless torso with long vertical tattoo lines descending from the shoulders over the chest and dorsal area. Okvik culture, Alaska. 300 B.C. â€“ 200 A.D. Mineralized walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). 14,2 cm. Ex coll E. Daniel and Martha L. Albrecht Collection, Scottsdale, Arizona; Alaska on Madison, New York
A superb head from a shamanic effigy. Okvik, Saint Lawrence Island, Bering Strait, Alaska. Mineralized walrus tusk. 8,2 cm. 300 BC - 200 AD. The surface has been professionally cleaned and subsequently stabilized with a wax resin. Ex collection Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan collection. Sold Christie’s NY, Important American Indian Art: Including Property from the Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection of Eskimo Ivories and Northwest Coast Art, October 20, 1994. Ex Merton Simpson, New York, Alain Bovis, Paris. Exhibited & published : SURRÉALISME & ARTS PRIMITIFS Une révolution du regard. Fondation Pierre Arnaud, Lens (CH), 19/06/2014 – 5/10/2014. Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan assembled an impressive collection of ancient Eskimo ivories and Northwest Coast Indian art during the 1970s, beginning with Okvik and Old Bering Sea period carved walrus ivory human figures and heads from St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. This is one the great heads of the Okvik culture and it takes its place within the known corpus of master pieces of early Eskimo Art.
Left : An asexual shaman figure representing an ancestor. The large oval head with characteristic features is finely carved with incised eye brows and lashes as well as tattoo points on the salient cheekbones. The long straight and regal nose splits the face above the minute mouth showing the incised teeth. The front and rear of the flat conical body are incised with random lines possibly representing tattoos. Okvik Culture, St Lawrence Island, Bering Strait, Alaska. 300 BC â€“ 200 AD. Mineralized walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). 6,4 cm. Right : An archaic Eskimo ornament representing a flattened quadruped decorated with incised lines and motifs. The open mouth shows large squared teeth in a menacing grin. The edges of the object are beveled, creating an impression of a 3-dimensional sculpture. Objects of this type were often pegged onto box lids. Eskimo culture of the Old Bering Sea periods (200 â€“ 600 AD). Saint Laurence Island, Alaska. Mineralized walrus tusk. 13,5 cm.
A rare female effigy of a â€œStar-Gazerâ€? represented as a backward curved human figure. The hands are held to the rear. The dorsal area presents a deeply drilled receptacle centered on the vertebrae at the lower back. The figure shows deep double line tattoos on the shoulders and a superb tattoo motif of lines and dots radiating outward and downward from a ventral central line. The facial features are beautifully rendered in a simple minimalist fashion. Most of the figures surface is carefully pecked. It appears that the head was detached long ago probably for ritual reasons and was reattached following the recovery of both pieces. Punuk to Thule period. Alaska. 600 â€“ 1200 AD. Mineralized walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens), with left arm missing and head reattached. 10,7 cm.
Above : An archers wrist protector carved with a polar-bear head effigy. Punuk Culture, Alaska, 600 â€“ 900 AD. Mineralized walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). 4,6 cm Right : Eskimo ancestor figure in a death pose and overall engraved with minute zig-zag motifs and with the body shaped as if wrapped in a tight shroud. Punuk Culture, St. Lawrence Island, Bering Strait, Alaska. Mineralized walrus tusk (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). 7 cm. 600 â€“ 900 AD.
A stylized female figure shown wearing the typical Greenland-type top-knot. The figure shows long tattoo lines incised to the shoulders and dorsal area. Mid to late Thule culture, Greenland or Eastern Canada (Newfoundland), circa 1200 - 1500 AD. Mineralized walrus tusk (odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) with a fine crackled patina. The surface has been professionally stabilized. 5,2 cm. Provenance: unidentified Canadien geologist ; collection Jean-Paul Agogue, Paris ; Galerie Alain Bovis, Paris ; Alexandre Bernand collection, Paris/London.
Similar female figure collected on Ryder Island, Greenland by Christopher Dalgety during the Wordie Arctic Expedition in 1934 in the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, No. 1935.1073.
A female « star-gazer » of superb form and poise. The exaggerated female body – possibly pregnant - is shown encased in form-fitting traditional winter-clothing. She stands in an animated « power-pose » with her distended stomach and well-defined buttocks thrust outward. Her bare head is gracefully thrown back to see the stars and rests on the hood of her anorak. The left edge of her mouth appears to be purposely drilled – perhaps to represent a labret. Mid to late Thule culture, Greenland or Eastern Canada (Newfoundland), circa 1200 - 1500 AD. Mineralized walrus tusk (odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) with a fine crackled patina. The surface has been professionally stabilized. 7,3 cm. Provenance: unidentified Canadien geologist ; collection Jean-Paul Agogue, Paris ; Galerie Alain Bovis, Paris ; Alexandre Bernand collection, Paris/ London.
Left : A stylized human head carved as a pendant or ornament. The open and deeply carved eyes and mouth dominate the face which is decorated with deeply incised tattoo lines at the mouth and forehead. Mid to late Thule culture, Greenland or Eastern Canada (Newfoundland), circa 1200 - 1500 AD. Mineralized walrus tusk (odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) with a fine crackled patina. The surface has been professionally stabilized. 5,4 cm. Provenance: unidentified Canadien geologist ; collection Jean-Paul Agogue, Paris ; Galerie Alain Bovis, Paris ; Alexandre Bernand collection, Paris/London. Above : A stylized human head carved as a pendant or ornament. The open and deeply carved eyes and mouth dominate the face which is decorated with deeply incised tattoo lines on the cheeks. Mid to late Thule culture, Greenland or Eastern Canada (Newfoundland), circa 1200 - 1500 AD. Mineralized walrus tusk (odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) with a fine crackled patina. The surface has been professionally stabilized. 4,7 cm. Provenance: unidentified Canadien geologist ; collection Jean-Paul Agogue, Paris ; Galerie Alain Bovis, Paris ; Alexandre Bernand collection, Paris/London.
A remarkably sensitive and naturalistic human head carved as a pendant or ornament. The open and deeply carved mouth - as if engaged in a long scream - is not unusual in the Eskimo corpus of carving. Mid to late Thule culture, Greenland or Eastern Canada (Newfoundland), circa 1200 - 1500 AD. Mineralized walrus tusk (odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) with a fine crackled patina. The surface has been professionally stabilized. 3,4 cm. Provenance: unidentified Canadien geologistÂ ; collection Jean-Paul Agogue, ParisÂ ; Galerie Alain Bovis, ParisÂ ; Alexandre Bernand collection, Paris/London.
A very fine and expressive mask representing an ancestral spirit, or a shaman. Inupiak (Inupiaq) language group, Point Hope, Northern Alaska. Weathered Alaskan Yellow Cedar (Cupressus nootkatensis) (?) and marine ivory with a thick granular paint-like substance and salt and sand deposits. 18,5 x 12,5 x 5,8 cm. 18th/19th century or earlier. Provenance : acquired by Edward J. (Doudou) & ThĂŠrĂ¨se Klejman in the early 1960's Subsequently a private French collection.
A remarkable pair of naturalistic human forearms each carved from a single piece of wood in monumental scale. The arms were most probably attached to a monumental figure used to welcome guests to the Potlatch feast. Both the wood, the form and the finish of the carved surfaces of these arms indicate that they were carved on the southern section of the Northwest Coast of British Columbia at some time in the late nineteenth century. Central to Southern Northwest Coast, Kwakwaka'wakw Tribe (Kwakiutl), Vancouver Island ?, British Columbia, Canada. Western red cedar with a fine patina of weathering and exposure. Various old repairs and replacements to several fingers. +/- 81 cm each. Circa 1880 AD. Provenance : Denver Art Museum. Deaccessioned by exchange. Sotheby's New York, 1984. Allan Stone Collection, New York City. Trotta-Bono, New York. Donald Ellis Gallery, New York and Toronto. There are black ink inventory numbers on each arm : EO ? MN / QKW-ZI-EX.
A potlatch is a gift-giving feast practiced by Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America, among whom it is traditionally the primary economic system. A potlatch was held on the occasion of births, deaths, adoptions, weddings, and other major events. In the potlatch, the host challenged a guest chieftain to exceed him in his 'power' to give away or to destroy goods specially made for the moment. If the guest did not return 100 percent on the gifts received and destroy even more wealth in a bigger and better bonfire, he and his people lost face and so his 'power' was diminished.
As always, my thanks go to the TEFAF team and to STABILO for their excellent & ongoing work organizing the fair. My thanks to our photographer Michel Gurfinkel; our art-handlers Philippe Delmas & Francis Viera; our base-makers Manuel Do Carmo and the Atelier Punchinello; and to our restorers Serge Dubuc, Brigitte Martin, & Edouard Vatinel. A special thanks to my faithful and hard-working assistant Anne Orieux. Of course, Manuel Benguigui in Paris and Fang and Jean-Francois Schmitt in Maastricht bring their essential assistance to my endeavor. A special mention for Jos Hu and family, and to my mother Rita Alix Meyer and my family for their unfailing support, patience and affection. For their assistance and support I give thanks to all of my friends and colleagues, most notably Maurice Stevens, Lita de Bock and Family, Eugenie Brands, The Foundation Eugène Brands, Laurent Dodier, all our clients who faithfully support the gallery… And last but not least the members of CASOAR ! Photo credits : All works of art Michel Gurfinkel, Paris & Galerie Meyer - Oceanic Art, Paris. The paintings and drawings by Eugène Brand : Bertrand Hugues, Paris Other images : • Cover illustration : © Morgane Martin for the drawing & Clémentine Débrosse for the layout • Coming to the ship – Asmat canoes in Flamingo Bay, 1905. From the Album of a Dutch Naval Officer. MEL.PNG.190. Collection Cayetana & Anthony JP Meyer • Asmat Map © Clementine Debrosse • Illustrations of the sago palm, larvae et beetle : © Lee Oscar Meyer Design, Paris • Pounding Sago : “Getting Sago from the Trunk of the Sago Palm” MEL.PNG.236. Collection Cayetana & Anthony JP Meyer • Wenet silhouette from Asmat Images, Tobias Schneebaum. Asmat Museum of Culture and Progress ©1985. • Sleeping with the Ancestor. Archive Galerie Meyer. • A mourning Asmat Papuan is blowing a headhunting horn. © Fotocollectie Tropenmuseum - Afkomstig uit de collectie van het Indisch Wetenschappelijk Instituut (IWI). Object number TM-30028513 Ref. http://collectie.wereldculturen.nl/default.aspx?lang=en • Aerial roots of a Ficus tree. Photo © John Tracy. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pholower/5545045181/ • Man with amulets in beard : Illustration Biró,Ludovici. Opuscula ethnologica memoriae Ludovici Biró sacra. Budapest, 1899. ”Alter Mann vom unteren Sepik vor 1914 mit Kettenanhaengern im Form kleiner Holzfiguren, die vermutlich Amulettcharakter haben” • Chiefs in Santa Cruz photographed by J.W. Beattie, prior to 1908. Archive Galerie Meyer • Woman with comb, New Caledonia. Allan Hughan photo. C. 1870. Ex coll. : Cyril Dessirier. Collection Cayetana & Anthony JP Meyer • André & Huguette Fabre at Puntis House c. 1955/56. © Famille Fabre • Native police. New Caledonia. Allan Hughan, C; 1878. MEL.NC.052. Collection Cayetana & Anthony JP Meyer • Mask by Eugène Brands, c. 1947 Photo: © Frits Lemaire. Archive Galerie Meyer • Drawing of Melanesian tools : Cranstone, B A L, (1961) " Melanesia: A Short Ethnography", Trustees of the British Museum, Fig 11, p.52. • KORWAR : poem by André Breton, © Galimard, Paris 1948 • Masques de bois couronnés d'une chevelure humaine. Post Card. Phototypie A. Bergeret & Cie, Nancy. 1901/1905. CP045 Collection Cayetana & Anthony JP Meyer Texts : Asmat texts by members of CASOAR (translated from French), © the authors: • Asmat : A general presentation. By Camille Graindorge & Marion Bertin • Sago, its consumption and place in the imaginary of the Asmat. By Margaux Chataigner & Elsa Spigolon • Asmat Ancestors Skulls. By Morgane Martin • Head-Hunting To the sound of the drums and the horns. By Garance Nyssen & Soizic Le Cornec • Apets Figures. By Margot Kreidl • The tree and it's felling, the shield, the spear, the dagger and the phallic ax. By Clémentine Débrosse & Enzo Hamel All other texts : © Anthony JP Meyer Every effort has been made to ensure correct copyright procedure. In the event you feel that your copyright has not been correctly asserted please contact Galerie Meyer - Oceanic Art, Paris. Layout and artwork, texts and translations © Galerie Meyer - Oceanic Art, Paris. Reproduction or publication in any form or format, either whole or partial, of the items, images, photos, works of art and texts contained in this publication is prohibited without formal written approval. This catalogue is only published in digital format on the www.issuu.com platform. Printed copies are available at cost by request.
Comité Scientifique André Breton
Asmat Bibliography • BERAN, H., CRAIG, B., eds., Shields of Melanesia. University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu. 2005. • GERBRANDT A. A., ROCKEFELLER M. C., The Art of the Asmat, New Guinea, collected by Michael C. Rockefeller. the Museum of primitive Art, New York. New York, 1962. • GERBRANDS, Adrian A., Wow-Ipits - Eight Asmat Woodcarvers of New Guinea. Mouton, La Haye. 1967. • GERBRANDS, A. A., ed., The Asmat of New Guinea - the Journal of Michael Clark Rockefeller. Museum of Primitive Art, New York. 1967. • HELFRICH, K., JEBENS, H., NELKE, W., WINKELMANN, C., Asmat - Mythos und Kunst im Leben mit den Ahnen. Staatliche Museen, Berlin. 1995. • HELFRICH Klaus, « 11. Kopfjagd und Ahnenschädel » in Asmat - Mythos und Kunst im Leben mit den Ahnen. Museum fur Volkerkunde, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin. 1996, pp. 161-166. • KJELLGREN, E., Oceania - Art of the Pacific Islands in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 2007 • KONRAD, G., KONRAD, U., SCHNEEBAUM, T., Asmat. Leben mit den Ahnen. Brückner, Glashütten. 1981 • KONRAD, Ursula & Gunter, « Asmat Art » in Asmat, Myth and Ritual, the Inspiration of Art. Erizzo Editrice, Venise. 1996. • KONRAD, Ursula & Gunter, « Bis Pkumbu - The Ancestor Pole Fest » in Asmat - myth and ritual, the inspiration of art. Erizzo Editrice, Venise. 1996. • KONRAD G., KONRAD U., SOWADA A. (Ed.)., Asmat, Perception of Life in Art - the collection of the Asmat Museum of Culture and Progress. Mönchengladbach, B. Kühlen Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 2002. • MORIN, F., PELTIER, P. (Ed.). Ombres de Nouvelle-Guinée - Arts de la Grande Île d’Océanie dans les Collections Barbier-Mueller. Somogy édition d’art, Musée Barbier-Mueller. Paris/Genève, 2006. • ROCKEFELLER M.C., The Asmat of New Guinea - the journal of Michael Clark Rockefeller. Museum of Primitive Art, New York. 1967. • SCHNEEBAUM T., Embodied spirits - ritual carving of the Asmat. Crosier Asmat Museum & Peabody Museum Salem. 1990. • SCHUILING, D.L., Growth and development of true sago palm (Metroxylon sagu Rottbøll) with special reference to accumulation of starch in the trunk: a study on morphology, genetic variation and ecophysiology, and their implications for cultivation. PhD thesis, Wageningen University. 2009. • SMIDT Dirk A. M., « The Asmat - Life, Death and the Ancestors » in Asmat Art - woodcarving of southwest New Guinea, Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden. 1993. p. 15-26. • SMIDT Dirk A. M., Asmat Art - Woodcarving of Southwest New Guinea. Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leyde. 1993. • SMIDT Dirk A. M., « L’Irian Jaya », in DOUGLAS N., Arts des Mers du Sud, Insulinde, Mélanésie, Polynésie, Micronésie - collections du musée Barbier-Mueller. Adam Biro, Paris. 1998. • SMIDT, Dirk A. M., « L'aire Asmat » in Ombres de Nouvelle-Guinée - Arts de la grande île d'Océanie dans les collections Barbier-Muller, Somogy, Paris. 2006, p. 268. • SOWADA, Alphonse, « Fundamental Concepts of Asmat Religion and Philosophy » in Asmat, Myth and Ritual, the Inspiration of Art, Venise, Erizzo Editrice. 1996. pp. 65-72. • VAN DER ZEE Pauline, Etsjopok - avenging the ancestors - the Asmat bisj poles and a proposal for a morphological method. Working papers in ethnic art, Ghent, 1996. • VAN RENSELAAR H. C.,. Art from Asmat. Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam. 1961. • WASSING, René, « History - Colony, Mission and Nation », in Smidt, Dirk, Asmat Art: Woodcarvings of Southwest New Guinea. George Braziller, New York. 1993. • ZEGWAARD, Gerard, « Head-Hunting Practices of the Asmat of Netherlands New Guinea » in American Anthropologist, New Series, vol. 61, No. 6, 1959, pp. 1020-1041. Websites : • CHATAIGNER M., CASOARBLOG, « Le Poteau Bisj, maintien de l’équilibre du groupe », casoar.org, publié le 29 septembre 2017 https://casoar.org/2017/09/29/lepoteau-bisj-entre-chasse-aux-tetes-et-reactivation-de-la-force-vitale-de-la-communaute/ , consultation : 14/02/2019. • -https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/311618. Consultation : 02/02/2019. Selected General Bibliography Oceania : • Beran, Harry: BETEL CHEWING EQUIPMENT OF EAST NEW GUINEA. Shire Ethnography, Bucks, 1988 • Bodrogi, Tibor: ART IN NORTH-EAST NEW GUINEA. The Hungarian Acadamey of sciences, Budapest. 1961. • Boulay, Roger (ed.): DE JADE ET DE NACRE. Reunion des Musee Nationaux, Paris, 1990. • Bounoure, Vincent: LES KORWARS DE LA NOUVELLE-GUINEE HOLLANDAISE. in revue L'OEIL, Paris, N° 197, Novembre 1971. • Bounoure, Vincent: VISION D'OCEANIE. Editions Dapper, Paris. 1992. • Graebner, F.: VOLKERKUNDE DER SANTA-CRUZ-INSELN in ETHNOLOGICA Nº I. Karl W. Hiersemann Verlag, Leipzig, 1909. • Greub, S. (ed.): ART OF NORTH WEST NEW GUINEA. New York, Rizzoli International Publications. 1992. • Haberland, E.: THE CAVES OF KARAWARI. Exhibition catalogue. D'Arcy Galleries, New York. 1968. • Kasarherou, Emmanuel: LE MASQUE KANAK. Editions Parenthèses/A.D.C.K., Marseille, 1993. • Kaufmann, Christian : KOREWORI. Magische Kunst aus dem Regenwald. Museum der Kulturen, Basel & Christoph Merian Verlag, 2003. • Meyer, Anthony JP : OCEANIC ART / OZEANISCHE KUNST / ART OCEANIEN. Könemann Verlag, Köln. 1995. • Meyer, Anthony JP.: OCEANIC HEADRESTS / APPUIE-NUQUE OCEANIENS. Catalogue d'exposition. Galerie Meyer, Paris. 2004. • Van Baaren, Th. P.: KORWARS AND KORWAR STYLE. Mouton and Co., The Hague-Paris. 1968. • Wirz, Paul.: BEITRAG zur ETHNOGRAPHIE DER SENTANIER (HOLLÄNDISCH NEUGUINEA) in Nova Guinea. Resultats des Expéditions Scientifiques à la NouvelleGuinée, Vol. XVI, Ethnographie, Livraison III, E.J. Brill, Leide, 1928.
Eskimo : • Carpenter, E. (ed.) : Upside Down LES ARCTIQUES. musée du Quai Branly et la Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris, 2008. • Fienup-Riorden, Ann : YUP'IK ELDERS AT THE ETHNOLOGISCHES MUSEUM BERLIN - Fieldwork Turned on its Head. University of Wisconsin Press, Seattle and London, 2005. • Fitzhugh, W.W.; Hollowell, J.; Crowell, A.L. (ed.) : GIFTS FROM THE ANCESTORS - Ancient Ivories of Bering Strait. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2009. • Hurst, Norman : ARCTIC IVORY : Two Thousand Years of Alaskan Eskimo Art and Artifacts. Hurst Gallery, Cambridge,1998. • Ray, Dorothy Jean : ARTISTS OF THE TUNDRA AND THE SEA. University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1961 • Wardwell, A. : ANCIENT ESKIMO IVORIES OF THE BERING STRAIT. Hudson Hills Press, NY, 1986.
Forthcoming events 2019 : Paris Tribal, Paris : 10 - 14 May Bourgogne Tribal Show, Besanceuil : 30 May - 2 June Oceanic & Eskimo Art Pop-Up show, Basel : 10 - 16 June Parcours des Mondes, Paris : 10 - 15 September La Biennale Paris | The Universelle Art Fair : 11 - 17 September Frieze Masters, London : 2 - 6 October Photo Saint Germain, Paris : 5 - 24 November
GALERIE MEYER Oceanic & Eskimo Art 17 rue des Beaux-Arts Paris 75006 France +33 680 108 022 email@example.com www.meyeroceanic.art
Catalogue of Asmat Art, Oceanic & Eskimo Art, and Paintings by Eugène Brands for sale at TEFAF 2019. 112 pages, map, 39 Oceanic works of art...
Published on Mar 8, 2019
Catalogue of Asmat Art, Oceanic & Eskimo Art, and Paintings by Eugène Brands for sale at TEFAF 2019. 112 pages, map, 39 Oceanic works of art...