A KOREWORI CAVE SCULPTURE

Ewa people, Karawari River, PNG 

In a series of caves and rock shelters along the upper reaches of the Karawari, The Ewa people kept a remarkable series of wood carvings. Created and used by Ewa men during lifetimes, the carvings were kept after their owners deaths. Preserved in the caves for generations, some of the carvings are between 200 and 400 years old, making them the oldest surviving examples of wood sculpture from New Guinea.

The distinctive Ewa hook figures of the Korewori River region formerly played a central role in hunting and warfare. Depicting powerful ancestral spirits, the figures served as vessels into which the spirits were called before a hunt or raid and presented with offerings. The yipwon then went forth during the night to slay the souls of the game or human enemies, enabling the men to easily kill the actual animals or enemies the following day.
This sculpture came from a cave where it was protected for centuries. It has the expression of a twelfth century Christ figure; its face is tilted towards the right. It probably once had symmetrically arranged vertical hooks, now absent.

Ex Collection Philip and Rosalind Goldman, London
Wood, 116 x 16 cm

Price: on request