AN ABELAM BIRD

Maprik Mountains, Papua New Guinea

Ex collection Philip and Rosalind Goldman

Wood, 85 x 28 cm

The Abelam people live in the Prince Alexander Mountains. Their iconic ceremonial houses were built on the grandest scale known in New Guinea, and were the focal point for cults of yam growing and initiation. Along with these structures, their art also formed an important component of their intensive ceremonial life. It was displayed in vast painted gables and lintels, to which carvings of hornbills, parrots, and lizards were attached. The carvings were in every instance augmented by paint, which indeed the Abelam considered magical in itself.

This Abelam hornbill sculpture was made to be attached to such a facade. The hornbill is considered a symbol of the clan and is often repeated in two and three-dimensional works. This is a special kind of hornbill since it is sitting on a wooden hair ornament, normally made of a light kind of wood.

Price on request.